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 15, 2018 (Green Lake/Ravenna)

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 the homeless at a run and mashed potato-eating contest. Support Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission at the Green Lake Gobble & Mashed Potato Munch Off on Sunday. Run, eat, drink beer — and donate to the canned food drive. Pre-register online or at the event beginning at 8am. The start and finish lines are at the Green Lake Crew Boathouse.

Join your fellow readers, eaters, and drinkers. Author Judith Dern reads from her book, The Food and Drink of Seattle: From Wild Salmon to Craft Beer at Third Place Books Ravenna (6504 20th Ave NE). Learn about the history, culture, and cuisine of Seattle on Thursday at 7pm.

Get out! and explore Ravenna and Cowen Parks. You can walk primarily on greenbelt from Green Lake to Cowen and Ravenna Parks. The Green Lake loop is about 3 miles, and continuing to Cowen Park adds another mile — there you’ll find 4.5 miles of trails within the two contiguous parks, which take you into a ravine and past Ravenna Creek.

Fuel up at Cafe Arta. Located inside Third Place Books, Cafe Arta Bistro & Pub serves Greek/Mediterranean cuisine from 8am daily. Fidalgo coffee and espresso are available, as well as a full brunch menu. The downstairs pub opens at 3pm daily with 18 beers on tap. See food photos here!

Leaving the car at home? Several buslines serve the Green Lake/Ravenna area, including #45 and #62.

Weather forecast: Mostly sunny. High around 53 on Saturday. A little cooler on Sunday with a high around 49.

November 8, 2018 (Mercer Island and points east)

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 habitat restoration. Mercer Island’s Pioneer Park (SE 68th & 84th Ave SE) is home to over 70 types of birds and 12 different mammals. Join EarthCorps on Saturday from 10am-2pm for weeding and removing invasive species, mulching, and planting. Sign up and find details on their website.

Join your fellow hikers at a local state park. All state parks are free on Sunday (meaning that you do not need a Discover Pass for parking). And, further afield, all National Parks that normally charge an entrance fee are free as well. Close-in state parks include Bridle Trails (5300 116th Ave NW, Kirkland) and Squak Mountain (21430 SE May Valley Rd, Issaquah).

Get out! and explore Mercer Island parks. Luther Burbank Park is along the water on the north end of the island and has 2 miles of walking trails. Pioneer Park has 7 miles of trails.

Fuel up in downtown Mercer Island. Just a 10-15-minute walk from Luther Burbank Park is Homegrown (3016 78th Ave SE), serving sustainably sourced soups, sandwiches, and bowls — and Stumptown coffee. Open daily from 7am to 8pm.

If you’re more in a pizza state of mind, Mioposto has a location on the island (2601 76th Ave SE), offering wood-fired pies, a full bar, and Caffee Vita coffee and espresso.  Open at 9am (until 10pm) on weekends and at 11am during the week.

Leaving the car at home? It is definitely quickest to drive to the locations this week. But, there is bus service to Mercer Island, and, if you’re up for a ride, you can cycle to Pioneer Park. Sound Transit #550 and #554 stop at N Mercer Way & 80th Ave SE, where you can disembark and bike 3.8 miles to Pioneer Park.

You can get within a 10-minute walk of Luther Burbank Park relatively quickly on Sound Transit buses 550 and 554.

For a longer bike ride, the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail crosses I-90 to Mercer Island — and points east.

It is possible to take buses to Bridle Trails and Squak Mountain, if you don’t mind a walk to get to the trails.

Weather forecast: Currently forecasted to be partly sunny with highs in the low 50s.

October 25, 2018 (Seward 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).

Help out the Leukemia and Lymphona Society. And celebrate Halloween! “Dress up as your favorite decade” and run/walk around Seward Park (5900 Lake Washington Blvd S) at Run Scared, which includes a 10K, 5K, 4K, kids’ dash, treasure hunt, and costume contests for people and dogs. Proceeds benefit blood cancer research. Takes place on Sunday; registration begins at 7:30am.

Join South Seattle writers at Third Place Books. On Thursday evening at 7pm, speakers and contributors to Emerald Reflections 2: A South Seattle Emerald Anthology will be at Third Place in Seward Park (5041 Wilson Ave S) for an author event.

Get out! on the Lake Washington Boulevard lakeside path. Enjoy fall color and lake views on a walk north from Seward Park. If you go all the way to Mount Baker Park, it’s more than a six-mile round trip.

Fuel up at Raconteur. Located inside Third Place Books, this new neighborhood hangout offers a coffee bar and full-service restaurant upstairs and a pub downstairs. Brunch items like Belgian Waffles and Corned Beef Hash rank among our favorites. The coffee bar and restaurant open at 8am on weekends. Lunch, dinner, and happy hour are also happening.

Leaving the car at home? Metro bus #50 serves Seward Park and Third Place and connects with several other routes.

Weather forecast: Cloudy with a high right around 60 degrees; periods of rain on Sunday.

October 11, 2018 (Queen Anne/South 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 with the fight against heart disease and stroke. Join the Puget Sound Heart & Stroke Walk as a volunteer or participant. The event takes place at the Seattle Center and walkers/runners can choose between a 1-mile or a 5k route.

