November 29, 2018 (Lake Washington-Southend, Renton)

Welcome to Seattle Close to Home — a weekly round-up of ideas for time-crunched Seattle-area residents, who want to get outside, volunteer, and eat good food, but don’t necessarily want to drive far (or at all).

Help out those in need. It’s Christmas Ship season (through December 23)! Board an Argosy vessel this Sunday at Hyatt Regency Lake Washington (1053 Lake Washington Bl. N, Renton) from 2pm-4pm and journey to Seward Park with Bellevue Youth Choirs — or an evening cruise with The Dickens Carolers (7pm to 9:45pm) that stops at Mount Baker Beach, Stan Sayres Park, and Ferdinand Street Park. Check the website for the schedule and pricing. A portion of all ticket sales is donated to The Seattle Times Fund For The Needy.

If you’d rather stay on land, the ports of call listed above are hosting free bonfires, ship viewing, and music from the choirs and carolers. Schedule: Seward Park () at 3:05pm, Mount Baker Beach () at 7:40pm, Stan Sayres Park (3808 Lake Washington Bl. S) at 8:15pm, and Ferdinand Street Park (5018 Lake Washington Bl. S) at 8:50pm.

Join your fellow winter walkers. Seward Park Audubon Center (5902 Lake Washington Bl. S) is leading free nature walks on Sunday, which highlight the park’s plants and animals as winter approaches. Three times are offered: 11am to 12pm, 12:30 to 1:30pm, or 2pm to 3pm. Register online.

Get out! in Gene Coulon Memorial Park. Situated on Lake Washington in Renton (1201 Lake Washington Bl. N), Coulon Park features two miles of paths and trails.

The park is also on the popular Lake Washington loop cycling route, as are the ports of call on the Christmas Ship cruises above.

Fuel up at Bent Burger. This southend spot in Seward Park (5100 S Dawson St) serves my favorite burger: the Black Cat Bleu Bacon with sweet candied bacon and blue cheese crumbles. I haven’t tried the Bent Burger, but if you’re game, it has two grilled cheese sandwiches for a bun with candied bacon, a hotlink, and a fried egg. Bent also serves breakfast items, shakes, and draft beers from 11am daily.

Leaving the car at home? Metro bus #50 goes to Seward Park and Bent Burgers and connects with several other bus lines. The #14 and #27 stop within a 10-minute walk of Mount Baker Beach and the #14 within a 20-minute walk of Stan Sayres Park. You can get to the Hyatt/Coulon Park in Renton by light rail and bus by connecting to the F Line at Tukwila International Blvd. Station (it just takes between 60-90 minutes, depending on where you board the light rail).

Weather forecast: Saturday and Sunday are forecasted to me partly cloudy/mostly sunny with highs in the mid-40s.

November 1, 2018 (Citywide)

Welcome to Seattle Close to Home — a weekly round-up of ideas for time-crunched Seattle-area residents, who want to get outside, volunteer, and eat good food, but don’t necessarily want to drive far (or at all).

Help out at Green Seattle Day. Join the Green Seattle Partnership and hundreds of volunteers planting thousands of plants in parks throughout the city. RSVP here — there are still volunteer slots open. Takes place on Saturday at various locations from 9am on.

Join your fellow rowing fans. The Head of the Lake regatta, one of the biggest rowing events on the west coast, takes place in Seattle on Sunday (8am to 1pm). High school, college, and club crews race on a course from Lake Union, through Portage Bay, the Montlake Cut, and Union Bay, to the University of Washington boathouse. Good viewing points include Foster Island and along the Cut (see “suggested route” link below).

Get out! and walk the Head of the Lake race course. Our suggested route takes you from Gas Works Park (across from the start line), on the Burke Gilman Trail, then along the Montlake Cut, across the Montlake Bridge, and on the Arboretum’s Marsh Island boardwalk to Foster Island. If you go on Sunday, rowing shells will race by as you walk the 2.9-mile route.

Fuel up during Seattle Restaurant Week. Eateries throughout the city are offering special three-course meal deals Sunday to Thursday through November 8. Participating restaurants all offer dinner and some offer lunch.

