In-Person

Our Best Suggestions for In-Person Things To Do in Seattle During COVID-19

Year-Round Ideas for Takeout, Places to Go for Walks, and More
February 18, 2021
Below: Our recommendations for Seattle-based podcasts to listen to while you stroll through the Washington Park Arboretum. (Washington Park Arboretum via Facebook)

On our guide to things to do in-person in Seattle, you'll find listings for in-person events and venues that are open for in-person visits during COVID-19. But beyond that, we also have lots of ideas for things you can do that you might not have thought of, like ordering ramen to pair with an at-home Tampopo screening or signing up for a snail mail subscription service. The blurbs below are adapted from our weekly guides to a socially distanced weekend (which you'll find new editions of here on Friday afternoons) and work all year (or at least winter) long.

FOOD & DRINK

Try some celebrity ghost kitchens. Stars: They're just like us! Except that they sometimes have their own branded national food delivery services. Two such ghost kitchens have recently arrived in Seattle: The flamboyant Food Network fixture Guy Fieri has launched a delivery-only "ghost kitchen" restaurant concept called Guy's Flavortown Kitchen with locations across the country, and one is now operating out of the South Lake Union location of the ultra-kitschy Italian restaurant chain Buca di Beppo. The bleach-haired cooking personality's menu includes cheesesteak egg rolls, bourbon brown sugar barbecue wings, bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers, queso dip, burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, and other over-the-top comfort food. In December, Mariah Carey also rolled out an online cookie delivery service called Mariah's Cookies in collaboration with Planet Hollywood founder Robert Earl and Virtual Dining Concepts, with offerings like chocolate chunk, triple chocolate chunk, Heath bar, lemon cooler, spiced oatmeal raisin, white chocolate cranberry, pumpkin, and gingerbread, available in Seattle and 30 other cities across the country. Order some burgers to go with your Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives viewing, or enjoy some milk and cookies while listening to the audiobook of Mariah's extremely fun memoir The Meaning of Mariah Carey.

Try cookbooks from local authors and chefs. As we approach the first anniversary of the beginning of the pandemic, home cooking might have become more of a slog than a respite. But it doesn't have to be: We've gathered a list of cookbooks from some of our favorite local chefs and writers, like Renee Erickson and Rachel Yang, so you can refresh your repertoire with new-to-you recipes and beloved dishes that evoke pre-COVID memories of dining in some of Seattle's most popular restaurants.

Make an elaborate breakfast. Stop at the vegetarian mainstay Cafe Flora for take-and-bake frozen cinnamon rolls, pastries, and coffee beans, or try Coyle’s Bakeshop for bake-at-home scones, house-made jams and marmalades, and other delights. Preserve & Gather also has yogurt, granola, ricotta, take-and-bake scones and cookies, and L’Oursin has a breakfast provisions kit with whole-bean Olympia coffee, a bag of Ranger granola, farm-fresh eggs, a slab of house-made bacon, smoked salmon, local yogurt or kefir, and a jar of Ayako & Family Jam.

Learning a new cooking skill. Stress-baking, which has rarely been more necessary than it is right now, is a popular coping strategy for good reason: Immersing yourself in a meticulously detailed recipe that requires all your senses for several hours has untold therapeutic powers. (And, of course, you have something delicious to eat at the end!) If you’re looking for an extra-involved cooking project, we suggest Coyle’s Bakeshop owner Rachael Coyle’s free on-demand video lessons for learning how to make croissants, because butter makes everything better. All you need to do is buy the supplies and follow along at home to recreate the smell of a French bakery in your own kitchen. Or, if you prefer pasta over pastries, try Osteria La Spiga chef Sabrina Tinsley’s on-demand videos for making your own tortelli and tagliolini at home via Sound Excursions.

Visit local takeout windows with food (and booze!) Last summer, the Maple in Maple Leaf opened an outdoor "banana stand" (cue the Arrested Development jokes) doling out frozen cocktails, and now they've updated it to be winter-ready with hot cocktails, hot soup, and hot food. In Wallingford, the Octopus Bar, which closed in November 2019 and plans to reopen nearby in its new home soon, has launched a new nautical-themed takeout window called the Salty Shack, serving sandwiches, hot dogs, and drinks, like the "No Ship Sherlock" (Jameson, ginger beer, apple cider/rosemary/cranberry syrup) and the "Knot Too Shabby" (pear and elderflower Absolut vodka, vanilla lemon syrup, soda). And finally, Beacon Hill's Mediterranean hot spot Homer has launched the spinoff window Milk Drunk down the street, slinging fried chicken sandwiches, seasonal soft serve, slushies, cocktails, and wine.

