Borrowing from our commitment to exploring our own backyard when we lived in Ohio, I decided one of my 2017 resolutions would be to explore a new Seattle neighborhood each month of the year.
In January we timed our visit to the International District with Lunar New Year, which was an exciting time to experience the district as well as an Asian holiday. February was a busy month so I decided we should focus on something a little more low-key that didn’t require an entire weekend commitment.
The weather was cooperating so it seemed like the perfect time to explore the parks in Ravenna and Greenlake. These two neighborhoods are north of downtown, and I understood the parks to be among the highlights of each area, as well as the food scene. We decided to grab brunch and then spend our afternoon exploring Ravenna Park and Greenlake Park.
I sifted through my spreadsheet of places to eat and drink by neighborhood, which I’ve been compiling since we moved here, and found a couple that offered brunch. I took a quick look at the brunch menus posted online and decided we should check out Salare in Ravenna.
We arrived, found some street parking, and headed to the bar to grab a couple of seats. I ordered a Stumptown coffee and we started to peruse the menu, only to find it wasn’t exactly what I had viewed online. While we wanted to have a nice brunch, we didn’t want to completely cave on our commitment to eating healthier in the new year (believe me, the beignets with pear butter and the giant cinnamon roll with pecans and cherries were SCREAMING my name).
After a few rounds of discussion we decided we couldn’t do it, paid for my coffee, and set out for Frank’s Oyster House and Champagne Parlor. Frank’s was perfect– we parked down the road, found a couple of seats at the tiny bar, and ordered a couple of each of the fresh oysters of the day and some eggs.
The oysters were delicious, the atmosphere was intimate and homey, and we had a really nice time relaxing and people watching over good food. We would definitely go back with friends or family and check out their full menu!
We were ready to stretch our legs after brunch so we headed down the road to Ravenna Park. On our way I found some history online to read to Brian as we looked for signs indicating where to park. The park dates back to the early 1900s and it’s most notable aspect is a large ravine that runs through its center. I also read that the remains of the old trolly/street car line are still visible along its southern side.
Starting in the southeast corner, we headed off on a path not far behind a guy running with his dog. There were quite a few families and people walking their dogs, and there were several pavilions, playgrounds, picnic areas, and more.
We walked on either side of the ravine, making our way to the northwest corner by Cowen Park on one side and then looping around to the other side on our way back. Once we got into the woods people started to spread out and it felt like we were alone on our hike. Aside from passing the occasional group on the trail, the only other indication that people were around were a few tents underneath the main bridge that bisects the park.
Our only negative encounter was near Cowen Park where I stopped to take a photos of some beautiful purple flowers along the woods (picture below!). They were so pretty and just screamed springtime!
As I finished a car pulled up and a woman got out, hollering about the eyesore and that she lived there. I honestly thought she was talking to the driver of the car–she climbed out of the passenger side, and I wasn’t paying much attention except to notice as we walked away that there was a giant tarp over in the woods that was obviously her temporary living space. I felt bad but I didn’t really know what to say or do and we were already well down the road.
After we finished taking in Cowen Park, we looped around to the other side of the road and began admiring the old houses lining the street heading back toward Ravenna Park. The woman was still shouting loudly and as we were passing her she quickly crossed the street to accost us. We quietly walked by and listened to her screaming after us about how it was our fault and we were the problem. It was unsettling and I felt bad, but I didn’t know how to positively engage in the moment. I don’t know what we did to upset her– all I wanted to do was take a picture of some purple flowers.
The rest of our walk was uneventful and peaceful. Although we didn’t see signs of sunshine, it was nice and mild out and it seemed like we were back by the car before we knew it.
Near the parking lot was a playground with nearby volleyball courts, sandboxes and grassy areas with picnic tables. There were a number of animal statues around the grounds, some of which I had seen on their website ahead of time, but didn’t realize were near where we had parked!
I especially loved the sea turtles and had to take a few pictures of the nearby flora, including some more awesome purple flowers that seemed to be popping up everywhere!
After we were done playing we headed to Greenlake Park where we were met with TONS of people. The parking lots were overflowing and we finally found street parking several blocks away.
Once we overcame the parking difficulties and got on the trail everything improved. There were lots of families, people walking their adorable dogs, people rollerblading and bicycling, and people stopped along the path admiring the lake and waterfowl.
The path around Greenlake is about three miles, which was perfect. There were things to stop and read all along the way, and we were blown away by the history of the Aqua Theater and the water shows and concerts that used to take place on the water. We stopped to read every sign, and I took pictures all along the way.
We were finishing our walk just as the sun was starting to head for the horizon. I think we were both sufficiently invigorated and ready to return home.
Although life has been busy, I couldn’t be happier we took time to explore these neighborhoods and their parks. There really is nothing like a walk in the park to clear your mind, help you relax, and boost your mood–whether from communing with nature or producing some extra endorphins.
I look forward to taking our family and friends to these spots if the weather is conducive to a low-key outdoor activity north of downtown!
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