One Day in the Pacific Northwest…
I don’t get into Seattle too much. With a toddler in tow, it just seems too overwhelming. There’s always tons of traffic and I constantly stress about where I’m going to find parking.
But when an old friend of mine, Kate, from San Diego announced she was moving from Tacoma back to southern California, I was eager to see her again before she left, so when she asked if I’d be up for meeting her and her family at Green Lake in Seattle, I immediately said yes.
The only catch? It was of course on a weekend when my husband was out of town. So…I was going to have to drive into Seattle with Lulu on my own. Gulp.
But I wanted to see my friend (and her adorable one year old) one more time, so this past Saturday morning, I packed up our car with raincoats and the stroller and headed out into the rain and toward the big, big city.
Good thing I did, because on this particular Saturday, Seattle seemed determined to entice me back for more day trips.
First, I immediately found a parking spot in the otherwise packed looking lot right by East Green Lake Beach. Then, as I was jostling the stroller out of the car, it suddenly stopped raining.
I put Lulu in the stroller and made my way over to the Lake’s edge to look for Kate. Despite the early morning rain, Green Lake was already bustling with locals and I instantly felt cooler for being there.
The Green Lake neighborhood of Seattle is where the hip parents of Seattle live. I’d been there once before when we were on our neighborhood scouting trip in Seattle a few weeks before our official move from San Diego. We had a guide for that trip who seemed to think we would be nuts if we didn’t move to Green Lake. But city living wasn’t for me and we ended up finding the perfect little community for us.
Still, it’s easy to see why Green Lake is so popular with families who don’t want to leave Seattle for the suburbs.
Green Lake is located about seven miles north of downtown Seattle and gets its name from the small body of water that is at its center. A 3.5 mile walking trail goes around the lake and it’s lined by pretty trees. Depending where you are along the walk, you’ll see quaint little craftsman houses (that will likely set you back a small fortune should you want to purchase one), cool coffee shops and restaurants, or the Green Lake Community Center and its adjacent soccer fields and playground (and which is where that awesome FREE 4-hour parking lot I scored a spot in is located).
Kate met me in front of the community center (which has a bathroom – always good to know) and we started our walk around Green Lake.
Besides the easy parking and rain dissipating, the third pleasant surprise of the day was that the sun unexpectedly came out about 15 minutes into our walk. It was the only hour it was out for the whole day. Lulu was so mesmerized by the leaves on the trees, the ducks in the lake, and the multitude of dogs out for a walk with their owners that she actually sat in the stroller for over half the walk, meaning I could focus on taking in the gorgeous scene before me instead of chasing her around the whole time.
Yes, Seattle was definitely trying to win me over on this lovely day.
After our walk, Kate’s husband suggested we head over to a sandwich place he’d heard was good in the nearby Phinney Ridge neighborhood. I didn’t know anything about Phinney Ridge, but was up for seeing somewhere new.
Pretty much as soon as we got in the car, it started raining (and would continue raining for the rest of the weekend). It seemed a stroke of luck (or Seattle courting me) that we’d had sunshine on our walk.
Once again, I found free parking right in front of where I needed to be in Phinney. Though…there was one sign that said one hour parking and literally right underneath it was another sign that said it was a 30 minute load and unload zone, but the curb wasn’t painted and there were no other signs. Uhhhh…
I decided to risk it and threw the car into park and walked into Martino’s, where we were meeting for lunch.
Martino’s is minimally decorated yet feels welcoming and comfortable.
Martino’s specializes in sandwiches and after happily seeing the beef was grass-fed, I ordered the Santa Maria tri-tip sandwich. Though I can’t say it was better than my beloved Firestone Tri-Tip sandwich in San Luis Obispo, it was tender and had fresh, interesting flavors thanks to pesto and marinated peppers and tomatoes. I’d go back (I can’t imagine when I will ever be in Phinney Ridge again, but if I am, yes, I would eat at Martino’s again…or that yummy sounding Neapolitan pizza place a couple doors down…)
By this point in the day, it was nearly naptime and Lulu was starting to lose her mind a bit. She and my friend’s daughter were sticking stickers all over themselves while Lulu plotted how to get past me and off the bench seat we were dining on. So we ate fast and were prepared to say our good-byes, but…
We’d both noticed the cute little bookstore called Phinney Books across the street.
I was a bit worried about my car, though; however, the guy we were sitting next to in Martino’s said no one ever gets ticketed or towed in Phinney Ridge because there are bigger fish to fry in nearby Ballard (the other Seattle neighborhood you should move to if you want to be a cool, hip parent). I don’t know if that was true, but it had been over 30 minutes and no ticket on my car so I decided to assume the one hour sign was the correct one, and headed into the bookstore.
I love independent bookstores though sometimes they’re not so great for little kids. Phinney Books was definitely not like that — it had an awesome kid section in the back. The bookshelf was shaped like a train, which was adorable, and behind it was a tiny play area with a sweet little rocking chair and bench for reading.
While Lulu and Kate’s daughter played in the kid area, I went gaga over this book, which I hadn’t seen before and totally cracked me up. It’s basically a mindfulness book for babies.
I couldn’t resist buying it, and Lulu actually enjoyed me reading it to her when we got back home and did the “breathe in…breathe out…” beginning with her. Though, I think this book is more helpful to harried mothers than toddlers. I mean, really, does anyone live in the present moment better than a toddler? Their whole lives revolve around “this is what I want” and “this is how I feel right this second.”
Then it was time to say our good-byes, quickly in the pouring rain as I wished my old San Diego friend luck back in sunny SoCal. There was no parking ticket on my windshield (yay!) and it was quite easy to get out of the neighborhood and back to the freeway. Lulu promptly fell asleep. There was traffic, but the rain gave the drive a soothing quality and I enjoyed the peacefulness of it and the pretty views of the Puget Sound as I headed back to the suburbs. Hmmm, I thought, this journey wasn’t so hard. Maybe Lulu and I will start going into Seattle more, after all.