May 2, 2019 (Montlake Cut)

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 by attending a party. Opening Day/Windermere Cup weekend starts on Friday (6-10pm) at Seattle’s third annual Party on the Cut. The event features live music, food trucks, a beer garden for age 21+, and lawn games on the Montlake Cut (3710 Montlake Boulevard NE). Proceeds from ticket sales will establish rowing scholarships for low income youth, through the Windermere Foundation.

Join your fellow boating fans. Boats of all kinds will pass through the Montlake Cut on Saturday. Windermere Cup rowing races start off the day, beginning at 10:16am, culminating in the races between University of Washington crews and the German National Team, Boston University, and UCLA. Following that is the Opening Day boat parade, which celebrates the official start of the boating season in Seattle.

NOTE: Once the boat parade starts, the Montlake exit from SR 520 and the Montlake Bridge will be closed.

Get Out! along the parade route — and beyond. If you’re on the south side, you can walk along the Cut, then join the Arboretum’s vast network of trails, which will take you along Union Bay on a series of islands and boardwalks. Turn south at Foster Island and walk among the trees and plants. North of the cut, a walk through the beautiful UW campus is also a favorite.

Fuel up at Agua Verde Cafe and Paddle Club. Enjoy tasty Mexican food, as well as espresso, at Agua Verde (1307 NE Boat St). The cafe is open on Saturdays from 9am to 9pm, and Sundays from 9am to 8pm.  You can also rent kayaks there, but it may be a little hectic on the water this weekend.

Leaving the car at home? Take the light rail to the University of Washington station. Several bus routes, including 4871, and 73, provide service to the Montlake Cut area.

Weather forecast: Mostly sunny with highs of 63 on Friday and 68 on Saturday and Sunday.

April 4, 2019 (University of Washington)

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 down on the urban farm. Saturday is Drop-in Volunteer Day at the farm at UW’s Mercer Court (3927 Adams Ln NE). The event takes place from 10am to 2pm and is open to all who want to help with weeding and transplanting, and learn about gardening, organic food, and inner-city agriculture.

Join your fellow botanical fanaticals. UW’s Botanic Gardens and Center for Urban Horticulture is hosting two plant-focused events in the Miller Library (3501 NE 41st St): opening Friday (through May 8), an exhibit of original botanical illustrations, and on Saturday from 9am to 3pm, the Garden Lover’s Book Sale, which will feature gently used books on gardening, plants, ecology and other topics.

Get Out! and paddleThe UW Waterfront Activities Center (3710 Montlake Blvd NE — behind Husky Stadium) opens for the season this week and offers canoe and rowboat rentals (kayaks will be available in May). Head north into the Union Bay Natural Area to view bald eagles, osprey (also known as seahawks), and other waterfowl. Or head south to the Washington Arboretum and its protected waterways (just be careful of motorboat traffic heading into and out of the Montlake Cut). Boat rentals are available from 10am to 5pm daily.

Fuel up at Agua Verde Cafe and Paddle Club. You can rent kayaks — and enjoy tasty Mexican food, as well as espresso — at Agua Verde (1307 NE Boat St). Kayak rentals are available on weekends from 10am to 6pm; the cafe is open on Saturdays from 9am to 9pm, but is closed on Sundays.

Leaving the car at home? Take the light rail to the University of Washington station. Several bus routes, including 4870, 71, and 73, provide service to UW. Buses 31,326567 and 75 also stop near the Miller Library.

Weather forecast: The weekend looks overcast with periods of rain and highs in the mid- to upper-50s.

February 21, 2019 (Bainbridge Island)

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).

Join your fellow eco-music fans. Joe Reilly performs eco-friendly folk music and “songs for the earth” at IslandWood (4450 Blakely Ave NE) on Sunday at 4pm. Tickets are free, but reserve online as space is limited. An optional pizza dinner takes place afterward, but sign up today!

