50 Things Every Seattleite Must Do

By Seattle Met Staff October 7, 2009 Published in the August 2006 issue of Seattle Met

If you’re reading this, chances are you live in or near the city that began as a proper noun, functions as an adjective—“That’s so Seattle”—and more and more, appears right on its way to becoming a verb. (“I’m going ­Seattleing, honey.” “I Seattle’d hard all weekend.”)

The fact is, when we at Seattle Met set out to report on what it takes to be a true Seattleite, we soon discovered that there’s no such thing as being a Seattleite at all. This city’s about doing. And whether you’ve lived here three months or three generations, there are certain endeavors as essential to Seattle citizenship as snowboarding is in Vail, or savoring is in Paris–endeavors that reveal us as Real Seattleites even as they deepen our relationship with this astonishing city.

So read on and discover your own answer to the question…How Seattle are you?

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Seattle’s darkest little secret? Nobody gets as tan as we do. Yes, we have our share of folks who appear to declare that February sunshine heralds the opening day of shorts season. But let’s be honest: The majority of the conspicuously colorful got that way in spectacularly unnatural environments—airbrush parlors. Why? Because the more latitudinally challenged the city, the more intense its obsession with the sun.

Mystic Tan UV-free spray-on tans are available throughout the region, including at Solar Tan Tanning Spa (1424 Harvard Ave, Capitol Hill, 206-325-9938; and 3710A Factoria Blvd, Factoria, 425-603-0224).


One of the hallmarks of the true Seattle-gentsia? Knowing which classic annual sales to plug into their BlackBerrys. Take annuals—and perennials and ornamentals and trees: the place to get ’em is at Washington Park Arboretum’s four annual sales, the grandaddy of which, FlorAbundance, happens the last weekend of every April in Magnuson Park’s Building 27. Bibliophiles head to Building 30 for the Friends of the Library Book Sales—in April and September—where most of the 200,000 books cost just a buck. (This year it’s September 16 &17.) Magnuson Park is also home to the biggest bargain basement in the state: Lakeside School’s Annual Spring Rummage Sale, which attracts some 12,000 shoppers for a weekend of deals to benefit the school’s scholarship fund. The REI Anniversary Sale in early May brings in the hordes for the best prices of the year on summer recreational gear. Speaking of anniversaries: Our hometown favorite’s biggest do of the year—the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale­—held late July through early August, is the only event capable of luring sun-starved northwesterners off the beaches and into autumn woolens.


The music scene is synonymous with that once-ubiquitous G word, but there’s more to the Seattle sound than Soundgarden. Prove it with an old-fashioned mix tape. Prove it with 1969’s “Little Love Affair” by Patrinell Staten—now Patrinell Wright, of the Total Experience Gospel Choir. From there it’s got to be Hendrix’s “Bold as Love,” then “Soul of the Sea” from Dreamboat Annie by Heart. Let Nirvana’s relatively laid-back “About a Girl” stand in for the grunge years, then move on to “More Noise Please” from spoken-word poet Steven Jesse Bernstein. Next: avant-garde composer Wayne Horvitz, experimental musicians Sun City Girls and Climax Golden Twins, and improv saxophonist Wally Shoup. Round it out with “Oh, My Girl,” by the velvet-voiced Jesse Sykes, and urban indie folk from Band of Horses.

Shop for tunes at Wall of Sound (, Sonic Boom Records (, and Golden Oldies ( Songs by Jesse Sykes and others are available as downloads via eMusic and iTunes.


According to our four-pawed calculations, ­Seattle-area canines have more than 3 million square feet of leash-free romping grounds in 13 off-leash parks. Soggy city pooches—some 125,000 of them—have access to at least 35 day-care centers, 80 pet stores and dog boutiques. Adopt your very own lovable mutt at the Humane Society for Seattle/King County. On any given dog-day afternoon, 30 or 40 dogs are available for about $100.

Seattle Humane Society Adopt-A-Pet Center, Creekside Crossing, 17181 Redmond Way, Ste 650, Redmond, 425-885-3097;


It’s the perfect spiritual celebration for a deeply unreligious city: meditative, nondogmatic, and just a half-hour long. It’s Compline, the last ­office of the traditional monastic day, sung at St. Mark’s Cathedral every Sunday night for the last 50 years. Some 500 attendees, a great many of them young students, sit in silence as chants, songs, and prayers reverberate through the darkened nave. The miracle? They’re back again the next week.

