North of Lake Union, due west of the University District, the community of Wallingford calls to canines and their human companions alike.
Written by Elizabeth Henkes | Photography by David Henkes
A bit less funky than neighboring Fremont, but every bit as artistic, Wallingford is a cultural hub that harbors great eats, interesting shops, parks, and considerable entertainment within its perimeter. More than that, it’s a neighborhood so dog friendly that a new merchant was advised to add a water bowl and treats to their establishment in order to be accepted into the fold!
As always, we elect to begin our day of exploration with a little running amok in one of Wallingford’s favored green spaces, Gas Works Park. Slightly more than 19 acres, this park was acquired by the city in 1962, after its run as a working natural gas plant. Parts of the machinery are still visible on site, and the vast grassy area culminates in a hill that is favored for kite flying and dog walking. Sawyer and Winston zoom right up, but screech to a halt as they meet a friendly and gigantic Mastiff puppy, Samwise, who is laying near the sundial at the top of the hill. From this vantage point one is afforded a gorgeous view of both downtown Seattle and the Ballard Locks; we can even see a few kayakers out enjoying the day at the waters’ edge.
Before driving down into the urban center, we follow the advice of a local and have a look in Tangletown, on the north side of Wallingford, rumored to be a hotbed of dog-friendliness. Coffee Roaster Zoka is packed at this hour and a number of dogs bask outside in the sunshine while their owners partake of the locally roasted coffee, premium teas, desserts, and other goodies offered inside. Although tempted, we’re lured by the thought of a different sort of morning treat, and we walk just a block over to Mighty-O donuts, a business that does the unheard of: produces healthy doughnuts! Since its storefront opened in 2003, Mighty-O has been making vegan and organic doughnuts using no chemical preservatives, no trans-fat, and no artificial anything. It only takes a few seconds to discover we’re all fans of their cake doughnut with sprinkles. Right next door we’re elated to find Elysian Brewing Company, one of Seattle’s finest brewers. Dogs are welcome on the patio outside; one is able to choose from a variety of beer on tap (a favorite is Pandora’s Bach, when available) and a small but decadent menu of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and entrees.
After our Tangletown experience, we drive back to 45th Street, the center of Wallingford. As we wander back up the main thoroughfare, we give in to the call of caffeine and stop in at Fuel Coffee. A dog tie-up is provided just outside the front door, conveniently near a clean water bowl. When we receive our steaming cups, we’re also given cookies for the boys, so that we might be forgiven our momentary disappearance. My latte is perfect, but it pales in comparison to the decadent mixed berry pie pocket I snagged at the last minute.
Just across the street we spot Chocolati Café, which displays rows of handmade chocolates in its cases and offers chocolate-infused coffees and other beverages. We’ve heard this location loves its canines and the rumors are confirmed when we spot the jar of dog biscuits just inside the door. Local health codes prohibit dogs inside, but the employees are very pro-canine and make sure we leave with treats for Sawyer and Winston along with the truffles we’ve chosen.
Crossing 45th Street again, we pause to admire the sculpture, Wallingford Animal Storm, which was created by artist Ronald Petty and has been located just outside the Wallingford Center since its commissioning in 1985. Formerly the Interlake Elementary School, which closed in the 1970’s, the Wallingford Center was renovated by a developer and now boasts two floors of retail space with 24 studio apartments on the top floor. Surprisingly, the building is pet friendly; merchants of all kinds, including alternative pharmacy, Pharmaca, occupy the bottom two floors. One of the major draws to the building is cupcake Mecca, Trophy Cupcakes and Party, which anchors the center space on the main floor. Here you’ll find cupcakes for nearly every occasion, artfully decorated and as good on the inside as they are pretty on the outside.
A box of cupcakes in hand, we exit onto Wallingford Avenue and discover a row of businesses devoted to the dogs. Beginning at Mirage, we find treats, a friendly and helpful staff, and the best brands of shoes for women, some in styles we haven’t seen before. Next door is pet groomer Bark in Style, where many of the staff of Four Legs Good takes their own companions for beautification.
A relatively small store, Four Legs Good packs quality food, treats, and toys into a small space. Naturally the boys are greeted with a cookie by the friendly staff. We meet Cheryl and Alex; both cheerfully share their recommended doggie havens with us while continuing to dole out treats to our happy hounds.
Before leaving Wallingford Avenue, we note the dog-friendliness of Julia’s patio in case we’d like to stop by for an early dinner. Right next door we find Wide World Books & Maps. In business since 1976, this quaint shop was the first bookstore in the country dedicated solely to travel. Well-behaved dogs are welcome on-leash and we enjoy browsing the large selection of books and travel merchandise.
The day is warming up and we’re excited to get to our next destination, Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, located just a few blocks up 45th Street. The Wallingford shop is only a year old (the main store is located in Capitol Hill), and we’ve heard great things about the gourmet flavors for sale. (Besides, how can we go wrong when the shop logo is an illustration of the owner’s dog, Parker Posey?) When we arrive at the front door we’re glad to see two empty doggie tie-ups, just waiting for Sawyer and Winston. Inside, the board lists an amazing variety of ice cream flavors, from Honey Lavender to Balsamic Strawberry to Pomegranate Curry Sorbet! There are also a few basics, such as Vanilla Bean and Chocolate; toppings are available as well, some as exotic as the ice cream flavors. Even better, all of Molly Moon’s ingredients are sourced as locally and organically as possible; cups, spoons and napkins are compostable too. After a few tastes and much debate, we leave with a scoop of Salted Caramel and a scoop of Birthday Cake and ascend to ice cream heaven.
We take our sweet treats with us as we head to nearby Wallingford Playfield. Bought by the city in 1924, the land was used as a community center for many years; the City and community worked together on an extensive renovation plan that was completed in 2004. By City park ordinance, dogs are not allowed in the children’s play areas, but there is plenty of space in the 4.5 acres for walking along the path and enjoying the extensive landscaping.
A stop at the park was just what we all needed to wind down from a day filled with new friends and discoveries. Wallingford is most certainly a destination that should be on everyone’s list to visit: just don’t forget to bring your best friend!