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.

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.

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 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 (!)

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 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.