It has finally descended on Seattle –albeit kicking and screaming-but it’s finally here. Now we get to enjoy our two months (give or take a few weeks) of nice weather before hunkering back down into the gloom.
But let’s not think about that right now.
Let’s talk about fun and (mostly) cheap things you must do to enjoy what Seattle and its environs have to offer this summer.
There are so many things to do and explore in Seattle and Snohomish and King Counties but these are my personal favorites. All of these activities have been personally tested by "moi," so I can vouch for the fun you will have!
1. Seattle Stair Climbing.
I adore outdoor steps, especially the hidden little gems that populate Seattle. I always want to know where they go.
Here are the stairs I climbed on a recent trek – almost 900 steps up and 300+ steps down -
but this was the payoff.
What better way to get exercise? Ok, couldn't walk very well for the next couple of days but nice to know I can still haul myself up and down steps!
For other stair climbing opportunities, look here. (And I am going to climb every one of these!)
2. Eat Your Way Through Pike Place Market.
Granted you can do this any time of the year, but on a sunny summer day it’s just that much more fun. Note: This day is not aimed at people who don't eat much.
Get there early to watch the Market come alive. Grab an espresso at the original Starbucks (before it is full of tourists) and a piroshky from the Piroshky Bakery a couple of doors down. Enjoy a blackened salmon sandwich sitting at the counter at the Market Grill for lunch and later have a martini on the deck at the Pink Door and take in the view and the sun. There are a wealth of options for dinner, but a personal favorite is the Steelhead Diner (can’t resist the poutine).
Later, walk past the gum wall to the Alibi Room for a nightcap and some people watching. If movie people are in town, you might catch a famous face.
When you are not eating, you can watch flying fish, shop for produce and crafts, listen to street musicians, relax in Victor Steinbrueck Park and take a picture with Rachel the Pig.
3. Take the Clipper to Victoria.
“More British than Britain,” Victoria is one of my most special places. It's a walking town so walk, walk, walk.
In addition to walking, I have my little rituals – shop for my supply of tea at Murchies, go next door to Munro’s Books to buy an autobiography only published in the UK by some obscure British television actor only I have heard of, take the “putt putt boat” across the Inner Harbour (note my cool British spelling) to the houseboats for fish and chips at Barb's, and teatime at the James Bay Tea House (locals laugh at you if you have tea at the Empress, but do it at least once). However, you definitely want to go to the Empress for drinks in the Bengal Lounge for a taste of Old World British Rule (at Current Rule prices), and as night descends, take in the lights that outline Parliament.
You don’t even have to spend the night if you don’t want to. You can get on the Clipper at 8am in Seattle and be in Victoria by 10:30 in the morning and have the whole day to enjoy Victoria and still return home in the evening.
A little bit of England just a few hours away.
4. The Ferry to Bainbridge Island and back.
One of the cheapest cruises you will ever take.
Walk on, enjoy the sea breeze, stroll around Winslow, have a bite to eat, and then head back to Seattle.
The trick is to plan your return for sunset or later so you can sail right into the jewel that is Seattle at night.
Or for another day cruise, hop the King County Water Taxi over to West Seattle.
A bus awaits to take you to “The Junction,” where the West Seattle action is, and then you can wind your way back on foot.
Here is how to do it.
5. Ballard Locks and the Fish Ladder
I will never forget the first time I visited the locks. My husband, my children and I were visiting Seattle for the first time and went to the locks to see the salmon make their way up the fish ladder.
There we were, noses pressed to the glass excitedly awaiting the leaping, flying salmon as they make their way up the ladder.
We waited and waited and waited.
Finally, along came one lone little minnow who reminded me of Don Knotts in "The Incredible Mr. Limpet." It was almost as if he was mocking us.