Support Black-owned restaurants across the city. Turn to our directory of Black-owned restaurants to find other places worthy of your patronage. Some of our favorites: CommunionJuneBabyMarjorieThe StationCatfish CornerCentral Cafe and Juice BarThe Comfort Zone, or Emma's BBQ. The community-focused Shoreline coffee shop Black Coffee Northwest Cafe, which offers a barista training program, a weekly youth outreach program, after-school study hours, Zoom "coffee chat" conversations on important topics, a coat drive, and other programming, has also been the target of racist harassment and threats since it opened in October. If you can, consider supporting them by making donations and by making purchases.

Try the best (fish) sandwich in Washington. Food and Wine has proclaimed Seattle Fish Company's fish sandwich to be the best sandwich in Washington, and it's up to all of us to go try it ourselves to investigate the veracity of this claim. Looking for other seafood-centric sandwich options? We suggest the po' boys and fish burgers at Emerald City Fish and Chips (also an incredible Black-owned business) and the lobster rolls and fish sandwiches at Local Tide.

Try a beer tasting event (or create your own). Beer festivals are big in Seattle, and while the pandemic has definitely put a damper on most of them, you can always assemble your own home tasting with a selection of brews from a local supplier like Chuck's Hop ShopThe Growler Guys, or The Pine Box.

Take a tropical staycation with takeout. Daydreaming about booking a flight to a balmy climate? Consider is redirecting your wanderlust to tropical specialties from local restaurants. If you're longing for the flavors of Hawaii, check out the Hawaiian-Korean cuisine of Marination, plate lunches from Buddha Bruddah, or fried chicken from Ma'ono. Alternately, seek out Caribbean dishes at Island SoulJerk ShackTaste of the Caribbean, or Pam's Kitchen.

Stock up on a hot-commodity food, like:

