Whenever I ask people if they've been to Fremont Peak Park, the answer is usually "Where?" and then "No." Some of my neighbors in Fremont didn't even know about it and we lived blocks away from it. I know secrecy can be a good thing, but it makes me sad. This is one of Seattle's best parks! I'd argue it's the best.
The unique park sits on Fremont's ridge and is roughly the size of a home, because it's on property that originally belonged to a man named Tony Murphy. When Murphy decided to sell the property in the early 2000s, the neighborhood suggested the property become a public park. After $2 million in fundraising, the park, designed by landscape architects from the Seattle firm GGLO, was completed in 2007.
Paid for by Committee to Reelect Judge North, P.O. Box 27113, Seattle, WA 98165
The move democratized one of the city's best views. Now that the land is owned by the City of Seattle, the whole public gets a view once kept private by a homeowner.
I recently revisited Fremont Peak Park—I'd visit practically every day when I lived in the area—and decided to sweeten the trip by swinging by a neighborhood favorite, the Phinney Ridge cocktail bar Oliver's Twist. I picked up one of their cocktails:
Since my trip was outdoors, I went for something light and easy: their popular Bull's Eye, a drink that's made for drinking in the sun. Oliver's Twist's take on the cocktail includes 100% agave blanco tequila, house-made ginger juice, Aperol, lemon juice, and a healthy dose of mint. While it's usually served in a highball glass, it's now served in a to-go mason jar alongside a bottle of Reed's ginger brew.
Here's that brew:
They suggest you add ice to the drink, but I was on a walk so I didn't have any. That was fine. When it was all blended, it looked like amber in the sun:
Even though it's served in separate little containers, the drink was carefully made by longtime Oliver's Twist bartender-cum-owner Karuna Long, who was one of our 2018 Seattle's Favorite Bartenders, nominated by his neighborhood. He told The Stranger he's been bartending since 2004 and loves when he gets to see "regulars become good friends."
During this pandemic summer, Oliver's Twist has contemplated outside dining and made a big shift to serving food. Instead of just "selling bacon-stuffed dates," Long told Eater that he's started serving Cambodian food. The pivot has been a hit, and he says he enjoys having the opportunity “to have [a] dialogue with a lot of our regulars, with a lot of my close friends that still are learning what Cambodian food is.”
I ended up grabbing a twa-ko, a type of fermented sausage, for my walk. I know that eating a meat stick while going on a long walk sounds a little weird, but hot meat and a little coconut water is my walk snack of choice. I'm not apologizing for my taste.
This particular meat stick was incredible. Spongy, chewy, and wrapped in tin foil, twa-ko would pair perfectly with a beer. If someone invited me to a socially-distant BBQ, I'd bring a six-pack and six of these sausages to share.
The person I was with took a bite and said, "This tastes like someone cares about me." That was it.
They do seem to care about you. When I was waiting outside for my cocktail and sausage to be ready, workers at Oliver's Twist came out and started giving people free waters and ginger beers. It was sweet and beat the heat.
There are two main parts to Fremont Peak Park, a "woodland" area and a "meadow" area. And when you first enter, you encounter a moon terrace. It feels appropriately witchy for Fremont:
Once you pass the entrance, you wander into the meadow. This part is a square grassy area that's hemmed in by cement blocks that suggest where the house used to exist. It gives a sense that you're walking through a home. You can feel ghosts, especially if you're tipsy.
Beyond the meadow, you enter the woodland area, which is brief but offers a quick and proper tree bathing. And then, the lawn. It's just spectacular. One of the brightest views in Seattle. You can see Ballard, the shipyards, the Olympic Mountains, even the water tower of Magnolia. It's very quiet. You can hear birds. There are scattered flowers.
Friends of Fremont Peak Park say that the sundial on the park's lawn will explain "where the sun will set at each solstice" if you "stand at the center." I've never really understood this part, but the spheres are nice seats.
My visits to Fremont Peak Park are never very long, but even a few-minute trip is enough to remind me why I love living in Seattle.
Bringing along something sweet helps the buzz.