Photo: Gene Bisbee


This accessible neighborhood is packed with tasty eats, small shops, and festive nightlife.

By Emily Alhadeff
Snowcapped mountain and islands of land in the background with blue water in the foreground. Benjamin Massello / Unsplash

Just a few miles south of downtown Seattle and accessible by Link light rail, Columbia City’s Rainier Avenue is perfect for window shopping and cafe hopping. Peruse local art at Columbia City Gallery (4864 Rainier Ave S), upscale fashion at Gather (4863 Rainier Ave S) and Renew Eileen Fisher (4860 Rainier Ave S), and gifts and greenery at Columbia City Bouquet (4873 Rainier Ave S). Indulge in mouthwatering pastries at Columbia City Bakery (4865 Rainier Ave S)—the lavender-lemon cake tastes like summer even when it’s nippy outside. Then perk up with a cayenne mocha at groovy Empire Roasters and Records (3829 S Edmunds St) before browsing the expertly curated vinyl upstairs. For lunch, have a seat at diner-style Geraldine’s Counter (4872 Rainier Ave S). Though darkness sets in early on winter evenings, the illuminated trees along Rainier Avenue provide warmth and welcome. Dive into a creatively topped pizza at friendly Tutta Bella (4918 Rainier Ave S) or soul-satisfying brisket enchiladas at Jackalope (4868 Rainier Ave S). Then take in a movie at the indie Ark Lodge Cinemas (4816 Rainier Ave S), a live show at the Columbia City Theater (4916 Rainier Ave S), or a jazz performance from a vinyl booth at the Royal Room (5000 Rainier Ave S). Other Rainier Avenue notables include the Flour Box (5520 Rainier Ave S) for rave-worthy sweets (try the blueberry-basil-jam doughnut!), and Third Place Books (5041 Wilson Ave S) for bagels, beer, and literary browsing. Downhill lies Lake Washington and glorious Seward Park (5900 Lake Washington Blvd S), home to an old-growth forest, hiking trails, a pottery studio, and majestic bald eagles soaring overhead. A bit farther south in Rainier Beach, enjoy brunch on a terrace overlooking Lake Washington at the Stonehouse Cafe (9701 Rainier Ave S) or catfish and grits or fried chicken at Drae’s Lake Route (9261 57th Ave S). Then stroll among the neatly manicured maple and hydrangea trees, tranquil ponds, and arching red footbridges at Kubota Garden (9817 55th Ave S). Return to the lakefront for a pineapple negroni at Jude’s Old Town (9252 57th Ave S), which also serves juicy burgers and flavorful mushroom etouffée.



Seattle’s best every month in your inbox

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Book Your Trip

Partner Advertisements