Book Buzz: 111 Places in Seattle That You Must Not Miss

111 Places in Seattle That You Must Not Miss by Harriet Baskas

February and March can be challenging months here in the Pacific Northwest. Snow is on the ground as I write this, the temperature is freezing and it will be dark in a few hours. It’s a time when PNWers fantasize about trips to warmer climes, being able to hike in the mountains again or enjoy a sunset kayak on the bay.

In the midst of this annual winter doldrums feeling I came across Harriet Baskas’ new book, “111 Places in Seattle That You Must Not Miss,” with photographs by Cortney Kelley.

Baskas, a Seattleite, is a freelance writer with quirky interests who self-describes as being “happiest in an airport or unusual museum.” Her books include “Washington Curiosities and Hidden Treasures: What Museums Can’t Or Won’t Show You,” and she is an online contributor to USA Today, NBC News, CNBC and other news outlets.

In her work, Baskas delights in uncovering little-known wonders and eccentricities. For the Oregon Historical Society, she interviewed Ollie Osborn, a talented PNW cowgirl and rodeo bronc rider between 1913–32. Research for “Hidden Treasures” took her into the back rooms of museums, where she discovered a fruitcake made in 1878, a piece of wedding cake from the wedding of Tom Thumb to Lavinia Warren in 1863, and a doughnut made in 1873 by a woman who later died in childbirth and her family, unable in their grief to eat the last doughnut made by their mother, handed it down from generation to generation.

Given her skill at finding off-the-beaten-path treasures, I expect that even longtime PNW residents quite familiar with Seattle and environs will be surprised by the local gems Baskas divulges in “111 Places in Seattle.” True crime podcast addicts will want to visit the shop of strange collectibles that includes a special collection of serial killers’ mementos, and may want to consider a picnic to the Green Lake murder site as part of the experience.

Baskas reveals a place where you can pay to use a variety of tools (provided) to break and smash things (and they clean up the mess). Or how about a monthly fireside Silent Reading Party event that has been going on since 2009? And a food hall where you can experience a rotating selection of regional cuisines, at the same time supporting women of color who are recent immigrants to the U.S. trying to get started in the food industry?

If these pique your curiosity, use the maps at the back of “111 Places” to pick several nearby locations and plan an adventure to break up the winter blahs.

As an example, park at Lake Union and head around the south end of the lake on foot. On the east side of the lake, look for a plaque in the Roanoke Street mini-park commemorating the site where Boeing launched its first airplane in 1916. For a little more exercise, take a slight detour to the Howe Street Stairs, Seattle’s longest stairway, and be sure to check out the Streissguth Garden as you climb — it’s a one-acre public garden area founded by two neighbors who fell in love.

Continue to Lake Union’s north shore and refuel at Ivar’s Salmon House Whalemaker Lounge; while enjoying the view, see if you can spot the houseboat that starred in “Sleepless in Seattle” and try to find the whale “oosiks” (penis bones) tucked in among the liquor bottles on the bar. Hot Tub Boats on the northwest shore of the lake provides a perfect finish to the day (and balm for your muscles after the long walk) with a leisurely tour around Lake Union in a private hot tub boat “magically engineered for buoyancy” and capable of traveling at speeds up to 5 mph.

“111 Places” is actually a travel guidebook series focusing on revealing best-kept city secrets to help readers “find the hidden places, stories, shops and neighborhoods that unlock a destination’s true character, history and flavor.” The series covers dozens of places around the world, including Vancouver, British Columbia, Whistler, Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco. Happy exploring!

Lisa Gresham is the collection services manager for Whatcom County Library System. Visit to reserve a copy of “111 Places in Seattle That You Must Not Miss” and to learn more about The Power of Sharing at the library.

(Originally published in Cascadia Daily News, Saturday, February 18, 2023.)