Photo: Snow Lake in summer. Shutterstock by Ariena.
So many classic Seattle summer activities feel inextricably tied to a pre-pandemic lifestyle—spreading out a beach towel on the only unclaimed patch of grass at Madison Park, swaying with the sweaty, varyingly inebriated crowds at Bumbershoot or Capitol Hill Block Party. But so many other local pastimes were practically made for this moment. With a little over a month of it left, here's how to take a stand against the summer of our discontent.
Camping is the official vacation of the pandemic era, bursting with fresh air and social distance. Our complete guide to Pacific Northwest camping covers everything from backpacks and camping buddies to bugs and bears (oh my!). Some blockbuster sites, like Shi Shi Beach, are still closed for Covid reasons—so we have a guide to finding your own plot of dirt in the Washington wilderness.
Not ready for an overnight? Day hiking may be the safest way to play this summer. Here are some of our favorite trails in the state.
Hibachi on your juliet balcony? Big Green Egg in the backyard? Whatever the setup, this summer likely involves a tremendous amount of grilling. You’ll need some protein from a local butcher shop to accompany...
... The produce you should absolutely be adding to the grill. The problem of multi-veggie skewers is that their parts generally cook unevenly: the onions never quite done, the squash gone soggy. Instead, embrace some intentional char.
Wondering where to get said produce? Farmers markets are always a vital source of income for local small farms, but with restaurants still limited, farmers rely on markets more than ever. This summer expect fewer folk musicians, and a line for a socially distant shopping experience, but the nectarines and fresh berries are as ripe as ever. U-pick farms are also a good bet.
And, of course, you'll need somewhere to sit and consume the fruits of your labor. Check out our guide to creating a home patio that will get you through the dog days of Covid-19.
... Or Just Go Eat
On a Patio:
You thought patio season was big before? With outdoor dining deemed safer than indoor, restaurants have expanded their operations outside—first to the sidewalks and parking spots in front of their businesses, now (potentially) into the actual streets. It's not a trend limited to summer, either: Sidewalk and street cafe licenses are good for six months. If Scandinavia can stomach al fresco eats year-round, we can too.
At a Popup:
The pandemic has unleashed new levels of creativity among popup chefs, a crew who were already pretty resourceful to begin with. It might also usher in a golden age of pizza.
Over a Counter:
So many restaurants have transformed themselves into walk-up windows of late, but these six counters have been street-facing restaurants since day one, handing over flatbread wraps, bagels, and perhaps the best tacos in the city.
On a Picnic Blanket:
If there's one thing coronavirus has given us, it's a picnic revival. If you don't want to painstakingly turn fruits and cheeses into Instagram-ready slices, join local grocers and restaurants in embracing the picnic kit (canned wine is absolutely part of the deal).
From a Cone:
Our window for truly embracing ice cream is so narrow in the Northwest—might as well embrace it. Some of our favorite ice creameries even added delivery service, bringing pints and waffle cones directly to your door.
In a Bun:
No need to grill your own when the city's got so many great burgers on offer. Seattle's essential smash burgers, bacon burgers, and crispy, shoestring fries are practically begging to be taken to a nearby park.
At Pike Place:
The tourism industry's taken a pandemic hit, but there's a silver lining: Now is the perfect time to support the businesses you love without bumping into a single fanny pack.
Long an afterthought for many Washington winemakers, rosés are having a breakthrough year. Check out these 5 bottles which prove that your patio wine can also be worthy of attention.
Got time on a hot day? Make your own frosé. Mark Brown, owner of Capitol Hill cocktail lounge the Belmont, breaks down the photo-ready drink:
Frosé Making 101
1. Pour rosé into two ice trays. An inexpensive bottle of Provençal will do just fine, but something that lands somewhere on the dry to off-dry end of the spectrum will lend a stronger, flavor-forward backbone. Freeze for at least 24 hours.
2. Rosé (especially those versions from Provençal) plays well with raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, cherries, and even grapes. Puree your fruit of choice, strain, then dispense into ice trays, and, yes again, freeze until unequivocally solid.
3. When everything is firmed up, add 10 cubes of frozen rosé and four cubes of frozen fruit puree into a blender and blitz. Then add two ounces each of rosé (liquid, not frozen) and simple syrup (a one-to-one ratio of sugar and water). For complexity, incorporate two ounces of amaro, like Ramazzotti Rosato, or an aperitif wine like Lillet Blanc or Aperol, which will bump up the pink-orange hue.
4. Blend that summer elixir until it’s frothy and stands up on its own like a gymnast sticking the landing. You may need to add an extra cube of frozen fruit or wine if the texture is too loose. Alternatively, add splashes of rosé should the slushy seem overly stiff. Dispense rosy-pink frosé into wine glasses, insert an equally summery straw (optional, though a lot more fun), and quaff immediately.
Make your beach/canal/park/rooftop read a local one with this big, alphabetized list of books from Washington authors. And if you can swing it, purchase said book locally.
Set the mood for any summer activity with five recently released local albums. Confetti Teeth by the Grizzled Mighty is a great soundtrack for smashing Rainiers at a socially distanced barbecue, while Parisalexa draws on decades of R&B to make something new.
With big multiplexes (and other indoor theaters) still closed under King County's current restrictions, drive-in theaters are having a moment. Washington's got four, all west of Puget Sound. Just don't get stranded out there.