Seafair draws tens of thousands of fans to Genesee Park and the surrounding area Aug. 5, 6 and 7. Here are some things to check out in South Seattle.
Seafair Weekend Hydroplane Races and Air Show
A centerpiece of Seattle’s Seafair festival since 1950, this Seafair Weekend has unlimited hydroplanes, the world’s fastest race boats and the Air Show featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. The event draws tens of thousands of fans to Genesee Park and the surrounding area Aug. 5, 6 and 7. Festivities also include music, food vendors, beverage gardens, hydroplane exhibits, Kids Zone rides, games, chef demos and Bolt on the Blue water-ski racing. Spectators sit or stand along the lake shore or bring lawn chairs and blankets for seating; bleacher seating is available at an additional charge. Bringing food and beverages is fine, but no outside alcohol is allowed. Parking in the area is limited; frequent free shuttle service to and from Columbia City Light Rail Station is available daily. Arriving by bicycle is encouraged, with discounted admission and secure parking for cyclists. The Blue Angels performance is one of the weekend’s most popular features, scheduled for approximately 1:15 daily; event hours are 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 5-6 and 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 7, Genesee Park and Playfield, 4316 S. Genesee St., Seattle. Admission is free Aug. 5, $10-$35 Aug. 6-7; Pit Pass, $10 (seafair.com/p/about/seafairweekend).
Seward Park is 300 acres of forest, beaches and trails including a wide, paved 2.4-mile bike and walking path, a lifeguarded swimming beach, a playground, amphitheater, art studio (seattle.gov/parks/environment/seward.htm) and Seward Park Environmental & Audubon Center nature programs and Audubon Nature Store (206-652-2444 or sewardpark.audubon.org).
Seward Park has several parking lots, though they can get full on busy weekends. The park’s trails make it the perfect setting for frequent community fun run events. Don’t be discouraged by the parking-lot crowds; the park is so large that most parts of it don’t feel overcrowded even on busy days.
Note that the park will be closed some of the time during Seafair Weekend, Aug. 5-7, because of safety concerns during the U.S. Navy Blue Angels performances (seattle.gov/parks).
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Special events include Bicycle Sunday, closing scenic Lake Washington Boulevard to motorized traffic from Seward Park to Mount Baker Beach, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 14 and 28 and Sept. 4, 11, 18 and 25 (206-684-4075 or seattle.gov/parks/bicyclesunday).
Third Place Books
Want to visit Seattle’s newest independent bookstore? Check out Third Place Books in Seward Park, a former Puget Consumers Coop that has been rehabbed and outfitted with an espresso bar, Raconteur restaurant with outdoor seating, a bar, reading spaces and, of course, books, both new and used.
The bookstore is at 5041 Wilson Ave. S., Seattle (206-474-2200 or thirdplacebooks.com/seward-park).
One of Seattle’s eight official Landmark District historic neighborhoods with a 1914 Carnegie branch of the Seattle Public Library (206-386-1908 or spl.org/locations/columbia-branch) and several commercial buildings dating from its early history, Columbia City is home to many popular restaurants, small businesses and the Rainier Valley Historical Society (206-723-1663 or rainiervalleyhistory.org). Buy or fix a bike at Bike Works, a local nonprofit working to make bicycling accessible and affordable (206-725-8867 or www.bikeworks.org); stop by Bob’s Quality Meats, a classic butcher shop with house-made sausage (206-725-1221 or /bobsqualitymeats.com); or pick up a snack at the new PCC Natural Market with hot and cold food bars and indoor and outdoor seating (206-466-6182 or pccnaturalmarkets.com/locations/cc.html). Columbia City Farmers Market, 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, is a popular local feature next to Columbia Park. It’s perfect for enjoying a picnic with fresh fruit, vegetables and prepared food from the market (www.seattlefarmersmarkets.org/markets/columbia-city). Columbia City Light Rail Station is a few blocks away on Martin Luther King Jr. Way and South Edmunds Street (m.soundtransit.org/Rider-Guide/Columbia-City-Station).
Upcoming events include Summer Parkways on Aug. 13 with the Rainier Valley Heritage Festival Parade (www.rainierchamber.com) and Big Day of Play (seattle.gov/parks). The popular Columbia City Beatwalk with music performances at many local venues is from 6 to 10 p.m. Aug. 14 and second Sundays through October (facebook.com/Columbia-City-Beatwalk-81913903865).
Columbia City Theater
Built as a vaudeville theater in 1917 and reopened in 2010, Columbia City Theater’s history includes hosting jazz greats Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Fats Waller in the 1940s, serving as a movie theater in the 1950s, and, after returning to live events in the 1960s, it was rumored to be one of the first venues to host a performance by Jimi Hendrix. Now home to music, burlesque and cabaret events, the Bourbon Bar and event rental spaces, Columbia City Theater hosts Tuesday Night Music Club with featured artists and open mic, Wednesday Absolute Karaoke and many other events (columbiacitytheater.com).
Columbia City also has its own movie theater, Ark Lodge Cinema, showing first-run movies on four screens in a historic former Masonic Lodge (206-721-3156 or www.arklodgecinemas.com).