  • Bagels: Many have long lamented Seattle's dearth of bagel shops, but the city's burgeoning bagel scene is getting bigger all the time. Case in point: The well-received, sourdough-fermented bagel business Rubinstein Bagels just opened its first shop near the Amazon Spheres, and the team behind the erstwhile Manolin has launched Old Salt, a pop-up with bagels, cream cheese spreads, house-smoked fish, and smoked fish and veggie bagel sandwiches. Westman's Bagel and Coffee has made a name for itself slinging New York-style bagels in the last couple years, and Macrina Bakery has thrown their hat into the ring with their own version, their organic sourdough "MadRy" bagels. Food writer and noted bagel enthusiast J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (who recently relocated to Seattle) has had high praise for the bagels found at Porkchop and Co.Bagel Oasis, and Eltana. If you can get your hands on a coveted bagel from the delivery service Mt. Bagel, which is known for selling out in seconds when its Monday preorders go live, you're a very lucky person indeed.
  • Croissants: For flaky delights that will shed a trail of crispy shards down your shirt (as any good croissant should), check out Sea Wolf BakersTemple Pastriesthe London PlaneCrumble & FlakeFuji BakeryCeline Patisserie, or Coyle's Bakeshop. If you're looking for a weekend day trip, Saboteur in Bremerton, which is run by a pastry chef who's worked at Michelin-starred restaurants, is worth the trek. Or, if you want a kitchen project, try pastry chef Rachael Coyle's free online croissant class. (For inspiration, revisit the delightful scene from the Nancy Meyers classic It's Complicated where Meryl Streep and Steve Martin bake croissants while stoned.)
  • Hot chocolate: We've rounded up a list of some remarkable ways to get your hot chocolate fix around town, from Mexican drinking chocolate at the new shop Rey Amargo Chocolate Shop to the hot cocoa bombs that have exploded (literally) on TikTok. 
  • Hot pot: Hot pot is the perfect dining experience for wet and blustery days. There’s just something inherently therapeutic about plunging skewers with thinly sliced meats and vegetables into a pot of simmering broth to cook them. You can enjoy hot pot in the comfort of your home, thanks to takeout kits from Chengdu MemoryBoiling Point, and the recently opened HaiDiLao. Set up a heating element, like a portable burner or electric hot plate (or just heat your broth up over the stove). Then gather around a bubbling cauldron with whoever you’re quarantined with and cook your own feast.
  • Khao man gai: The revered dish khao man gai, a Thai version of the Chinese dish Hainanese chicken rice, is a super-simple, sublime combination of poached chicken, seasoned rice, and crisp cucumber garnishes, with a side of chicken broth—and it's popping up everywhere lately. Two new spots serving the dish, Khao Man Gai Thai Chicken Rice and Drunken Chicken, have recently landed on the scene. Sugar Hill co-owner Guitar Srisuthiamorn also specializes in the dish and serves it for takeout under the name Guitar's Khao Man Gai, and you can also find it at Pop Pop Thai Street Food and Pink Bee.
  • Pie: Plunge your fork into some perfectly flaky, golden pastry crust—some of our favorite pie suppliers include A La Mode PiesPie BarHood Famous Bakeshop, and High 5 Pie. If you're in the mood for something more savory, try Pot Pie Factory's comforting individual pies. And if you're up for a project, you could even try to recreate one of the mind-bending geometric creations from Seattleite Lauren Ko's playful book Pieometry, available at Book Larder.
  • Pizza: Detroit-style pizza is currently all the rage, beloved for its rectangular shape and burnished, frico-like edges, and the recently opened pizzerias Cornelly and Moto both serve it. It's also available at South Town Pie and Sunny Hill. Other pizzas well worth your time and consideration include the Jersey-style slices at Dino's Tomato Pie, the lovely wood-fired creations at Delancey, New York-style varieties at Supreme, inimitable Chicago deep dish at Windy City Pie, and thoughtfully sourced pizza at Humble Pie.
  • Vegan food: Whether you've banished animal products for good or you're reevaluating your meat and/or dairy consumption, you've got plenty of delicious options in Seattle. We've rounded up a list of vegan restaurants worth trying, from the brand-new comfort food spot Allyum to the beloved diner Wayward Vegan Cafe.
  • Vietnamese coffee: Recently, the Seattle coffee scene has enjoyed an influx of new cafes dedicated to Vietnamese coffee, which is traditionally made with a phin (a small metal drip filter) and often mixed with sweetened condensed milk. Phin in Chinatown-International District offers delightful pandan waffles alongside its brews, while Coffeeholic House in Columbia City serves drinks made with organic Robusta beans from Vietnam. In the University District, Sip House also has phin-dripped coffee drinks ranging from fresh mint mojito iced coffee to lattes topped with salted crema. Pho Bac co-owner Yenvy Pham also recently opened her new coffee shop Hello Em in Chinatown-International District's Little Saigon with Vietnamese coffee, panini-style banh mi sandwiches, and Vietnamese-inspired baked goods.

MOVIE NIGHT WITH A TWIST

Watch Tampopo and order ramen. Looking for a feel-good movie and food pairing? The charming 1985 Japanese “ramen Western” Tampopo tells the tale of two truck drivers who help a widow overhaul her struggling ramen shop. The film tells several other standalone stories, all revolving around our universal hunger for nourishment and connection. Rent it from Scarecrow Video, or stream it on the Criterion Channel or HBO Max. By the time a sage “ramen master” appears onscreen and explains the proper way to lovingly appreciate a bowl of ramen, you’re going to really, really regret it if you don’t have some in front of you, so you should definitely have a takeout option—like the kits available from Ooink or Menya Musashi, or something from one of our other recommended ramen restaurants—ready to go. The uplifting comedy will buoy your spirits, while the hot broth and noodles will fortify you against the current state of the world.

Have a French night at home. If your wanderlust has reached an all-time high and you're daydreaming of absconding to France, try recreating some of the Gallic magic at home. The New York Times recently published a guide on how to pretend you're in Paris tonight, complete with suggestions for baking, performances, virtual museum tours, reading, and more, as well as a list of ten movies that can transport you there. We suggest renting a couple of their picks, like the French New Wave classic Breathless or the Agnes Varda gem Cleo from 5 to 7, from Scarecrow Video or streaming them online. Or, check out SIFF and TV5MONDE's online film festival French Cinema Now. If you're looking for an immersive experience, channel a Parisian bistro in your kitchen with cheesy French onion soup kits from Cafe Presse and Le Pichet or take-and-bake apple galettes from Coyle's Bakeshop. And of course, wine is a surefire way to get into a French state of mind—try L'OursinBottlehouse, or Wide Eyed Wines.

