Ultimate Summer Activites and Sun Spots

From mountain hikes to beachside bonfires, our favorite summer activities.
Posted May 12, 2011

Agua Verde Café and Paddle Club

Where can you drink a margarita on a deck in the sunshine, dig into fresh, tasty fish tacos with just-made salsa, and then hop in a bright orange, lime green or raspberry red kayak for a self-propelled tour around Lake Union? Agua Verde has you covered. Every summer, when we find ourselves trying to cram a month’s worth of sunny pursuits into one afternoon, this one-stop shop is where we land. Hint: Agua Verde is even better when you can talk a group of friends into playing hooky and joining you at 2 p.m. on a weekday afternoon. University District, 1303 NE Boat St.; 206.545.8570; aguaverde.com


The Tiger Mountain Grind

If the warming days have you yearning for a nature escape, set your sights on a serious summer hike. Issaquah’s beloved chirico Trail (wta.org)  is a two-mile grind to Poo Poo Point atop Tiger Mountain, for which you’ll be richly rewarded; the vistas—and the people-watching—are beyond compare. Nearly 2,000 feet up, flop down in the scrubby grass next to the launch pad and watch parasailers take flying leaps off the mountain, soaring away on thermals. Shake things up: Pack flashlights and a picnic dinner and hit the trail after work if you dare; you’ll watch the sun set over the mountains as you eat—and enjoy a spooky, spotlit descent. 

Beach Bonfires
The 12 fire pits on the beach at Golden Gardens Park (8498 Seaview Place NW; 206.684.4075; seattle.gov/parks) see a lot of action over the summer months, and for good reason—who doesn’t love shoving marshmallows and franks into a gigantic pillar of fire? Aside from the cost of dry cordwood and food that easily slides off skewers, bonfires are a free and low-hassle way to spend an evening. Shake things up: Think outside the jet-puffed bag and go gourmet with ’mallow masters Madyson’s Marshmallows (madysonsmarshmallows.com). The Bonney Lake company’s line of roasting chip fluffs ($8/dozen) is made especially for campfires and features vanilla bean marshmallows with flavored candy chips (including butterscotch, toffee chip, peanut butter and chocolate) stuffed inside. The result is a gooey mess that will have even the most bed-headed beach bums eating s’mores with pinkies pointed skyward. Cayla Lambier

Seattle Sun Spots

Sunbathers line up like sardines at Madison Park and Alki Beach, so we’ve collected a few less-crowded places to catch some rays with a side of extra summer goodness. by Jennifer Lee

Arty Sun
SAM’s Get Out! summer program in the Olympic Sculpture Park includes plein air drawing (supplies provided), free yoga and live music. Or just grab a red chair and watch the ferries traverse the Sound. Belltown, 2901 Western Ave.

Sun with a side of Berries
Take a one-hour drive east to Harvold Berry Farm in Carnation, where 12 acres of strawberry fields beckon you to a sun-drenched day of picking pleasure. Season starts mid-June. Carnation, Highway 203 on the north end of town.

Kid-Friendly Sun
Parents can stake claim to driftwood logs nearby Salty’s Redondo Beach location, while kids busily construct castles in the sand. Des Moines, 28201 Redondo Beach Drive S.

Caffinated Sun
Coffee and sun are some of the best things our city has to offer (albeit usually in inverse proportions). Get your caffeine fix with a vitamin D boost by basking in Caffè Fiore’s south-facing Adirondack chairs, a perfect place to sip your latté and sun your skin. Queen Anne,  224 W Galer St.


Outdoor Movie Nights
It’s BYOS (bring your own seating) and BYOP (bring your own picnic) at the Fremont Outdoor movies (3501 Phinney Ave. N; fremontoutdoormovies.com), held on summer Saturday nights beginning June 25. So on beanbag seats, lawn chairs and the occasional double bed, Fremonsters and citizens of nearby neighborhoods set up temporary residence to enjoy interactive audience games and contests, the company of fellow movie enthusiasts and, of course, the screening of a beloved cinematic classic (or catastrophe) projected onto a building. The $5 ticket price makes a Fremont Outdoor Movie an affordable, enjoyable way to spend a summer evening. Check the website for a full lineup of this year’s screenings. Shake things up: Dress in costume for every screening, from Red, White and Dead (the world-famous zombie walk, July 2) to “dudefest night” (The Big Lebowski, August 13). Why? Because you’ll end up with a decade’s worth of Halloween costumes and because everyone wants to be friends with the person dressed as Godzilla or the Death Star. C.L.

A Breezy Bainbridge Island Ferry Ride
With ferries departing nearly every hour and a full schedule available online (wsdot.wa.gov/ferries), taking a ride across the Sound is a summer rite of passage (unless, of course, it’s your daily commute). The small town of Winslow on Bainbridge Island is just a short walk from the terminal, and makes for a quick, foot-powered day trip, offering shops such as locally owned Eagle Harbor Book Co. (157 Winslow Way E; 206.842.5332; eagleharborbooks.com) and local favorite Mora Iced Creamery (139 Madrone Lane; 206.855.1112; moraicecream.com). Shake things up: Hit Winslow on a Saturday morning and turn an ordinary summer excursion into a culinary treasure hunt by strolling through the abundant Bainbridge Farmer’s Market (Saturdays through October; 9 a.m.–1 p.m.; Town Square at City Hall Park, Winslow, Bainbridge Island; 206.855.1500;bainbridgefarmersmarket.com). Attempt to re-create one of the seasonally inspired recipes on the farmers’ market website or just peruse the local produce and vittles for delicious inspiration. C.L.

Bike the Burke-Gilman Trail
Roughly 18 miles of paved trail that snakes from Shilshole Bay throughout Seattle to Kenmore, the Burke-Gilman Trail (kingcounty.gov) is popular with joggers, bicyclists and people who just like to walk outside in nice weather (it gets busy on sunny days, so be sure to stay to the right!). The trail winds its way through neighborhoods, city parks and waterfronts, and is easily accessed throughout Seattle. Shake things up: Grab some friends and some bikes and pedal all the way to Redhook Brewery in Woodinville (14300 NE 145th St.; 425.483.3232; redhook.com) via the Burke-Gilman and Sammamish River trails. The $1 brewery tours feature as many as five samples of Red Hook brews, while Forecasters Pub, the onsite bar, offers burgers and seasonal ales. At the end of the day, burn off those beer calories on the return ride or, if those handlebars feel a bit wobbly, catch a bus (and maybe a nap) home. C.L.

KEXP’s Concerts at the Mural

Free, outdoors and upbeat, KEXP’s Concerts at the Mural series  (305 Harrison St.; 206.684.7200; kexp.org; seattlecenter.com) puts local and visiting indie artists on Seattle Center’s Mural Amphitheatre stage. The series opens on August 5 at 6 p.m. with the Black Whales, Hey Marseilles and the Maldives; check the website for the full line-up. Shake things up: Believe it or not, people in other cities actually go to concerts to dance, so break free from the stereotypical stony Seattle stance and actually move. Start small, maybe with a head nod, and work up to some enthusiastic clapping or shoulder swaying! The musicians won’t know where they are. C.L.