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.