Looking for something to do? We’ve got you!
August 18, 2022
📸: The Station, Alexa Strabuk, Hoa Hong
You ever noticed that massive terracotta art deco building overlooking downtown from the south? It’s called Pacific Tower, and no, it’s not a gargoyle perch. It’s actually a healthcare facility, and it rests atop Beacon Hill, one of Seattle’s most diverse neighborhoods.
Though there are tons of standout food and beverage spots on the hill, this South End neighborhood is also home to some great greenspace for when the city sprawl is closing in on you. At the risk of sounding like a wellness guru, which could not be further from the truth, consider this planner an invitation to carve out some time between the madness just to walk. In the final epilogue of No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain says: “If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in somebody else’s shoes — or at least eat their food — it’s a plus for everybody.”
Easily accessible by light rail or bus, we designed this car-free planner for those interested in rambling around Beacon Hill’s great outdoors on foot or via public transportation.
According to the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods in 2019, non-white residents constitute 72.5% of the total population compared to 33% city-wide, and 61% of its households speak a language other than English compared to 22% city-wide. These percentages are shifting rapidly as gentrification drives up property values and displaces longtime residents, especially throughout North Beacon Hill.
One way to help protect a neighborhood’s character is to meaningfully invest in the local community, with your dollars and your time. So, have some fun! Build some connections with the people who live here! Don’t be a jerk!
Start today’s walk by emerging from the underground Beacon Hill light rail station. Once you exit the elevators, turn right to cross S Roberto Maestas Festival Street and enter The Station, a neighborhood cafe and de facto community stronghold since 2010. The menu has the standard coffee shop hits—lattes, espressos, tea—plus standout sandwiches like a corned beef Tio Ruben and biscuits and gravy with chorizo.
Luis Rodriguez and Leona Moore-Rodriguez have established The Station as a South End refuge serving the area’s communities of color and a force for activism. They also host events like night markets, plant and seed swaps, wine nights, and concerts. The neighboring El Centro de la Raza honored Luis and Leona with the Roberto Maestas Legacy Award in 2020 for their ongoing community contributions. Make this people-powered spot your first stop as you energize for the day.
If you’re allergic to pollen, pack tissues and meds. Seriously.
After you leave The Station, walk south on Beacon Ave S. Remember this street. It will be your primary walking route and point of reference in case you want to veer off course to any of the suggested detours. Alternatively, Metro Route #36, which runs up and down the avenue, is your friend.
Around the seven-minute mark, travel past Feed the People Plaza on the right, characterized by the colorful mural painted on the side of the former Kusina Filipina restaurant. You’re about halfway to your destination: Jefferson Park. There’s a lot going on here. There’s a community center, a public golf course, a skatepark, and of course, the Jefferson Park Lawn Bowling Club (JPLBC).
What is lawn bowling, you ask? It’s “a precision sport where the goal is to roll slightly radially asymmetrical ‘bowls’ closer to a smaller white ball (the ‘jack’) than one’s opponent is able to do,” says the JPLBC. If you want to play, make sure to research their public hours and events if you’re not already a member. You must wear flat-soled shoes. They provide the rest.
Adjacent to Jefferson Park, check out the seven-acre Beacon Food Forest, a community garden project using a land management system that recreates the symbiotic relationships between plants, animals, and insects found in many woodland ecosystems. As a public-serving response to the hill’s struggle with access to affordable, local, and organic produce, it’s an open harvest, so forage away.
📍 Jefferson Park: 3801 Beacon Ave. S
Jefferson Park is Seattle’s sixth largest park, with views of the city and Olympic mountains. It’s got a golf course, community center, skatepark, and lawn bowling.
📍 Beacon Food Forest: S Dakota St
Open around the clock, the forest’s mission is to plant public food on public land. Find out how to volunteer here.
After you’ve got your fill at Jefferson Park, return to Beacon Ave S and continue south for ten minutes. You’ll pass by Fou Lee Market & Deli, a Beacon Hill institution and the subject of this awesome Blue Scholars track, before you hit the intersection at S Columbian Way. Here you have several options.
You can extend the trek by detouring left for 20 minutes on S Columbian Way to explore Cheasty Greenspace, a ten-acre system of trails, or you can remain on Beacon Ave S to arrive at Urban Feed and Garden, a local plant, feed, and pet supply store.
The garden center offers garden consulting and donates seeds to regional community farming efforts like Nurturing Roots. Grab a wagon and stock up on cool house plants or vegetable starters. Should you encounter him, you’re mandated to give resident shop cat Parsley a wink, blink, or curt nod before you leave.
📍 Fou Lee Market & Deli: 2050 S Columbian Way
The Market is open each day from 8 am to 7:30 pm. They close a little early on Sundays. They also take lechon orders!
📍 Cheasty Greenspace: 4701 Mountain View Dr S
There are lots of ways to get involved with Cheasty Greenspace, with volunteers working on restoration and mountain bike trail building.
📍 Urban Feed and Garden: 4878 Beacon Ave S
Open Monday through Sunday from 10 am to 5:30 pm. Say hi to Parsley.
To enhance your hiking experience, bring along a speaker or headphones to listen to Cinemetropolis, the Blue Scholars album featuring that “Fou Lee” track.
If you still have energy, continue on Beacon Ave S for 20 minutes, maybe tangenting right on the stunning Chief Sealth Trail at S Dawson St, before eventually reaching S Graham Street. Turn right. (For bus riders, the #36 stops at S Columbian Way, S Dawson St, and S Graham St, so your transfer should be good for all.)
Once on S Graham St, proceed 3 minutes down the hill until you reach Comet Lodge Cemetery. It’s believed to be an ancient Duwamish burial site, but the cemetery was subsequently used as a graveyard for some of Seattle’s earliest settlers from the 1880s through the 1930s before being abandoned. Though overgrown now, it’s still cool to break out your inner ghostbuster and survey a forgotten piece of the city’s history. When you’re finished, return to Beacon Ave S and bus back to the Beacon Hill light rail station. Phew! What a walk!
📍Comet Lodge Cemetery: 2100 S Graham St
Let us know if you see any ghosts.
Alexa Strabuk 譚文曠 is a cultural worker, journalist, and graphic designer. Her writing and illustrations have appeared here and also there. She lives in the Chinatown-International District with her dog Goji.