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.

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.

November 1, 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).

Help out at Green Seattle Day. Join the Green Seattle Partnership and hundreds of volunteers planting thousands of plants in parks throughout the city. RSVP here — there are still volunteer slots open. Takes place on Saturday at various locations from 9am on.

Join your fellow rowing fans. The Head of the Lake regatta, one of the biggest rowing events on the west coast, takes place in Seattle on Sunday (8am to 1pm). High school, college, and club crews race on a course from Lake Union, through Portage Bay, the Montlake Cut, and Union Bay, to the University of Washington boathouse. Good viewing points include Foster Island and along the Cut (see “suggested route” link below).

Get out! and walk the Head of the Lake race course. Our suggested route takes you from Gas Works Park (across from the start line), on the Burke Gilman Trail, then along the Montlake Cut, across the Montlake Bridge, and on the Arboretum’s Marsh Island boardwalk to Foster Island. If you go on Sunday, rowing shells will race by as you walk the 2.9-mile route.

Fuel up during Seattle Restaurant Week. Eateries throughout the city are offering special three-course meal deals Sunday to Thursday through November 8. Participating restaurants all offer dinner and some offer lunch.

Leaving the car at home? Metro Trip Planner will help you find a bus to your park or restaurant of choice. The UW/Husky Stadium light rail station is close to the Regatta action and suggested walk.

Weather forecast: Pack rain gear just in case. Clouds and showers are forecast with highs in the mid- to high-50s.