Gray Weather Survival Guide
16. Have a drink with an umbrella
Searching for tiki classics like mai tais and creamy piña coladas? Find them both at Luau Polynesian Lounge in Green Lake. (Psst…both drinks are discounted to $5 during happy hour!) Naga—Chantanee Thai’s cocktail lounge in Bellevue—has arguably the largest selection of authentic tiki drinks around, many served in tiki mugs (though you can order any drink in a large skull bowl for $25). Our pick:
the Bermuda rum swizzle, with dark rum, fresh lime, pineapple, orange and house-made falernum.
17. Visit a sunny spot
Best bet for a sunny westside day? Head to Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula, a town that boasts 320 sunny days a year—and just 16 inches, on average, of rain (compared with Seattle’s 36.2). Located within the region’s much touted rain shadow (and with a tourism Web site, visitsun.com, that boasts of its best asset), this sunny spot misses the worst winter storms. While there, don’t miss the nearby Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, which bills itself as one of the world’s longest natural sand spits.
18. Feel the sand beneath your feet
There’s nothing like walking on a warm swath of sand; it makes you want to drop and roll around like a dog (at least until you notice all the gooey gum wads and cigarette butts that plague so many public beaches). Lynnwood’s Olympus Spa (ladies only, fellas) offers a clean alternative with its sand room. The 150-degree sand is covered with a canvas tarp—lying down on the warm surface is said to relieve menstrual cramps, among other bummers. Worth a try.
19. Brighten up
Stroll through the tranquility of the Volunteer Park Conservatory, a Capitol Hill treasure featuring rooms full of palms, cacti, bromeliads—basically, what your house plants would look like if they were in a balmy, humid environment (and if you had a green thumb). The 6,300-square-foot conservatory is a light-filled oasis, with soaring ceilings and the original 1912 lunette window situated above the main entry. Take a free, self-guided tour, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday–Sunday.
20. Drink chocolate
The next best thing to eating chocolate is enjoying it in liquid form—and we scoured the city for a few of the best cups. At Caffé Umbria in Pioneer Square, the hot chocolate is so thick, it’s practically pudding. At Sweet and Savory in Mount Baker, watch as your individual order is whisked up on the stovetop. Bonus: The chocolaty goodness here comes with a side cup full of whipped cream! For real connoisseurs who’d like to specify the exact type of chocolate used in their drink, chocolopolis offers eight different flavors—including a spicy version made with a blend of three chiles.
21. Eat chocolate
When it’s nasty outside, wrap yourself in a cocoon of chocolate. Make a reservation to tour Theo Chocolate in Fremont. Nibble on a selection of organic free-trade chocolate by the cozy fireplace in the retail shop. Then it’s time to don a hairnet (“Schlemiel, schlimazel!”) and take the factory tour (reservations recommended, 206.632.5100; $6 for the tour), on which you’ll learn the story of cacao, from bean to bar.
It’s OK to feel a little antisocial in this weather. We understand. You’ll be happy to know that the Odegaard Undergraduate Library on the University of Washington campus is an ideal place to grab a book and go all Garbo when you “vant to be alone.” Head for the third floor—it’s the designated “silent study floor.” The library is open 24 hours a day beginning at 1 p.m. Sundays until 9 p.m. Fridays. But don’t hibernate for too long—we’ll miss you.
23. Ignore the chill and hang 10
Die-hard Northwest surfers have reason to welcome winter because heavy wind drums up the best waves. And the best spot to catch them is Westport, just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Seattle. Bring your own gear (wetsuit and board) or rent it at The Surf Shop or Steepwater Surf Shop in town (lessons also available). Then head to one of three surf spots: the jetty at Westhaven State Park, which has reliable waves and is often the most crowded; Half Moon Bay, where the waves break close to shore (not a good choice for beginners); and The Groins, which usually has bigger and more unpredictable waves. Don’t forget to bring plenty of warm clothes and lots of quarters for the blessedly hot parking-lot showers at the jetty ($1 for five minutes).
24. Cozy up fireside
Sink into a comfy wing-back chair next to the flickering fireplace in the Fireside Room at the Hotel Sorrento. One drink, and you’ll feel like wearing a monocle and calling everyone “old chap.” Or for a different kind of experience, pull up a chair at the tall bar table at bastille, where the fireplace is in the table’s center. It’s a popular spot (no reservations taken), so come early before the crowd if you want that rock-star seat.
25. Cocoon with a cookbook
Take a cue from Julie & Julia and cook your way through a cookbook. That’s just what Alexis Lim of Seattle, a self-proclaimed foodie, is doing with The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen: Classic Family Recipes for Celebration and Healing by Grace Young. “It’s the first Chinese cookbook that’s my-mom-approved!” she says, and counts it as a way to beat the gray days of Seattle winters.
26. Have a stiff (tea) drink
Tucked away on Capitol Hill, Remedy Teas is a soothing little oasis where you can select from more than 150 organic, loose-leaf teas. Remedy earns high marks for its peaceful atmosphere and friendly servers. miro tea in Ballard also receives a thumbs-up for its quiet, relaxing atmosphere. We notice that folks in tea rooms tend to be the reading-a-book type rather than the poking-away-at-a-laptop type. Hmmm.
· There’s more room in the fridge, since the porch works fine for cooling that six-pack of beer.
· You can get close enough to touch the vegetables at the Pike Place Market.
· The fashion police are willing to overlook the excessive use of fleece.
· You can forgo lathering up arms and legs with sunscreen.
· The line at Molly Moon’s is short(er).
· Out-of-town guests won’t beg you to go on the Ride the Ducks of Seattle tour (and better yet, they probably won’t visit).
· It’s easy to hide those holiday pounds under big, bulky sweaters.
· There are fewer cyclists to dodge on the streets.
· You can easily claim a fire pit at Alki Beach and Golden Gardens.
· The lawn doesn’t need water or mowing.
· Now you have an excuse to wear your yellow rain boots.
· The Mariners can’t possibly lose.
· There’s less highway construction on I-5 (and other roads).
· It’s OK to zone out on an antihistamine buzz.
· You won’t be hit by a Frisbee on your walk through the park.
· There’s actually room to run on the path around Green Lake.
· You can get the gloomy atmosphere of a really good mystery novel without actually having to read one.
· Smells (body odor and otherwise) are less noticeable when it’s cold