To the north of Fremont, Phinney Ridge sits on a high ridge with panoramic views facing east and west. A close-knit neighborhood of Craftsman homes and gracious trees flanking delicious eateries and bespoke boutiques, Phinney Ridge makes a great day out for all ages.
Besides the views, probably the biggest draws for visitors to “the Ridge” are Woodland Park and the 92-acre Woodland Park Zoo, 5500 Phinney Ave. N., nestled in it. Woodland Park is a veritable outdoor playground – it includes trails, tennis courts, a bocce court, picnic shelters, a skate park, ball fields, and even a dog park. In fall, you’ll find a rare Seattle larch turning gold by the 50th Street tennis courts, and in winter the hill near the zoo fills with sledders, should Seattle be graced with an inch of snow.
A lesser-known wonder of the park is the tiny jewel known as the Woodland Park Rose Garden, 750 N. 50th St. Beautiful May through October, its roses bloom mainly in June and September.
The zoo, popular all year for its animal denizens, also brings hundreds to its summer ZooTunes concert series (get your blankets out early, people!) as well as the winter WildLanterns event. That’s not to mention special events like cider and whiskey tastings.
The Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Association is the beating heart of the neighborhood, offering a Friday seasonal farmers market, a playground and classes and festivals at the community center. Anything goes at the farmers market – zucchini races down the playground mega-slide have been known to happen.
Phinney Books at 7405 Phinney Ave. N., makes a great place to pause and browse.
Getting hungry? There are so many options. Head to Red Mill Burgers, 312 N. 67 St., to sample “One of the 20 Burgers You Must Eat Before You Die” (per the Oprah show and GQ magazine). The pub food at 74th Ale House, 7401 Greenwood Ave. N., includes a nice jambalaya. If you can’t decide between sweet and savory, check out A la Mode Pies, 5821 Phinney Ave. N., rolling out chicken pot pies as well as marionberry. At Bongos, 6501 Aurora Ave. N., you can enjoy vibrant Caribbean food (mango salsa and maduros, anyone?) with your feet in the sand on its beachy patio near Green Lake.
Green Lake, surrounded by Phinney Ridge and Wallingford, is another great draw year-round. Part of the Olmstead Brothers’ Seattle plan, people come to stroll the 2.8-mile lakeside path, fish (it’s stocked annually), swim, rent kayaks and paddleboards from the Greenlake Boathouse and Coffee Shop, 7351 East Green Lake Dr. N., and enjoy numerous ball fields and tennis courts. Fun events to watch for include the milk carton derby, with homemade rafts made of milk cartons, the August Hiroshima to Hope lantern festival, the autumnal solstice Luminata light festival and the December Pathway of Lights, which comes with cocoa, carols and a hot air balloon release – if it’s not raining.
In a converted bathhouse at 7312 W. Green Lake Drive, the Seattle Public Theater offers up-close productions from “110 in the Shade” to a “A Very Die Hard Christmas.”
Greenwood and Phinney are so conveniently aligned – they run right into each other – that the local blog Phinneywood combines the two. Starting on the northern edge of Phinney Ridge, on 75th Street North, it’s a bustling hub of cafes, bookshops and restaurants.
For entertainment, The Taproot Theater company, 212 N. 85th St., offers shows for all ages. In June, Greenwood Avenue is taken over by antique roadsters and trucks for the Greenwood Car Show festival, this year slated for June 24.
Shopping abounds in Greenwood. Dip into men’s couture thrifting at Lucky Dog, 8201 Greenwood Ave. N., specializing in brands like Gucci, Jordan, North Face and Polo. Couth Buzzard Books, 8310 Greenwood Ave. N., lets you snack while you browse new and used titles.
Feeling crafty? Seattle ReCreative, 8404 Greenwood Ave. N., has all the equipment to inspire your next work of art, from fabric to ephemera. The Fiber Gallery brings all the yarny goodness for knitters.
Popular eateries include Coyle’s Bakeshop, 8300 Greenwood Ave. N., for British/French pastries and sandwiches; Valhalla, 8282 Greenwood Ave. N., for Viking-inspired sandwiches; Oliver’s Twist, 6822 Greenwood Ave. N. for cocktails and truffle popcorn; Gordito’s Mexican, 213 N. 85th St., for hearty burritos; and Chuck’s Hop Shop, 656 N.W. 85th St., a dog-friendly “Land of a Thousand Beers” to savor said suds with board games in or out on the outdoor patio along with food trucks. If you’d like your brew with a side of arcade and video games, check out Coindexter’s, 8556 Greenwood Ave. N.
There are many wonders to be found in Wallingford – if you know where to look. Like Phinney Ridge, it’s crammed with craftsman architecture, so you can do a lot of passive house hunting on the way.
Start with exploring Gas Works Park, 2101 N. Northlake Way, a park built on a former Seattle Gas Light plant that hosts the July 4 fireworks party and the Christmas Ship festival in December. Climb the factory relics or stroll the spiral mound for the view of Lake Union and an astrological mosaic.
Agua Verde Paddle Club and Café, 1307 and 1303 N.E. Boat St., will send you off kayaking on Portage Bay and then feed you good guacamole and pomelos when you get back.
Some choice shopping spots to explore in Wallingford include:
Archie McPhee, 1300 N. 45th St., is a novelty emporium for all the things you didn’t know you needed -- rubber chickens, punching nuns and aliens, and surprisingly, floral oilcloth for your dining table. Don’t miss the “Wallingford Beast” exhibit.
Seattle Plant Daddy, 1325 N. 46th St., overflows with a broad selection of tropical plants and accoutrements.
The Pacific Northwest Shop, 4411 N. Wallingford Ave., is a great shop for Seattle and Northwest themed items, from truffles to hand thrown mugs, jewelry and hoodies.
For dinner, consider Bizarro Café, 1307 N. 46th St., which will revive the quirky vibe begun at nearby Archie McPhee. Soul-warming Italian food is paired with an anything-goes “what’s that?” decorating style.
End your night at the Sea Monster Lounge, 2202 N. 45th St. With live funk, jazz and soul music seven nights a week, musicians like Macklemore come here to jam and unwind after shows around town. Fridays, come ready to dance to the funk.