Capitol Hill Serenity
The Night and Day of Capitol Hill
The Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle is best known for it’s style, night life, gay bars and great restaurants, but there is another side to it too. A serene side with one of the best designed parks in the city, Volunteer Park. I encourage you to spend a day visiting these two sides of Capitol Hill on your next Seattle visit. It is the neighborhood that sits atop the huge hill behind Pike Place Market. (Yes, it’s a steep walk, but a great workout, and taxis and buses go up “The Hill” frequently.)
First, head to the mecca of counter culture and coffee stands on Broadway. We’re all opinionated about our coffee here, but my personal favorite is Vivace coffee you can get from the Vivace stand or cafe on Broadway. You will not be disappointed! Bauhaus is an iconic cafe for artists and best for people watching. Thrift stores, bookstores, boutiques and bike shops populate the neighborhood along with tons of restaurants to choose from.
Weave through the rows of apartment buildings tucked together like birds on a wire, and look out on clear days to incredible views of Seattle, the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Around 10th and Aloha you enter suddenly into an historic neighborhood of immaculate landscaping and huge trees. You’re getting closer. Follow signs for the Seattle Asian Art Museum and crest what truly feels like the top of the city, the serene side.
This historic Olmsted Park is beloved by residents and visitors alike. There’s a water tower to climb if you don’t mind a 106 step workout to get above the trees to an incredible view. There’s the iconic Black Hole sculpture which frames the Space Needle in many a visitors photograph and looks down on a glassy reservoir. There’s meadows and picnic tables, a Dahlia garden in late summer and a wading pool for kids. Within the park lie two historic buildings- the Seattle Asian Art Museum with rotating shows in addition to a permanent collection of art, and the Conservatory, one of my favorite spots in the whole city.
Turning 100 years old this year, the historic green house has five different “chambers” that mimic five different climate zones from the desert to the rainforest. The displays are a mixture of species from all over the globe, giving the gardeners floral freedom to be creative and it shows.
Visit the Bromeliad House, the Palm House, the Fern House, the Cactus House, and the Seasonal Display House. It’s like a living art gallery featuring otherworldly looking cacti, a vast collection of orchids, a host of carnivorous plants and all different kinds blooming year round. Currently they only request a $3 donation at the door, but may have to charge in the future due to unfortunate budget cuts, so if you’re dazzled, donate more.
If you’re a Bruce and Brandon Lee fan, you can head to Lake View Cemetery nearby and pay respects at their grave stones. Or continue up the hill to 15th Ave where another strip of great pubs, shops and restaurants bustle with life in this urban hub.