Upgrade your movie night with theater snacks. Nearly a year into quarantine, it can be tough to make movie nights feel fresh, but with the right accouterments, you can almost convince yourself you're at a theater. Queue up a film from the Sundance Film Festival (or another movie of your choice) and hum "Let's all go to the lobby!" as you settle in with some snacks: perhaps some soft pretzels from Kaffeeklatsch, garlic truffle popcorn from Oliver's Twist, or a hot dog from Dirty Dog? And if you miss the aroma of artificial butter, check out Seattle Times food writer Bethany Jean Clement's recipe for recreating movie theater popcorn at home. If you're still missing the big screen experience, drive-in movies are still going strong at The Blue Fox in Oak Harbor and Rodeo in Port Orchard.

Order Italian food and watch Cinema Italian Style. Comfort food is having a big moment right now, and not much is more comforting than a saucy plateful of carbs. For an Italian-themed night, try ordering out from Capitol Hill's beloved red-sauce institution Machiavelli, Beacon Hill's Bar del Corso, or Pike Place Market's fresh pasta purveyor Pasta Casalinga. Pair your feast with a Sopranos viewing or an Italian-American favorite like Moonstruck or Big Night—check out Seattle International Film Festival's page for more suggestions.

Have a Queen's Gambit-themed day. If you haven't already had the viscerally satisfying delight of binge-watching the new Netflix mini-series The Queen's Gambit, what are you waiting for? The doe-eyed Anja Taylor-Joy plays a self-destructive, orphaned chess prodigy who handily beats champion after champion on her way to the top, all while wearing chic '60s outfits. The show has caused a surge of renewed interest in the ancient strategy game, with an influx of traffic on Chess.com and a widespread shortage of chess sets. If you're hoping to uncover a secret genius for chess yourself, pick up a chess set from Blue Highway Games and get to work. Then cap off your day with the Queen's Gambit cocktail (Scotch, mezcal, lemon, strawberry, genepy liqueur, and red wine) at Tavern Law in Capitol Hill or a hot toddy from the Pioneer Square bar Bad Bishop, which is named for a chess term (owners Jesse Spring and Rachel Brown played a lot of chess in their early days of dating).

SHOP LOCAL

Shop from BIPOC artists and makers. Black History Month or not, it's always important to support Black-owned businesses, especially locally. In addition to our directory of Black-owned restaurants, take this post-Valentine's Day weekend to treat yourself to candles, crafts, clothing, and more from Seattle's bevy of BIPOC makers. Not sure where to start? The local festival turned online shop Renegade Craft has a whole section of BIPOC-made goods, like an Apple Bottom Pie soy candle by the Blk Alien. Skincare enthusiasts should check out QueenCare, a small-batch aromatherapy and skincare boutique run by Monika Mathews in Columbia City (open for in-person shopping, curbside pickup, and local delivery). Over in West Seattle (with an outpost in Queen Anne), Malika Siddiq's boutique Lika Love sells clothing and accessories (including floral face masks), as well as monthly subscription boxes and virtual styling appointments. If you're looking to redecorate, Karl Hackett's Jacob Willard Home in Hillman City, open for private appointments, offers a curated selection of vintage and restored mid-century pieces. Other notable mentions: the social justice-minded Beacon Hill bookstore Estelita's Library, Adorned Abode in Tacoma for air plants, jewelry, and stationery from regional makers, the Valerie Madison Fine Jewelry Studio in Madrona, and Edouardo Jordan's JuneBaby, which, in addition to takeout, offers merch, spice blends, and other pantry goods on their online shop

Stock up on snail mail supplies from local shops. The internet is always there when you need to connect with people through a pixelated screen, but there's nothing like busting out your favorite writing supplies, putting the kettle on, and penning a letter or a holiday card to a loved one (or a stranger) to drop in the mail. If you're short on hard-copy materials, hit up local shops to pick up everything you need. Central District letterpress Grapheme, whose products are available online for curbside pickup on Fridays and Saturdays, offers tasteful items like thank-you cards, stationery sets, and vintage postage stamps. If your best epistolary musings require the perfect writing utensil, the Pioneer Square bookshop Peter Miller offers plenty of fancy pens, available online or in-store. The Japanese-based retailer Kinokuniya in the ID will never let you down, nor will the Ballard gem Lucca Great Finds, which offers a nice selection of John Derian postcards and pen packs. For holiday cards, Elliott Bay has some cute box sets, and the UW Center for Urban Horticulture's Hyde Herbarium makes some lovely pressed flower cards in the likeness of holiday trees. If you're lacking a pen pal, try out the free service Postcrossing—it allows you to send postcards to people all over the world (and receive them, too).

