Over the weekend I had a friend in town for a short visit. She now lives in Oregon but didn’t grow up in the northwest, so she’s spent very little time in Washington. Since we only had until early afternoon, I decided to show her around our downtown.
Next time she comes for a visit and we have more time, I want to take her on a ferry to Langley on Whidbey Island or all the way up to Lopez Island in the San Juans if we have a whole weekend. We only had part of the day though, so we had a lot of fun just exploring my city.
We started the morning with breakfast and coffee at home because my son wanted his favorite breakfast sausages, but breakfast out is one of my favorite splurges. We live in a real foodie area, so the breakfast and brunch options are endless.
When another friend was in town a few months ago, we headed to Little Brother for brunch and we shared their breakfast platter ($28 and SO good, but not a regular meal out). I can’t believe how much money we used to spend on breakfast. However, when we do go out, we pick restaurants like these because of their focus on local, seasonal products, fair treatment of their employees, and they host a farmers market April-October!
This is why it was so hard to break our eating out habit. It’s not like when we first got married and were living in a tiny town with mostly chain restaurants. Now that we moved back home, there are TONS of awesome places to eat, but even at happy hour, they really aren’t inexpensive.
Until recently, we had agreed that our one expensive vice as good food, but it really just became a habit that didn’t bring us the amount of joy it should have for the cost of the meals. Now that we eat out MUCH more infrequently, we really enjoy those times like we should. Hence why this past weekend we made breakfast at home and then went out to explore after that.
Since we had my son in tow, our first stop was to the park. There has been a ton of construction in the downtown over the past 5-10 years, but there are a ton of great parks, both in the center of town and along the waterfront. Back in the 90s, the city purposefully bought a quite a bit of property along the lake and preserved it for public enjoyment, which is pretty amazing.
Our next stop, like it is in any town we visit, was to the library. Since the park is right next door, my son pointed it out and made sure we went. He might not know many television characters, but he knows where our library is, so I call that a win.
We spent maybe a half hour at the library between reading a few books and checking out the computer games. He hasn’t quite figured out how to use a mouse yet, but he thinks the computers are pretty cool nonetheless. We were walking around town so I stopped him at two books to check out compared to our standard bag full.
After the library, we walked down Park Lane, Kirkland’s first living street. A living street, or woonerf, is a shared road for both cars and pedestrians. The drive lane is usually narrow, curving, and allows for more landscaping and people places than a typical street.
This one gets shut down for events as well (4th of July, Summerfest, Oktoberfest) which really expands the city’s events space.
In the off season, the street is quieter, but it’s still a nice place to walk around. This is also the city’s downtown area, so there are a bunch of shops and restaurants facing the street, to include a really cool toy store. Which is also really expensive, so we escaped without buying anything and continued on to Marina Park.
It was pretty foggy so the view wasn’t quite as stunning as it sometimes it is, but it also meant that we got the place to ourselves, which is rare for a city of 80,000 people. In the summer, the city also leaves out a ton of shovels, buckets, and other beach toys for the kids to use for free, which is really awesome.
While a completely free day is fantastic, we did have my friend in town and I wanted to take her to at least one of the restaurants we really like, and we settled on sushi. For a conveyor belt place, the food is really fresh, tasty, and inexpensive (we spent $25 including tip) – though during the week, they have happy hour at lunch, which means $1.75 for every plate no matter what it is.
By picking and choosing our meals out carefully, I’m finding that we get a lot more value out of our restaurant trips these days, and sushi was no exception. It now feels special to eat out instead of just what you do when you’re hungry. In all parts of our life, I’m working to be mindful and spend only on things that bring us great value. Which includes restaurants, but only when they aren’t an every day occurrence.
We’ve spent so many weekends exploring other towns in our region that I sometimes forget what a great place we live in. Taking a friend around reminded me that I love our city and it’s a great place to spend our days.
We specifically bought our home in this area to be close to our work, trails, the lake, and our families, and our little town has the best of all things.