Compline is held every Sunday night from 9:30–10 at St. Mark’s Cathedral (1245 10th Ave E, Seattle, 206-323-0300;

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Indulge your brainiac side: Attend Seattle Science Lectures. The brainchild of Town Hall’s founding director David Brewster, it’s the only series of its kind to feature local and international scientists and authors who draw sell-out crowds of over 800 people on subjects ranging from climate change to particle physics. The two-year-old series has become so popular that it’s spawned a collaboration with the Pacific Science Center, a teen spin-off for the 2007 program, and a lot of calls from scientists eager to schedule a Brain City brain dump.

Expand your mind at the Town Hall Seattle Science Lectures. For information visit Tickets $5, at door only.


Why does Seattle have two Tiffany stores? Or a cruise ship pier? Why is your house worth so much? Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft. Bill Gates is this area’s rich uncle, responsible for making us the thriftless crystal buyers we are today. Pay your respects at the Microsoft Visitor Center. Upon entry, it’s polite to feign interest in company artifacts like Bill’s first business card and Microsoft’s first employee newsletter. But you’ve gotta go deeper to find the fun stuff. You can tinker with tablet PCs, play fast video games on gorgeous TVs, and send an e-mail postcard to friends. And if you find a few bugs (on a recent visit, an interactive display titled “How Does Software Work” didn’t), you can show your generosity and forgive Bill. After all, he’s family.

Microsoft Visitor Center (4420 148th Ave NE, Bldg 127, Redmond, 425-703-6214) Open Mon–Fri 9–7.
Free admission.


Seattle was named the nation’s Most Literate City in 2005 thanks to its high concentration of bookstores, libraries, and Internet resources. What better way to uphold the trend than to start a book club. Key ingredients are a meeting place, a discussion leader, the types of books your club will read, and of course refreshments. The Seattle Public Library’s Web site has a how-to guide with links to recommended book lists. Technophiles could start with Hard Drive, the Microsoft story, or Jonathan Raban’s novel of the tech boom, Waxwings. Or go totally Seattle-lit and try Sherman Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven or David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars.

For more book club tips or to join an existing discussion group, call 206-386-4636 or visit the Seattle Public Library Web site, Click Library Collection, then click the
Book Groups tab.


Is it that Microsoft and its spawn have rendered our region so Web savvy? Or that for years one of the nation’s most famous bloggers, Robert Scoble, wrote his highly influential tech blog from here? We have no idea how many Weblogs originate in the Pugetopolis, but a person can’t throw a wine glass at a Seattle dinner party without hitting someone who has started a Weblog of his own. Check out, the Web service that links like-minded folk into hobby groups—people who like pug dogs or sushi—and includes, of course, a group for Weblog fanatics. According to MeetUp, other cities boast growing memberships in the Webloggers group, from New York’s 36 to Boston’s 183. Seattle? Fully 380 bloggers—and counting.

A hosted Weblog, available free or at low cost from a company that handles the technological management for you, can be acquired through,, or, among others.


Sure, you can trot through the dandy Museum of Flight or tour the behemoth company that wrapped a young Seattle in Jet City panache. But wouldn’t it be more fun to soar like a flyboy yourself? You can—virtually, that is—at Alteon Training’s Boeing Flight Simulator, the Renton facility that trains 6,000 folks, including many commercial pilots, in the aerial arts each year. You and your flight instructor strap yourselves into a tricked-out cockpit for an hourlong “flight,” complete with takeoff, realistic visuals out the window, and a landing that pins you to the back of your seat. “It’s all in the hydraulics,” explains the staff, but it may feel a heck of a lot realer than that to you. Right down to the nausea.

A one-hour session at Renton’s Alteon Training Center (206-662-8748; includes instruction. $150 per trainee.

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Until you’ve shoveled out a chunk of Seattle soil and filled it with the root-ball of a living, breathing tree, you haven’t truly added life to this city. Trees absorb carbon dioxide emissions, filter air pollution, reduce noise, cool the city, and provide bird habitats—not to mention add green to the streetscape—which is why the City of Seattle makes it so easy to plant trees on the parking strip fronting your home. Simply gather a group of neighbors to order a few off the list of acceptable trees on the Web site below—no sidewalk-heaving roots or fat branches on these specimens—and they’re yours free of charge to plant and maintain. Now that’s a life-giving legacy.

