With that record-breaking heat wave behind us, sunseekers can embark on their mission anew. Some summer days require just a stretch of sand, beverage in hand to sip between page turns of your latest read. After all, it’s been a year and a half of…a lot…and a day devoted to idle pursuits is very much in order. Consider this a guide to making the most of yours.
Find Your Beach
Sunbathing, kiteflying, people watching: Washington has beaches for every type of sandy endeavor. While the in-city OG remains Alki Beach in West Seattle—one that inspires parties of the viral TikTok variety—others around the state are more than worth a day trip. Here’s a list of our top 25 beaches in Washington.
Stereotypical beach reads these are not. But if you like your vitamin D with a side of sparkling prose, enlist any of the texts below, all from authors with Washington ties. (And if a happily-ever-after guarantee is more your style, may we recommend the eight Bridgerton novels from local author Julia Quinn?)
► If you (or your teen) want love and robots…
Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta This cyberpunk debut novel drops us into an oppressive nation with giant robot enforcers. Here we follow two girls: one a rebel robot killer, the other a robot pilot who’s actually trying to bring down the regime from within. This being a swashbuckling young adult novel, they fall for each other. See more books for kids and teens here.
► If you want a propulsive eco-fable…
One Two Three by Laurie Frankel The Mitchell triplets narrate this novel in alternating chapters. Two of them have disabilities from a chemical company that came to their little fictional town of Bourne years before and freely polluted. Now, the company has returned and the sisters do some sleuthing to try to ward off any malfeasance. The book reads as a full-hearted, ecological fable that calls out contradictions in how our culture views and talks about people with disabilities. Full review here.
► If you want lyrical insights into your bowl of Washington cherries…
The Book of Difficult Fruit by Kate Lebo“In this book, fruit is not the smooth-skinned, bright-hued, waxed and edible ovary of the grocery store,” Spokane’s Kate Lebo writes at the start her new essay collection. Here, fruit is a pain—but, as pains go, a pretty good one. The book that follows is a compendium, an alphabetical rundown of 26 mostly counterintuitive fruits, from aronia to zucchini (for W we get wheat instead of watermelon). Each fruit is also the occasion for a lyric essay and recipe. So after Lebo has described aronia berries, we learn what she thinks daily aronia berry smoothies might do for her: “I would believe they are three to four times healthier than blues even if their packaging didn’t say so, because they immediately assert their potency.” Then she gives you the recipe for said smoothie.
► If you want a poignant and ambitious novel…
Legends of the North Cascades by Jonathan Evison In his fifth novel, the Bainbridge Island author twines two stories. The first is about an Iraq War veteran who, after the death of his wife, stows himself and his daughter in a cave in the North Cascades. His daughter then starts to have visions of an Ice Age woman, S’tka, who hid in the cave thousands of years before. It’s Evison, so expect a big heart and, here, cross-era ambition.
► If you want work from one of the most lucid, incisive novelists writing today…
Wayward by Dana Spiotta Across four novels, Spiotta, once a local, has unspooled one of the most consistently excellent bodies of work in contemporary fiction. Whether she’s writing about 1960s revolutionaries, garage musicians, or indie filmmakers, she’s ceaselessly intelligent, engaging, intricate, precise, and witty. In her new book, a woman in her fifties, just after the 2016 election, leaves her family and buys a ruinous house in Syracuse, New York. The catalysts are various, but among them: “That was yet another real reason she had to change her life: her fucking rage.”
► If you want an illustrated rejoinder to this region’s racist past…
We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration written by Frank Abe and Tamiko Nimura, illustrated by Ross Ishikawa and Matt Sasaki This 160-page graphic novel tells the stories of three Japanese Americans—Hajime Jim Akutsu, Hiroshi Kashiwagi, and Mitsuye Endo—who resisted incarceration camps during World War II. Here the local authors and illustrators, who were brought together by the Wing Luke Museum, braid the three different stories with rich illustrations and historical research. Endo signed onto a lawsuit opposing the incarcerations. Akutsu (an inspiration for John Okada’s No-No Boy) and Kashiwagi refused the government’s attempts to make them demonstrate loyalty.
Looking for something else? Here’s a list of other literary finds.
Grab a Drink
Nothing screams “hot vax summer” like the slew of hard seltzer releases from Seattle’s most legit local brands. Think everything from good ole Rainier to next-gen guards Reuben’s Brews and Schilling. Not sure which top to pop? We taste-tested eight local hard seltzers so you don’t have to.
Pick a Patio
For those who prefer to embrace the sun from a more urban vantage, the city has a plethora of patios from which to choose. Bonus: They come covered for when summer plays its fickle games. Here are a few that bring the beach vibes hard:
Manolin This Fremont restaurant turns its massive courtyard into one summerlong beach party, filled with refreshing drinks, abundant yacht rock, and Liz Kenyon presiding over the grill.
Westward A shade sail and umbrellas fend off sun on the patio, and various decks face Lake Union. For beach days that bleed into the evening, you can warm up by the firepit.
Bongos A Caribbean beach hides inside the perimeter wall of a former gas station: Diners sit on an expanse of sand, bisected by an actual boardwalk and protected by an overhang. (Over on the concrete, some high stools surround an oversize fire table.)
Harry’s Beach House At this charming Alki spot, the roof shades diners from all that direct summer sun. More tables outside offer additional opportunities to consume cocktails and burgers and really excellent brunch dishes when weather permits.