However, salmon or no salmon, the locks are situated in a beautiful park, and as you walk across the locks, you can watch a lock fill up, chat with the boat people as they wait, envy their boats, and then make your way over to the Magnolia side for a pleasant walk around the neighborhood. If you are feeling especially energetic, you can walk over to Discovery Park.
6. Take your dog to an off-leash dog park.
Or even if you don’t have a dog, go anyway. It’s a hoot. Or should I say a woof!
You can watch a yorkiepoo intimidating a Great Dane, a white fluffy Bichon Frise rolling around in the dirt much to its owner's consternation, German Shepherds fetching Frisbees out of the water and then shaking the water off themselves onto their owners, and the general sniffing that occurs as dogs say "hello" to each other.
A personal favorite is the scene around the communal drinking bowl.
Have you ever noticed that when a dog finishes drinking and looks up, there is total disregard about the water that continues to ooze out of both sides of its mouth? (Can be funny unless the water is dripping from a particular collie's long snout onto your wood floors. And she knows who she is. Never mind. My issue).
Anyway, along with the canine shenanigans, dog parks are often in prime locations. Mountlake Terrace has a nice new park in a wooded area by the Pavilion; Edmonds has one right on the Sound; and the one at Magnuson Park in Seattle is ginormous.
Your little Fido could think he was a free dog there.
(And for you etymologists, yes, ginormous is a word and made it into the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 2009. It’s definition? Humongous. )
7. Snoqualmie Falls
Lovely drive into the foothills.
For those of you who are of a certain age, it is difficult to not think of the TV show "Twin Peaks" when standing near the Salish Lodge overlooking the Falls.
As the mist rises, so do images of the dancing dwarf and FBI Special Agent Cooper drinking his cup of “damn fine coffee.”
(Speaking of "Twin Peaks," is it me or was Season 2 strange and obscure beyond words? I digress.)
8. Wine Tasting in Woodinville
When I moved here eight years ago, there was Chateau Ste. Michelle and the Columbia Winery and that was about it. And the tastes were free.
Now there are almost 100 wineries and tasting rooms populating the Woodinville area and tastings are anything but free unless you are a member. But on a lovely day, a drive into wine country for a picnic, strolling the grounds of the Chateau, or discovering a new wine tasting room or a new wine is a nice, relaxing getaway. You can also strike up conversations with happy strangers and bond over the experience.
Just be wary of “palate fatigue,” if you know what I mean.
This is an end of summer affair that is intrinsic to Seattle.
Hard to believe that it was once a free event, but it is still a good deal if you are a music lover. This year Hall and Oates are one of the headliners, so attending is an absolute must.
(What's the word for someone obsessed with Hall and Oates? And he knows who he is).
10. Visit Your Library. Make it a destination.
Free Activities abound at the library in summer.
Take your grandchild to a library story time.
Bring your baby to hear a story and play with other babies.
Get a library card.
Take a class.
Learn how to download free e-books to your portable device.
Check out some DVDs to share with the family such as "The Incredible Mr. Limpet".
Or check out Twin Peaks and tell me if I am wrong about the second season.
Sign up for summer reading.
It’s not just for kids.
Teens can submit book reviews on line to win an IPad 2.
Adults can submit reviews for the books they read for a chance to win a color Nook E-reader.
Attend our free weekly programs: puppet shows, "Whose Line is it Anyway?" fun for kids and teens, musical stories and stories from Cajun country, movies, global games and a live performance of the “Emperor and the Nightingale” by Last Leaf Productions (sponsored by the Mountlake Terrace Friends of the Library).
March with us in the Tour De Terrace Parade on July 29 – come early for crafts and a free T-shirt.
Win a bike!
Bikes for Books starts July 11 at the Mountlake Terrace Library. Children who read ten books and write a review of their favorite one can enter to win a bike thanks to the Mountlake Terrace Masons.
So what other incentives do you need to make the library a favorite destination?
Oh, I forgot, one more thing. It’s also nice and cool inside!
What are some of your favorite summer activities and destinations?