For more on the Tree Fund program, a collaboration of the City of Seattle Arborist and Department of Neighborhoods, visit


You don’t know nature as it was betimes along Puget Sound until you’ve explored the West Hylebos Wetlands in Federal Way. Exploring’s easy on a mile-long boardwalk snaking through a rare intact cedar bog. Creatures that once abounded hereabouts—flying squirrels, red-legged frogs, pileated woodpeckers, short-tailed weasels—take shelter in this prehistoric refuge. Befitting the primeval mood, one of Seattle’s oldest surviving houses, David Denny’s log cabin, stands at the turnoff, transplanted here to escape demolition.

To learn about special events, work projects, and more visit


Once upon a time, only hippies and cheapskates built with demolition detritus. Now you get eco-points when you salvage your floors from a Skagit schoolhouse. They don’t cut clear vertical-straight-grain fir like they used to; recycled timbers and fixtures are now called “vintage” and priced accordingly. But priceless patinas aside, they’ll still outlast today’s chipboard and vinyl. And precious throwaways may still be found amid Seattle’s renovation frenzy.

For recycled materials and fixtures try the RE Store, 1440 NW 52nd St, 206-297-9119,; Second Use, 7953 Second Ave S, 206-763-6929,; Earthwise Building Salvage, 2462 First Ave S, 206-624-4510,; and Seattle Building Salvage (Seattle branch has closed), 2114 Hewitt Ave, Everett, 425-303-8500,


There may be no more quintessentially Northwest catharsis than to rip invasive plants out of the forests and parklands. We’re talking non-natives like English ivy, whose woody vines strangle grown trees, along with blackberry, Scotch broom, Japanese knotweed, and the noxious-smelling Geranium robertianum—aka “stinky Bob.” Lending elbow grease to the removal of nuisance plants can make parks safe for the flora and fauna that naturally belong there.

The Washington Native Plant Society (206-527-3210; maintains a list of Western Washington ivy-out work parties and contact numbers for information.


We’re proud to be surrounded by nature’s watery beauty—and proud to protect it. Too many streams, flowing into Lake Washington and Puget Sound, are littered with tires or shopping carts, endangering health and habitat. Clear out the debris: The Adopt-A-Stream Foundation will guide your team toward a fun and worthwhile Saturday afternoon.

Call 425-316-8592 or visit

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The Dale Chihuly–founded Pilchuck Glass School, up in Stanwood amid 54 acres of trees and not much else, is the world’s largest, most comprehensive center for glass-art education and exploration. Its legacy has spread to Seattle as well, where a dozen hotshop masters await your enrollment. Get inside a glass studio. There, yellows and reds come alive as you take liquid glass from the first furnace and then shape, reshape, heat, and reheat it in a series of patience-teaching steps. Maybe someday your pieces will hang from ­heavens-high rafters too.

Access Pilchuck’s class schedule at, or in Seattle try Pratt Fine Arts Center ( or Seattle Glassblowing Studio (


Day surgery and pill-popping are so East Coast, darling. Seattle is the home of Bastyr University and Bastyr Center for Natural Health, two of the nation’s leading institutes of natural medicine education, research, and treatment, so choose acupuncture over antibiotics and nutritional counseling over a tummy tuck. And after a team of naturopaths helps rid you of that nasty Northwest winter cough, you might find yourself wanting to increase your firsthand knowledge of the healing arts; sign up for courses on ancient Ayurvedic medicine or whole foods production, or attend an evening lecture on eating disorders or homeopathic skin care.

Enroll in Bastyr University online at or find a natural medicine practitioner at


In a city where life tends to spill onto the water, rank beginners and experts alike will learn new skills and connect to boating history by enrolling in a workshop or renting a boat at the Center for Wooden Boats on Lake Union. It may call itself a museum, but forget the “no touching” rule. From the center’s docks on Lake Union you can not only touch the historic wooden craft—which include Salish hunting canoes and nineteenth-century sailboats—but you can sail, row, and help restore a boat. If you’ve always wanted to learn to sail, are seeking certification, or have some expertise but want more specialized instruction on boatbuilding, navigation, knotwork, and more, consider a workshop run by the region’s most experienced professionals.

The Center for Wooden Boats is located at 1010 Valley St. For hours, a calendar of events, class schedules, and more information visit or call 206-382-2628.


