BEST NEW DEVELOPMENT ON THE WATERFRONT
Whatever your Amgen (n頉mmunex) stock is doing, whatever the fate of its "Helix Project" waterfront office park, you've got to love the AMGEN PEDESTRIAN OVERPASS that's rising above the railroad tracks to give Queen Anne residents access to Elliott Bay in the long, desolate stretch between Broad Street (to the south) and West Galer Street (up by Magnolia). Designed by Seattle's Johnson Architecture & Planning and scheduled to open in early '04, the structure will be open to the public during park hours for late-night fishing, early-morning running, and sunset watching in between. No surprise that the rotating helix design should echo that of a DNA strand, since the biotech concern is spending some $10 million for a bridge that will serve as its public face along Elliott Avenue West. (It's also intended to help employees arrive by bus to reduce congestion.) Clad in high-tech Teflon, fiberglass, and stainless-steel mesh, the 400-foot-long, three-stranded span looks to be the coolest thing to grace the waterfront since the Kalakala left.Brian Miller West Prospect Street and Elliott Avenue West.
BEST PLACE TO FIND A SUGAR DADDY
Been looking for love in all the wrong places? Picking up guys in rocker bars who can barely afford their latest tattoo, let alone your car payment? It may be time to start practicing financial responsibilitytime to put on your hard hat and go digging for gold. A skilled coquette need look no further than El Gaucho's PAMPAS ROOM. It's a basement cigar barthe kind of place big ballers and shot callers naturally gravitate toward. And with its men's club-ish vibe, it's the sort of setting where a woman really stands out. If you're so inclined, put on your best dress (or buy a new onethink of it as an investment), then practice your flirty banter. The odds are a lot better than the lottery.Katie Millbauer 2505 First Ave., 206-728-1337.
BEST I-90 HIKE
Admit ityou've been meaning to do more hiking, but you're always so busy. Fortunately, there's one superlative Cascade ramble only an hour's drive from SeattleGRANITE MOUNTAIN. An embarrassment of riches await throughout the hiking season: In early summer, wildflowers are on display; in late summer, you can feast on sweet huckleberries; and in early autumn, a psychedelic blast of fall color erupts. Be warned, though: These rewards are gained only through some serious huffing and puffing. Almost 4,000 feet of elevation gain and an eight-mile round-trip make this route a serious workout. But once you reach the old fire lookout at the summit, you'll be glad you did the work. The views to Rainier and the peaks near Snoqualmie Pass will have you forgetting the madding crowd (and the faint roar of the freeway) far below.Andrew Engelson Exit 47, north side of freeway, Pratt Lake/Granite Mountain Trailhead.
BEST NEW SK8ER BOI EMPORIUM
The last place a skate shop, hip-apparel outlet, or art gallery should remind you of is school. That said, the 20-odd one-armed kiddie desks crowding the middle of GOODS' itsy-bitsy, teenie-weenie Capitol Hill space blare "school is cool" more convincingly than a million lame Sunday paper Kmart ads. Each desk is beset by real-deal, in-class graffiti (they were culled from an elementary school in the U District). In keeping with the detention-hall theme, Goods' walls are lined with personalized, old-skool Pee-Chees, carved up guerrilla-style with everything from naughty cartoon doodles to The Empire Strikes Back trading cards. As modern rubbish gallery, Goods is an unearthed gem, but as an actual sk8er boi outlet, it's just as bountiful a find. The boutique flaunts a small but quality assortment of boards, sneaks (primarily Nike and Adidas, starting from $60), boy toys (Planet of the Apes and Transformers), literature, and boys and girls Tees.Andrew Bonazelli 1112 Pike St., 206-622-0459.
BEST BUS STOP
A good bus stop should be within a few dozen steps of everything a person needs to thrive. The stop at EAST JOHN STREET AND BROADWAY AVENUE EAST on Capitol Hill is such a stop. While waiting for the No. 43 or No. 8, you can browse the delectable 50-cent rack at Twice Sold Tales, visit the Dick's across the street, or take in one of the city's loveliest, most iconic views of the Space Needle. And the cost? Only $1.25, off peak.Neal Schindler
BEST URBAN HIKE
So you slept in on a Sunday and don't want to drive up into the Cascades. Or it's mid-January and the mountains are buried under 8 feet of snow. No matter. Grab your knapsack, pack a gourmet picnic lunch, and head straight for THE WASHINGTON PARK ARBORETUM. And say a brief word of thanks to the Olmsted brothers, who in the early 20th century left a legacy of green space sprinkled throughout this city. Start at the Arboretum's south end and hike north through a plethora of fauna: native red cedar and Douglas fir; a grove of giant Sequoia; forests of freakish 40-foot rhododendrons. Your final destination is Foster Island on the shore of Union Bay, where you can watch for migrating waterfowl. Then, hike grassy Azalea Way on your return.A.E. Lake Washington Boulevard; Visitor Center, 206-543-8800.
