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Thursday, October 23, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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City Walks

Queen Anne: Take in the splendid view and architectural curiosities

Seattle Times travel staff

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The walk: Head up Queen Anne Hill for a walk with big views, little traffic, pocket parks and streets of lovingly tended Victorian-style homes. Along the way, refuel at excellent bakeries and cafes and browse in eclectic shops.

For an easygoing stroll of an hour or so, go to the southwest corner of the hilltop. Start at West Highland Drive, just west of Queen Anne Avenue North. Make Kerry Park your first stop. The streetside strip of greenery has jaw-dropping views of downtown Seattle, Elliott Bay and, on clear days, snowy Mount Rainier. You won't be alone. There's always someone posing for a photo.

Continue west about a block and a half to Parsons Garden, at West Highland Drive and Seventh Avenue West. It's a little secret garden, about the size of a city lot, tucked behind a wrought-iron fence and lush greenery. It was donated for a city park by the children of Reginald and Maude Parsons; it was part of the family's Queen Anne estate dating to 1905.

Across the street is another tiny park — the Marshall Park/Betty Bowen Viewpoint (also named in honor of local citizens). The views, from West Seattle to the Olympic Mountains, are particularly grand when the trees lose their leaves. But look down, too; cast in the pavement by the park benches are abstract artworks.

Walk north from the viewpoint onto Eighth Place West (which leads into Eighth Avenue West). These next several blocks are a scenic boulevard with decorative balustrades topped with old-fashioned streetlights.

JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Claire Schroeder takes loaves of bread off the shelves at Macrina Bakery, which also offers sandwiches, soups, salads and rich desserts for the famished walker.
The boulevard peters out — early-20th-century landscape designer John Olmsted envisaged it encircling Queen Anne, but it didn't happen — and merges into Seventh Avenue West, a street of more modest, cozy bungalows. Follow it north a few blocks until it intersects West McGraw Street. Pause at the shops or cafes here, then begin the return leg of your stroll. The most scenic route is to retrace your steps. Or if kids are along, go south on Third Avenue West and stop at West Queen Anne Playfield's playground.

Shoppers or snackers could keep going east to Queen Anne Avenue North with its five blocks of eclectic shops and cafes (try El Diablo, 1811 Queen Anne Ave. N., for its sweet, strong Cuban-style coffee and giant pork sandwiches).

Follow either street south and you'll eventually intersect West Highland Drive — where you began.

Secret tip: For a glimpse of Seattle's early-20th-century architectural history, descend the stairway adjoining the north side of Marshall Park/Betty Bowen Viewpoint. The stairway is part of the West Queen Anne Walls that were built in the early 1900s to support the boulevard. At the bottom is a narrow dirt path that skirts the 20-foot-tall retaining walls, which are adorned with decorative brickwork, and residents' back yards. Walk north a few minutes to another stairway that takes you back up to the street.

Eating, browsing: You could happily consume far more calories than you've expended on this walk at Macrina Bakery (615 W. McGraw St.), which offers excellent sandwiches, soups, salads and decadently rich desserts. Browse in the Fountainhead Gallery (625 W. McGraw St.), which features paintings and other works by Northwest artists.

Also consider detouring a block south to Rhinestone Rosie, an offbeat shop of costume jewelry and vintage clothing (606 W. Crockett St.).

Access: The route is level, with paved sidewalks. Staircases can easily be avoided by those with wheelchairs or baby strollers.

Parking/bus route: There's ample street parking around Kerry Park, although it can be busy on sunny weekends. Buses that serve the top of Queen Anne Hill include routes 2, 3, 4 and 13.

Kristin Jackson: 206-464-2271 or kjackson@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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