This region was the second seedbed of America’s craft—or, somewhat misleadingly, “microbrewery”­—movement, after Northern California. You can still recapture some of the novelty of discovering a rare pint of two-fisted fresh local ale among the watery lagers and learn how this favorite quaff came to be. Many breweries offer tours; at Hales Ales on Leary Way, you can sniff the hops, see the fermentation tanks, and chew a delicious barley kernel on your way into the pub. But the snazziest tour destination is Redhook’s spacious (forget “micro”) Woodinville brewery, the third home of Seattle’s oldest craft brewer.

You’ll come out with a new appreciation of wort, crystal malt, top-fermenting yeast, and all the other reasons that pint tastes so good.

Redhook Ale Brewery, 14300 NE 145th St, Woodinville, 425-483-3232. Tours $1 with samples and tasting glass.


At rest stops, in hotel restaurants, on souvenir tchotchkes: Seattle is full of art in the style of Northwest Natives, but with genuine articles so easy to access, you’ve got to go for the real thing. The Burke Museum hosts gorgeous nineteenth-century carved wood pieces from the Northwest Coast tribes, modern silkscreen prints, intricately worked silver jewelry, a fascinating collection of totem and memorial poles, and much more.

View one of the nation’s largest permanent collections of traditional and contemporary Native American art—including a sculpture by Bernie Whitebear’s brother Lawney Reyes, as well as murals and paintings by other artists—at Daybreak Star Center. The center’s Sacred Circle gallery exhibits work by emerging contemporary Native American artists throughout the year.

Preview the Burke Museum’s collection at Learn about the Daybreak Star Center at

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To get up close and personal with Puget Sound’s profuse tidal life, you can don a wetsuit, head for the islands, await an extreme low tide in the city—or stop by the Seattle Aquarium. Kids clamber and squeal as they reach out to slippery sea cucumbers, raspy stars, and tingly anemones. But the twin touching pools, which replaced conventional tanks four years ago, are so spacious you can still find quiet colloquy with a hermit crab; grown-ups come even without the excuse of kids. Biologists and volunteers stand by to explain the mysteries of the shallows, remind visitors of the just-one-finger rule, and watch for signs of stress in the critters.

The Seattle Aquarium is open all days, including holidays. For more information visit or call 206-386-4300.


For many of us, Seattle’s 490 houseboats are no more than a picturesque blur on the waters of Lake Union and Portage Bay as we speed down I-5. Take a personalized boat tour around this easygoing community, narrated by Jeri Callahan, who introduces herself as “the houseboat lady” and bubbles over with passion for life on the water. “The only thing we argue about is the geese,” she says. Callahan’s tours overflow with trivia, anecdotes, and history: Cruising aboard an electric boat, you’ll see the Sleepless in Seattle barge and hear about the real-life romance it harbored. The loquacious Callahan may be the heir in spirit to Terry Pettus, the charismatic 1960s activist who first campaigned for rights and recognition for these “floating homes.”

For information or to register visit or call Jeri at 206-322-9157.


From the beach the music sounds like it’s being broadcast through waxed paper and a comb. Still, thousands annually line the shore to hear Santa and a fine local chorus sing beautiful holiday tunes on the Christmas Ships. Shiver along with the teeming hordes at ports of call along Lake Washington, Lake Union, and Puget Sound, bundled to the eyebrows, kid wrapped around your neck, sidestepping the cinders spit from a monster bonfire while belting Christmas carols at the top of your lungs. The event lures whole neighborhoods out of hibernation and onto local beaches to revel in the twin pagan delights of a midwinter bonfire and warm holiday fellowship.

For the beach bonfire schedule of Christmas Ship visits, along with prices and schedules for sailing with the Christmas Ship, go to


Be the first on your block to see a future major league star when you attend an Everett AquaSox game. Ken Griffey Jr. hit his first home run there in the Bellingham minors, and current Mariner stars Jose Lopez, J. J. Putz, and Felix “The King” Hernandez all played in Everett, an early rung on any Mariner prospect’s climb to Safeco Field. At Everett Memorial Stadium you’ll be mere bat lengths away from a rising talent—the same seat at Safeco would cost more than you paid for your first car. But that’s not all! Half the fun of minor league baseball happens between innings, when you’ll chuckle despite yourself at tricycle races, kids’ choirs, and other hokey but hilarious entertainments.