Subscribe to a local snail mail service. If you need a more permanent source of materials, opt for a subscription: Sign up for Dahlia PressStationery Squad (which has the option of adding on postage) or Constellation & Co.'s Card Club (which doesn't include postage, but does have a sticker add-on) to secure a monthly supply of everything you need. 

Get some fresh face masks. While COVID-19 vaccine distribution is very slowly underway, we're still quite a ways away from mask-free living. To make the non-optional act of putting a fabric accessory over your mouth and nose holes a little more enjoyable, procure a new set of masks from local businesses to last until the plague is over. Mini-roundup time: Prairie Underground has lots of classy options for you in a plethora of colors and patterns, including silk ones for your delicate epidermis. Local maker Bellyflop has some colorful ones made to order, including custom options. Seattle Made vendor Oliotto has Seattle-specific ones made of cotton and linen. Sassafrass has a faux leather mesh number lined with cotton and adorned with spikes for your saucier days. And prolific local muralist Ryan "Henry" Ward has some signature designs on comfy cotton. For more options, check out the Seattle Good Business Network's mask marketplace.

Buy a new sweater for the winter chill. Angora (oooh). Mohair (yes). Cashmere (fancy). Wool (timeless). Alpaca (exclusive). Whatever material you prefer to caress your shivering limbs through the Northwest winter months, now is a perfect time to procure a new cozy garment for yourself or a loved one from a local shop. If you like to try things on first, the U-District second-hand mainstay Red Light is open for limited-capacity shopping and is flushed with all manner of jumpers, from cable-knit cardigans to well-loved pullovers. The Broadway location of Crossroads is a good bet for affordable newer styles, and its selling station is currently open if you want to try to make a few bucks or earn store credit (with which to buy sweaters) with your gently used seasonal threads. On the pricier end, for the crème de la crème of knitwear, the online shops for GlasswingPrairie UndergroundLucky Vintage, and Maiden Noir are up and running. Are you crafty? Cop this everyday cardigan kit from Greenwood fiber arts shop Tricotter and brag about it forever.

Upgrade your cold-weather beverage game with a new mug. We're fans of this plant-y one from the Volunteer Park Conservatory's online gift shop, this maroon number from Porchlight Coffee & Records, this classic diner mug from Mighty-O Donuts (if you stan regional fried dough chains, Top Pot has similar ones for sale IRL at their Capitol Hill location and General Porpoise has this camp mug with a lid), and this author mug set from Oddfellows. The Fremont Vintage Mall, which is open for in-person shopping, is another safe bet for quirky cups. Once you've made your selection and brewed your coffee/tea/hot cocoa/hot toddy, curl up and watch a cozy movie like Paddington 2 (trust), Kiki's Delivery Service, or Groundhog Day.

Level up your candle supply. If you're burned out, there's a bevy of fine wicks and waxes to choose from at local businesses, including the hand-poured rosemary-pine-scented candles at Porchlight and the very timely Kamala Harris prayer candles at SugarPill (which also offers lots of other cozy apothecary tinctures and chocolates and such). Have a personalized scent in mind? Elm Candle Bar offers both in-person candle-making (no reservation required) and home kits. Also, we'd be remiss not to mention the twisted candle trend on TikTok, which only requires tapered candles, warm water, and some time to kill.

Shop for glass art from Seattle's Blown Away contestants. Hub of glass-blowing talent that it is (Preston Singletary, Dale Chihuly, etc.), Seattle is the perfect city in which to marvel at the magical collision that occurs between flaming torches and liquid glass in the second season of the glass-blowing competition show that's now on Netflix—especially given that it features Nao Yamamoto and Tegan Hamilton, two glass artists based right here in Seattle. If you're feeling inspired after binging the 10 episodes, check out the artists' work for sale via Seattle Glassblowing Studio's online shop, then sign yourself up for a virtual experience where you can make your own ornament, bowl, or glass pumpkin. 

PROJECTS

Grab a craft kit. The pre-assembled craft kits from Capitol Hill fabric store Stitches and Ballard's Monster are a stellar way to go, because they support a local business and give you points for thoughtfulness since you're the one who will be responsible for the final product. For a more ephemeral route, the Works has DIY kits for things like bubble tea and gemstone soap.

