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.

January 24, 2019 (Parks & Trails, North & South)

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 city park.

South: If it fits into your schedule, stop by lovely and serene Kubota Garden, (9817 55th Ave S) on any Tuesday morning from 10am to 12pm and assist the gardeners with planting, pruning, raking, or weeding.

North: On Sundays, volunteers are needed to walk around Green Lake and pick up trash. 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.

Get Out! on a city trail.

South: The rolling Chief Sealth Trail 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/walking the entire 4.5-mile trail (9 miles roundtrip) offers a good workout with a view. The trail is also accessible from several light rail stations: Beacon Hill (with an additional 3.3-mile walk/ride), Othello, and Rainier Beach (northbound towards Beacon Hill or southbound to Kubota Garden).

North: The Green Lake loop is about 3 miles (depending on whether you use the inner or outer path). From Green Lake, you can walk primarily on greenbelt to Cowen and Ravenna Parks — where you’ll find 4.5 miles of trails within the two contiguous parks, which take you into a ravine and past Ravenna Creek. From there you can access the Burke-Gilman Trail for a longer ride or walk.

Fuel up at one of our faves from past posts.

South: July 5, 2018; May 17, 2018

North: November 15, 2018; August 30, 2018

Leaving the car at home? Metro bus 106 goes to Kubota Garden. Numerous buses stop near/at Green Lake, including the #45 and the #62

Weather forecast: The forecast looks mainly dry with highs around 50 degrees.

January 17, 2019 (Central District, Downtown)

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 marchers. The Seattle MLK Organizing Coalition and Seattle Womxn Marching Forward are co-organizing an event that includes marching, rallying, workshopping, and healing, on Monday, Martin Luther King Day. The all-day activities begin at 8:30am with an Opportunity FairWorkshops, and a Rally in the Gymnasium — all at Garfield High School (400 23rd Ave) — followed by a march from Garfield to another rally Downtown (Westlake Park, 4th and Pine) and a community meal. Other activities happen throughout the weekend.

Help out at the MLK event. Volunteers are needed to help out at the march and other events above. Sign up online.

Get Out! for a walk among the lights. Sunday is the last day of Snow Day in Denny Park (100 Dexter Ave N), an Immersive Winter Lighting Display hosted by Friends of Denny Park, Downtown Seattle Association, and the South Lake Union Chamber from 4pm-9pm nightly through January 20.

Fuel up with a hot beverage (or two). It looks to be a bit wet this weekend. Dry out at the Central District’s Golden Wheat Bakery (2908 E Cherry St) with horchata lattes and housemade pastries and tamales. Opens at 7:30, just 1/2-mile from Garfield High.

Uptown Espresso in Belltown (2504 4th Ave) and is about a 5-minute walk from Denny Park, and serves velvety espresso from 6-6 on weekends. The 5 Point Cafe (415 Cedar St) is also nearby for all-day (and night) breakfast and other diner fare (open 24 hours).

Leaving the car at home? Metro buses #3, #4, #27, and #48 stop at or near Garfield High School. Numerous buses, as well as the light rail, go downtown. The #8 and #62 will take you to Denny Park.

Weather forecast: Rain with highs in the upper-40s, low 50s on Saturday and Sunday. Monday looks cloudy, but mainly dry with a high of 49 degrees.

January 10, 2019 (North Capitol Hill to U-Village)

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 hikers interested in the Pacific Crest Trail. Kathleen “Token” Neves will tell you what it takes to plan your own PCT adventure at Athleta University Village. She’ll provide tips on day hikes, section hiking, and walking the whole thing. The first 20 attendees through the door will receive a free goodie bag stuffed with some of Kathleen’s hiking favorites. Register online for the free event, which happens on Saturday from 7pm to 8:30pm.

Help out with a little gardening. The Volunteer Park Trust hosts monthly 2nd Saturday Work Parties and there is one this weekend from 10am to noon. Participants will clean garden beds, weed, mulch, and remove invasive plants in Volunteer Park (1247 15th Ave E). Check the sign at the Black Sun sculpture across from Seattle Asian Art Museum to find the meeting site.

Get Out! on a park-to-park hike or ride. Walk or ride a 5-mile route (down and back) through Volunteer Park, Interlaken Park, and the Arboretum. Cyclists (and hikers) can extend their mileage on the Burke-Gilman Trail (north or west) and 520 bridge path.

You could also hike a 6-mile loop with the Mountaineers on Saturday (if you are a member or would like to join). Sign up with the Mountaineers and the hike by Thursday, January 10, and meet their group at the Graham Visitors Center in the Arboretum (2300 Arboretum Dr E) at 9am.

Fuel up at U-Village or Volunteer Park. U-Village’s Veggie Grill (2681 NE University Village St) is part of a local chain that serves, among other vegetarian items, a meat-less burger that really tastes like a burger. Opens daily at 10:30am.

We also love the homey Volunteer Park Cafe (1501 17th Ave E) for coffee and housemade goodies.

Leaving the car at home? 

Buses to U-Village include the #65#67, and #75.

To bus to Volunteer Park, the #10 runs along 15th Ave E and the #49 along 10th Ave E.

To get to the Arboretum, bus #11 runs from downtown to E Madison and Lake Washington Blvd. And the #43 and #48 run along 24th Ave E.

To access the Arboretum or U-Village, you (and your bike) can ride the light rail to UW station, then follow the “Lake Washington Loop” signs to the Arboretum or to the Burke-Gilman Trail.

Weather forecast: It’s looking pretty good with partly sunny skies and highs of around 50 degrees.

January 3, 2019 (Duwamish/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 cyclists. Yes, it’s happening: the Viaduct is coming down. Cascade Bicycle Club is leading the SurviveRealign99 Ride where bike commuters and cyclists can try out routes in a friendly group, with more daylight and less traffic than on weekdays. The ride is expected to be about 16 miles with some hills. Register online and meet with your bike at 9:15am on Saturday at the West Seattle Junction Starbucks (California SW at SW Alaska).

Help out at a riverside cleanup and planting. Join EarthCorps and the Port of Seattle for a work party along the Duwamish River. Volunteers will remove weeds and replace them with native plants. Meet at 10am on Saturday at Terminal 105 Park (4032 W Marginal Way SW) just north of SW Dakota St). Contact the volunteer team if you would like to sign up.

Get Out! in the city’s largest greenbelt. The West Duwamish Greenbelt has miles of trails to explore. Access through Puget Park (4767 Puget Way SW) or check out the trail map.

Fuel up with coffee, bubble tea, and more. Pearls Tea and Coffee also serves baguette sandwiches and crepes. Open from 8am to 7pm on weekends, the cafe is located at 4800 Delridge Way.

Leaving the car at home? The West Seattle Water Taxi operates on weekdays only in the winter. The entrance is at the foot of Madison Street (801 Alaskan Way). Bikes can be brought on board. From the West Seattle (Seacrest) dock, the free DART shuttle (#773) goes to the West Seattle Junction. The 120 bus travels from downtown Seattle along Delridge and also stops within a 15-minute walk from Terminal 105.

Weather forecast: Saturday is expected to be cloudy with a high of 47. Sunday will be about the same temperature with rain at times.

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.

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 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.