December 6, 2018 (Green Lake/Sunset Hill)

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 “Green Lake Give Native Plants a Chance.” Green Lake Stewards will be working on the west side of the lake to remove invasive Himalayan blackberry canes from 9am to 12pm on Saturday. To join the work party, sign up online and meet at the Aqua Theater.

Join your fellow barterers. Sustainable Ballard and Sunset Hill Community Association are hosting a Barter Fair & Holiday Party on Sunday from 4p to 6pm. The event takes place at the Sunset Hill Community Club (3003 NW 66th St) and is an alternative to commercial gift-buying. No cash changes hands; instead participants trade items they cooked, made, or offer as a service.

Get out! and follow the lights. On Saturday, from 4:30 to 7:30pm, Green Lake will be dressed up with luminaria all the way around the 2.8-mile path. The annual Pathway of Lights event features live music and refreshments. Donation bins will be on hand for non-perishable food donations to benefit the FamilyWorks food bank.

Fuel up on the corner. When we’re in the area of NW 65th St and 15th Ave NW, we stop at Jumpin’ Jimmy’s Java for coffees made with our favorite Cafe Umbria. NOTE: It is a drive-through (but you can walk up) and they only take cash. Open until 4pm Saturdays and 3pm Sundays. Next door is Top Banana, a locally-owned produce market, which stocks reasonably-priced fruits and vegetables (locally-sourced as often as possible) and also has some basic groceries. Open daily 8am-8pm.

Leaving the car at home? Numerous buses stop near/at Green Lake, including the #45 and the #62. The D-Line stops at Jumpin’ Jimmys and Top Banana, and it is a 20-minute walk to the Sunset Hill Community Club. The #40 stops with a 10-minute walk of the club.

Weather forecast: Expect periods of rain this weekend with high temps in the mid-40s.

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.

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.

November 1, 2018 (Citywide)

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 Green Seattle Day. Join the Green Seattle Partnership and hundreds of volunteers planting thousands of plants in parks throughout the city. RSVP here — there are still volunteer slots open. Takes place on Saturday at various locations from 9am on.

Join your fellow rowing fans. The Head of the Lake regatta, one of the biggest rowing events on the west coast, takes place in Seattle on Sunday (8am to 1pm). High school, college, and club crews race on a course from Lake Union, through Portage Bay, the Montlake Cut, and Union Bay, to the University of Washington boathouse. Good viewing points include Foster Island and along the Cut (see “suggested route” link below).

Get out! and walk the Head of the Lake race course. Our suggested route takes you from Gas Works Park (across from the start line), on the Burke Gilman Trail, then along the Montlake Cut, across the Montlake Bridge, and on the Arboretum’s Marsh Island boardwalk to Foster Island. If you go on Sunday, rowing shells will race by as you walk the 2.9-mile route.

Fuel up during Seattle Restaurant Week. Eateries throughout the city are offering special three-course meal deals Sunday to Thursday through November 8. Participating restaurants all offer dinner and some offer lunch.

Leaving the car at home? Metro Trip Planner will help you find a bus to your park or restaurant of choice. The UW/Husky Stadium light rail station is close to the Regatta action and suggested walk.

Weather forecast: Pack rain gear just in case. Clouds and showers are forecast with highs in the mid- to high-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 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 (!)

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.