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Neighborhood Spotlight: Ravenna

From bookstores to brew pubs, playgrounds to a hidden bridge, Ravenna is worth a look

Sharon Mead headshot

Published on: March 29, 2024

Bridge crossing Ravenna Creek in Ravenna park
Ravenna Bridge crossing the Creek in Ravenna park

Just north of the University of Washington, you’ll find Ravenna, a cozy Northeast Seattle neighborhood and one of Seattle’s hidden gems. Originally developed in 1890, Ravenna has grown into a quiet but worthwhile destination for families in search of outdoor activities, fabulous food and noteworthy landmarks. It’s also the home of holiday sensation Candy Cane Lane, a popular, community-coordinated Christmas light display along N.E. Park Road that’s been running every December since 1949.

Only the locals know ...

Just off 20th Avenue N.E. stands the Ravenna Park Bridge. Built in 1913, it rises 40 feet into the air and is the oldest of only two steel lattice-arched spans in the city. Closed to motorized traffic in 1975, the bridge is adjacent to the historic Ravenna Boulevard and is accessible only by foot. Ravenna Creek runs under the bridge, through the park’s ravine and within a forest of old-growth trees that were preserved as part of the original neighborhood.


There’s more than one place families should play in Ravenna. Ravenna Park is a worthy urban hiking destination. Gravel trails wind through the forested 70-acre park and can accommodate strollers and bikes, and are also ideal for walking; the half-mile loop takes about an hour to complete. Within Ravenna Park, you’ll also find a playground, wading pool, picnic areas, ball fields and tennis courts, as well as another playground in Cowen Park, at the west end of the nature reserve.

Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center is also worth the stop. Attached to Ravenna Elementary School, this community center offers a large outdoor playground with options for older and younger kids, swings (including a tire swing), plus basketball and tennis courts. A curvy climbing structure, with its otherworldy design, is sure to challenge young climbers. The adjacent ball field doubles as a dog exercise area, so bring your pup along to play.

"The main trail between Cowen and Ravenna parks. Photo credit: Jennifer Johnson"
The main trail between Cowen and Ravenna parks. Photo credit: Jennifer Johnson

Eats + treats

When you are ready to refuel, stop in at Third Place Books on N.E. 65th Street. Its delightful kids’ book section and small children’s indoor play area are a hit in any season. Plus, Cafe Arta’s welcoming space means you can stay a while longer to enjoy a coffee or meal, and its outdoor seating is a bonus on warmer days.

Another notable stop along N.E. 65th is Bagel Oasis, where New York–style bagels have been a staple since 1988. Try one of its specialty sandwiches, an omelet or a cream-cheese-schmeared bagel. The sun-dried tomato with basil cream cheese is our favorite!

"Bagel Oasis plain bagel Ravenna neighborhood things to do"
Enjoy a perfect plain bagel at Bagel Oasis. Photo credit: Kathryn Mueller

Or pop into Zary Bakery next door, where the crew turns out delicious, unique French pastries, such as the Top Tart — the flakiest jam-filled toaster tart you’ll ever taste — or the stunning green-striped pistachio croissant. There is a variety of other baked goods and cafe drinks that are bound to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.

A little farther east on 65th, past 25th Avenue N.E., you’ll arrive at the Bryant Corner Cafe & Bakery. Locals order the French toast for breakfast or stop by later in the day to enjoy family-friendly dinner options — even meatloaf! This former corner drugstore, which the cafe’s owner frequented as a youth, is a neighborhood treasure.

Over on Ravenna Boulevard, stop by the Seven Market & Cafe, a small family-owned coffee roaster, market and cafe, to find Hawaiian coffees and signature coffee-bean blends. There’s even a Candy Cane Lane holiday blend that honors the neighborhood. Seven is housed in what was once a 1922 grocery, and it now operates as a zero-waste establishment.

And according to the neighbors …

Kid-friendly dining that parents can also enjoy does exist! To find it, point your GPS to Ravenna Brewery — its brews on tap and daily food trucks (two on Saturdays) keep it interesting.

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