Phinney Ridge: A Charming, Community-Focused
Neighborhood in the Heart of Seattle
Located on a hill overlooking Puget Sound to the west and the Ballard and Fremont neighborhoods to the south, Phinney Ridge is a community-centric neighborhood with lots of appeal. Its charming bungalows and cozy, self-sustaining commercial center make it a popular neighborhood for first-time homebuyers in addition to families and professionals who are looking to settle down close enough to Downtown for easy access, but in a community that feels like its own small town.
Many homes have amazing views of the Olympic Mountains or Green Lake, and others have beautiful neighborhood settings. Most of the homes have been remodeled or renovated, and many have lovely gardens and landscaping indicative of the extreme care Phinney Ridge residents take to make their homes and community feel and look beautiful. This is one of the most appealing neighborhoods in the Seattle area, and for good reason.
2019 Data at a Glance
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Pros and Cons of Living in Phinney Ridge, Seattle
Phinney Ridge is located on one of Seattle’s several hills, which lends itself to the neighborhood’s appeal with the views it has of the mountains and water. The neighborhood butts right up against Greenwood to the north, and the two neighborhoods are often considered sisters. They even have a combined news blog and inter-neighborhood events between the Phinney Center and Greenwood Senior Center, most notably the monthly PhinneyWood Art Walk.
The central business district of Phinney Ridge is set around Phinney Avenue N., which changes from Greenwood Avenue N. at the north end of the neighborhood. The Woodland Park Zoo is at the neighborhood’s south end. There are lots of delicious and approachable places to eat in Phinney Ridge, including modern dishes at Ada’s Restaurant & Bar, creative American fare at The Blue Glass, and Mediterranean food at Gorgeous George’s (they also serve homemade desserts!). If you’re looking for quintessential Seattle grab-and-go food for a picnic in the park, there’s a Red Mill Burgers location around the corner from the Phinney Center, and Ridge Pizza is the place to go for your favorite ‘za.
In addition to eating, there are dozens of boutiques and shops scattered up and down Phinney Avenue N. This neighborhood has a classic community atmosphere and it’s great for first-time homebuyers as well as families looking to expand their space in a safe, charming area of the city. As one reviewer says, “This is the kind of neighborhood where everyone knows each other’s names, and kids gather in the streets to play.”
There are about a dozen parks and green spaces in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood. Woodland Park is by far the largest, and is home to the reputable Woodland Park Zoo. There’s also a P-Patch and the Heart of Phinney pocket park at Phinney Avenue N. and N. 67th Street, where there is an air raid tower that dates back to the Cold War — one of only a few left in the United States as a whole.
All of the charm of the neighborhood has made it quite popular, and home prices can be a bit high, although they’re technically slightly below the Seattle average. One complaint from Phinney Ridge homeowners is that the lots are small and homes sometimes feel “crammed in” somewhat close. Another downside of living in Phinney Ridge is that there isn’t much in the way of nightlife. While there are several bars and lounges, those looking for more in the way of evening entertainment will probably head outside of the neighborhood to find it. But that’s a perk for others who prefer their neighborhood to be more quiet and safe.
History of Phinney Ridge, Seattle
Phinney Ridge was covered in trees when the Denny party arrived in Seattle and settled on Alki Beach in 1851. Over 20 years later in 1879, while many other areas of the city were developing quickly, the area that would become Phinney Ridge was home to just a few homesteaders. But in 1890, the electric trolley was brought to Phinney Ridge, Green Lake, and Greenwood, and settlers began flocking to the area. It took another 10 to 12 years for the majority of the trees on Phinney Ridge to be cleared, and by 1900, almost all of the land on the ridge was platted.
Phinney Ridge was named after early Seattleite Guy Phinney, who immigrated from Nova Scotia and developed the Woodland Park and Phinney Ridge area.
In 1906, the Fremont Avenue trolley line began transporting people from Fremont up to N. 50th Street, and a year later, the line expanded to N. 68th Street where Phinney Ridge now turns into the Greenwood neighborhood. The name of the trolley line was changed, followed by further expansion north to N. 75th Street and then N. 85th Street in 1909. In 1910, the Phinney Ridge and Greenwood trolley service switched to the Seattle-Everett Interurban; and that same year, the West Woodland School was opened in Phinney Ridge. Just 20 years later, West Woodland School had become the largest in the entire city.
