May 2, 2019 (Montlake Cut)

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 by attending a party. Opening Day/Windermere Cup weekend starts on Friday (6-10pm) at Seattle’s third annual Party on the Cut. The event features live music, food trucks, a beer garden for age 21+, and lawn games on the Montlake Cut (3710 Montlake Boulevard NE). Proceeds from ticket sales will establish rowing scholarships for low income youth, through the Windermere Foundation.

Join your fellow boating fans. Boats of all kinds will pass through the Montlake Cut on Saturday. Windermere Cup rowing races start off the day, beginning at 10:16am, culminating in the races between University of Washington crews and the German National Team, Boston University, and UCLA. Following that is the Opening Day boat parade, which celebrates the official start of the boating season in Seattle.

NOTE: Once the boat parade starts, the Montlake exit from SR 520 and the Montlake Bridge will be closed.

Get Out! along the parade route — and beyond. If you’re on the south side, you can walk along the Cut, then join the Arboretum’s vast network of trails, which will take you along Union Bay on a series of islands and boardwalks. Turn south at Foster Island and walk among the trees and plants. North of the cut, a walk through the beautiful UW campus is also a favorite.

Fuel up at Agua Verde Cafe and Paddle Club. Enjoy tasty Mexican food, as well as espresso, at Agua Verde (1307 NE Boat St). The cafe is open on Saturdays from 9am to 9pm, and Sundays from 9am to 8pm.  You can also rent kayaks there, but it may be a little hectic on the water this weekend.

Leaving the car at home? Take the light rail to the University of Washington station. Several bus routes, including 4871, and 73, provide service to the Montlake Cut area.

Weather forecast: Mostly sunny with highs of 63 on Friday and 68 on Saturday and Sunday.

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 21, 2019 (Gas Works to Discovery 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 with planting at Discovery Park. On Sunday from 9am to 12pm, Green Seattle Partnership will be installing native plants at the park. Find a registration link, as well as details about what to wear/bring, online — and meet at the park’s north parking lot.

Join your fellow spring cyclists. Join Cascade Bicycle Club on Saturday for “Getting Ready to Ride,” a leisurely/steady-paced 21.5-mile ride. The start (10am) and finish are at Gas Works Park, and the route includes Magnolia and Queen Anne (so expect a few hills).

Get Out! and explore Discovery Park. Our favorite in-city get-away offers miles of beach and trail walking opportunities, as well as shady forests and sweeping views of the Sound and Olympic Peninsula. Find a trail map at the Environmental Learning Center (3801 Discovery Park Blvd) or online.

Fuel up with a picnic in the park. Magnolia’s Metropolitan Market (3830 34th Ave W) offers a large selection of locally-sourced take-away options.

Leaving the car at home? Metro bus #24 goes to Magnolia’s Metropolitan Market, which is just a few blocks from Discovery Park. The #33 goes to the Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center area.

To get to Gas Works, the UW light rail station is less then 2-miles away on the Burke-Gilman Trail. Buses #31 and #32 stop a couple of blocks from Gas Works.

Weather forecast: Highs are forecast to be in the mid- to upper-50s, with cloud cover on Saturday and a partly sunny Sunday.

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 21, 2019 (Bainbridge Island)

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 eco-music fans. Joe Reilly performs eco-friendly folk music and “songs for the earth” at IslandWood (4450 Blakely Ave NE) on Sunday at 4pm. Tickets are free, but reserve online as space is limited. An optional pizza dinner takes place afterward, but sign up today!

Help out on your bicycle. Benefitting cycling programs, including Let’s Go, the Major Taylor Project, or Cascade Bicycle Club‘s statewide advocacy, the Chilly Hilly ride happens on Sunday. For Seattle cyclists, registration is from 7am to 10am at Pyramid Ale House (1201 1st Ave S), from which you’ll bike to Colman dock and catch the 7:55, 8:55, 9:35 or 10:40 ferry to Bainbridge Island for the 33-mile ride. Online registration is open until midnight tonight. Day-of registration is available, but the ride is limited to 5,000 participants.

Get Out! in the woods. Bainbridge Island’s Grand Forest has approximately 8 miles of trails to explore on three parcels of land. It is about a 4- to 4.5-mile bike ride (or walk) from the Bainbridge ferry dock.

Fuel up at an island favorite. The Streamliner (397 Winslow Way E) serves breakfast and lunch from 7am on Saturdays (and weekdays) and 7:30am on Sundays. Menu items include an array of omelettes and scrambles, housemade biscuits, meatloaf sandwiches, pulled pork, and vegetarian options.

Leaving the car at home? Catch the ferry from downtown Seattle on your bike or on foot. If you’re not participating in the Chilly Hilly, might be best to avoid Sunday morning sailings, particularly the early ones.

Weather forecast: Saturday looks a little rainy, but Sunday looks drier. Both days will see high temps in the low 40s.

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.

February 7, 2019 (Snoqualmie Pass)

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 snowshoers. Strap on snowshoes (which are provided if you don’t have your own) for a ranger-led trek at Snoqualmie Pass. Choose from 1-mile or 5-mile routes or a winter photography outing. Trips take place on weekends through March 24. Pre-register and find the details online.

Help out at Outdoors for All. While up at the Pass, chances are you will see Outdoor for All volunteers skiing/riding with adaptive, visually-impaired, and developmentally-disabled athletes. OFA is always looking for new volunteers and runs programs and events year-round, including the SPREEFEST at Alpental on March 9.

Get Out! on the hill. The snow has been plentiful lately (even at sea level!), and the Summit at Snoqualmie is only 45-minutes from Seattle. Storms this week should make for great skiing and riding from your choice of five base lodges.

Fuel up on the mountain. The Pass has no shortage of eateries. Other options are located in the small commercial area on the road linking the base areas (NF-9041).

Leaving the car at home? On Sundays, from now until March 24, you can catch the Seattle Ski Bus to Snoqualmie Pass from the University District, Downtown Seattle, or Bellevue. Book your seat and find information online.

Weather forecast: Snow is forecast for the weekend, with high temps in the mid-20s at the Pass.

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.