You know it. You do it. It’s safe, predictable, even comforting, like that pair of broken-in jeans that give in all the right places (thank goodness). A routine is one of the most powerfully subconscious habits that dominate our lives. Which is why it’s so thrilling to veer off the path and break the pattern with a vacation. But even if you’ve banked weeks of paid leave at a job, it is hard to get away more than once or twice a year.
Which is why we suggest with our story on Seattle’s hidden gems that you go big by staying small. It can be as simple as taking a new route home to trying some buzzed-about chicken gizzards (yes), or to visiting a gallery vetted by arts editor Brangien Davis.
Our mission—guided by a rule that all subjects had to be unknown to at least three of our editors—was to dig deeper and reveal some of our best-kept secrets and to share recent discoveries. My top spills: the mind-boggling selection of pens and notebooks in the back of the Kinokuniya Bookstore, where I’ve shopped for years. Also, Slate, a fancy-ish (drinks are served out of wine glasses—see left) but completely unfussy coffee shop that my pal Julie Hartley from Top Pot Doughnuts tipped me off to.
But then there are the things we didn’t discover until they were staring us in the face. Take our cover subject. When we moved into our new sixth-floor office space on Fourth Avenue downtown last October, little did we know the gem that would fill our view: Frolik, the rooftop deck of the Red Lion Hotel, across the street. (A name, by the way, that is somewhat painful for editors to type—and that’s ignoring the exclamation point that serves as an “i.”) We were entering the dark winter months, so for a while, the deck was usually empty, although the staff would dutifully light the gas flames that shoot up from crushed-glass fire pits and turn on golden strings of bulbs around 3 p.m. every day. As the weather warmed, the crowds thickened, and it became pure entertainment for us to people-watch the goings-on amidst the oversize Alice in Wonderland shades on the heat lamps, purple Lucite chairs and other decor bordering on five minutes ago (though I love the orange pingpong tables). It wasn’t until a farewell party for a coworker that we decided to check it out, and we were wowed. While there isn’t a sweeping view of the Sound from here (although you can get peeks), Frolik offers an urban rooftop experience with a close-up perspective of downtown architecture, which has made it one of our new favorite spots. Though the downtown working crowd seems to be in on the secret, most passersby have no idea it’s there when they pass by on the street.
Discoveries like this are thrilling for us to share. This city is constantly revealing new things about itself, and we hope you continue to enjoy them all as their stories develop.