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Washington - Seattle: Native's Notes on the Emerald City
Sarah N Walker
The following is a rundown of some of the most popular and central neighborhoods as well as my tips for each area. I grew up in Magnolia and, therefore, am biased towards Seattle (not an eastside fan or insider here). I also tend to know the north better than the south. So I apologize for my limited perspective.
When I think of Pioneer Square, I think of five things, in the following order
Any visitor to Seattle has to include Pioneer Square on her list. It is one of the few remnants of early Seattle, and the so-called Underground Tour takes you through the earliest buildings erected by settlers and burned down in the fire that destroyed much of the city in 1889. You can get to the area by walking down the waterfront or down First Avenue from Pike Place Market. The white Smith Tower (best seen from the ugly Viaduct highway) was once the tallest building in Seattle. The old rail station is undergoing heavy restoration. Stop inside to have a look at the photos of what it once looked like (and will hopefully resemble when construction is finished).
This is about as central as you can get. In the last five years or so Belltown has bloomed into a thriving residential area with many new apartment and condo buildings rising to the skyline. The area hosts a ton of great cafes and bars and is well-worth a visit in the evening or combined with either the Pike Place Market or the Seattle Center.
CJ's, 2169 1st Ave, tel: 206-728-1648
Jai Thai, 2132 1st Ave, tel: 206-770-7884
El Gaucho, 2505 1st Ave
Cyclops, 2421 1st Ave, tel: 206-441-1167
Crocodile Cafe, 2200 2nd Ave, tel: 206-441-5611
A highly desirable place to live, Queen Anne is conveniently located in the city with important features surrounding it. Just North of the Seattle Center, enclosed by the shipyard canal and bordered on the east by Lake Union, the neighborhood offers charming older homes, beautiful views and a good selection of shops, cafes and restaurants, most located on or around Queen Anne Avenue. The Thriftway at the top of the hill has always offered a large selection of gourmet foods, wines and cheeses, and Trader Joe's found an ideal location at the south end of the hill. To see Queen Anne at its elitist, drive or walk south along Highland Drive and see mansions with sweeping views south to downtown and Mt. Rainier.
Queen Anne Restaurants
Caffe Ladro (Lower and Upper Queen Anne)
Dick's, 500 Queen Anne Ave N, tel: 206-205-5155
Restaurants on the upper part of Queen Anne Avenue (on the hill)
Pasta Bella, 1530 Queen Anne Ave N, tel: 206-284-9827
Queen Anne Cafe, 2121 Queen Anne Ave N, tel: 206-285-2060
Firefly, 2128 Queen Anne Ave N, tel: 206-694-0055
Queen Anne Shops
Queen Anne Avenue's northern side is host to many little shops and boutiques.
Mail & Dispatch, 2212 Queen Anne Avenue
Ravenna Gardens, 2201 Queen Anne Avenue
Homing Instinct, 1612 Queen Anne Avenue
Hilltop Yarn and Needlepoint, 2224 Queen Anne Avenue
All the Best Pet Care, 2127 Queen Anne Avenue
Trader Joe's, 100 W Galer St (at the S end of the hill)
Lower Queen Anne Shops
(near the Seattle Center and down the Counterbalance)
Champion Party Store, 124 Denny Way
Monkey Love Rubber Stamps, 623 Queen Anne Ave N
This is a centrally located area which is, however, an island in many ways. Flanked by the sound to the west and the south and the Ship Canal and Elliott Bay to the north, Magnolia is only reachable by three bridges. This (largely symbolic) distance makes the home of about 25,000 seem suburb-like in many ways. The largest park in the city, located in the NW corner and overlooking Elliott/Salmon Bays is an oasis in itself. If, however, you go for a nice walk, run or drive along Magnolia Boulevard, you will soon see just how close Magnolia is to downtown. At the south end of the Boulevard you will find spectacular views as far as Mt. Rainier; a great spot to watch the July 4th fireworks from.
For a bit of history and some nice views, visit the Hiram Chittenden Locks located in the north part of Magnolia, just east of Discovery Park, or in the underbelly of Ballard. Created in 1919, the Locks connected Lake Union to Puget Sound, facilitating (immensely) shipping and trade. Do not miss stopping in the visitor's center and the fish ladder, nor wandering through the lovely Botanical Garden. Looking across from the Ballard side, you will see a lovely residential area which leads out westwards to a point. Just ninety years ago this area was still inhabited by members of the local Duwamish tribe who fished and traded on the shores of Elliott and neighbouring Shilshole Bay until they were "relocated" by US authorities to reservations.