Have a wine and craft night over Zoom. Zoom fatigue is real. If you’re running out of creative ways to stay connected to your friends and family, try a themed virtual hangout like a craft night. Flex your creative muscles by picking up supplies for a craft like embroidery, knitting, or crochet at Stitches, then swing by neighboring wine bar La Dive for a bottle of natural wine for your online stitching session. Other conveniently situated craft store and wine shop combinations to consider: the Fiber Gallery (which is hosting a virtual knit-long focusing on hats and cowls starting November 22) and Champion Wine Cellars in Greenwood, So Much Yarn and DeLaurenti’s wine department downtown, and the Tea Cozy Yarn Shop and Molly’s Bottle Shop in Ballard.

Grab a bite to eat while you stop at the post office. Need to give away some of those hand-knitted scarves? Why not combine your post office trip with a nourishing meal? Capitol Hill's newly opened cafe and bar Post Pike is conveniently located right next to the post office, so you can treat yourself to some espresso and Westman's Bagel sandwiches afterwards. In the International District, the post office is located near a variety of excellent takeout options, like the beloved sushi restaurant Maneki and the affordable favorite Musashi's, and the post office in Wallingford is just a stone's throw from the eclectic Italian spot Bizzarro Italian Cafe. If you're near the Central District, be sure to check out the Black-owned, family-owned neighborhood shipping center The Postman—you can pick up some "Seattle soul food" from the newly opened Communion just down the street. The innovative Sip and Ship in Greenwood and Ballard even has a full-service cafe so you can purchase coffee and treats while they help you send your packages, as well as a retail area with cards and gifts for all your last-minute needs. 

OUTDOORS

Explore semi-hidden trails within the city. Just past the bus stop on East Bellevue and Republican, the street dead-ends and dips down to reveal a wide stone staircase that gives way to an obscenely postcard-looking view of the Space Needle and its surrounding towers. When you descend the three short flights, you're plopped in front of the quiet, skyline-bearing overpass on Melrose, which, if you hang a left, allows for several blocks of strolling until other pedestrians come into view again. Sneaky steps and trails like these are tucked all around town, and the weekend is a great time to freshen up your solo walks by seeking them out—especially if you don't have a car or don't feel like risking an overcrowded trailhead. We're sure you know about some super-secret spots that we don't, but in case you need a head start, check out St. Mark's Greenbelt behind St. Mark's Cathedral, which intersects with the longest staircase in Seattle on Howe and Blaine Street. You'll be very close to Eastlake when you reach the bottom, which warrants a walk along Lakeview Boulevard and a trip to the unassuming wine emporium that is Pete's Supermarket. Over in First Hill Park, a short trail sandwiched between apartment buildings shoots you out near 9th Avenue. There's also the string of greenbelts that reveal pockets of wetlands (and a lot of frogs) near the interstate behind North Seattle College, which you can enter at North 100th Street and College Way North. If you've been stuck in town these past however-many months and you're sick of it, there's lots of pleasure to be found in these little diversions.  

Take a day trip to Port Townsend. The Stranger's Charles Mudede once wrote, "Here is what you have to do: drive down to the ferry dock, drive onto a ferry, cross the bay on this ferry, exit the ferry, drive across the island, cross some bridges, stop at a gas station for something fried, salty, and not good for you, eventually enter Port Townsend, and, before heading to Fort Worden State Park, admire a number of the town’s Victorian-style homes." He was talking about the Jazz Port Townsend Festival, but this schedule of activities for a trip to the Olympic Peninsula town holds up for any occasion. The echoing chambers of the aforementioned Fort Worden State Park, the former United States Army Coast Artillery Corps base constructed to protect the Puget Sound from invasion by sea, are perfect for socially distanced exploring. If you plan ahead, you can even book a stay on the park's charming grounds. Otherwise, head to the right when you exit the forts, follow a short trail down to the rocky beach, and bust out the snack provisions you picked up from the co-op. Then, head into town to warm up in William James Bookseller, the most charming purveyor of used and out-of-print books in all the land, before treating yourself to a slice of pizza from the counter-service Pizza Factory to enjoy by the water. Hit up the Port Townsend Antique Mall for some souvenirs before swinging by Cafe Tenby for a strong cup of tea and a pastry to go before heading back to the ferry. 

