Hidden Gems

10 Hidden Gems in the Green Lake Neighborhood

We had the pleasure of connecting with Sarah Lemmon who runs the Seattle Greenlaker, a great blog that shares all the neighborhood news of Green Lake. Since she is so familiar with the area, we asked her if she would write a follow-up to our Green Lake Neighborhood Guide, and she agreed! Keep reading to discover 10 hidden gems in Greenlake! 

Meet Sarah from the Seattle Greenlaker! 

Meet Sarah from the Seattle Greenlaker! 

For being one of the most popular parks in Seattle, Green Lake and its neighborhood still has several hidden gems that might surprise you. Hi, I’m Sarah from Seattle Greenlaker, and I’m excited to show you some of my favorite things about Green Lake, a place I call home and frequently blog about.

Earlier this summer you probably read the Rain or Shine Guide to Green Lake, which showcases some of the best things to do, eat, and experience around Green Lake. Here’s 10 Green Lake gems you might not know about:

You can do yoga in the middle of Green Lake

Yoga on the lake! Photo courtesy of SUP Yoga Seattle.

Yoga on the lake! Photo courtesy of SUP Yoga Seattle.

Throughout the summer months, SUP Yoga Seattle takes a small group of yogis of various levels and skills out onto the lake with only a paddle board, a tiny anchor, and their own courage. Often the yoga practice takes place on the north side of the lake and after dropping anchor (no seriously, tiny anchors hold the boards in place) the instructor talks you through your yoga practice. Yes, people do fall in occasionally. Yes, your board wobbles. But standing on a board in the middle of the lake gives your mind and body a renewed sense of concentrating just on your practice. Classes often start in May and finish for the season the end of September. Sign up for the classes online and meet at the Green Lake Boat House. 

Seattle’s only honky tonk bar is in Green Lake

Across the street from Green Lake Village, home to PCC Natural markets and some of the newest development in Green Lake is Little Red Hen, Seattle’s live country music honky tonk bar.

Free country dance lessons, courtesy of Mary Ann, occur three nights a week (Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday at 8 p.m. if you are interested). Check their calendar for a complete line up of live country music, karaoke, and more.

Green Lake

Internationally renowned table tennis champions play here, and you can too

Green Lake breeds champions of this sport (And it truly is a sport, by the way). Green Lake has sent players across the world to compete in the International championship games. Several times a week, the Green Lake Community Center gym is transformed into a 16 table arena of the “pings and pongs" of back and forth play. Home to Green Lake Table Tennis Club but welcome to newbies, participants drive from all over the state - yes as far as Port Orchard.

Insider tip: Don’t call it ping pong. Just trust us, they don’t like that. But go check this club out. You will have an immediate respect for the sport of table tennis.

Take a pottery class at the Green Lake Community Center

Green Lake Community Center offers pottery classes for all ages from parent and tot classes, teens or adult pottery wheel throwing and more. Classes change seasonally and range in price. For more information, go to the Green Lake Community Center’s website and search for their seasonal brochure of classes.

Find Green Lake’s hidden dog park

Woodland Park Off Leash. Photo by Scott Frostad

Woodland Park Off Leash. Photo by Scott Frostad

It’s likely no surprise that Green Lake is super dog-friendly. But did you know there is also an off leash dog park across the street from Green lake Park? The Woodland Park Off Leash area is a great place for running around with your dog. The one acre park has trails and is tucked between the Lower Woodland Tennis Courts and picnic shelters.

Check out the cutest dogs in Seattle as they parade around Green Lake every Halloween

Corgi Hawloween! Photo by Mike Lemmon

Corgi Hawloween! Photo by Mike Lemmon

While we are talking about dogs, there is one dog event you can’t miss, the annual Corgi Howloween. Every year the corgis march around Green Lake adorned in costumes from ninjas to hot dogs. You can hear the pitter pat (or shuffle shuffle) of the short legged canines as they use their little legs to march around the 2.8 miles of Green Lake path.

Insider tip: the best time to see the dogs is right before they take off for the march at the Green lake Small Craft Center amphitheater/bleachers. The owners often line them up and then they take off around the lake. But they are corgis not Greyhounds, so you can easily snap photos or ogle over their cuteness as they trot on by.

Catch Green Lake all aglow - but only three times a year

Because Green Lake Park Trail is not illuminated at night the crowds tend to dissipate at night. That is, except for three nights a year when honestly, you should be part of those crowds! So mark your calendar now for these special events: Pathway of Lights in December, Hiroshima to Hope in August, and Luminata in September.

Green Lake Pathway of Lights

Green Lake Pathway of Lights

Green Lake Pathway of Lights is one of my favorite times of year. Hundreds of luminaries are placed around the 2.8 mile Green Lake path along with carolers, apple cider, and hot cocoa stations and festive cheer. It’s also part of a huge canned food drive that every year receives loads of food for the homeless.

Lanterns on the lake at Hiroshima to Hope. Photo by Martha Brice.