Leaving the car at home? Metro Trip Planner will help you find a bus to your park or restaurant of choice. The UW/Husky Stadium light rail station is close to the Regatta action and suggested walk.

Weather forecast: Pack rain gear just in case. Clouds and showers are forecast with highs in the mid- to high-50s.

August 30, 2018 (Green Lake)

Welcome to Seattle Close to Home — a weekly round-up of ideas for time-crunched Seattle-area residents, who want to get outside, volunteer, and eat good food, but don’t necessarily want to drive far (or at all).

Help out with cleaning up Green Lake. After the busy summer, volunteers are needed to walk around the lake and pick up trash this Sunday — and subsequent Sundays. All supplies will be provided. Meet in the parking lot at the Bath House Theater (7312 West Green Lake Dr N) by 9am. Contact the organizer for more details.

Join your fellow yoga enthusiasts. Register online for Flow Forward, a free yoga class on Sunday, 11am, at the Green Lake Boathouse (7351 East Green Lake Dr N). Bring your own mat.

Get Out! for a swim. This is the last weekend that lifeguards will be on duty at city beaches, including West Green Lake Beach (7312 West Green Lake Dr N). Lifeguard hours are 11am-7pm Saturday & Sunday; 12pm-7pm Monday-Friday.

If swimming isn’t your thing, Green Lake Boathouse (7351 East Green Lake Dr N) rents kayaks, peddle boats, water bikes, row boats, stand-up paddle boards, and more. Open 9am to 7pm daily.

And, of course, the ~3-mile path around Green Lake is a favorite of walkers, runners, cyclists, and skaters. Expand your outing with a side trip on the trails of nearby Woodland Park (1000 N 50th St).

Fuel up at Urban Bakery. For decades, this family-owned eatery has served espresso, made-to-order sandwiches, soups, and bakery treats at the north end of Green Lake (7850 East Green Lake Dr N). Open 6:30am to 6pm Monday-Saturday and 7:30am to 5pm on Sundays. For us, a trip to Green Lake is not complete without a stop here.

Leaving the car at home? Numerous buses stop near/at Green Lake, including the #45 and the #62.

Weather forecast: Sunny with some cloudiness, highs around 70 degrees. (And, hopefully, smoke-free!)

June 28, 2018 (Lake Union)

Welcome to Seattle Close to Home — a weekly round-up of ideas for time-crunched Seattle-area residents, who want to get outside, volunteer, and eat good food, but don’t necessarily want to drive far (or at all).

Help out at an on-water fireworks cleanup. If you are available Thursday morning (July 5), Puget Soundkeepers’ kayak patrol will fan out across Lake Union to collect debris from 8am to 12pm. Boats and cleanup equipment are provided, and a picnic lunch will be served at Lake Union Park following the event. Register online.

Join your fellow restaurant patrons to support Special Olympians. South Lake Union restaurants invite you to help them raise funds to support Special Olympians – and all you have to do is eat! Purchase the featured dish from a participating restaurant and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Special Olympics USA Games, which are taking place in Seattle through July 6.

Get Out! on Lake Union. Strike out on your own adventure in a kayak, electric boat, or a floating hot tub (yes, really!) from one of the many rental outlets on the lake, including Center for Wooden Boats (1010 Valley St), Electric Boat Company (2046 Westlake Ave N), Hot Tub Boat Rentals (1200 Westlake Ave N), and Moss Bay (1001 Fairview Ave N).

Fuel up at Grand Central Bakery. This Eastlake gathering spot (1616 Eastlake Ave E) offers good coffee, house-made pastries, soups, salads, and sandwiches from 7am daily. The Everything Croissant is a personal favorite.

Leaving the car at home? Metro bus #40 runs along Westlake Avenue, and #70  goes along Eastlake and connects with several other buslines in the U-District. The South Lake Union streetcar travels to SLU from the Westlake light rail station.

Weather forecast: Partly cloudy skies with temps between 65-70 degrees.