Take in winter blossoms, foliage, and bark at the Washington Park Arboretum. Just because it's not cherry blossom season doesn't mean there's nothing to see in PNW nature. The Washington Park Arboretum is teeming with wintry beauties like Northern Chinese Red Birch trees, bright red Camellia "Jupiter" flowers, and blue and yellow Arthur Menzies, whose seedlings originated at the Arboretum. Don't forget to pass by the Pinetum area to see a range of conifers, as well as the Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden for a fragrant bunch of honeysuckle and witch hazel.

Download a Seattle podcast for your next isolation walk. You and your favorite pair of headphones both know that you don't need a potentially virus-carrying human to keep you company when the soothing voices of local experts, comedians, and pundits are just a click away. For a lighthearted moment, we're fans of the tangential food and comedy podcast Spilled Milk, where friends Matthew Amster-Burton and James Beard Award-winning food writer Molly Wizenberg dig deep into everything from avocados to napkins. For a longer-form option, the hosts of the Seagull Project's Great Souls podcast orate stories by Anton Chekhov, Langston Hughes, Shirley Jackson, and other canonical writers. If you're still stuck in spooky season, Here Be Monsters is a popular choice for explorations of the unknown. For frequent Stranger staffer interviews (like this one with Chase Burns) and other news story updates, check out KUOW's Seattle Now podcast. Not into podcasts? Now's the perfect time to listen to albums by Washington State artists nominated for this year's Grammy Awards, like Brandie Carlile for best country song; Sara Gazarek, Amanda Taylor, and Johnaye Kendrick for their work on Säje's "Desert Song"; Bill Frisell for best contemporary Americana instrumental album; and others.

BOOKS & GAMES

Stock up on locally made board games. You may already know Seattle-based cartoonist Matt Inman, the progenitor of The Oatmeal, from his wildly popular card game Exploding Kittens, described as a "highly-strategic, kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette." Now, he's out with a new kitty-themed creation called Kitty Letter, an app where crossword puzzles and hand-to-hand combat collide. "I wanted a deathmatch competitive word game and this was what I came up with," Inman told the Seattle Times. "It operates like a playable Oatmeal comic equipped with a thoughtful storyline, sound effects and, of course, exploding cats" the piece explains. Another local designer, Joshua Buergel, is out with The Fox in the Forest, which The Stranger's Nathalie Graham calls "a two-player fairytale-inspired trick-taking game." Meanwhile, local gaming company Prospero Hall (née Forrest-Pruzan Creative) has over 350 board games in their repertoire, including Bob Ross: The Art of Chill, Donner Dinner Party, and Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle.

Snag a no-holds bestseller from the library. In the COVID era, going to the library is a bit of an errand if your neighborhood outpost is still closed to the public. To make your trip worth it, the currently operating branches have a rotating lineup of recent bestsellers on deck that don't require a waitlist and that are available whether you walk up or you schedule an appointment to pick up your holds. You never know what's going to be available at any given location—it could be Samantha Irby's hilarious essay collection wow, no thank you, David Sedaris's latest The Best of Me, Raven Leilani's Luster, Ijeoma Uluo's Mediocre, or another one of SPL's Peak Picks. To make it even more of an outing, order takeout from a restaurant near your library of choice: Reckless Noodles is conveniently close to the Douglass-Truth Branch (open for pickup on Saturdays), Grillbird Teriyaki is down the street from the High Point Branch (also open on Saturdays), and Edouardo Jordan's award-winning JuneBaby is just a few blocks from the Northeast Branch (open Sundays).

Visit Capitol Hill's newest bookshop. Oh Hello Again, nestled on 15th Ave E in the former space of Sugar Plum, comes courtesy of Kari Ferguson, the former owner of Vancouver's Books and Publishing Lab. Ferguson classifies her inventory as "bibliotherapy," which, as Capitol Hill Seattle Blog explains, is "the notion that novels and reading can help individuals process, work through, and deal with different issues and concerns in their lives." The TLDR of it is: you can shop by category (feminism, midlife crises, puberty) instead of title. Stop by from noon-6 pm on Tuesday-Saturday, or order books online.

