Green Lake – A Refreshing
Oasis Within the City

Just a 10-minute drive north from Downtown, the Green Lake neighborhood feels like a suburban retreat despite being just six miles from the heart of the city. There’s shopping and lots of places to grab a bite to eat or a latte, but most of the area is taken up by residential real estate and Green Lake Park itself.

Outdoor recreation is a common pastime in Green Lake, and the shopping options accommodate with shops for runners (Super Jock ‘N Jill) and several boutiques for cyclists, such as Gregg’s Cycles.

If you’re hungry, you have a lot of different cuisines to choose from, including Mykonos Greek Grill, Tapas Lab, Shelter Lounge, and Rosita’s Mexican Grill. Get your diner fix at Beth’s Cafe, which is famous for 6- and 12-egg omelettes, sample a huge selection of beers on tap (with kegs to go) at Über Tavern, or enjoy a wine dinner or a fancy night out with upscale European dining at Nell’s Restaurant. There’s also the historic Spud Fish & Chips and Tacos Guaymas for grab-and-go fare to enjoy at a picnic table in the park.

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Pros and Cons of Living in Green Lake, Seattle

With more of a residential neighborhood feel, Green Lake is a great spot for families, retirees, and professionals looking for a little more peace and quiet. The area doesn’t have any large shopping areas, but there are two PCC Community Markets (one on either side of the lake), and Northgate Mall is just a 15-minute drive north. Green Lake has plenty of restaurants and coffee shops, as well as novelty beverage spots such as Chocolati and Latona Pub, with microbrews and live jazz.

It’s a small neighborhood, with much of the area being taken up by the lake at its center, but there are seven parks and green spaces in the neighborhood, including Green Lake Park and Woodland Park, where the Woodland Park Zoo is located. Green Lake Park has a community center with programs year-round, tennis courts, and the Evans Pool in addition to outdoor recreation on the lake with rentable kayaks, paddleboats, and stand-up paddleboards from the Green Lake Boathouse.

It’s also a favorite pastime to grab a coffee from one of the shops around the lake and walk the 2.8-mile paved path alone or with a friend. One lap around the lake takes approximately 40 minutes.

With its big lake, Green Lake is also home to a public rowing program and the Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club. The little neighborhood is also home to a library, elementary school, and high school.

There isn’t much nightlife to be found in Green Lake, as most of its residents are families and prefer peace and quiet away from the bustle of Downtown. However, you can do line dancing, sing karaoke, and enjoy live country music at Little Red Hen, or catch a show at the Seattle Public Theater at the Green Lake Bathhouse.

Another perk of living in Green Lake is its proximity to I-5 and Downtown, as well as the University of Washington and Woodland Park Zoo. However, the idyllic park setting and other attractive qualities often mean above-asking sale prices on homes in the area, which tend to sell quickly.

History of Green Lake, Seattle

The Denny party arrived at Alki Beach in November, 1851, and a few years later in 1855, surveyor David Phillips discovered the Green Lake area. He called it “Lake Green” initially, noting its prevalent algae blooms. Erhart Seifried (nicknamed Green Lake John) and his wife were the first to settle in the area in 1869, and the two collaborated with the local Native Americans and planted an orchard. Guy Phinney later purchased acreage on the southeast side of the lake, which later became Woodland Park and the Woodland Park Zoo.

In the 1880s, a rapid population expansion in the area brought many more settlers to build around the lake, and in 1891, Green Lake was annexed to the city of Seattle. That same year, the trolley line from Fremont was extended around the eastern shore of Green Lake to stop at a terminus on the northwestern shore.

The population in Green Lake continued to swell, and in 1911, the lake was lowered in order to add 100 acres of dry land and green space near the lake. Algae has always been a problem at Green Lake, with numerous (and often unsuccessful) efforts to control it during the late summer months.

Motor boats weren’t banned on Green Lake until the 1980s, and outboard motor racing was a popular sport on the lake through the mid-1900s. The Aqua Theatre, an open air stadium, was built on the south shore of the lake in 1950, featuring summer opera productions and “swimusicals” from the Aqua Follies.

Today, Green Lake draws people from all over the city to relax on its grassy green shores, exercise on its paved 2.8-mile path, and enjoy its other water and park recreational activities. There’s fun stuff to do around the lake throughout the year, but Green Lake is especially popular during the summer.

Home Prices in Green Lake

Although home values in Green Lake have declined by -5.2% over the past year with the rest of the city, the median home value is still pretty high at $843,855. The average price per square foot is $592, which is above the Seattle average of $511.

New apartment complexes have been built in Green Lake in recent years, but the majority of the homes in the neighborhood are single-family residences. There are some newer homes; however, most of the houses are bungalows and Craftsman-style buildings that date back to the turn of the century. Homeowners in Green Lake seem to take additional care to update and upgrade their homes, adding to the charm of this beautiful neighborhood oasis.

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Green Lake is $2,086 per month, which is about $75 cheaper than the Seattle average of $2,151.

Walk Score & Transportation in Green Lake

Green Lake is the 19th most walkable neighborhood in Seattle, with a walk score of 81 and a bike score of 87. The neighborhood’s transit score is 55.

Several bus routes connect Green Lake to the rest of the city and across Lake Washington to Redmond. The RapidRide E line passes through Green Lake from Aurora Village to get commuters to Downtown Seattle quickly, the 26 Express carries passengers from the Northgate transit center to East Green Lake and then to Downtown, and the 62 goes from Sand Point to Green Lake and then continues into Downtown. Routes 541 and 542 get commuters from Green Lake to Redmond, the hub for Microsoft and other big tech companies.

Unique Gems in Green Lake

Green Lake has a lot to offer for all ages. In addition to the recreation and relaxation around and on the lake, there are lots of different places to eat, get coffee or ice cream, sample craft beer, and more. In mid-December each year, there’s the Annual Green Lake Pathway of Lights, with hundreds of illuminated candles, activities, carolers, artwork, and food and drink. During the summer, there are regattas and sailing events on the lake, and during the year, monthly productions at the Seattle Public Theater at the Bathhouse.

Woodland Park Zoo: One of the best zoos in the country is located on the edge of Green Lake, with hundreds of exotic as well as regional animals to see up close. The zoo has several events and special exhibits each month, so you can see something new with each visit.

Gregg’s Cycles: Voted Seattle’s best bike store time and time again, Gregg’s Cycles has a great variety of bikes, cycling apparel and accessories, as well as repair services for fixes that can’t be done at home. During the summer, the wait time for repairs can be long, so don’t delay if you need to get something done.

Revolutions Coffee: In addition to excellent espresso and coffee drinks, Revolutions has tasty sandwiches, pastries, beer, wine, and even ice cream. Grab your pick of the day and take it to go as you walk around the lake or sit and enjoy some sunshine.

Retreat: Sit down for a delicious brunch or come by later in the day to enjoy fresh and flavorful sandwiches, toasts, salads, smoothies, power bowls, cocktails, wine, or beer. Retreat has organic and gluten-free options, and an outdoor seating area for those beautiful summer days.

Little Red Hen: It may be the Pacific Northwest, but you’ll find a little bit of country in Green Lake at Little Red Hen, Seattle’s home of live country entertainment. There’s live music almost every night, with free karaoke on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9 p.m. and free dance lessons every Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday at 8 p.m. Little Red Hen also has a full bar and bar snacks, including a late-night vittles menu on Friday and Saturday nights.