April 18, 2019 (West Seattle)

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 paddlers. Locally-owned Mountain to Sound Outfitters (3618 SW Alaska St) is hosting a Boat Swap on Saturday from 12pm to 6pm (co-hosted by Alki Kayak Tours) and Paddling Film Festival from 6:30pm to 9:30pm. Buy and/or sell human powered watercraft (kayaks, SUPs, canoes) and accessories, see a film — and check out the store’s sale on winter gear.

Help out at Me-kwa-mooks Park. On Friday from 1:30pm to 3:30pm, volunteers will be removing ivy and blackberry to make room for native Pacific Northwest plants. Sign up online and meet on the front lawn of Me-kwa-mooks Park (4503 Beach Drive SW).

Get out! for a day at the beach. Enjoy the quiet side of Alki at Me-kwa-mooks. If the tide is out, explore the tidepools, then walk 2.5 miles along the shoreline to Lincoln Park, which has woodsy and waterside trails.

Fuel up at … We’ve been telling you about our go-to places to eat and get coffee, but we want to hear about yours! We invite you to post a comment about your favorite eateries in West Seattle.

Leaving the car at home? The West Seattle Water Taxi is operating seven days a week now, leaving from downtown. Metro route 773 will take you from the ferry dock to the Alaska junction. The C-Line also runs from Seattle to the Alaska junction and to Lincoln Park. On weekdays, bus #37 goes to the Alaska junction and Me-kwa-mooks Park.

Weather forecast: Friday may seen some rain with a high of 57 degrees. Saturday and Sunday are forecast to be sunny with patchy clouds and highs in the low 60s.

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.

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.

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!)

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.

 

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 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).

 

June 7, 2018 (West Seattle)

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 rock fans. A presentation and book signing by Jeff Smoot, author of Schurman Rock: A History & Guide (described as “part history, part biography, and part climbing guide”), takes place at Camp Long Lodge (5200 35th Avenue SW) on Saturday at 4pm.

Help out with restoring Longfellow Creek. Sign up to help the Nature Consortium weed and mulch in the forest around the creek on Saturday from 10am-2pm. Meet at 26th Ave SW and SW Juneau St.

Get out! in the bay. At Alki Kayak Tours (1660 Harbor Ave SW), you can take a guided tour or explore on your own in a rented kayak. You can also rent stand-up paddle boards and longboards — as well as bikes and inline skates for use on the well-traveled bike path to Alki Beach. For a longer ride, keep going to Lincoln Park, which features a warm saltwater swimming pool. Alki Kayak Tours is open at 10am on weekends (12pm on weekdays).

Fuel up before/after your kayak adventure. Marination Ma Kai is conveniently situated next to Alki Kayak Tours at the West Seattle Water Taxi (Seacrest) dock. Lines can be long on nice weekends, but the fish tacos and kimchi fried rice – and the waterside patio – may be worth the wait. Opens at 9am Friday-Sunday.

If you’re in the area on Sunday, the West Seattle Farmers Market is open from 10am-2pm at California Ave SW and SW Alaska (the Junction).

For coffee, long-time local chain Uptown Espresso is at the Junction (4301 SW Edmunds) and open at 6am on weekends. And across the street from the Seacrest dock, Moondrop Coffee & Tea (1619 Harbor Ave SW) serves organic, shade-grown, fair-trade coffee.

Leaving the car at home? The West Seattle Water Taxi departs hourly from downtown Seattle (801 Alaskan Way — entrance is at the foot of Madison Street). Bikes can be brought on board. From the West Seattle (Seacrest) dock, the free DART shuttle (#773) goes to the Junction and Camp Long. The 120 bus goes to Longfellow Creek from downtown Seattle.