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 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 (!)

July 5, 2018 (Chief Sealth Trail/ Georgetown)

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 “Tuesdays in the Garden.” If it fits into your schedule, stop by Kubota Garden near Rainier Beach (9817 55th Ave S) on any Tuesday morning from 10am to 12pm and assist the gardeners with planting, pruning, raking, or weeding. Or visit on another day for a serene and scenic stroll (admission is free!).

Join your fellow flower fans. The annual Georgetown Garden Walk is a self-guided exploration of this eclectic southend neighborhood. Maps are available on the day of the walk (Sunday) at the Georgetown Bank of America parking lot (1112 South Bailey St) from 10am-5pm. In addition to gardens, there will be live music, plus brew pubs and artist studios to visit.

Get Out! on the Chief Sealth Trail. This rolling bike and pedestrian path 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 the entire 4.5-mile trail (9 miles roundtrip) offers a short, but good, workout with a view. The trail is also accessible from several light rail stations: Beacon Hill (with an additional 3.3-mile ride), Othello, and Rainier Beach (northbound towards Beacon Hill or southbound to Kubota Garden).

Fuel up at one of Georgetown’s many eateries. Get some ideas on the Garden Walk or visit seattle.eater.com for recommendations. There is no shortage of great food and drink in Georgetown.

If you’re at the Garden or the south end of the Trail, check out King Donuts (9232 Rainier Ave S), where you can eat donuts, Thai food, and teriyaki — and also do a little laundry. Open from 7am most every day, including weekends.

Leaving the car at home? In addition to the light rail stops mentioned above, Metro buslines 106 and 107. And the 124 runs from downtown Seattle to Georgetown.

Weather forecast: Temps in the 70s/low 80s with cooler weather and the possibility of showers on Saturday.

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.

May 17, 2018 (Columbia City/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).

This is our inaugural post; future posts will be available on Wednesdays.

Join your fellow cyclists. Bicycle Sunday on Lake Washington Boulevard starts this weekend and continues on selected dates through September. From Mount Baker Beach to Seward Park, enjoy a peaceful, view-filled, car-free ride, walk or run from 10am to 6pm. Up and back is about 6 miles – add 2-1/2 miles by doing the Seward Park Shore Loop. Bring your bike or grab a LimeBike on the trail.

Help out and repair bikes. BikeWorks in Columbia City’s Hudson Building (3709 S Ferdinand) is hosts regular a drop-in volunteer party, where you can learn to repair bicycles for a good cause — and there’s one on Sunday from 10am to 1pm.

Get out! in the woods of Seward Park. Old growth forest awaits, and you’ll feel like you’ve left the city once you duck into the canopy and explore the inner trails. Download or pick up a map at the Seward Park Audubon Center (worth an in-person visit).

Fuel up at Super Six before/after. Check out this Columbia City eatery for brunch, happy hour, or dinner with a Hawaiian vibe, featuring outdoor picnic tables and menu items like The 98118 Sandwich with seared SPAM. Located at 3714 S Hudson, it’s a great jumping-off point for a bike ride or walk through Genesee Park to Lake Washington Boulevard (about 1-1/2 miles).

Also recommended: Columbia City Bakery (4865 Rainier Ave S) and Full Tilt Ice Cream (5041 Rainier Ave S‎). And PCC for picnic items or takeout (3610 S Edmunds).

Closer to Seward Park? Try Both Ways Cafe for coffee and breakfast (don’t miss the fresh-baked biscuits) (open 7am-3pm M-F, and 8-2 on Sundays) and next door neighbor Flying Squirrel Pizza Company (opens at 5pm). Both are located at the corner of Genesee and 50th.

Leaving the car at home? Ride Metro to Columbia City on the #7, #9, or #106, or avoid traffic entirely and take the light rail to Columbia City Station. The #50 stops near Seward Park.

Weather forecast: Mostly sunny, low 70s.