Join your fellow enlightened. The inaugural BOREALIS festival happens this weekend (rain or shine) at Lake Union Park and the South Lake Union neighborhood. Each evening, Thursday through Sunday, features a competition and exhibition of technology and light art, live music, street art performance, lighting art installations, and multi-media video mapping. The festival is free, but tickets are needed for the video mapping performances.

Get out! and up the hill. Take in one of the best views in Seattle (and get a pretty good workout too) at Kerry Park. From the Seattle Center, head up the hill to W Highland Dr and turn west to the park (211 W Highland Dr).

Fuel up at Toulouse Petit. Beignets, catfish sticks, and other New Orleans-inspired fare are available at this Lower Queen Anne favorite (601 Queen Anne Ave N). Weekend brunch is served from 8am to 3pm, as well as Early Happy Hour (4-6pm), dinner (5-11pm), and Late Night Happy Hour (10pm to closing).

Leaving the car at home? To get to the Seattle Center, you can take buses #8#13/2, and #24/19. For South Lake Union, bus #40 runs along Westlake Avenue and #70  goes along Eastlake. The South Lake Union streetcar travels to SLU from the Westlake light rail station.

Weather forecast: Low 60s and mostly sunny (!)

September 27, 2018 (Belltown/Lower Queen Anne)

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 the Olympic Peninsula. Join the Wild Olympics Campaign and learn about the effort to protect the ancient forests and wild rivers of the Olympic Peninsula and how to take action. Two short films will be shown, followed by a Q&A. Takes place on Thursday evening (7:30-9:30pm) at Patagonia (2100 1st Ave).

Join your fellow outdoor art lovers at the Olympic Sculpture Park. The Site, Sculpture, Shoreline: Discover Olympic Sculpture Park tour happens on Saturday and Sunday at 1pm. If you haven’t been here (or it’s been a while), you’ll learn about the park’s landscape design, environmental planning, sculpture, native plantings, and works of art. Meet outside the PACCAR Pavilion (2901 Western Ave).

Get out! on a park tour of your own. The trails crisscrossing the Olympic Sculpture Park offer not just views of the outdoor art, but also a stunning panorama of downtown Seattle, Puget Sound, and (weather permitting) the Olympics. Extend your walk (or bike ride) into Myrtle Edwards Park and beyond.

Extend your walk to the Seattle Center via the Thomas Street Pedestrian Overpass and check out the Italian Festival. Activities include cooking demonstrations, “Opera for Kids,” a grape stomping competition, and an expansive food court and vendor market — all happening Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 7pm.

Fuel up at Le Pichet. We always feel transported to Paris when at this Belltown/Pike Place Market cafe (1933 1st Ave). The french onion soup is not to be missed. Open daily from 8am to midnight.

Leaving the car at home? Bus #24/19 goes to the Olympic Sculpture Park and the Seattle Center. And buses #13/2 and #8 go to the Seattle Center. These routes (except the #8) stop within a block or two of Patagonia and Le Pichet.

Weather forecast:  Saturday is forecasted to be as warm as 72 degrees and partly sunny; Sunday might see a few showers and a high of 68.

September 20, 2018 (Fremont)

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 little park with a big view. Fremont Peak Park (4357 Palatine Ave N) could use some weeding. Join area residents for a work party on Saturday from 10am to 12pm.

Join your fellow cooks. PCC Community Markets celebrates the release of its first cookbook, Cooking from Scratch, with an author event. PCC’s executive chef, Lynne Vea, will discuss and demo cooking with sustainable ingredients and answer questions. The event happens on Thursday at 6:30pm at Book Larder (4252 Fremont Ave N).

Get out! for a festival tour (plus a park or two). What says fall better than the Fremont Oktoberfest? Chainsaw pumpkin carving happens Friday and beer tasting all weekend long at 35th and Canal (ages 21 and over only).

Looking for a more family-friendly, less boozy event? Head over to neighboring Ballard for the Sustainable Ballard Fest at Ballard Commons Park (5701 22nd Ave NW) on Saturday from 11am to 4pm. Activities include learning new ways to lower your carbon footprint, helping to make fresh cider and meeting farm animals.

Incorporate one or both fests with a walk or bike to Gas Works Park and Fremont Peak Park. A suggested 5-mile route is here.

Fuel up with middle eastern food. When in Fremont, we go to Cafe Turko for authentic and delicious Turkish fare, including some of our favorites: “aromatic lamb with Turkish apricots and almonds,” eggplant moussaka, and Turkish delight. Our walk/bike route goes right by its 750 N 34th St location, open from 10am daily (closes at 9:30pm Sun-Fri, 10pm on Saturdays).

Leaving the car at home? Metro bus #40 goes to Fremont and Ballard (and in between). Routes 31 and 32 and 62 go to Fremont. Biking from the UW/Husky Stadium light rail station is also an option.

Weather forecast:  Highs in the mid-60s with occasional rain on Saturday; sun and clouds on Sunday.

