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.

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.

 

July 12, 2018 (Capitol 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 with the fight against ovarian cancer. Your $35 registration fee and participation in Sunday’s 5k SummeRun & Walk supports ovarian cancer research and education. On-site registration starts at 6:30am at Marion & Minor. The run/walk begins at 8:15 and is followed by refreshments, live music, closing festivities, and Ovarian Cancer Survivor Tribute.

Join your fellow outdoor theater fans. The Seattle Outdoor Theater Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday at Volunteer Park (1247 15th Ave. E). Performances are free (donations accepted) and include Shakespeare plays, as well as Pinocchio and The Three Musketeers. Check the website for the complete schedule.

Get Out! and explore Volunteer Park… and beyond. This graceful urban park has a network of trails the criss-crosses the lawns and loops around the reservoir. You can also climb to the top of the water tower and take in the view, visit the Conservatory, or just find a big tree to relax under.

For a longer walk (or bike ride), head east out of the park on Galer (past the Volunteer Park Cafe — see below — which you may not want to pass by) to 19th and veer left into the quiet shady ravines of Interlaken Park. You can even venture further into the Arboretum. Just remember: what goes down, may have to come back up.

Fuel up at the Volunteer Park Café. This lovely neighborhood eatery (1501 17th Ave E) serves coffee, panini, salads, and breakfast fare (including Banana Brioche French Toast with caramelized bananas, vanilla orange ricotta filling & toasted pecans) (!) The cafe is open from 8am to 4:30pm on weekends and at 7am Tues-Fri. Dinner is served from 5:30pm.

Leaving the car at home?

Numerous buses stop near Marion and Minor; check Metro’s Trip Planner for options.

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

If you need a ride back up the hill from the Arboretum, catch the #43 on 24th, then walk 1.4 miles on Galer to Volunteer Park.

Weather forecast: 80s with lots of sun.

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.

June 21, 2018 (Magnuson Park/Sand Point)

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 full moon sailors. Sail Sand Point volunteers will take you for a spin on Lake Washington by the light of the moon on Saturday evening from 8pm to 10:30pm. The evening starts on the right foot with a dessert potluck. Boat spaces are on a first-come, first-served basis so early arrival is recommended. Sail Sand Point is located at 7861 62nd Ave NE.

Help out with the fight against blood cancer. Run, walk, or volunteer at the Defeat Myeloma 5K run and 1 Mile Walk on Sunday morning at Magnuson Park. The event begins at Magnuson Park Beach, 6505 NE 65th Street. Register online or on race day.

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. Whether you’re on foot or bike, there are plenty of views to be had and places to stop for a picnic.

Looking for a longer bike ride? The Burke-Gilman Trail is just about a mile away from the park and easily accessible via 65th Ave NE. Ride north to Matthews Beach (5100 NE 93rd St.) and/or Kenmore. Head south toward the University of Washington and ride as far as Golden Gardens (featured in our May 31 post) — or connect with the 520 bridge trail and the Arboretum (see the June 14 post for details).

More interested in getting in/on the lake? Swim/wade off the shore of the park or at Magnuson Park Beach or Matthews Beach. Or rent your choice of watercraft — kayak, paddleboard or (with skills test) sailboat — at Sail Sand Point from 11am to 8:30pm on weekends (from 1:30 during the week).

Fuel up at Saint Helens Cafe. Located right on the Burke-Gilman Trail (3600 NE 45th St) about 2.5 miles from the park, this place is worth a stop. The deck is relaxing on a summer day or there is seating inside. Brunch is served on weekends from 10am to 2pm and dinner begins every evening at 5pm. We stopped on a hot day during happy hour (2pm-5pm) and shared a refreshing arugula & lemon salad, Penn Cove mussels in a tangy tomato broth, and crisp, salty fries. Beverage offerings include espresso, a full bar, and fresh lemonade.

Leaving the car at home?  Consider starting and ending your adventure at the UW light rail station and biking about 5 miles to Magnuson Park. Metro bus 62 and bus 75 run early in the morning and late at night on the weekends to and from Magnuson Park.

Weather forecast: Look for temperatures in the 70s on Saturday and Sunday with mostly sunny skies.

June 14, 2018 (Arboretum/Montlake)

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 tree enthusiasts for a tour of the Arboretum. Trained volunteers lead free walks focusing on seasonal topics and special plant collections this Sunday (and every Sunday through November) from 1pm to 2:30pm. Tours meet in front of the Graham Visitors Center (2300 Arboretum Dr E).

Help out at the Puget Soundkeepers summer cleanup. On Saturday from 10am to 12noon, hit the waterways of the Arboretum in a kayak or canoe and help pick up trash and debris. If paddling isn’t your thing, you can clean up the shorelines on foot. A picnic lunch will be provided following the cleanup. RSVP online. This event also meets at the Graham Visitors Center.

Get Out! and bike the Arboretum/520 trail. Explore the brand new Arboretum bike path from the Graham Visitors Center to the intersection of Lake Washington Blvd and E Madison (or vice versa). Looking for a longer ride? Veer off the Arboretum path at the old footbridge (#4 on bike trail map), and follow “Lake Washington Loop” signs through the Montlake neighborhood (yes, it does meander through alleyways) to the 520 overpass. Turn right and you’ll be on the 520 bike trail, on which you can ride across Lake Washington and stop at scenic viewpoints along the way.

Prefer to explore on foot? The Arboretum has a vast network of trails among the trees and plants (with many hidden nooks and crannies to discover) and along Union Bay on a series of islands and boardwalks.

Fuel up at Fuel. The longtime Montlake cafe (2300 24th Ave E) serves Caffe Vita from 7am to 6pm on weekends (opens at 6am during the week).

Nearby Cafe Lago (2305 24th Ave E), another Montlake favorite, is open for dinner, offering wood-fired pizzas and handmade pasta from 5pm daily.

Picnic fare can be found at Montlake Boulevard Market (2605 22nd Ave E), which offers a full-service deli, groceries, and prepared items to take away from 6am to midnight.

Leaving the car at home? You (and your bike) can ride the light rail to UW station, then follow the “Lake Washington Loop” signs to the 520 trail or Arboretum.

Metro bus #11 runs from downtown to E Madison and Lake Washington Blvd. And the #43 and #48 run along 24th Ave E. Check the transit map for additional routes.

Weather forecast: This weekend’s forecast predicts mostly sunny skies with highs in the 70s (74 on Saturday and 79 on Sunday).