Help out on your bicycle. Benefitting cycling programs, including Let’s Go, the Major Taylor Project, or Cascade Bicycle Club‘s statewide advocacy, the Chilly Hilly ride happens on Sunday. For Seattle cyclists, registration is from 7am to 10am at Pyramid Ale House (1201 1st Ave S), from which you’ll bike to Colman dock and catch the 7:55, 8:55, 9:35 or 10:40 ferry to Bainbridge Island for the 33-mile ride. Online registration is open until midnight tonight. Day-of registration is available, but the ride is limited to 5,000 participants.

Get Out! in the woods. Bainbridge Island’s Grand Forest has approximately 8 miles of trails to explore on three parcels of land. It is about a 4- to 4.5-mile bike ride (or walk) from the Bainbridge ferry dock.

Fuel up at an island favorite. The Streamliner (397 Winslow Way E) serves breakfast and lunch from 7am on Saturdays (and weekdays) and 7:30am on Sundays. Menu items include an array of omelettes and scrambles, housemade biscuits, meatloaf sandwiches, pulled pork, and vegetarian options.

Leaving the car at home? Catch the ferry from downtown Seattle on your bike or on foot. If you’re not participating in the Chilly Hilly, might be best to avoid Sunday morning sailings, particularly the early ones.

Weather forecast: Saturday looks a little rainy, but Sunday looks drier. Both days will see high temps in the low 40s.

February 14, 2018 (Magnuson Park)

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).

Join your fellow mountain film fans. The Mountaineers (7700 Sand Point Way NE) are screening a documentary about two ascents of Mount Kennedy, a remote peak in the Yukon named for JFK — the first (and first-ever ascent) by Jim Whittaker and Robert Kennedy in 1965; the second by the sons of the original climbing team 50 years later. Tickets are available online for the Tuesday evening event. Doors open at 6pm.

Help out with forest restoration. Volunteers will be working in Magnuson Park () on Sunday near the west side of Sports Field Drive NE, from 9am to 1pm. And on Monday (the President’s Day holiday) near Kite Hill, from 9:30am to 1pm. Check “Sunday” and “Monday” links for details and directions.

Get Out! on your own adventure. Magnuson Park has a network of trails that take you along the lakeshore, through marshlands, across fields, and past outdoor art installations. If there is still snow and/or slush on the ground, take a spin on snowshoes or try Yaktrax.

Looking for a longer trek? The Burke-Gilman Trail is easily accessible from Magnuson Park.

Fuel up at the park or along the trail. Magnuson Cafe & Brewery (7801 62nd Ave NE) has locally-made beers on tap and is open for brunch at 9am on weekends (and for lunch at 11am on weekdays). Saint Helens Cafe is located right on the Burke-Gilman Trail (3600 NE 45th St) about 2.5 miles from the park and opens at 10am on weekends and 11am on weekdays. Both places are worth a stop for coffee, brunch, happy hour or dinner.

Leaving the car at home?  Metro bus 62 and bus 75 will take you to and from Magnuson Park. But check for any route changes due to weather and road conditions.

Weather forecast: The holiday weekend is forcast to be mostly cloudy with showers on Saturday with a high of 45 degrees on Saturday, 42 on Sunday, and 39 on Monday.

January 24, 2019 (Parks & Trails, North & South)

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 a city park.

South: If it fits into your schedule, stop by lovely and serene Kubota Garden, (9817 55th Ave S) on any Tuesday morning from 10am to 12pm and assist the gardeners with planting, pruning, raking, or weeding.

North: On Sundays, volunteers are needed to walk around Green Lake and pick up trash. 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.

Get Out! on a city trail.

South: The rolling Chief Sealth Trail spans the Beacon Hill and Rainier Beach neighborhoods, beginning just south of Jefferson Park and ending a couple of blocks from Kubota Garden. The terrain is hilly, so riding/walking the entire 4.5-mile trail (9 miles roundtrip) offers a good workout with a view. The trail is also accessible from several light rail stations: Beacon Hill (with an additional 3.3-mile walk/ride), Othello, and Rainier Beach (northbound towards Beacon Hill or southbound to Kubota Garden).

