Described as a city within a city, Seattle's South Lake Union has emerged into a lively 'hood with plenty of places to roam with Rover.
Written by Elizabeth Henkes | Photography by Jamie Pflughoeft
As Seattle regions go, South Lake Union is a fairly large one. Located east of Queen Anne, it encompasses the edge of downtown, borders a beautiful waterfront, and is home to respected scientific research facilities. In our pre-dog, early marriage days, my husband and I lived in the Cascade neighborhood of South Lake Union, an area that claimed REI as its most exciting attraction. Not long after we left our apartment for new digs, lots of development began to sprout up. Eight or so years later, the result is a thriving, trendy urban oasis that’s just about the hottest ticket in town for the young, young at heart and, of course, their dogs.
Recently, the Cascade Playground and park were given a facelift, and while you could always see a few kids here in the past, it’s positively packed today. A few folks are also out in the neighboring “p-patch” getting the ground ready for planting. A community garden that has existed for a number of years, the “p-patch” has a waiting list to have your own plot of land in the patch (see www.discoverslu.com), but they are always accepting volunteers.
After sniffing every corner of the park and making a few new friends, we decide it’s time to ride the new South Lake Union Streetcar. Added as part of the King County Metro system in late 2007, the streetcar has done wonders for connecting this part of South Lake Union with downtown. It costs $1.75 to ride the streetcar, just as it would the bus, but the payment is made through pay stations at stops along the route, or on the streetcar itself. Leashed companion animals are welcome, and the boys even got a little head scratch by the conductor as he switched to the other end of the train at the end of the line.It’s amazing to see the new commerce that has sprouted up along the streetcar route. We are stunned when we get out at Westlake and Denny Way and see the huge complex that is 2200 Westlake. Of course, we’ve made the pilgrimage to Scraps Dog Bakery, conveniently located across the plaza from the dog-friendly Pan Pacific Hotel.
Owner Dave Figueroa welcomes Winston and Sawyer, hands out the requisite treats, and even refills the water bowl for them. Upscale, but still affordable, Scraps has a fantastic selection of clothing for even the most discerning pooch, as well as an unusual selection of cool collars and leashes. There’s no shortage of toys and treats, and Dave stocks the best in food, both dry and raw. However, one of the highlights of the store (aside from the plasma screen playing Best in Show) is the engaging centerpiece, a floor to ceiling photograph of Dave’s Shiba Inus that was taken by the talented Emily Rieman of Best Friend Photography.
Back on the streetcar, we decide to finish the loop, ending up at the stop that is Fairview and Campus Drive. This stop is on the back side of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and conveniently located across the street from a small patch of green space called Edson Park. Created for the employees of the Hutch, this sweet little park is also open to the public and is a surprise spot of tranquility amongst the hustle and bustle of the medical campus. A waterfall and still pool anchors the space, which is surrounded by plenty of green grass and trees. Dogipot bags are even provided in case you forget yours. If you’re lucky enough to be spending a night or two in the area, you can stay practically next door at the Marriott Residence Inn, which is dog-friendly, with a low deposit and no breed or weight restrictions.
Though we have much more to explore, our tiny dachshund paws need a break so we head over a few blocks and follow the paw prints to Paddy Coynes, one of our favorite Irish pubs. Though the patio is very small, it does allow a view of the cute iron dog tie-up just outside the front door, and we make ourselves comfortable while perusing the happy hour menu and keeping an eye on the pooches. If you don’t arrive in time to get a spot on the patio (the small pub gets very crowded at certain times of day), ask for an order to go, because it would be a shame to miss out on their incredible Irish stew, made with the requisite Guinness.It’s hard to resist the call of the water, and the next day we return to Cascade, park the car and start out across the street from the Marriott at one of the entrances to the public access waterfront. The city has done a great job of making this area dog-friendly, with a nice wide walkway and Dogipot bags available for the taking. We wander past a number of upscale restaurants on the left, while admiring the boats for sale in the marina to the right.
At Duke’s Chowderhouse, we discover we can sample the famous clam chowder with pups in tow, so long as we score a table on the edge of the patio, where we can tie up the boys just on the other side of the rail. As our walk continues, we happen upon a few more canine friends, and eventually end up on the backside of the Center for Wooden Boats. It’s surprising, but this fascinating little gem is incredibly dog friendly too. Not only does the Center have a water bowl, they also have a sign that indicates it’s there! CWB is open every day of the week and offers all kinds of wonderful activities for minimal or no cost, including demonstrations, boat outings, and a myriad of classes.
On the south end of the Center, we discover our favorite find of the trip. At the end of the dock, we happen upon Larry Kezner, the canine-friendly captain of the Fremont Avenue. Although the boat is available for charters and other tours, Captain Larry tells us that on Sundays he leaves from this dock on hourly ice cream cruises beginning at 11am. Better yet, dogs are welcome!
Captain Larry tells us about the inside of the boat, which features art from local Fremont artists and is changed out frequently. There are board games, like checkers, built into the sides of the boat to keep little hands busy while adults are enjoying the 45 minute tour of Seattle’s floating homes, glass artist Dale Chihuly’s studio, and more. Although we are completely thrilled with the idea of this trip, it’s getting late in the day and all of us are worn out, so we elect to save the trip for a day when we can enjoy it more.
As we bid farewell to the skipper, we exit the dock to the right and are treated to the sight of one of Kenmore Air’s famous sea planes landing practically in front of us. It’s a gorgeous vision, and it gets me to thinking…….after a quick call to Kenmore Air, I’m told that yes, they will accommodate your pooch on your trip to the San Juan Islands (or to any of their many destinations), and have done so many times before!
From the boardwalk of South Lake Union Park, we watch the floatplanes land on the water and it’s a fantastic spot to be. Bequeathed to the city by the Navy in 2000, the 12-acre park has just undergone phase one of a renovation scheduled to be completed in 2009. The finished park will be a perfect addition to the neighborhood and will boast a number of amenities including a model boat pond, fountains to play in, and a kayak launch. For now, we’re content with the nicely groomed pathways and ample pesticide-free grassy area. It’s the perfect place to rest our weary paws at the end of our adventurous day on picturesque Lake Union.