Support Crosscut

All patio, all the time: A Seattle summer for $15 or less

An opalescent nudibranch from West Seattle's Lincoln Park Credit: Photo: Flickr user Dan Hershman

A few months ago, I shared my favorite recurring Seattle events — such as the Moth, Bingo Karaoke, Salon of Shame — all of which take more than a week (or day, or hour) of forethought because they can sell out weeks in advance. Here is an updated summer edition of (mostly free, and more spur-of-the-moment) events to enjoy in the sunshine this summer.

Beach Naturalist Program
Beaches all around town, through 6/24, FREE
Head to one of Seattle’s many beaches and let one of the trained Beach Naturalist volunteers (of many talents and backgrounds) educate you about the amazing marine life. I’ve said it but it bears repeating: The Midwestern child in me is blown away every time I behold the wonder of a local beach. Crabs! Starfish! Those incredible rocks!

KEXP's Concerts at the Mural
The Mural at Seattle Center, Fridays, 8/2 -8/23, 5:30 p.m., FREE
These are some of my favorite summertime events! On Friday nights in August, KEXP hosts a roster of artists for free; these are acts you usually have — and are perfectly willing — to pay good money to see. The series kicks off with No Depression (alt-country) night, featuring Rose Windows and JD McPherson. On August 9th, hardworking, earth-conscious, ethereal indie rockers Cloud Cult (add Minnesotans to that lists and there’s just too much to love) will drop by. The closing show this summer is a preview of the upcoming Decibel (live electronic music) Festival, which features, among others, beloved local band Vox Mod.

Georgetown Trailer Park Mall
Georgetown neighborhood, Saturdays, 11-6, Sundays 11-3 (and more)
I’ve always loved this little self-proclaimed “Purveyors of the Rare and Sublime” market, which I've mentioned a few times now, usually as a part of a larger event happening Georgetown, my favorite out-of-the-way neighborhood. Wander the mall's magical trailers, vessels for a menagerie of vintage and handmade goods. The Trailer Park Mall is always a highlight of Georgetown's regular Art Attack (second Saturdays) and Garden Walk (Sunday, July 14th), and the trailer mall will also be at Sub Pop's upcoming 25th Silver Jubilee celebration.

Farmers Markets
We are lucky enough to have a few great farmers markets year-round (in Ballard, West Seattle, and the U District). But over the summer, there are more locations — and fantastic local produce — than ever. Have a darling Friday evening picking out produce in Phinney Ridge, then take yourself out to happy hour afterward. Or drop by the Columbia City market (a good excuse to hit to the Columbia City Bakery) on Wednesdays. If you’re not as titillated by heirloom rhubarb and garlic scapes as I am, there’s always plenty of awesome, and totally affordable prepared foods. Check out the calendar to see when each market has its Sale Day.

Festál Cultural Festivals
Seattle Center, FREE
These cultural celebrations, featuring art, performances and (of course) food take place year-round, but they seem particularly vibrant in the summer months. Iranian Festival, featuring an enticing tea house and an slate of book signings (the cookbook Lucid Food looks incredible!) is coming up on June 29th. In August, don't miss Indigenous Cultures Day, along with BrasilFest and TibetFest.

Get Out! Summer at SAM
Olympic Sculpture Park, Thursday nights from 7/11 – 8/29, FREE
For the last couple summers, SAM has hosted events at the Olympic Sculpture Park, its free and most meander-worthy site. I love to bring visitors there, particularly in the summer, to sit beneath the sculptures and eat tasties from the nearby Macrina Bakery. On Thursdays this summer, the park will be at its best, with live music, three rotating food trucks (including Maximus Minimus and Off the Rez) and free yoga.

Clarion West Summer Reading Series
Town Hall, SPL, and University Bookstore, Tuesdays 6/25 to 7/30, 7 p.m, $10 (or FREE)
The Clarion West Writers Workshop, for aspiring writers of science fiction and fantasy, has been a fixture in Seattle since 1974. For those of us non-writers of speculative fiction, lecturers from the program read all around Seattle while they’re in town. This year, the amazing (and endlessly versatile) Neil Gaiman appears at Town Hall, and Samuel R. Delany and Ellen Datlow, among others, will be at Seattle Public Library.

Alfresco Films
It’s no wonder every city-dweller loves them: Sitting in the fading daylight WHILE watching TV?!!? But it seems to me that Seattle particularly relishes putting on outdoor movies. You could literally see a free movie around the city every night in July and August, and by the end of the summer, know every line and bit of inflection in The Princess Bride (if you don’t already). Look for Three Dollar Bill Outdoor Cinema at Cal Anderson on Friday nights in July and August. Fremont Outdoor Movies always puts on a well-organized, impressive series (Saturday nights); this summer's features Superbad, Dude Fest The Big Lebowski, and (new!) a sing-along to R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet. There’s Movies at the Mural, offering recent blockbusters such as Les Mis, Hugo, and The Avengers. On Thursday nights, Magnuson Park hosts food trucks and such gems as Moonrise Kingdom and The Sandlot. And don't forget King’s in Ballard, which continues its Monday night flicks on the patio — complete with 27 cent wings!

Shakespeare in the Park
All around King County, Thursdays through Sundays, 7/12 to 8/17, FREE
(See calendar for show times)
Volunteer Park, Lincoln Park and Lower Woodland Park (among so many others) will be the stage for the 25th anniversary of Seattle's Shakespeare in the Park. And what better shows to celebrate with than A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, The Merry Wives of Windsor and my all-time favorite (and wouldn’t you know, is the only tragedy) King Lear? If you’re skeptical about sitting through  full-length Shakespeare, check out the Backyard Bard performances — 45-minute plays breathlessly and impressively performed by four actors.


Read more about:

Support Crosscut