Lanterns on the lake at Hiroshima to Hope. Photo by Martha Brice.

Hiroshima to Hope honors victims from Hiroshima and nuclear attacks. During the night among music and talks, nearly 2,000 paper lanterns are decorated and one by one lit and set into Green Lake to cast an honorary and mesmerizing glow. An incredibly powerful event that takes place August 6 every year.

Luminata celebrates the last day of summer and coming fall and is always celebrated on the September solstice. The first time we heard this event we had just moved to our house and heard a crazy, but joyous, cacophony of tubas and a mix of instruments coming from the park. We ran over to discover that it was also accompanied by lights and elaborate costumes. The Fremont Arts Council runs this every year.

Eat at Green Lake’s hidden taco truck

This may fall under the category of “you just have to trust us.” There’s a taco truck in Green Lake that has a cult following, but its in a hidden location. If you blink, you will miss it. It’s parked on the north side of the lake off of Aurora on the far end of the Shell station parking lot. Maybe not a huge selling point but El Naranjo has cheap and wonderful tacos, burritos, tortas, and my favorite the sopitos (an open faced taco made with asoft sopito corn shell with meat, cheese, lettuce and avocado inside). You can dine at one of the picnic tables, or do what we do and take it to the park or the wading pool in the summer months. 

Green Lake

Green Lake Loves Gyros (But Here’s The Best One)

You will find there are at least a dozen gyro places in a 2 mile radius around Green Lake. What gives, what's the best one? Our favorite has been in Green Lake since 2010. Mykonos Greek Grill has the tastiest and messiest gyros in town. And if you are extra hungry order their lemon soup. Their phone number is permanently in our phone for takeout orders. (Tell Siri to add their number immediately to your contacts (206) 523-8929).

Find the best dessert at JoDee’s Desserts 

One of the tastiest dessert spots in Green Lake caters to just about any diet. That’s right, JoDee’s Desserts can accommodate vegan, diabetic, gluten free, dairy free - you name it. My cheesecake hating husband says the chocolate cheesecake is one of the tastiest desserts he’d had in a long time - bonus points that you’d never know it’s vegan.

Thanks for letting me share my tips with you. To keep up to date on all things Green Lake be sure to check out Seattle Greenlaker.

Seattle Secrets: Waterfall Garden Park

When you think of UPS, what comes to mind? Brown uniforms. Legally Blonde. Mail Delivery. What doesn't come to mind? Waterfalls. 

Except for the people of Seattle. If you live in Seattle you associate UPS with a tranquil waterfall garden. 

Say What?! 

Ok, fun little history lesson starts now. UPS was founded in a Seattle basement in 1907 by Jim Casey and Claude Ryan. Then (spoiler) UPS became kind of a big deal. Today more than 407,000 people work for UPS, and we would bet quite a few of them don't know they have a beautiful waterfall park dedicated to them in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Seattle.

That's right, Jim Casey built a tiny, but amazing park in Seattle in 1978 to honor all of the people who have worked for UPS. It is maintained by the Annie E Casey Foundation (named in remembrance of Jim Casey's mother. Is anyone else thinking how good of a guy Jim must have been?) and is a true hidden gem of Seattle. You can find it on the corner of 2nd Avenue South and South Main Street in Pioneer Square. 

Right in the middle of everything for all the city folks to enjoy!

Right in the middle of everything for all the city folks to enjoy!

You will hear the rushing water from the 22-foot waterfall before you see the park. When you find the entrance you will be guided into a small garden with two-tiers. There is usually plenty of seating available so feel free to come with your coffee or lunch and sit with a friend enjoying the peaceful sound of the water instead of the normal construction sounds we are all so used to. 

Hidden Gems Seattle: Aurora Avenue

Okay, we know what you are thinking. Aurora Ave? There aren't any gems there, just dirty motels and sketchy car dealerships. Well prepare to be proven wrong. Aurora is one of those misunderstood avenues, like Jack in Titanic. It might seem a little rough around the edges, but once you start to look a little harder you will see it's actually a sweet, kind avenue, with a lot to offer the world. It just needs you to be open to its flaws, which we will remind you, we all have. So we challenge you to channel your inner Rose and look past the occasional scantily-clad woman or grafitti-ed wall and see the hidden gems below! 

The spot for Caribbean food!

The spot for Caribbean food!


This brightly colored spot serves up authentic Caribbean cuisine and is being raved about by everyone who sets foot here. You can get sandwiches or plates (served with black beans and rice), and if you are doing it right, you'll sit outside in their beach-y feeling patio and pretend you are someplace tropical instead of Aurora Ave. It's hard to recommend something since everything we have tried is excellent, but you can't go wrong with the citrus braised pork (The Desi), which is a crowd favorite. 

Sky Nursery

We don't claim to have a green thumb, but if we were to invest in garden plants, we would go to Sky Nursery. This place is HUGE and every gardener's dream. Indoor and outdoor plants, gardening supplies and tools, fountains and art...you can find everything you need to turn your backyard into a garden oasis. You should probably grow tomatoes and bring us some.

