Locally Sourced Travel: Queen Anne Hill

In an ideal world, my ability to travel would be unencumbered by the reality of my everyday life. Money and vacation time would be plentiful and the only thing preventing me from visiting every destination on my travel to-do list would be my follow through.

Unfortunately, money and vacation time are a real thing that play a big part in the travel decisions my wife and I make. Because of this, New Orleans, Hawaii, and London will have to wait at least one more year, to say nothing of all the National Parks we’d like to explore.

Of course, not having the ability to get on a plane and fly to some new and exciting destination every time we get the travel bug doesn’t mean there aren’t journeys to be had. We quench our thirst for exploration with local day trips to nearby cities, towns and neighborhoods. This allows us the blissful illusion of being on vacation at a fraction of the cost.

Stair Book
The book that set us on our way…

One great example of this sort of locally sourced travel took place a few weeks ago. After talking about it for years, my wife and I finally got around to exploring the historic Queen Anne Hill neighborhood in Seattle. On a normal day the physicality that accompanies a walking tour of Queen Anne is challenging due to its hilltop location and the overabundance of old stairsways. But embarking on a 6-miles urban hike on a bad toe the day after running a 5K proved ambitious.

 

We began the trip with a cup of coffee served in cantankerous fashion (the true Seattle way) at Café Ladro. From there we strolled past all the shops and restaurants on Queen Anne Boulevard and made our way to the Galer Crown stairs. Once we tackled this obstacle, we caught our breath for a few moments before continuing our trek and taking in the postcard-esque views of downtown Seattle. From way up high we had a perfect vantage point to look down upon the Emerald City and the multitude of construction cranes that currently litter its landscape. The people who inhabit the large homes facing the city have a front row seat for watching condos and Amazon offices grow like weeds below.

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A radio tower on Queen Anne Hill touches the sky.
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The Galer Crown stairs — as historic as they are difficult to climb.

From this perch, we continued down beautiful streets past homes we could only hope to purchase if lottery numbers impossibly broke in our favor. As we moved deeper into the neighborhood, the view disappeared, but the sense that we were in a place that was deeply significant did not. Up and down old public stairways we went. We stopped briefly at Bhye Kracke Park, a small green space where my wife fondly remembered having picnics with her family as a child. Down another trail then up another street then down many more stairs until we finally reached the western shore of Lake Union.

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The Emerald City sprawls below.

After a quick rest my wife and I went back up the stairs – feel those quads burn – until we returned to Taylor Ave. and made our way up the hill to Trolley Hill Park. After visiting these quaint grounds that were long ago home to the old trolley turnaround, we went back into the heart of Queen Anne. We paid a very quick visit to the corner of Crockett and Nob Hill to see the Coleman House – a historic Victorian whose exterior décor is uniquely ornate, like something out of a Tim Burton movie.

Up Nob Hill Ave we went, swinging by Queen Anne High School. The interior of this defunct place of learning was converted into condos in the 1980s. And while I was only able to take in this historic building from the outside, I have to assume the residents (particularly the southern facing ones) have some of the best views of Seattle.

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I’d like to buy a condo here… just as soon as I win the lottery.

All of this urban hiking left us hungry and parched, so a late lunch was in order. I’m a sucker for restaurants located in old houses, which was a big part of the reason we ended up at Nana’s Mexican Kitchen. We thoroughly enjoyed resting our legs for a prolonged period of time as well as cooling off with some ridiculously tasty margaritas.

Was our day in Queen Anne as glamorous European getaway or a ski weekend in Whistler? No. But it was great fun and we got to sleep in our own bed. So if you’re ever visiting Seattle and desire a hearty, urban hike or if you’re a local looking to explore the city a bit more, I highly recommend a long, summer afternoon on Queen Anne Hill. (I also recommend NOT running a race the day before your visit.)

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