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A Local's Guide to Fremont, Seattle's Center of the Universe

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Take a tour of Seattle neighborhood Fremont through the eyes of a local

The People's Guide is Curbed Seattle's tour of neighborhoods, led by our most loyal readers, favorite bloggers, and other luminaries of our choosing. Check out our previous guide to South Lake Union. Have a piece to say about your 'hood? We'll be happy to hand over the megaphone. This time around, we welcome actor & singer/songwriter Lucy Kuznick to tell us in the ins and outs of her longtime home: Fremont.

How long have you lived in the neighborhood?

I moved here with my husband from Los Angeles in 2010. We had visited Seattle a couple times and actually only spent one day in Fremont, but we liked the vibe and when it came time to decide where to live, we saw a listing for a short-term rental in Fremont and went for it sight unseen. A bit risky but the risk paid off and we've loved living here ever since.

What's the neighborhood housing stock like?

The apartments are coming! The apartments are coming! Actually they're already here. We've had so many apartment buildings sprout up around the neighborhood in recent years. But it's still a mixture depending on where you are. "North Fremont" is more residential and full of houses, all of which have been rising in price just because of the way the market went. Down by the Center of the Universe, it's become a bit more grown up and that's where a lot of the new apartments have gone.

Better for buyers or renters?

It's so hard to find a place to buy I've got to say renters just because they have so many more options. Of course the renters are running into rising rents and lack of affordable places to rent so it's not all that great for them either. At least they have options, though.

Do you need a car to get around?

Not at all. You could probably walk the circumference of Fremont in two hours. If you're traveling from Fremont Bridge up towards Woodland Park Zoo, that's a 25-35 minute walk depending on your stamina. And same goes for going from Hale's Ales to Stone Way. It does make a lot of sense to have a bike in Fremont, though it's a lot more fun going downhill on Fremont Avenue than it is going uphill. Do that enough times and there's no hill in Seattle you'll have problems with. Bike parking is pretty plentiful as well whereas car parking can be a pain, especially on weekends.

Most reliable public transit?

The bus is pretty reliable and an easy option if you're going downtown. The 5 will get you there in about 20 minutes. The 44 is also an easy way to get to downtown Ballard or over to University District. It would have been awesome to hear that there would eventually be a light rail line running through Fremont but doesn't sound like it's going to happen. Oh well.

Nearest grocery store?

There's a PCC down by the bridge but I'm a sucker for Marketime. They recently got a remodel so it's really fancy inside now but it still has the charm of a small, neighborhood market where the people who work there recognize you and are happy to have a chat while you peruse the wine and beer. The selection covers all of the bases as well, making it a nice reason to go for a walk when you just need a couple things.

Good for kids?

Most of the time, absolutely. Most of Fremont is residential and so long as everyone is keeping an eye on the roads, it's a pretty safe place to run and play. Lots of green space and different parks where kids and families can hang out. Plus there's plenty of restaurants and other spots in town for families. I wouldn't say it's as kid-friendly as Wallingford or some of the other North Seattle neighborhoods but there's enough for sure.

Best place to get a coffee?

While I think the best cup of coffee in all of Seattle can probably be found at Milstead & Co., there is still nothing better than getting a coffee, grabbing a paper and finding a seat on the Fremont Coffee Company porch and relaxing in one of the comfy chairs on a sunny day. It's the ultimate people-watching spot and I'd probably spend every day hanging out there if I could.

Best park?

So many options. Fremont Canal Park is great but it feels less like a park and more like a waterfront hangout/walkway. The signs around B.F. Day Playground say no dogs are allowed but I always see people hanging out with their dogs there and no one ever tells them not to, so maybe I shouldn't have mentioned that. But my favorite spot has to be Fremont Peak Park. Sometimes I'll walk there just for the sake of it. It's always quiet (except maybe on the weekends) and the view is gorgeous. Great spot for writing, hanging out with friends or just being.

Beloved neighborhood joint?

Fremont's full of restaurants and hangouts that one might consider their "go-to." Down the hill, I'm sure plenty of people would tell you Fremont Brewing is a great spot to spend a lazy weekend day, or the perfect post-work hangout space. They've done a really nice job turning what was a glorified garage into a cool space.

Up the hill, there's two places that have surprisingly become great hangouts on nice days: Uneeda Burger and Pecado Bueno. Across the street from one another, the burger joint and taco place both have great outdoor areas where you can soak up the sun after soaking up the sauce that dripped off your meal. For those looking for something a bit fancier, Revel seems to have become the restaurant to be seen at, not to mention their food is fantastic.

If you're a music fan, Fremont is sneakily one of the best locales in Seattle. Nectar Lounge, High Dive, and Substation are just a few of the spots you can catch a new band or hip-hop act any given weekend. Or weekday.

Best-kept secret?

Fremont has some pretty awesome small bookstores that might not be secrets but certainly deserve more love. Ophelia's Books was one of the first places I hung out in when I moved here and it's a minor miracle it's still open. I love taking a walk down the twirling staircase to the lower level and just binging out on whatever I can find. Meanwhile, Book Larder seems like the kind of place that shouldn't exist tucked away in Fremont. It's a gorgeous store filled with nothing but food-related books. But they also have a kitchen station and host really cool guests like Top Chef's Gail Simmons and Ethan Stowell. I've walked by randomly on multiple occasions, looked in the window and had to do a double-take because a famous person was cooking pasta to a crowd.

Stereotypical residents?

Walk around Fremont during a weekday and you're probably going to run into a lot of tech workers and yoga enthusiasts. Take that same walk at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night and you're going to be inundated with young bar-hoppers and loud college students. Walk it again on Sunday and you'll be swarmed by kids and young couples.

Are the stereotypes true?

If there's one thing that I think Fremont needs to own up to it's that the people who live here in 2016 are not, for the most part, the wacky, quirky nuts that Fremont wants you to think they are. For the most part it's a fairly normal collection of families and young professionals. I think the counter-culture that helped Fremont thrive 20-30 years ago are still around but in smaller numbers. They've been priced out or pushed out, depending on who you as

Who wouldn't be happy here?

I can't imagine anyone looking for luxury living would do well in Fremont. While it's not the warehouse district it used to be and there are plenty of upscale dining options, it's still a very lived-in neighborhood. People ride their bikes naked here, you know?

Most common sight?

Cyclists and people with some sort of beverage in their hands, be it beer, wine, whiskey or coffee.

Woodland Park Zoo

5500 Phinney Avenue North, , WA 98103 Visit Website