Donuts galore and Aurora Donuts

Donuts galore and Aurora Donuts

Aurora Donuts

This tiny donut shop shares space with a Baskin Robbins (hey, feel free to do double duty, we won't judge!). It has all the standards and a large assortment of donut holes (even filled ones!). But our favorite is the kreme donut covered in powdered sugar and filled with either chocolate or vanilla. Yum.

El Camion

A taco truck in Home Depot's parking lot might seem like a risk, but El Camion has proven itself time and time again to be a go-to stop when you need a quick bite and want a taco. We are big fans of the veggie or fish tacos and don't forget to load up on the pickled veggies at the counter.

The French Dip at Grinders

The French Dip at Grinders

Grinders Hot Sands 

Sandwich mecca! It's really hard to choose one of their over-the-top, loaded, hot grinders, but you'll be thankful you did. If you have trouble choosing like us, we like to get the SauBall, which combines the meatball sandwich and the sausage grinder (genius). They also have wine, beer, and live music. What more do you need?

Woodland Pizza

Woodfired pizza and an extensive rotating beer list, makes this an excellent choice for a chill night out. We especially like to go on Monday nights when they have trivia (7pm - 9pm) and order the Italian Stallion pizza. If pizza isn't your thing (who are you?!?!), they also have small plates, a great selection of salads and sandwiches. We also recommend swinging by for breakfast to build your own burrito. 

Brightly colored Mendoza's Mercado

Brightly colored Mendoza's Mercado

Mendoza's Mexican Mercado

This tiny shop does double duty as both a small cafe and a Mexican grocery store. We like coming here for specialty ingredients like pre-marinaded carne asada and Jarritos soda. Don't forget to grab some of the homemade corn tortillas as they are essential for taking your tacos to the next level (oh yes, they are life changing).

Pop Pop Thai Street Food

Chances are you have driven right by this place and never noticed it. It sits in a strip mall/parking lot and doesn't gather much attention, but it's a secret gem that you must, must visit. This Thai street food is some of the best Thai we have ever eaten. We love the grilled chicken, which, we know, sounds extremely boring. Trust us. This dish is bursting with flavor and comes with an incredible tamarind dipping sauce. The braised pork leg, fried rice, and spicy holy basil are also excellent choices.

Than Brothers Pho

This shop only serves pho, and they do it well. The bowls are simple, but delicious and warming and made from a secret family recipe. It is our favorite bowl of pho in the city, and they also get our vote because you get a creme puff for dessert with every pho order.  


Burgermaster has been serving Seattlites burgers since 1952, which gives them instant Aurora street cred! We love the old school feeling of ordering from your car window and having your meal delivered car-side. Sure, they no longer come along on roller skates, but we respect it all the same. They also only serve local, grass-fed, antibiotic-free beef, which gives them a leg-up on those other fast-food burger joints. 

Central Market Grocery

Central Market Grocery

Central Market 

Is it weird to want to marry a grocery store? This place is the best of the best when it comes to getting your weekly haul. Central Market is a Town & Country Market, which is independent and locally owned and operated. It has the largest produce selection of any grocery store we have ever seen, an amazing deli for grabbing lunch, a huge selection of sustainable fish and meat, and a machine that grinds together peanuts and chocolate on the spot making the best toast spread and our favorite guilty pleasure. 

HT Market 

HT Market is another grocery store we love because it focuses on products from around the world. You can get all kinds of specialty goods from Japan, China, Vietnam, India, Thailand, Korea (to name of few) and all at extremely affordable prices. We like to go here for items you might not find elsewhere like the durian fruit, kaffir lime leaves and dumpling wrappers.


The crazy Aurora elephant

The crazy Aurora elephant

Aurora Rental's Elephant

A true roadside attraction right on Aurora. This elephant has been hanging out at Aurora Rentals's for many, many years, and has become somewhat of a landmark. Turns out, you can actually rent this elephant for 10k a day (40k a week...such a bargain!). The only catch is you have to replace it with another zoo type animal while you have the elephant rented. Giraffes or rhinos preferred. No biggie.

125th Street Grill 

Everyone needs a good diner in their life. You know, a place to go to for some "hair of the dog" and a greasy breakfast. We like this grill for their wide selection of omelettes and the pecan cakes for something sweet. They are also open for lunch and dinner, but we prefer going for breakfast and sitting in the lounge. They also have a banquet room just in case your book club meets early.

Interurban Trail Art

We love public art, and the silly sculptures along the Interurban trail near the Trader Joe's in Shoreline at 175th Street really spruce up this part of town. Our favorites are the snail and the horse! 

Fuzzy Buddy's Dog Daycare 

Your pooch needs some love while you are away at work and Fuzzy Buddy's is a great option if you live up north. Not only can your dog have an active social life during the work week ($30 drop-in rate), but they offer dog training classes as well.