Catch up on this year's Pacific Northwest Book Award winners. Every year, the Pacific Northwest Bookseller's Association honors "excellence in writing" from regional authors, and the 2021 roster of PNB Award winners from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia are all worth picking up from your local bookstore. (Elliott BayThird Place Books, the University Book Store, and the Queen Anne Book Company happen to carry them all.) Repping Seattle, E.J. Koh (who is joining Elliott Bay next Friday for a virtual chat with Kathy Park Hong) brought us The Magical Language of Others, a memoir punctuated by letters the author's mother sent her throughout her childhood in California, where she essentially raised herself and her brother after their parents went to South Korea for work. "Like any good poet, Koh uses up everything—every image returns, and every idea chimes with another, so that the book's short 200 pages contain the emotional and philosophical heft of a doorstop," wrote Rich Smith. Seattle musician Tomo Nakayama is also a fan. Hailing from Issaquah, Donna Barba Higuera won for Lupe Wong Won't Dance, a middle-grade novel about a half-Chinese, half-Mexican girl whose gym teacher makes her conquer her worst fear—square dancing—before she can pursue her true passion of baseball. We approve of the opening sentence, which reads, "My gym shorts burrow into my butt crack like a frightened groundhog." Other winners include Eugene, Oregon's Kim Johnson for This is My America, Vancouver, B.C.'s Silvia Moreno-Garcia for Mexican Gothic, Hood River, Oregon's Tina Ontiveros for rough house, and Portland's Aiden Thomas for Cemetery Boys.

VENUES

Get a Museum Pass for free admission to newly reopened museums. As more and more institutions reopen for in-person visits under Phase 2, Seattle Public Library cardholders (apply for one here if you don't have one!) can get a Museum Pass for free admission to the Seattle Aquarium, the Burke Museum, MoPOP, and the National Nordic Museum. You can reserve one pass—each of which includes at least two adult tickets—per week, and can reserve one pass to the same museum once every 30 days. New passes are available every night after 9 pm. 

Visit a cat cafe. Inspired by Japan, cat cafes combine the spirit-lifting properties of a warm caffeinated drink and playing with adorable felines for a truly unique experience. Neko Cat Cafe is now open in Capitol Hill with a bevy of new adoptable kitties to pet and offers a menu of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, wine, beer, cider, sake, and Japanese-inspired snacks. Seattle's first cat cafe Seattle Meowtropolitan is another worthy destination, also featuring adoptable cats alongside themed beverages like "catpuccinnos" and "meowchas" with cat latte art. Don't forget to make a reservation online and to wear a mask. 

Reserve a McMenamins Day Pass. Want to indulge in a mini-getaway without packing an overnight bag? McMenamins' Anderson School location in Bothell now offers passes for the daytime (10 am-3 pm) and evening hours (5-10 pm) that get you a hotel room, pool access, and food and drink credit to use at onsite restaurants. Passes for each day are limited, so call ahead within seven days of your desired visit. 

Check out local museums' digital offerings. If your favorite museum hasn't reopened yet, the digital offerings on hand at local institutions are definitely worth checking out. We're thinking of the family-friendly art activity videos on Burke Museum website; the History at Home series from the Museum of History & Industry; the Northwest African American Museum's virtual exhibitions of work by Hiawatha D and Christopher Shaw; the articles, videos, and music on the Seattle Art Museum's blog; the Bellevue Arts Museum's curator tours, the Frye Art Museum's guided meditation and artist talks; and last but not least, the Seattle Aquarium's soothing harbor seal and sea otter cams.

MUSIC

Celebrate Kurt Cobain. While he was born in Aberdeen, more than 100 miles from Seattle, the late, great grunge boy Kurt Cobain is inexorably tied to the Emerald City, which has a little bit to do with local record giant Sub Pop, who like to credit themselves with discovering Nirvana. When your fandom meter is high, make yourself a breakfast of Kraft macaroni and cheese (allegedly his favorite dish), throw on your most mangled mohair sweater, and embark on a mini Kurt pilgrimage. Start in Denny-Blaine near Lake Washington Boulevard, where you can leave gifts and messages on his Sharpie-adorned memorial bench in Viretta Park. (If you happen to have a pack of his favorite smokes, Winston Lights 100's, he'd surely appreciate one from beyond the grave.) If you crane your neck, the park also boasts a partial view of the house where he spent his last days. Next, stop for a beer at Linda's Tavern (whose outdoor patio is open for in-person seating), which some people will have you believe is the last place he was seen in public. Before heading home, swing by your local record purveyor—like Everyday Music, Easy Street, or Jive Time—to pick up some Nirvana vinyl. Once you're back, queue up Brett Morgan's artful documentary Montage of Heck or Gus Van Sant's fictionalized Last Days (which gets points solely for its Kim Gordon cameo) to cap off the day.