BEST PLACE TO GET WARM
The wind is howling. It's starting to rain . . . no, snow. You zip yourself inside your bivy sack at 7,000 feet expecting to freeze your ass off all night on some godforsaken peak in the Cascades. Wrong. Thanks to FEATHERED FRIENDS, that little shop a stone's throw from hulking REI, unplanned bivies that once might've seemed unbearable become downright comfortable with the store's custom-made, superlight, superwarm down products. Full sleeping bags are ridiculously toasty yet tiny, weighing only a few pounds, and serve practically year-round in our comparatively mild Northwest climes. You can get beefy Alaskan or Himalayan expedition wear, too, but my favorite purchase this climbing season was a Helios down vest that packs inside a Nalgene bottle (plus room for a half-dozen PowerBars, ick). It's poofy, bright, and garish, like wearing a little bit of Miami Beacheven when you're on the Ptarmigan Traverse.B.R.M. 119 Yale Ave. N., 206-292-2210, www.featheredfriends.com.
BEST SECRET URBAN NATURE ENCLAVE
Forget Juanita Bay Park or Seward Park. If you're looking for citified salmon, birds, and beavers, check out MEADOWBROOK POND, the 9-acre project tucked away just north of Wedgwood. Sitting on Thornton Creek, the former site of a wastewater treatment plant was converted by Seattle Public Utilities into an $8.2 million showpiece during the mid-'90s. It has salmon and cutthroat troutvisible from a footbridgemigrating from Lake Washington; it has beavers and muskrats; it has herons and kingfishers, native grasses and trees, all quietly sitting a few blocks from the bustling avenue.Philip Dawdy 10517 35th Ave. Northeast., across from Meadowbrook Community Center.
BEST HIPSTER SHIRT SHOP
You don't have to be an Anglophile to shop at KUHLMAN. But the Belltown shop's brilliant assortment of Fred Perry and Ben Sherman shirts, as well as its mod pins and the scooter in the front window, might be enough to convert you anyway. Located downstairs from the Ace Hotel, Kuhlman offers tailoring and alteration as well as ready-made clothes. Like the store's layout, the garments on display are smartly cut and eye-catching enough to convert a layman's eye into a connoisseur's.Michaelangelo Matos 2419 First Ave., 206-441-1999.
BEST NEW REASON TO VISIT THE SEATTLE CENTER
Enough with McCaw Hall. Now just over a year old, the most notable recent improvement to our venerable world's fair site/tourist trap is the FISHER PAVILION, designed by Miller/Hull. It's already won a raft of awards from the American Institute of Architects and kudos for its eco-friendly sustainable building practices, but the key thing is your ass. Who honestly ever wanted to sit on the drab, flat, pebbly white Flag Pavilion Plaza that it replaced? (And what would you do if you didmemorize the flags from all 50 states? That's why we have Google.) Now there's a gracefully concave lawn and circular walkway basin that take you below grade to the underground exhibition space. It's organic and rounded, a much better complement to the adjacent fountain. The old plaza was so ugly and martialit screamed, "Salute!" while the new space beckons, "Picnic!"B.R.M. Seattle Center.
BEST PLACE TO GET SHOES THAT SHINE
There's nothing like totally unique, hand-crafted footwear to help you stand out in a crowd. At RUBAIYAT, husband and wife team Louis and Melinda Whisler design and implement some of the most daring and dazzling shoes you've ever seen. Plus, they have a little black bunny named Sweetie that hangs out in the back like a cat in a bookstore. The Whislers, shoe artisans for more than 35 years, can work with you to create the one-of-a-kind shoe design that lives in your dreams. They can also re-craft a pair of ill-fitting heirloom or vintage shoes into your size, or even rework that battered favorite pair discontinued by its designer. Go in, talk to them, pet the bunny. You'll be amazed at what they can do.Laura Cassidy 163511/2 E. Olive Way, 206-748-0204.
BEST NATIVE PLANT FOR YOUR YARD
Tired of mowing and watering that lawn? Fed up with the expense and chemicals? Replace all that turf with native plantsonce they're established, they require little care and feeding. Our region has abundant indigenous species to chose from. Standbys like salal and sword fern are great, but there's something a little, well, boring about evergreen shrubs. For something with showy blossoms, ease of replanting, and oodles of berries for wild birds, RED-FLOWERING CURRANT is a winner. According to Linda Storm, president of the Central Puget Sound Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society, the shrub is an all-around guilt-free plant with luxurious pink blossoms in spring.A.E. Molbak's Woodinville: 13626 N.E. 175th St., 425-483-5000.
BEST THRILL RIDE
Since we don't get over much to the Seattle Skatepark opposite EMP, our favorite spectator sport is watching skaters rocket down PINE STREET from Capitol Hill all the way through downtown. They often outrace buses and cars, scattering shoppers in their path. And you thought bike messengers were braveor crazy. We just hope the skaters have good health insurance.P.D.
BEST SHOP FOR RETRO FURNITURE
Have an eye for the unusual? So does Todd Werny. Lucky for you, he sells all his bizarre stuff at his SPACE ODDITY vintage furniture gallery. He goes to estate sales, auctions, surplus sales, and thrift stores every morning so you won't have to. His shop is planted in the wilds of Elliott Avenue West, but it's worth the trouble for Cap Hill hipsters willing to go U-Haul (or borrow the family Volvo wagon). It's a treasure trove for what he calls "wacky, midcentury modern" items such as a vintage Bud can; a talking, hot dog-shaped condiment server; a '70s plastic skateboard; funky vintage phones; and lots of mod furniture. And haven't you always wanted a faux fireplace for your electric-heat studio apartment? It can be yours for the right price.K.M. 1106 Elliot Ave. W., 206-322-6704.