Since the 1950s, the Seattle University Athletics program has been all over the collegiate athletic landscape, leaving their post as a vaunted member of the NCAA Div. I for the NAIA in the 1970s, where they stayed until the fall of 2002, when they entered the NCAA Div. II. Though the school’s history chronicles periods of turbulence, it also encompasses a laundry list of indelible athletes; basketball Hall of Fame inductee Elgin Baylor led the Redhawks to an NCAA Championship game in 1958, and tennis star Tom Gorman was twice selected as an NCAA All-American, paving the way to a pro career in which he attained a top-10 worldwide ranking. In its relatively brief time in the NCAA Div. II, the Redhawks have won two NCAA titles in men’s swimming and one men’s soccer championship, for which the team was awarded rights to the Seattle Space Needle.
Home to the state's largest freestanding bouldering island, New Jersey Rock Gym houses 12,000 square feet of vertical terrain to climb as well as 41 top roping stations. Armed with either day passes or membership, guests scamper up the gym's synthetic summits, hoping to ask questions of the learned ceiling light sequestered at the top of the mountain. While gear is included with some membership options, guests can opt to bring their own materials or rent the individual shoes ($5), harnesses ($4), or chalk bags ($2) they need from the pro shop. New Jersey Rock Gym offers a collection of educational course work in the vertical arts, teaching belay technique to beginners or advanced skills to adults. Children can also take advantage of youth climbing programs, mini camps, and birthday parties before retiring to private refreshment chambers to absorb bottles of electrolyte-infused refreshment. The nearby pro shop outfits climbers with name-brand gear for purchase, while a WiFi lounge transmits terabytes of data into nearby electronic devices or unsecured cyborg brains.
Chocolate lovers unite at the Northwest Chocolate Festival, an annual event dedicated not just to eating chocolate in its many forms, but to tracking its journey from cacao bean to confection. Visitors hone their expertise through seminars on trade equity and cacao farming, chocolate-making workshops led by confectioners, and tastings where palates learn to distinguish between milk chocolate and a chocolate bar clumsily forced inside a milk jug. A portion of the proceeds from the event benefits local nonprofits aligned with the festival’s mission. Recipients are announced yearly.
Five chandeliers light the historic 1914 McPherson Playhouse, whose staggered balconies face the gilt-framed stage where the Kaleidoscope performs most of its plays and holds all of its cast slumber parties. For almost 40 years, the theatre's artistic and technical staffers have enhanced classic plays, adaptations, and innovative new works with lush staging, rich storytelling, and modern themes to appeal to younger audiences.
At Wrench Bicycle Workshop, mechanical experts Buck and Greg help maintain patrons' eco-friendly commuting machines with a comprehensive list of bicycle services. The specialists call upon nearly 30 years of combined experience as they adjust brakes, true wheels, and clean drivetrain systems. The duo services, rebuilds, and repairs all types of cycles. They also host a loaner program, which equips riders with Scott Sub 30 bikes while their personal steeds are resting up and conspiring against neighborhood birds with Ben, the shop’s welcoming dog.
In 1987, indoor climbing was as unpopular in the Seattle area as breeding labradoodles. But Vertical World––a pioneer indoor climbing gym––introduced the city to the up-and-coming sport of rock climbing in a controlled environment. Since its inception, the gym has expanded to three other locations in Everett, Tacoma, and Redmond, the latter hosting eastside climbers for more than 20 years.
A team of experienced route creators challenges climbers with more than 200 bouldering, lead, or top-rope routes in a wide variety of difficulty levels. The gym hosts competitive youth teams that have gone on to national or world tournaments. The gym's staff of climbers and guides also leads outdoor excursions that build confidence and teach novices how to identify a rock wall in the wild.