September 13, 2018 (Edmonds)

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 a coastal cleanup. Saturday is International Coastal Cleanup Day! Join Puget Soundkeepers Alliance to remove trash at Brackett’s Landing South (100 Railroad Ave, Edmonds). You’ll also provide data for a report that will be used to find solutions to global marine trash accumulation. Register online for the event, which takes place from 9:30am-12pm. Besides Edmonds, there are cleanups taking place around the Puget Sound area, the state, and the world.

Join your fellow birders. The Puget Sound Bird Fest happens Friday through Sunday at Edmonds’ Frances Anderson Center (700 Main St) and features speakers, guided walks, land and water-based field trips, exhibits, and educational activities. Information and a schedule of events is available online. Some activities require advanced registration.

Get out! for a showery walk. Best bets are Saturday afternoon or Sunday to explore the coastline from Brackett’s Landing North to Edwards Point, then head inland to Edmonds Marsh and the city park. Here is our suggested route (but exploring downtown is fun too!)

Fuel up at the local coffee roastery. Red Twig Bakery and Cafe (117 5th Ave S) serves coffee and espresso made with their proprietary blend, as well as seasonal menu items made with Essential Bakery bread. Open daily from 7am to 9pm (opens at 8am on Sundays).

Leaving the car at home?  You CAN get to downtown Edmonds (Edmonds Station, 211 Railroad Ave) by bus; it just takes a little while (1.5 hours on average). Sound Transit bus 512 connects with Community Transit buses 116 and 130 at the Lynnwood Transit Center.

If you’re up for a bike adventure, a suggested route is here.

Weather forecast:  Looks like you might need rain gear. Clouds with periods of rain are forecast for the weekend, with highs in the low 60s.

July 26, 2018 (Magnolia/Discovery 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).

Help out at Discovery Park work party. On Saturday from 9am to 1pm, volunteers are needed to remove invasive species and spread mulch in preparation for planting native vegetation in the fall. Find a registration link, as well as details about what to wear/bring, online — and meet at the park’s south parking lot.

Join your fellow swimmers. The heat is on so head to Mounger Pool (2535 32nd Ave W) for a cooling dip. With two pools and various swim time options, the pool can accommodate those who want to do laps and those who prefer the 50-foot corkscrew slide.

Get Out! and explore Discovery Park. Our favorite in-city get-away offers miles of beach and trail walking opportunities, as well as shady forests and sweeping views of the Sound and Olympic Peninsula. Find a trail map at the Environmental Learning Center (3801 Discovery Park Blvd) or online.

Fuel up at Serendipity Cafe & Lounge. Serving locally-sourced meals from 7am to 9pm, there is something for everyone at this neighborhood spot (3222 W McGraw St), including good coffee and a full bar.

If you’d rather take a picnic to the park, Metropolitan Market (and its large array of take-out options) is nearby (3830 34th Ave W).

Leaving the car at home? Metro bus #31 goes to Magnolia Village (Mounger Pool, restaurants). The #33 goes to Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center area and the #24 goes to the south parking lot area.

Weather forecast: Hot and sunny. Saturday’s high is 87 degrees, Sunday’s is 91 degrees.

July 19, 2018 (Ballard)

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 protect trails.  Washington Trail Association (WTA)’s annual Hike-a-Thon kicks off Tuesday (July 24) from 5:30pm to 7:30pm at Lagunitas Brewing Co. (1550 NW 49th St) At the Hike-a-Thon Trails & Ales event, you can register for the Hike-a-Thon, then hike and log your miles in August (more details to come in next week’s post) — and meet follow hikers over a beer. RSVP for the event online.

Join your fellow jazz fans. The Ballard Locks (3015 NW 54th St) is the site of free summer concerts on Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm through September 16. This weekend, the Rain City Jazz Orchestra plays big band, jazz, and blues on Saturday and Coal Creek Jazz Band offers up traditional Dixieland on Sunday.

Get Out! in the Bay — and beyond. After a stroll through the Ballard Locks area (and perhaps a concert), head out to Shilshole Bay on the Burke-Gilman Trail (biking time shown on map; walking time is approximately 30-35 minutes) and rent a kayak at Ballard Kayak (7901 Seaview Ave NW). You can explore the Shilshole Marina and venture out into Shilshole Bay and along Golden Gardens Park. Or sign up for a tour of the Locks or the Discovery Park shoreline.

Fuel up at Portage Bay Cafe. This Seattle chain serves locally-sourced, organic brunch and lunch items (and, of course, coffee) at four locations. Known for its breakfast bar, you can take your Swedish pancakes, oatmeal cobbler french toast, or other selected items and top them with your choice of fruit and nuts, and whipped cream. The Ballard cafe (2821 NW Market St) is just steps from the Locks and open from 7:30am to 2:30pm on weekends (7-2 during the week).

Leaving the car at home? Metro bus #44 will take you to the Ballard Locks and connects with several other buslines. If you’re up for a light rail/bike excursion, see our post: May 31, 2018 (Golden Gardens/Burke-Gilman Trail)

Weather forecast: Cooler temperatures (upper 70s, low 80s) are forecast for the weekend with mostly sunny skies.