Restaurants in Magnolia
Wild Salmon Fish Market
Romio's, 2001 W Dravus St, tel: 206-720-8804
Szmania's, 3321 W McGraw St, tel: 206-284-7305
Palisade, 2601 W Marina Place, tel: 206-285-1000
This neighborhood, and particularly its center on Broadway, is Seattle's Punk and Gay/Lesbian area, but it is much more than that. Capitol Hill has some of the oldest and loveliest homes in Seattle.
Capitol Hill Restaurants
Julia's on Broadway, 300 Broadway E, tel: 206-860-1818
Dick's, 115 E Broadway, tel: 206-323-1300
B & O Espresso, 204 Belmont Ave E, tel: 206-322-5028
Capitol Hill Shops
There are just too many to mention! Walk along Broadway from Aloha down to about Pike St. This is a great place to find quick bites to eat, vintage clothing, gifts and clubbing gear.
REI, 220 Yale Ave, tel: 206-223-1944
This neighborhood was mostly middle class and white until the late 1960`s, when minorities from neighboring areas to the south and many Asian immigrants moved in. Lately, however, many of the older homes are being bought, renovated and turned around on the market to people looking for central living and not too exorbitant a price. That being said, I imagine that the local Vietnamese joints and mom and pop shops will soon be replaced by upscale yuppy-catering businesses, but it is too soon to say. Nevertheless, I haven't got any recommendations because I rarely go there. But do try, yourself!
Known as the "Center of the Universe" by the inhabitants, Fremont is in a world of its own. Between rockets on street corners and VW bug trolls under bridges, this place is definitely eccentric. Walk around the streets just west of the bridge and discover plenty of boutiques and artsy shops. Plenty of fun cafes and restaurants are within a 3-4 block radius. Despite all of the new waterfront development and subsequent uproar, Fremont has not lost its charm. Do not miss the Fremont festivals, details of which can be found on the link to the Chamber of Commerce above.
Sergio's, 707 N 34th St, tel: 206-632-6885
Still Life Cafe, 709 N 35th St, tel: 206-547-9850
Triangle Lounge, 3507 Fremont Place N, tel: 206-632-0880
Essential Baking, 1604 N 34th St, tel: 206-545-0333
There are just too many fun ones to mention-trendy, European boutiques; bath and garden shops; antique malls galore; gift stores; bookshops; specialty food. These are the streets you need to walk along:
Ballard's historic center (a small Nordic fishing district) is experiencing a revival. Walk along the streets south of Market to see old brick buildings occupied by trendy boutiques, taverns with nightly music and good restaurants. For a nice day, visit the Ballard Locks (Hiram Chittenden Locks-see Magnolia) and then walk along Seaview Avenue up to Golden Gardens. Shilshole Bay is beautiful on a sunny day, and the views of the port, the Olympic Mountains and of Discovery Park are worth seeing. For dinner or lunch one could stop at Ray's Boathouse, one of the best known seafood restaurants in Seattle.
Ray's Boathouse, 6049 Seaview Ave, tel: 206-789-3770
Thaiku Noodle House, 5410 Ballard Ave, tel: 206-706-7807
Madam K`s, 5327 Ballard Ave, tel: 206-783-9701
Walk along Market St East of 24th Street and down towards the canal on Ballard Ave and neighboring streets.
Archie McPhee, 2428 NW Market St, tel: 206-297-0240
Excellent Places to Walk
Magnolia Boulevard: Lined with Madrona trees, this beautiful road overlooks Elliott Bay and downtown to the south and west. Along the East side are some of Magnolia's prettiest properties.
Queen Anne's Highland Drive: A lovely road featuring some of the most elite Seattle addresses and the most impressive homes and views.
West Seattle's Alki Beach: The beach to the north of West Seattle with a sweeping view of downtown.
The Burke Gilman Trail: Along the north side of the Ship Canal-from Fremont to the University District.
Golden Gardens Beach: At the north end of Seaview Ave, up the road from the Ballard Lock's, Ray's Boathouse and the Shilshole Bay Marina in Ballard.
Greenlake: Walk around the man-made lake and explore the north end for a slice of real Seattle life.
Discovery Park: In NW Magnolia, this lovely park has trails, sand dunes and a Native American cultural center (Daybreak Star) complete with annual pow-wows.
www.undergroundtour.com: Underground Tour
www.pikeplacemarket.org: Pike Place Market
www.seattlecenter.com: Seattle Center
www.nws.usace.army.mil: Hiram Chittenden Locks
www.unitedindians.com: Native American cultural center
www.ci.seattle.wa.us/parks/parkspaces/alki.htm: West Seattle's Alki Beach
www.cityofseattle.net: City of Seattle, information for many parks
seattletimes.nwsource.com/pacificnw/2003/1012/nowthen.html: Duwamish tribe who fished and traded on the shores of Elliott and neighboring Shilshole Bay until they were "relocated" by US authorities to reservations.
© Sarah N Walker
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