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.

March 14, 2019 (Downtown/Chinatown-ID)

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 the beach. If you enjoy (or think you might enjoy) spending summer weekends on the beach talking to people about marine life, the Seattle Aquarium begins its volunteer Beach Naturalist training on April 2. Find the details online.

Join your fellow theater fans. The Fern Shakespeare Company‘s production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream offers a bawdy, hilarious, and interactive take on the overlap between humans and the natural world (and its mischievous fairies). Tickets are available online; the show runs through the end of March at the Slate Theater (815 Seattle Blvd S).

Get out! on a run. The annual St. Patrick’s Day Dash takes place Sunday morning. The course starts at the Seattle Center, continues up-and-back through downtown, and finishes at the Seattle Center with a Post Dash Bash and Beer Garden. More info and registration is online.

If group running isn’t your thing, the trails crisscrossing nearby 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.

Fuel up with ramen. In a tiny space — but well worth the wait — Samurai Noodle (606 5th Ave S) serves steaming bowls of ramen in aromatic and delicious broths. We recently tried the mushroom ramen, which included one of the most flavorful slices of pork we’ve had. Open from 10am to 8:30pm (and until 9:30 on Friday and Saturday).

Leaving the car at home? Bus #24/19 goes to the the Seattle Center, as well as Olympic Sculpture Park. And buses #13/2 and #8 go to the Seattle Center. The International District/Chinatown light rail station is just a short walk from Samurai Noodle and the Slate Theater. Numerous buses travel to and from the C-ID, including the #7, #14#36, and #124.

Weather forecast: Sun and clouds with highs around 60.

March 7, 2019 (Seward Park/Columbia City – plus the ID)

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 park. Green Seattle Partnership is holding workdays at North Genesee Park (9:30-12:30) and Colman Park (10am-1pm) on Saturday. Check the preceding park links for details of and directions to each event.

Join others getting their bikes ready for Spring. BikeWorks in Columbia City’s Hudson Building (3709 S Ferdinand) will open its shop on Saturday from noon to 5pm for adults to use the tools and repair stands with the help of a professional mechanic and volunteers.

Get out! on an urban hike. On Friday, The Mountaineers are leading a seven-mile walk from Seward Park to Colman Park, and then along the Mountains to Sound Greenway to the International District for a dim sum lunch. Join online by Wednesday, March 6. The organized hike is one-way. You can take light rail from the International District Station to Othello Station, then catch Metro bus #50 back to Seward Park.

You could also do all or part of the hike on your own–on foot or bike. Here is the suggested route.

Fuel up at Bua 9. This Columbia City restaurant serves reasonably-priced, delicious Thai classics and is well worth a stop. Bua 9 is located at 5020 Rainier Ave S and is open for lunch and dinner from 11am daily.

Above Colman Park and the I-90 bike tunnel, QED (1418 31st Ave S) has really good coffee, as well as baked goods, including vegan and gluten-free options. Open 7am-6pm on weekends and 6am-6pm during the week.

Leaving the car at home? Metro bus #50 goes to Seward Park and Genesee Park and connects with several other bus lines. The #14 and #27 stop near Colman Park and the #14 stops within a 20-minute walk of Genesee Park. Ride Metro to Columbia City (less than a mile from Genesee Park) on the #7, #9, or #106, or avoid traffic entirely and take the light rail to Columbia City Station.

Weather forecast: Friday is forecast to be mostly cloudy with a high of 46. Saturday and Sunday should be mostly sunny with highs of 48-50.

February 28, 2019 (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 in a kayak. If you are available on a Wednesday morning, Puget Soundkeepers’ kayak patrol paddles Lake Union to collect debris from 10am to 12pm. Boats and cleanup equipment are provided. Call 206-297-7002 or email Morgan to reserve your spot(s). Meet at Northwest Outdoor Center (2100 Westlake Ave N).

Join your fellow rescuers. If you like to get out in the backcountry, REI’s slideshow and discussion, Most Common Backcountry Rescues (and How to Avoid Them), will teach you key lessons that could keep you and others safe. Takes place Monday at 6:30pm at Seattle REI (222 Yale Ave N). Pre-register online; suggested donation is $20.

Get Out! for a tree tour. A city Tree Ambassador will take you on a guided tour through the South Lake Union neighborhood and discuss the importance of trees in urban landscapes. Meet on the stairs between Whole Foods and Bank of America (2200 Westlake Ave) at 9:30am on Saturday. The tour is free; register online.

Fuel up with Neapolitan pizza. Celebrate 15 years of local chain Tutta Bella with a wood-fired pizza at the South Lake Union location (2200 Westlake Ave). Open daily at 11am, they also serve pastas, espresso, and a to-die-for tiramisu that serves two.

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 with highs in the upper 40s this weekend.

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 31, 2019 (Downtown/Alki)

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 “Step Forward” participants. Whether you’re curious about the new tunnel or nostalgic for the viaduct, you can explore them this weekend at events taking place from the stadiums to the Seattle Center. Saturday includes an 8K fun run, tunnel walk, STEM activities, and a community celebration and art festival on the viaduct. Sunday offers a registered bike ride through the tunnel.

Help out at Alki. On Friday, from 10am to 1pm, volunteers will pick up garbage (click Feb 1 on the calendar) at Alki Beach and neighborhood to prevent it from ending up in the Sound. Bring gloves and a garbage bag; pick-up sticks provided. Meet at Alki Beach (2452 Alki Ave SW). Contact the organizer for more details.

Get Out! on water and wheels (or feet). On Friday and this Saturday, you can take the West Seattle Water Taxi to the Alki Beach Trail — and beyond — for a bike ride or walk. Bikes can be brought on board the water taxi.

Fuel up downtown or on Alki. Sitting atop the new tunnel, Von’s 1000Spirits has, as you might imagine, a full (spirited) bar, as well as pizzas, pastas, and giant burgers on buns made from their own sourdough. Located at the top of the Harbor Steps at 1225 1st Ave, Von’s is open at 11am daily.

Need a break from all the changes in Seattle? Step back in time at Alki Spud Fish and Chips (2666 Alki Ave SW). Since 1935, Spud has been serving up fried fish and shrimp, chowders, and shakes from 11am to 9pm daily.

Leaving the car at home? The West Seattle Water Taxi normally operates on weekdays only in the winter, but will also run this Saturday. The entrance is at the foot of Madison Street (801 Alaskan Way). From the West Seattle (Seacrest) dock, the free DART shuttle (#775) runs along Alki Ave SW.

Weather forecast: Friday could see some rain, with a high of 51 degrees; Saturday is forecast to be mostly cloudy with a high of 50 degrees; Sunday should be mostly cloudy, but colder with a high of 44 degrees.

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.

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.