December 6, 2018 (Green Lake/Sunset Hill)

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 Lake Give Native Plants a Chance.” Green Lake Stewards will be working on the west side of the lake to remove invasive Himalayan blackberry canes from 9am to 12pm on Saturday. To join the work party, sign up online and meet at the Aqua Theater.

Join your fellow barterers. Sustainable Ballard and Sunset Hill Community Association are hosting a Barter Fair & Holiday Party on Sunday from 4p to 6pm. The event takes place at the Sunset Hill Community Club (3003 NW 66th St) and is an alternative to commercial gift-buying. No cash changes hands; instead participants trade items they cooked, made, or offer as a service.

Get out! and follow the lights. On Saturday, from 4:30 to 7:30pm, Green Lake will be dressed up with luminaria all the way around the 2.8-mile path. The annual Pathway of Lights event features live music and refreshments. Donation bins will be on hand for non-perishable food donations to benefit the FamilyWorks food bank.

Fuel up on the corner. When we’re in the area of NW 65th St and 15th Ave NW, we stop at Jumpin’ Jimmy’s Java for coffees made with our favorite Cafe Umbria. NOTE: It is a drive-through (but you can walk up) and they only take cash. Open until 4pm Saturdays and 3pm Sundays. Next door is Top Banana, a locally-owned produce market, which stocks reasonably-priced fruits and vegetables (locally-sourced as often as possible) and also has some basic groceries. Open daily 8am-8pm.

Leaving the car at home? Numerous buses stop near/at Green Lake, including the #45 and the #62. The D-Line stops at Jumpin’ Jimmys and Top Banana, and it is a 20-minute walk to the Sunset Hill Community Club. The #40 stops with a 10-minute walk of the club.

Weather forecast: Expect periods of rain this weekend with high temps 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 18, 2018 (Crown Hill/Carkeek 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 Carkeek Park. The park is the place to be on Saturday for two volunteer opportunities. Join Carkeek STARS volunteers from 9am-12pm for forest restoration and trail maintenance. Follow the STARS signs to the meeting place (950 NW Carkeek Rd.).

Alternatively, attend the Carkeek Park Salmon Stewards training at the Environmental Learning Center from 9:30am to 3pm. Then sign up for 3 or 4 shifts on Saturdays and Sundays from November 3 to December 2. Volunteer duties include staffing a salmon information table, talking to visitors at Piper’s Creek, and keeping tally of the location and number of salmon returning to the creek. See the website for more info or to sign up.

Join your fellow Arbor Day celebrants. Soundview Playfield (1590 NW 90th St) hosts the Celebrate Arbor Day! event on Saturday from 9am-12pm. Join local non-profits, agencies, and companies for tree planting, an “Ask an Arborist” booth, a neighborhood Tree Walk, and apple cider pressing. RSVP online.

Get out! in the woods and on the beach. Carkeek Park has something for everyone — forest trails, beach walks, and expansive bluff views. Download/print a trail map online.

Fuel up at The Dane. This neighborhood beer and coffee cafe (8000 15th Ave NW) also offers Danish-style sandwiches, salads, dogs and brats. Try The Dane Dog with cream cheese, diced onions, pickles, mustard, and homemade remoulade. Open at 8am daily until 10pm Sunday-Thursday and 11pm Friday & Saturday.

Leaving the car at home?  Metro buses #40, #45 and the D-Line will drop you within blocks of Soundview Playfield and The Dane. The D-Line stops near the Piper’s Creek Trailhead in Carkeek Park, and it is a 0.8-mile walk to the Environmental Learning Center (950 NW Carkeek Rd.).

Weather forecast: Mostly sunny skies are forecast with temps in the mid-60s.

October 4, 2018 (Pioneer Square)

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. Pioneer Square is home to a number of social services organizations that need volunteers, including Compass Housing Alliance, DESC, and Union Gospel Mission. Help is needed all year, but particularly as the weather turns colder and wetter.

Join your fellow pumpkin people. October is pumpkin patch month, and there are plenty of them in the nearby countryside. But you can also visit one in the city at the Fall Festival in Occidental Square. The event takes place Saturday from 11am to 3pm, and offers not just pumpkins, but a petting zoo and free apple cider.

Get out! for an historic walk (while you can). Pioneer Square is undergoing big changes with the tunnel/viaduct projects. If you’re feeling nostalgic or interested in Seattle’s history, a walking tour of the neighborhood is still do-able if you don’t mind dodging constructions zones. This route will take you past some of Seattle’s oldest buildings (the Cadillac Hotel Building at Jackson Street & 2nd Ave S, the Smith Tower at 2nd & Yesler, and the Arctic Club Hotel at 3rd and Cherry).

For a longer walk, venture into the Chinatown/International District or along the waterfront to the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Fuel up at Caffe Umbria. Our favorite coffee is, hands down, Caffe Umbria. The Pioneer square location (320 Occidental Ave S) offers sublime espresso drinks (served with a square of chocolate), gelato, and panini. Open Saturday, 7am to 7pm; Sunday, 8am to 5pm.

Leaving the car at home? The International District/Chinatown light rail station is just a few blocks from Occidental Square. Bus lines #7#14#36, and #124 all pass through Pioneer Square.

Weather forecast: The weekend is forecast to be mostly dry and around 60 degrees, with intervals of sun and clouds.

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.

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!)

August 2-23 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).

We will be on vacation until August 30, but leave you (temporarily) with some ideas for this final month of summer.

Help out and protect trails during Washington Trails Association’s Hike-a-Thon. Hike on any named trail this month and log your miles. Details are online. Hike on weekends and take Metro’s Trailhead Direct to trailheads along I-90.

Join your fellow Shakespeare fans. Several theater companies are performing at area parks, including GreenStage and, a little further afield, Wooden O. Pack a picnic for a lovely way spend an August afternoon or evening.

Get Out! for a day at the beach. Explore our city’s saltwater shorelines. Beach naturalists will be on hand during selected low tides (August 9-12) at Olympic Sculpture Park, Carkeek Park, South Alki, Lincoln Park, and Golden Gardens. See our previous post for a low-tide beach walk between Golden Gardens and Carkeek Park.

Fuel up with food from the farm. August is a great time to visit Seattle’s farmers markets with many fruits and vegetables at their peak.

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.