Back to life, back to reality
On a sunny day the first week of June, I was out at Café Presse for my first happy hour since the Before Times. Within a few minutes, I had already dropped an asparagus spear on the ground (“Man down!” I yelled to my companion), and had spilled half my beer on the floor while trying to pour it from bottle to glass. When the waitress came by, we apologized for the mess. “Sorry, we’re a little out of practice,” we told her. She understood.
You might be out of practice, too. But with a 70% vaccination rate and less than 90% ICU capacity expected soon, Washington state is set to open on June 30. Like, 100%, fully open, strangers sitting next to you, open. Which means you’ll have to relearn how to eat in public, talk to people in real life, and enjoy the fruits of the city in 3D and not from the comfort of the couch you’ve been sitting on for 18 months. Zoom meetings may never leave us, but you will soon be able to talk to a group of people without raising your hand and waiting for that awkward pause to pass.
Washington’s reopening is timed perfectly.
This issue is chockfull of recommendations from locals such as Sub Pop’s Megan Jasper and Pike Place’s Executive Director, Lillian Sherman, and food activist Emily Kim who tell us what they plan to go, see and do this summer.
As Seattleites know, summer doesn’t really start in this area until July (July 5, if we’re being honest) but this weekend is Gay Pride, an auspicious moment for the scaled down Capitol Hill PrideFest (June 26-27) which will have two days of booths, performances and dog costume contests at Cal Anderson Park (cross your fingers for good weather). In honor of pride month, queer community favorites such as entrepreneur Joey Burgess, musician Left at London and comedian Woody Shticks share their Seattle favorites.
We have said goodbye to a number of Seattle mainstays in the restaurant and bar and club space, no thanks to COVID. Temporary or permanent closure took down Re-Bar, Ha Na, the 132-year old bar, Jules Mae, Dahlia Lounge, and Borracchini’s Bakery, which also closed after 100 years. But many of our favorite places made it through 2020. Homegrown businesses like Machiavelli on Capitol Hill, Hattie’s Hat in Ballard, and Island Soul in Columbia City need customers. Independent shops, like clothing and accessories shop Cura in the Central District, women’s consignment store Labels in Greenwood, and midcentury modern furniture specialists Sparklebarn in Ballard, are flinging their doors open so that you can come in and try on all the clothes, buy all the jewelry, and redecorate your house so that it feels like a new space.
It’s summer, and that means it’s time to soak up every last drop of Vitamin D before it disappears.
Long days and 10 p.m. sunsets mean you can take a water taxi to West Seattle, munch goodies at Marination ma kai, have a fire pit on Alki Beach with friends, and get back in time for a romantic trip around the Great Wheel as dusk settles. Though you might be tired of parks, it’s PARK SZN in Seattle, so plan a day at Green Lake or Lake Union and book a kayak, or head to Discovery Park and feel like you are in the wilderness, starring in a Thomas Cole landscape painting, and not in the middle of a major U.S. city. While away an afternoon at a Mariners or Sounders game, drinking Pacific NW beer under the glorious orange ball of fire in the sky.
With reservations, you can go swimming again at Colman Pool in West Seattle, take your paddleboard to Lake Washington and work on your abs while floating on the water and staring at The Mountain. Heck, you can get on a plane and go to Universal Studios like Paula Franklin. Planes! Other places! I forgot they existed.
Do like Congresswoman Pramila Jaypal and take a ferry; the one to Bainbridge is lovely and short, and if you are on wheels, you can take in the Bloedel Reserve, one of the country’s most beautiful botanical gardens, just 6 miles away.
While I can’t wait to go to the theater again, it’s going to be a while before that happens; until then, GreenStage’s Shakespeare in the Park series held at various parks is just perfect.
Some live music will be coming back. Sure, we’ll have to wait until next year to experience the Capitol Hill Block Party, Bumbershoot and other big festivals, as venues need a long lead time to book touring acts. In the meantime, Neumos is having a grand reopening party on July 1 and will be open weekends in July and August with a focus on local acts and DJs. Artist Anthony White plans to check out the Woodland Park Zoo, which is hosting its summer series with shows by The Posies and Damien Jurado on the docket. Catch a few acts at a favorite theater of Ben Minicucci, the CEO of Alaska Airlines, at the Paramount Theater and the Neptune — which is bringing Tune-Yards, comedian Steve Hofstetter, and the 50th anniversary production of Jesus Christ Superstar to town. If you’re looking to dance, Capitol Hill club Q’s grand re-opening weekend is July 9. Get ready to brave the sweaty masses.
If you dare to do indoors activities during PARK SZN, know that the museums are ready for your intense gaze. The Seattle Art Museum has esteemed local artist Barbara Earl Thomas and an upcoming Monet at Etretat exhibition on view from July through October. The small but mighty Frye is back with Black Refractions: Highlights from the Studio Museum in Harlem — a favorite of one of our guides, Michelle Merriweather, President of the Seattle Urban League.
If you want art and the outdoors, the Olympic Sculpture Park is one of my favorite places (and Rachel Brister’s, the former executive director of Three Dollar Bill Cinema) for daytime lounging with majestic views of the Sound.
Once you’ve done all those things, maybe then you’ll be ready for handling a fork and a knife in public again. You know what they say: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again (and again, and again). Your local businesses will thank you.
Now, Go! See! Do!