North: The Green Lake loop is about 3 miles (depending on whether you use the inner or outer path). From Green Lake, you can walk primarily on greenbelt to Cowen and Ravenna Parks — where you’ll find 4.5 miles of trails within the two contiguous parks, which take you into a ravine and past Ravenna Creek. From there you can access the Burke-Gilman Trail for a longer ride or walk.

Fuel up at one of our faves from past posts.

South: July 5, 2018; May 17, 2018

North: November 15, 2018; August 30, 2018

Leaving the car at home? Metro bus 106 goes to Kubota Garden. Numerous buses stop near/at Green Lake, including the #45 and the #62

Weather forecast: The forecast looks mainly dry with highs around 50 degrees.

January 17, 2019 (Central District, Downtown)

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).

Join your fellow marchers. The Seattle MLK Organizing Coalition and Seattle Womxn Marching Forward are co-organizing an event that includes marching, rallying, workshopping, and healing, on Monday, Martin Luther King Day. The all-day activities begin at 8:30am with an Opportunity FairWorkshops, and a Rally in the Gymnasium — all at Garfield High School (400 23rd Ave) — followed by a march from Garfield to another rally Downtown (Westlake Park, 4th and Pine) and a community meal. Other activities happen throughout the weekend.

Help out at the MLK event. Volunteers are needed to help out at the march and other events above. Sign up online.

Get Out! for a walk among the lights. Sunday is the last day of Snow Day in Denny Park (100 Dexter Ave N), an Immersive Winter Lighting Display hosted by Friends of Denny Park, Downtown Seattle Association, and the South Lake Union Chamber from 4pm-9pm nightly through January 20.

Fuel up with a hot beverage (or two). It looks to be a bit wet this weekend. Dry out at the Central District’s Golden Wheat Bakery (2908 E Cherry St) with horchata lattes and housemade pastries and tamales. Opens at 7:30, just 1/2-mile from Garfield High.

Uptown Espresso in Belltown (2504 4th Ave) and is about a 5-minute walk from Denny Park, and serves velvety espresso from 6-6 on weekends. The 5 Point Cafe (415 Cedar St) is also nearby for all-day (and night) breakfast and other diner fare (open 24 hours).

Leaving the car at home? Metro buses #3, #4, #27, and #48 stop at or near Garfield High School. Numerous buses, as well as the light rail, go downtown. The #8 and #62 will take you to Denny Park.

Weather forecast: Rain with highs in the upper-40s, low 50s on Saturday and Sunday. Monday looks cloudy, but mainly dry with a high of 49 degrees.

January 10, 2019 (North Capitol Hill to U-Village)

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).

Join your fellow hikers interested in the Pacific Crest Trail. Kathleen “Token” Neves will tell you what it takes to plan your own PCT adventure at Athleta University Village. She’ll provide tips on day hikes, section hiking, and walking the whole thing. The first 20 attendees through the door will receive a free goodie bag stuffed with some of Kathleen’s hiking favorites. Register online for the free event, which happens on Saturday from 7pm to 8:30pm.

Help out with a little gardening. The Volunteer Park Trust hosts monthly 2nd Saturday Work Parties and there is one this weekend from 10am to noon. Participants will clean garden beds, weed, mulch, and remove invasive plants in Volunteer Park (1247 15th Ave E). Check the sign at the Black Sun sculpture across from Seattle Asian Art Museum to find the meeting site.

Get Out! on a park-to-park hike or ride. Walk or ride a 5-mile route (down and back) through Volunteer Park, Interlaken Park, and the Arboretum. Cyclists (and hikers) can extend their mileage on the Burke-Gilman Trail (north or west) and 520 bridge path.

You could also hike a 6-mile loop with the Mountaineers on Saturday (if you are a member or would like to join). Sign up with the Mountaineers and the hike by Thursday, January 10, and meet their group at the Graham Visitors Center in the Arboretum (2300 Arboretum Dr E) at 9am.

Fuel up at U-Village or Volunteer Park. U-Village’s Veggie Grill (2681 NE University Village St) is part of a local chain that serves, among other vegetarian items, a meat-less burger that really tastes like a burger. Opens daily at 10:30am.