The Aquasox ( play at Everett Memorial Stadium. Tickets range from $7 to $13.


No, Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain aren’t buried at Lake­view Cemetery, Seattle’s second-oldest and most picturesque graveyard. But an outsized share of Seattle’s other eminences are. Bruce and Brandon Lee’s polished granite stones are the easiest to find—look for the flock of fans. Then wander amidst the eloquent pale stones of Seattle’s founding fathers and mothers: Arthur Denny, David and Catherine Maynard, Thomas Mercer, Carson Boren, Henry and Sarah Yesler and, close by, Chief Seattle’s own daughter, Princess Angeline.

Cemetery entrance on 15th Ave E near E Garfield St, just north of Volunteer Park. For more information call 206-322-1582.

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Multiple choice: What’s the most Seattle-worthy response to the budget crisis facing our public schools? (A) Bitch, moan, wring hands. (B) Flee. © Do what you can do to improve Seattle schools. Whether you have specialized skills—screenwriting, trigonometry, walking a tightrope—or more general ones, you can help Seattle Public Schools maximize their service to our next generation by volunteering. (Actually, the most historically authentic answer in populist Seattle would be to start an initiative to levy a public-education tax on the large percentage of families who send their kids to private schools—some 23 percent of Seattle’s 46,000 schoolchildren. All things considered—we’d rather go with volunteerism.)

For information on volunteering with Seattle Public Schools visit


Seattle often feels like a cluster of small towns, and nowhere so much as at a neighborhood association meeting. How to illuminate the local playfield? How to daylight the neighborhood creek? Turn to your community association, of which there are over 100 in Seattle alone. The City of Seattle also runs the Neighborhood Matching Fund project, which nabe associations can apply to when raising money for other community-enhancing endeavors. Just ask the Fremont Troll, the cranky fellow who when installed under the Aurora Bridge in 1988 became the city’s very first ­matching-fund project.

For a list of Seattle neighborhood associations, contact City of Seattle Public Information officer Peter McGraw at 206-615-0950 or [email protected]


Of course you drink coffee, Einstein; it’s mandatory in this town. But what distinguishes the true Seattleite is drinking coffee that can multitask. Leave it to Seattle to lead the way: Nationally, Starbucks is the biggest buyer of fair-trade coffee, and Seattle-based Caffe Ladro the largest user of exclusively fair-trade coffee. Pura Vida Coffee, the Seattle-based nonprofit traffics exclusively in fair-trade, organic, shade-grown coffee, and directs all proceeds to its own programs helping at-risk children in the coffee-producing country of Costa Rica. Try doing all that without caffeine.

Contact Pura Vida Coffee at 2724 First Ave S, 206-328-9606, 877-469-1431; Seattle Audubon’s Northwest Shade Coffee Campaign explains the birds and the beans, and lists 35 shade-growing e-tailing roasters at


So you missed by a few decades the legendary anti–Vietnam War march that closed I-5, and were loafing in Thailand when the “Battle of Seattle” shut the WTO down? You can still get your local protest stripes and add your voice to the plaintive chorus, with a march on the Federal Building at Second & Madison. Westlake Park has stolen some rally action, but the federal tower’s brick plaza remains the place to get fired up about human rights or choked with emotion at a moving speech; even its relic monoliths lend an antique gravitas. Times have changed even since 1991, when protesters against the first Gulf War sat in for days. But as April’s pro-immigrant rally showed, there’s always another chance.

To plan a protest in front of the Federal Building, you’ll need to apply for a rally permit from the City of Seattle. Call the Department of Transportation at 206-684-5284 if there will be fewer than 300 participants; call the Special Events office at 206-684-8017 for events involving more than 300 people.


Seattle’s activist spirit dates at least as far back as the 1910s when anti-sin crowds booted out brothel-­owning Mayor Hiram Gill and includes the grassroots civil rights campaigns of the ’60s. If you take vindictive delight in snarling at C-SPAN every election season, channel your energy—or your rage—and volunteer for a political campaign. Duties range from envelope-stuffing and phone calling to research, voter registration, and canvassing your neighbors. Perks include opportunities to meet the candidates, attend big-name events, and get to know people with your political interests. Or shun the two major parties and campaign for an issue you’re passionate about with a local organization. offers a list that ranges from WashPIRG to the local branches of Amnesty International, the Sierra Club, and the ACLU.