The Phinney Neighborhood Center was opened in the old Allen School building in 1981, and today remains a driving force in the neighborhood’s community. The center regularly holds family-friendly events, art shows, fitness classes for seniors, used book sales, and more.
Home Prices in Phinney Ridge, Seattle
Although the average price per square foot for a home in Phinney Ridge is lower than the Seattle average of $511 at $496 per square foot, home prices are still somewhat high and inventory is typically pretty low since Phinney Ridge is an in-demand neighborhood to live in. On average, the typical home value in Phinney Ridge is $866,813. Home values in Phinney Ridge declined by -4.2% in the past year, but are expected to rise in the next 12 months.
Phinney Ridge is mostly made up of single-family homes, primarily bungalows and Craftsman-style houses that perch on the steep streets of the ridge. The homes range in color and unique features, and most have well-maintained yards and gardens. Phinney Ridge homeowners clearly take great care with the upkeep of their property.
There are also a few condominiums and apartment buildings in the neighborhood. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Phinney Ridge is $2,105 per month.
Walk Score & Transportation in Phinney Ridge
Phinney Ridge has a neighborhood walk score and bike score that rank the same at 79. It’s the 26th most walkable neighborhood in Seattle. The transit score in Phinney Ridge is 51.
The RapidRide E Line goes from Aurora Village to Downtown Seattle with stops along Aurora Avenue N. at N. 76th Street and N. 65th Street on the eastern edge of Phinney Ridge. Other than the RapidRide, the most direct metro bus to and from Phinney Ridge is Route 5, which goes from Shoreline Community College, has stops along Greenwood and Phinney Avenues N., and ends in Downtown Seattle. Route 5 can be accessed by several transfer routes, including the 120 from Delridge, the 131 in SODO, the 2 from Seattle University on Capitol Hill, and the 56 from Admiral Junction.
Unique Gems in Phinney Ridge
With dozens of bars and eateries throughout Phinney Ridge, there is something for every palate or craving. There are also lots of unique shops and small businesses in this self-sustaining neighborhood, and many of them participate in community events and programs such as the PhinneyWood art walk, which takes place on the second Friday of each month from 6 to 9 p.m.
Rub-a-Dub Dog: With more dogs than children in Seattle, it helps to have a place to give your dog a bath so you don’t have to make a mess of the bathroom at home. Rub-a-Dub Dog is a do-it-yourself dog wash in Phinney Ridge, and it was the first business of its kind to open when it debuted back in 1997. They also offer expert nail clipping, gland expression services, sanitary trims, deshedding treatments, and full-service bathing if you’re too busy to bathe your dog yourself.
A La Mode Pie: If you love pie, you’ll definitely want to make a trip to A La Mode Pie, across from the Woodland Park Zoo. They serve classic and seasonal pie varieties by the slice or whole pie, as well as morning quiche, petite pies, PieBabies, LolliPies, coffee, and homemade ice cream.
Chucks’s Hop Shop: With keg delivery, 50+ beers on tap, and daily rotating food trucks, Chuck’s Hop Shop is a truly unique gem of a bar in Phinney Ridge and Greenwood. They have a great outdoor seating space and the perfect atmosphere for hanging out and sampling some local, regional, and national brews. They also offer ciders, kombucha, root beer, and a couple of wines.
Yanni’s Greek Restaurant: Award-winning food and a welcoming ambiance make Yanni’s an excellent spot to get a delicious dinner. They have several delicious dips, including hummus and baba ghanoush, tasty appetizers such as vegetarian dolmathes and lamb lollipops, plus pita wraps, salads, and char-broiled skewers.
Oliver’s Twist: For creative cocktails and mouth-watering small plates, Oliver’s Twist offers a unique bar and lounge experience. There are several gluten-free and vegetarian options, and a variety of snacks, salads, and heartier dishes such as rigatoni Bolognese and bucatini carbonara.