We also love the homey Volunteer Park Cafe (1501 17th Ave E) for coffee and housemade goodies.

Leaving the car at home? 

Buses to U-Village include the #65#67, and #75.

To bus to Volunteer Park, the #10 runs along 15th Ave E and the #49 along 10th Ave E.

To get to the Arboretum, bus #11 runs from downtown to E Madison and Lake Washington Blvd. And the #43 and #48 run along 24th Ave E.

To access the Arboretum or U-Village, you (and your bike) can ride the light rail to UW station, then follow the “Lake Washington Loop” signs to the Arboretum or to the Burke-Gilman Trail.

Weather forecast: It’s looking pretty good with partly sunny skies and highs of around 50 degrees.

January 3, 2019 (Duwamish/West Seattle)

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).

Join your fellow cyclists. Yes, it’s happening: the Viaduct is coming down. Cascade Bicycle Club is leading the SurviveRealign99 Ride where bike commuters and cyclists can try out routes in a friendly group, with more daylight and less traffic than on weekdays. The ride is expected to be about 16 miles with some hills. Register online and meet with your bike at 9:15am on Saturday at the West Seattle Junction Starbucks (California SW at SW Alaska).

Help out at a riverside cleanup and planting. Join EarthCorps and the Port of Seattle for a work party along the Duwamish River. Volunteers will remove weeds and replace them with native plants. Meet at 10am on Saturday at Terminal 105 Park (4032 W Marginal Way SW) just north of SW Dakota St). Contact the volunteer team if you would like to sign up.

Get Out! in the city’s largest greenbelt. The West Duwamish Greenbelt has miles of trails to explore. Access through Puget Park (4767 Puget Way SW) or check out the trail map.

Fuel up with coffee, bubble tea, and more. Pearls Tea and Coffee also serves baguette sandwiches and crepes. Open from 8am to 7pm on weekends, the cafe is located at 4800 Delridge Way.

Leaving the car at home? The West Seattle Water Taxi operates on weekdays only in the winter. The entrance is at the foot of Madison Street (801 Alaskan Way). Bikes can be brought on board. From the West Seattle (Seacrest) dock, the free DART shuttle (#773) goes to the West Seattle Junction. The 120 bus travels from downtown Seattle along Delridge and also stops within a 15-minute walk from Terminal 105.

Weather forecast: Saturday is expected to be cloudy with a high of 47. Sunday will be about the same temperature with rain at times.

December 13, 2018 (Fremont/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 and pick up trash (and toys for kids). Join Lake Union Charters & Adventures and Urban Public Water Access for an on-land shoreline clean-up. The event takes place on Sunday from 10am to 11:30, starting at 1200 Westlake Ave N. Optional: brunch outing afterwards.

And while you’re out and about this weekend, Bartell Drugs is partnering with the Salvation Army to collect new, unwrapped gifts for local kids in need. The Toy ‘N Joy drive runs until Saturday at area Bartells.

Join your fellow lit-up boat fans. Whatever (or even if) you celebrate this month, a boat parade is sure to light up the December dark on Friday evening from 7pm to 9:30.  Boats will start in Lake Union on a voyage west through the Fremont ship canal. A viewing party takes place at Evanston Plaza in Fremont.

Get Out! around Lake Union. Embark on a walking circumnavigation of Lake Union and take in the sights of the neighborhoods, house boat communities, and working waterfront activities on this busy urban lake.

Fuel up at a truck. The Winter Feast Holiday Bazaar happens from 10am-4pm at the Fremont Sunday Market (3401 Evanston Ave N), where you can eat up at a buffet of local food trucks!

Leaving the car at home? Metro Routes 31 and 32 and 62 go to Fremont. Bus #40 runs along Westlake Avenue to Fremont. The South Lake Union streetcar travels to SLU from the Westlake light rail station.

Weather forecast: Cloudy and in the 40s with a bit of rain and drizzle on Friday evening. Mostly cloudy and 49 degrees on Saturday. Rainy and 50 degrees on Sunday.

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.