For a list of local political organizations visit Contact the Democrats at 206-352-3963 or visit To contact the Republicans visit

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So you felt something after seeing French performance artist Christian Rizzo smash his face into some food or listening to “Awesome” spend 90 minutes singing about bumblebees. Welcome to the new millennium of arts coverage, where you can instantly engage with the engaged, where everybody’s a critic and nobody has to worry about having a byline in The New York Times in order to take part in the conversation. Tell the rest of Seattle how moved, enraged, transported, or confused you were by posting your opinion on Blog the Boards, the come-one-come-all, after-party online experience provided by Queen Anne’s cutting-edge performance space On the Boards. You’re nobody till somebody’s disagreed with you.

To submit your critiques and read others’ reviews visit


Seattle ranks second only to the Big Apple in the number of live performances per capita, and Bumbershoot, the festival of film, music, and visual and performing arts that takes over Seattle Center every Labor Day weekend accounts for hundreds of them. Join the nearly 170,000 visitors who attend every year, or better, volunteer for Bumbershoot and get in free on the days you work. Bumbershoot, the largest festival of its kind on the West Coast, offers over 40 different types of volunteer positions, including group projects you can work on with your friends. Perks include a complimentary T-shirt, additional free tickets for every eight hours worked, and the joy of supporting the arts and helping to keep the event affordable for the masses.

For more information on volunteering visit, call Katie Bethell at 206-281-7788, ext 216, or e-mail [email protected]


Hydroplane and inboard racing have thrilled spectators at Seafair since the 1950s. But the annual, far quieter Milk Carton Derby, open to anyone who can paddle, transforms peaceful Green Lake into a mass of 35,000 onlookers, musicians, and dancing pigs (no, really; they’ve been on Letterman). Why watch when you, your friends, and family can design, build, and race a boat that floats on discarded milk cartons. Streamline the design for speed, or go for the Showboat award for the most imaginative design. Try to match the style or silliness of past elaborate constructions, which include replicas of Godzilla and the Titanic (it dutifully sank halfway through the course). If you’re in danger of taking all this lightly, remember there’s $10,000 in prizes to be won.

For complete instructions on how to construct and enter your own boat, visit and click on “Milk Carton Derby,” or call 206-728-0123, ext 103.


Richard Beyer’s sculpture Waiting for the Interurban actually has a glum look and meaning. Its five Depression­-era workers plus dog and baby, cast in dull aluminum, stare blankly awaiting, as he put it, “a damn train that’s never going to come,” the long-gone commuter rail to Everett. But that hasn’t stopped Seattleites from using it as a rack for every sort of message and merriment, from “Happy Birthday” to “Impeach Bush.” Beyer doesn’t mind: He personalized it first when he stuck the face of Armen Stepanian, Fremont’s recycling pioneer and honorary mayor, on the dog. You’ll have to wait for your chance: The Interurban has been moved from its vigil at the Fremont Bridge’s northeast corner during bridge renovations. But it’ll be back.

Waiting for the Interurban is temporarily berthed at History House, 790 N 34th St. For more history visit Guidelines for decoration: No commercial messages, and clean up afterward.


Seattleites graffiti with style and class—using professional engraving in lieu of spray paint to etch our names in the annals of history and support worthy endeavors at the same time. The “Help Pave the Market Arcade” fund-­raising campaign for the Pike Place Market begun in 1986 set the trend, and today 46,500 tiles line the market floor bearing names of individuals, families, and businesses. The Seattle Art Museum’s new sculpture park, set to open October 28, provides a fresh opportunity to get up close and personalized. For a $1,000 donation you can engrave your name on the Olympic Outlook steel railing that will line the edge of the Olympic Sculpture Park. And if you prefer DIY immortality, Bleu Bistro on Capitol Hill welcomes “personal touches” on the tables.

See your name in steel: Visit www.seattleart

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The standard image of a Washington State apple is a Red Delicious from east of the mountains—big, beautiful, and nearly flavorless. Western Washington growers, by contrast, produce tasty antique and modern varieties with wonderful names like Westfield Seek-No-Further, Honeycrisp, and Pitmaston Pineapple. Will apples join the list of mundane food categories that have become objects of exquisite connoisseurship? Seek an answer on Antique Apple Field Day (October 14) at Washington State University’s Mount Vernon Research Center, the mother ship of the local heirloom apple movement, and in the surrounding Skagit Valley, whose orchards grow dozens of varieties.

