Readers' Picks - Urban Living

Turf: Urban Living

Best Reason to Stay in Seattle

Maybe the recent bursts of midsummer sun have you mesmerized; or could it be you really have webbed feet? Whatever the reason, you said Seattle's WEATHER is what keeps you around. You also praised the area's beautiful scenery and friendly people.

Best Reason to Leave Seattle

According to you, the awful TRAFFIC is the best reason to leave town. The only problem: It'll take an hour just to get to the freeway. Another reason to make tracks: the weather—also, oddly, the Best Reason to Stay (see above).

Best Place to Pick Someone Up

"Wow, your eyes are as green as the lake!" Maybe it's lines like this that inspired you to choose GREEN LAKE as the best place to score a date. Might we also suggest, a bit later in the relationship: "Baby, my love for you is deeper than Green Lake"?

Best Place for a First Date

Apparently, local singles are flocking to the FERRIES in hopes of feeling some palpable first-date passion—you know, like Leo and Kate in Titanic.

Best Park

Check out that view! Look at those trails! DISCOVERY PARK is your ideal spot for strolling, playing Frisbee, picnicking, or just lazing around.3801 W. Government Way, 206- 386-4236,

Best Neighborhood to Live In

Do you hear that noise? It's the sound of die-hard BALLARD residents cheering about their victory over Capitol Hill. Whether or not you agree that it's the best place in town to live, you have to hand it to the former enclave of Scandinavian square-heads: Ballard now boasts charismatic boutiques, great restaurants, a healthy rockabilly scene, and the steadfast loyalty of its citizens.

Best Neighborhood to Visit

Situated on the water, perfect for people-watching, and home to an array of antique shops and eclectic restaurants—and, of course, the Troll, your choice for Best Public Artwork—FREMONT is clearly the neighborhood to visit.

Best Out-Of-Town Getaway

Forget going down to California for sand, sun, and margaritas. There's plenty of fun to be had across the border in VANCOUVER, B.C., a city with a wilder, later nightlife than Seattle, tons of good street food, plenty of beautiful parks, and even a beach or two. It's a much cheaper trip—and boy, are those Canadians friendly, eh?

Best Local Public School

Boasting 25 2005 National Merit Scholars, various language clubs and honor societies, a diverse student body, and state-class sports teams, GARFIELD HIGH SCHOOL scores an easy win. 400 23rd Ave., 206-252-2270,

Best Local Private School

One of the most ethnically, economically, and socially diverse independent schools in the region, HAPPY MEDIUM SCHOOL, a Central District preschool and elementary school that encourages critical thinking and social responsibility, shared top honors this year with Bill Gates' alma mater, LAKESIDE SCHOOL, the über-prep school whose mission these days is to help its students achieve "creative minds, healthy bodies, and ethical spirits." Happy Medium School, 620 20th Ave. S., 206-324-4847, Lakeside Upper School, 14050 First Ave. N.E., 206-368-3600; Lakeside Middle School, 13510 First Ave. N.E., 206-368-3630;

Best Activity To Do With Kids

Your kids like animals, and animals like your kids—although, honestly, they'd probably just like to eat your kids. In any case, WOODLAND PARK ZOO scored a repeat victory in this category. 5500 Phinney Ave. N., 206-684-4800,

Best Pilates Studio

Developed by an English boxer in the earlier part of the last century, Pilates is a method of exercise that builds strength of mind and body. Hopefully that clarifies things for those who responded: "What is that?"Fremont's MAYA WHOLE HEALTH STUDIO received the most votes from those who required no explanation. Founded two years ago, Maya offers a full range of Pilates classes, plus skin care, nutrition consultations, massage therapy, and acupuncture. 701 N. 36th St., 206-632-4900,

Best Day care

Not only has PIKE MARKET CHILD CARE AND PRESCHOOL earned national accreditation, it offers healthy meals using fresh ingredients from the Market and provides scholarships to 80 percent of its families, most of whom are low-income. 1501 Pike Place, #313, 206-625-0842,

Best Auto Mechanic

Who's the city's best mechanic? It's a broad question with, as we discovered, roughly a million different answers. The (slim) majority of you do agree that DOYLE'S AUTOMOTIVE in West Seattle is the best place to drag your wheels, particularly if they happen to not be working. 4607 37th Ave. S.W., 206-935-2600.

Best Pet Store

According to their ad slogan, Petco is "Where the pets go." Where you go, on the other hand, is MUD BAY (11 locations in Seattle and neighboring cities), where pet lovers can amply pamper their pooches and other furry friends. Various locations,

Best Furniture Store

For almost any budget—from first-year college student to yuppie couple—IKEA offers space-age furniture for every part of the house. 600 S.W. 43rd St., Renton, 425-656-2980,

Best Local Beach

Want soothing salt water, stunning downtown views, beach volleyball, condos, a mini Statue of Liberty, and lots of Rollerblading? Welcome to ALKI BEACH. 1702 Alki Ave. S.W., 206-684-4075,

Best Place of Worship

ST. MARK'S CATHEDRAL, massive and cool, is the perfect place for soul-searching—or listening to gorgeous Gregorian chant on Sunday nights. (The devout also voted St. Paul's United Church of Christ and St. James Cathedral second and third, respectively.) 1245 10th Ave., 206-323-0300,

Best Vintage Shop

Just when you're about to puke at the thought of yet another boring summer line from Abercrombie & Fitch, along comes Seattle's largest vintage shop, RED LIGHT, one of the few remaining places in town that consistently stock interesting clothing. Locations on Capitol Hill and in the University District offer clothes from the Victorian era through the present, plus funky costumes and accessories. 312 Broadway Ave. E., 206-329-2200; 4560 University Way N.E., 206-545-4044;

Best Boutique

A specialty shop that's as hip as the stuff it sells, OLIVINE ATELIER offers a compelling mix of the latest fashion must-haves, from designer clothes to hair jewelry. The staff is friendly, gives practical advice on what to wear, and will actually tell you (nicely) if that dress makes you look 10 pounds heavier.5344 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206-706-4188,

Best Hair Salon

Got the looks but don't got the cash? That's probably why you chose RUDY'S, where the attitude is punk, the stylists occasionally line-dance without warning, and a basic style cut is only $17. Various locations,

Best Massage Therapist

Wait 'til Toni gets her hands on you. TONI NATOLI, a graduate of Seattle's Brian Utting School of Massage, works magic with her fingers at her practice in Jackson Park, getting those knots out and leaving you sighing with relief. 1122 N.E. 130th St., 206-368-8263.

Best Place for Free Wi-Fi

Delicious coffee and free Internet access are the name of the game at ZOKA COFFEE (in Green Lake and University Village), your favorite place for no-cost Wi-Fi. Sit back, relax, and don't let all the spam get to you. 2200 N. 56th St., 206-545-4277; 2901 N.E. Blakeley St., 206-527-0990;

Best Place to Get Your Hands Dirty

According to you, the best hands-on activities happen IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD. Failing that, you recommend planting vegetables in a community P-Patch garden, building sand castles at Alki Beach, and doing . . . something or other at Golden Gardens.

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