What To Do In Seattle This Summer, Because There's More To The Emerald City Than Rain And Coffee
The popular image of life in Seattle is, for the most part, a correct one: For much of the year, my hometown is a soggy, cloud-covered, metal grey patch of the Pacific Northwest. It's not without its perks, of course: The upshot of living in a rain-soaked city is a flushed complexion, windswept hair, and a stunning natural landscape that flourishes in shades of emerald green all year around. But in the summer, drizzly Seattle transforms into a temperate paradise, where it's possible to sit on the porch all morning in your bathing suit without evening thinking about grabbing a jacket, or trek down to a quiet slice of beach for a night swim with friends as the sun sets.
But if you're considering a summer trip to Seattle, the gorgeous weather is just one reason to visit. Seattle is full of opportunities for adventure: Our thriving music scene offers a seemingly endless list of festivals and shows, and our infamously beautiful scenery provides escapes both within the city limits and just a short drive away. If you're looking for a summer of relaxation, where there are always new paths and parks to discover, where the sun is almost always shining and there's no reason to ever be bored, stop by Seattle and we'll show you a good time.
Best Places to Grab a Bite
Pike Street Fish Fry, Capitol Hill
Located in a little hole-in-the-wall next door to Neumos, one of Seattle's most celebrated music venues, Pike St. Fish Fry is a staple of the city's culinary scene. You can catch a show and then brave the crowds afterwards for a late night snack that includes some of the best fries in the city. Better to stop by during the day though, for a delicious lunch of battered calamari or shrimp. Enjoy your food while exploring the Capitol Hill neighborhood, or stake out a spot on one of their wooden benches and enjoy a cold beer while you people-watch.
Ada's Technical Books, Capitol Hill
On a sunny day, I like to grab my notebook and head up to this haven for geekdom. Named for mathematician Ada Lovelace, this science-focused bookstore boasts a secluded backyard and a deck out front where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or a slice of vegetable quiche. Step inside, and you'll find a selection of science, physics, and technology-related books, as well as a wide variety of science fiction novels. Chalkboards at the front of the shop detail the many book clubs that Ada's runs, including Science Fiction Classics and the History of Discovery.
Mezcaleria Oaxaca, Between Capitol Hill and Downtown
Get your night started on the charming rooftop of this Mexican restaurant. The orange string lights that illuminate the deck create a cozy feeling, and Mezcaleria Oaxaca's margaritas are the perfect drink for warm weather. An array of light (but filling) snacks like rice and beans are available on the roof, but if you're looking for a full meal, never fear: The restaurant downstairs, which offers full meal service, was voted one of the best in the city in both 2012 and 2013. Afterwards, continue your evening on foot: the Mezcaleria is centrally located between Capitol Hill and Downtown, where some of the city's most bustling night life can be found.
Best Music Festivals
Capitol Hill Block Party, July 24-26
Capitol Hill Block Party is the most anticipated music festival on the summer for most Seattleites (besides Bumbershoot, which doesn't happen until September anyway). Running over the weekend of July 24 - 26, CHBP takes over six city blocks in the heart of Seattle, and features two main stages built just for the festivities. This year's line-up includes headliners Father John Misty, Ratatat, and the Kills, as well as dozens of other bands, including both local and touring acts. The festival also provides tasty food from thirty local restaurants.
Pizza Fest VI, August 6-8
Local music-focused garage-punk extravaganza Pizza Fest takes places at several venues around the city, and yes, it does include a pizza eating contest. The organizers aim to help underexposed and under-appreciated bands gain a wider audience by putting national touring acts on the same bills with the musicians who are just starting out. The festival, which had its first run in Chicago in 2009, is gaining traction in its new home. Last year, the festival sold out and had to turn people away, so this year they're encouraging music lovers to grab their passes early. Be prepared for mosh pits and lots of cheesy goodness.
Best Outdoor Adventures
Mt. Baker Park, Leschi
Located on scenic Lake Washington, this massive park includes Mount Baker Bathing Beach. The number 14 bus stops right outside the entrance of the park, but if you prefer to drive there's plenty of parking. For a more a more secluded swim, walk a couple miles down the shaded path along the water until you come to one of the many grassy inlets away from the main park. There you can settle down away from the crowds with a book and towel. Once you're ready to take a dip, the water is warm, the sand soft, and the views of both Mount Baker and Mount Rainier are likely to take your breathe away.
Ira Spring Trail, North Bend, WA
Escape from the city for a day at Ira Springs Trail. It's about an hour outside Seattle, and you'll need a car to get there. Dense forests providing a canopy of shade give way to sun-filled ridgelines that offer spectacular views of Washington's famous mountain ranges. Fresh, clean air and meadows dotted by purple and pink wildflowers are enough to make this six-and-a-half mile trek worth it, but the real payoff comes at the end, when you reach Mason Lake. Eat lunch on the rocks by the water, then strip off your clothes and go for a swim in the cold, clean lake water. Afterward, you'll feel refreshed enough to brave the journey back down the mountain.
Aqua Verde Paddle Club, University District
Overlooking Lake Union, Aqua Verde Paddle Club lets you explore Seattle on a kayak or a paddle board. Lucky for us, the city's center is right on the water. Cruise by Gas Works Park, take in the eclectic collection of houseboats on the water, and gain a whole new perspective on Downtown Seattle. There isn't much boat traffic to worry about, plus it's a great workout. After you've returned your boat, walk up the restaurant just above the paddle club for a margarita as you watch the sun set over the water.
Kerry Park, Queen Anne
Queen Anne's Kerry Park is legendary. Walk up the south slope of Queen Anne Hill anytime during the day or at sunset to watch the skyline simmer in electric hues of orange and yellow. The space needle takes center stage, and behind it, Mount Rainier, forever caped in snow, is often visible, too. Settle into a bench with your mate for a romantic evening, or fly solo for a calm place to clear your head. You'll walk away wondering why didn't visit Seattle sooner, and itching to tell everyone you know about the city's unparalleled natural beauty.