WSU Research Center (16650 State Rte 536, Mt Vernon, 360-848-6120; Jim Perkins’s Apple Valley Orchards (8243 Sims Rd, Sedro-Woolley, 360-856-6986). Jones Creek Farms (32260 Burrese Rd, Sedro-Woolley, 360-826-1820, Each offer 60-plus varieties of apples.


Amsterdam has herring, Coney Island has hot dogs, Seattle has sushi. It’s our signature dish, and you shouldn’t have to leave your house to enjoy it. While a classic sushi chef spends 10 years completing his rice training, you’d be surprised what Hajime Sato and Naomi Kakiuchi can squeeze into two hours at Uwajimaya. Kakiuchi uses basic recipes her grandmother brought from Japan; in advanced classes, Japanese-born Sato passes on the traditional, but ever-so-irreverent methods that makes his West Seattle restaurant so wildly popular. With ingredients sourced from Uwajimaya’s ­carnival-like supermarket-cum-classroom, your completed in-class assignments will have you begging for homework.

NuCulinary’s three-course series is offered each season; view the schedule at


“I laugh at the world and its shams / And I think of my happy condition,” goes the familiar old folk tune, “surrounded by acres of clams.” The kooky old soul in this song knows there’s nothing like rolling your dungarees up to your knees on cold spring mornings after the full moon and chasing after cockles, razors, littlenecks, and butter clams. It’s a tradition as old as the Northwest’s native peoples; clams have been a part of tribal diets for thousands of years. Grab a shovel, head to one of nine recently reseeded beaches on Hood Canal, and dig.

For beach maps and opening and closure information (clam season runs from October to May) visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at


Considering that Washington is home to 594 certified-organic farms yielding 438 certified-organic crops, there’s every incentive to eat chemical-free, locally raised produce. The easiest way is to buy into a certified-organic farm through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). A “subscription” fee, usually around $500 per season in spring and summer, gets you (and your neighbors, if you pool resources) weekly or biweekly boxes, for pick up or delivery, filled with colorful farm-fresh ingredients—and the satisfaction of knowing your dinner supports local economies.

See King County’s directory of farms offering CSA boxes at; the Washington State Farmers Market Association ( offers a directory of local markets.


Situated as we are between the generous sea and miles and miles of rolling crop fields, Seattleites are in a better place than most to eat locally. With her noncredit Meet the Producers! series at Seattle Culinary Academy, chef Danielle Custer introduces home cooks to the source of their favorite regional, seasonal ingredients. Students cook luscious wild salmon and locally raised lamb, then sit down at the table and shake the strong, weathered hands of the farmers and fishermen responsible for getting it there.

Meet the Producers! courses occur quarterly; the next one is in November. For more information visit

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The Pacific Northwest’s most recognizable natural landmark is the 14,410-foot active volcano we know and love as Mount Rainier. Thanks to technological advances, professional guides, and REI, thousands successfully conquer Mount Rainier each year. Last year 4,604 people reached the pinnacle, surmounting an elevation gain of more than 9,000 feet in some eight miles. Top physical condition and preparation are prerequisites.

Call 360-569-2211, ext 2314, to speak with climbing guides or visit Mount Rainier National Park online at


There are myriad boat trips around our waterlogged region, but only one allowing a goose-level gander at the marshy fringes of the Washington Park Arboretum. After renting one from the Waterfront Activities Center behind Husky Stadium, paddle a canoe across the Montlake Cut—quick, before that oncoming 40-foot yacht grinds you into duck food!—where you can explore the lily-­padded lagoons around Foster Island, the landmass that emerged when Lake Washington was lowered for the construction of the Locks. Meander lazily along shore or crane your neck to spy the marsh wrens and goldfinches and pied-billed grebes that call this urban wetland home.

Park in the lot just southeast of Husky Stadium, then walk toward the water to the Waterfront Activities Center (206-543-9433). Canoe rentals: adults $7.50, students $3.


Cascade Bicycle Club’s 34-years-strong February cycling season kickoff was named “One of Four Classic Rides” nationwide by Bicycling magazine. The 33-mile trek around Bainbridge Island includes some 2,675 feet of hilly riding in a 40-degree chill. Think you can’t do it? The oldest among the 4,700 riders from 19 states who rode in the sold-out event last year was 90, and the youngest was 18 months (no word as to who pedaled in the latter case). Ten Bainbridge charities benefit, and chilly riders become chili diners at the Finish Line Festival’s chili feed.

