Seattle is one of those cities that the more I explore it, the more I love it. The proximity of the city to so much water definitely reduces the abject depression that I enter into whenever it clouds over with the typical northwest weather. Not to say that I could live there, but it is definitely a fun place to visit for a few days. Combine that with its proximity to the mountains, and the city becomes almost as cool as Portland or Vancouver. But as with most cities in the northwest, there are just some places where even liters of coffee won’t fix the effects of the rain.
Usually when I’m in Seattle I run, mostly because the roads don’t seem super conducive to cycling, and I haven’t really found anyone to show me rides around town. The running, however, is pretty fantastic and very easily accessible. The first time I visited the city I was surprised by how hilly it is, which holds true for most of the close in neighborhoods surrounding the city. I did the Seattle Marathon in 2006 and was impressed with the views and the variety of terrain, and apart from the psyche crushing hills they make you run up starting on mile 19, the route was a great introduction to Seattle running.
My new favorite area is the Ballard part of town, in the Northwest quadrant of the city. I stay with friends there so I have been able to explore part of the area on a regular basis. There are a couple of good restaurants, and a great coffee shop that are worth checking out. There are also a lot of great markets, and the word is a Trader Joe’s is going to open up in the area soon.
Green Lake is located between I-5 and the Phinney Ridge, just east of Ballard. I believe it is considered one of the more upscale neighborhoods in that area (ie; safer to run in). The centerpiece is the lake, which has a multi-purpose path running its entire circumference. The path is concrete and dirt, and is basically flat. There are generally a lot of people that use the trail throughout the day, so get ready to dodge dogs and toddlers. The best part of the run is that the neighborhood is where a lot of University of Washington students live, so there is usually a plethora of attractive women running or sunbathing, which help to augment the already great views. I would suggest adding Phinney Ridge into the run, which is basically Phinney Road. From the top, on a rare clear day, you can see both the Olympic Range and the Cascade Range. Not really on par with nubile co-eds, but certainly worth a look. Click on the “view larger map” link below for directions (I am loving Google Maps lately).