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Why We Picked It

Seattle’s largest contingent of observant Jews lives along the banks of Lake Washington as part of an ever-changing cultural tapestry in the South End. One of the most diverse zip codes in the country, Seattle’s 98118 is an enclave that also holds young families and recent immigrants. On offer: semi-affordable housing, light-rail, five synagogues, and an eruv that extends from the shoreline on the east up to Martin Luther King Jr. Way on the west. Seward Park-Lakewood marks the residential Jewish center, while nearby Columbia City — spilling down Rainier Avenue into Hillman City — is a hub of arts, ethnic restaurants, neighborhood bars, and small businesses run by people as enthusiastic about the area’s improvement as its history and diversity. Average home value range: $392,900–720,000

Best-Kept Secret

Affordable Housing

“I think in the next few years there will be more and more people moving into the Seward Park community and settling on the ‘other’ side of Rainier, where there is a larger inventory of housing,” says Seward Park resident Tzippy Wiens.

Best Park

Seward Park

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“It’s impossible to walk the lower loop without running into someone you know,” says Tzippy Wiens. Beyond the social (and fitness) aspect, the Audubon center at the park offers owl prowls, bat walks, summer camp, birdwatching, and opportunities to participate in citizen science. If you’re not jogging “the loop,” bring a picnic and take in the view of Mount Rainier. If it’s warm, jump right into the lake. 5902 Lake Washington Blvd. S

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Best Theater

Columbia City Theater

A historic building, a room built for great sound, and an eclectic schedule of performances make this theater a treasured part of local culture. Music, movies, karaoke, and burlesque all rotate through the theater, which has hosted Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Macklemore, and even Jimi Hendrix. You never know: maybe the performer you see today will go on to join those big names. 4916 Rainier Ave. S

5 of Rainier Ave's Best Coffee Shops

Tin Umbrella

This local, woman-owned startupbrings innovative ideas to the coffee business from her neighborhood shop. 5600 Rainier Ave. S 

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Tutta Bella

Oh, you thought it was a pizza place? We’ve got two words for you: Nutella latté. 4918 Rainier Ave. S

Empire Espresso

Columbia City’s own third-wave coffee shop brews Kuma coffee via aeropress or French press, and pulls some beautiful latté art. (Is that a swan in your cup?) 3829A S Edmunds St.

Café Avole

Slow down and sit for a while with a friend and a jebena, a traditional Ethiopian coffee pot. 6630 Rainier Ave. S

Beach Bakery

Try the spicy, organic Cascadia chai — and a pistachio-tahini bar. 7820 Rainier Ave. S

Best Places to Meet Other Jews

Columbia City Farmers Market

For the best produce — and a good chance of running into neighbors — these Wednesday-evening markets make for wholesome shopping and many a neighborly picnic dinner. Wednesdays, 3-7 p.m., May–October. Edmunds St. S at Rainier Ave.

Seward Park Avenue on Shabbat

Like a social hall for local Jews, the neighborhood’s main street comes to life on Saturdays as families dressed in their finest stroll to and from Shabbat services, greeting friends and neighbors along the way.

Third Place Books

The newest location of this local mini-chain of bookstores has already become a central part of the neighborhood, and there’s no better time to check it out than during PJ Library’s Song & Story time on Fridays at 10 a.m. Locals also frequent the bookstore’s family-friendly café, restaurant, and bar, which serves kosher wine. 5041 Wilson Ave. S

Synagogues & Jewish Resources

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