For details and event registration visit the Cascade Bicycle Club online at or call 206-522-bike.


Unmatched views of lakeshore, meadow, river, and mountain make the Burke-Gilman and Sammamish River Trails the quintessential regional pathway. Two paved trails wind from Ballard in Seattle to Marymoor Park in Redmond—the top half of Lake Washington. Barring one northerly patch along a stretch of highway, that’s 27 miles of car-free cycling, walking, or skating from the shores of the lake to the pastoral farmlands of the Sammamish River, on almost entirely flat path navigable by anyone who knows what to do when someone pulling up from behind cautions, “On your left!” (Ease to the right.)

For information visit


Looming over the heads of REI shoppers, the 65-foot “Pinnacle” climbing wall guarding the store’s entrance is a Seattle icon. It may be one of the world’s tallest freestanding interior climbing walls, but that skyscraping blob covered in grippy knobs is Seattle’s Space Mountain—a tourist ride. A few structured classes can prepare you to grab hold of some real rocks. When you’re ready, hit Exit 38 off I-90, eight miles east of North Bend. This climbing epicenter boasts more than 200 routes, including the aptly named “Absolutely Nothing” or “Blockhead” for beginners to intermediate climbers, and the grueling “Crawling from the Wreckage” line for more experienced rockers.

Get a hand up at REI (206-223-1944; and indoor climbing gyms Stone Gardens (206-781-9828; www.stonegardens), and at Vertical World (206-283-4497;, which offer classes geared to get you out of the gym.

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Summers here can be cloudy and cool, which doesn’t explain why Seattleites buy more sunglasses than any other city in the nation and then flock to the beach. It does explain why there’s no better local tradition than to build a beach fire on the sandy shores of Golden Gardens park. The 12 fire pits along the beach are first-come, first-served; visitors are also asked to only burn clean wood (no driftwood or pallets), and put out fires completely by 11:30pm.

Golden Gardens is at the west end of 85th St on Shilshole Bay. Find directions at


Bake them in a pie, turn them into jam, or just eat them whole. The best part is picking mouthwatering strawberries, raspberries, and loganberries and eating them right off the bush. Berries of all kinds once covered the Seattle area like SUVs, but Washington State remains the number-one raspberry producer in the nation. And even though the species have largely been displaced, Remlinger Farms, about 45 minutes east of Seattle, still offers seasonal berry picking. The U-pick fields typically open in mid-June and stay open through the summer. The farmers supply the containers and weigh them after you’re done picking; pickers supply the berry-stained fingers. 

For information on what is ready to pick, visit, or call 425-333-4135 or 425-451-8740.


Savvy Seattleites heading north on I-5 to Vancouver know the most picturesque detour for sights and seafood. Take the Chuckanut Drive turnoff (Route 11, off I-5 just north of Burlington). The 21-mile scenic route passes through tiny historic Edison (where Edward R. Murrow attended high school), hugs the rocky shoulder of the Chuckanut Mountains, and winds up in Bellingham’s charming old Fairhaven neighborhood. Along the way, take in the views of Samish Bay and sample oysters from the state’s premier shellfish beds at Oyster Creek Inn and Chuckanut Manor, or the more relaxed Oyster Bar with its award-winning wine cellar.

Visit for route directions, restaurant locations, lodging visitor’s information.


Just because we don’t get snow here doesn’t mean we can’t get to it. When Seattleites want winter, we head to the Snoqualmie summit and hit the tubes—inner tubes. The Summit Tubing Center is one of the largest winter playgrounds in the Northwest, with 14 to 18 machine-groomed runs on two hills where riders fly down monster-truck-size tubes. Your inner snow bunny never had it so good.

Reserve or buy tickets in advance at or call 425-434-6791 for information and snow conditions.


Some 7 million riders annually take the half-hour ferry ride to Bainbridge—it’s the Washington State Ferries’ most plied route. On a clear day, head up top to the sun deck to experience the ferry rocking gently in the shining sea and take in the purple mountains’ majesty. When returning to Seattle the downtown skyline seems to recede before it approaches: The vessel must sail south to clear posh Wing Point (check out the waterfront mansions) before heading northeast toward the city.

Ferry schedules are posted at

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