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Originally published May 10, 2013 at 10:25 AM | Page modified June 21, 2013 at 11:45 AM

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Editor’s note: If you want a bit of retail therapy, along with fun places to walk and have a snack or meal, head to one of these distinctive shopping districts.

Summer shopping safaris all over town

If you want a bit of retail therapy, along with fun places to walk and have a snack or meal, head to one of these distinctive shopping districts.

Special to The Seattle Times

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Capitol Hill

There’s a bohemian feel to this hip, vibrant urban area that’s home to students, families and young professionals.

Bordered by Madison, Pine and Broadway streets, its “Pike Pine Triangle” encompasses a 15-block area just east of Seattle’s downtown core.

The pulse picks up at night, but daytime brings a relaxed atmosphere to the area. Its old-fashioned brick and wood-frame buildings house some 30 shops, nearly 50 restaurants and bars, 15 coffee houses and a dozen galleries and theatres.

Shop around

The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle’s iconic independent bookstore, founded 40 years ago in downtown’s historic Pioneer Square, moved to Capitol Hill in 2010. This airy, wood-floored store has tens of thousands of titles for endless browsing plus regular book-readings and a cafe. 1521 10th Ave.; 206-624-6600, elliottbaybook.com.

Retail Therapy, a small retail store and gallery, says it has “things that make you feel good” and its selection of earrings, artwork, greeting cards and women’s clothing likely will do just that. 905 E. Pike St.; 206-324-4092, Ineedretailtherapy.com.

Retrofit Home sells everything from custom furniture, rugs and wall hangings to candles, ceramics, glass, greeting cards and bags — even trays in which to make artistically shaped ice cubes. 1103 E. Pike St.; 206-568-4663, retrofithome.com.

Refuel

Oddfellows Café + Bar is a popular spot, day and night. Housed in the 1908 Odd Fellows Hall, the eatery’s old photos and memorabilia mixed with salvaged and recycled fixtures and furnishings give it a vintage ambience. Try the Ploughman’s Lunch (cheese, Serrano ham, pickles and a baguette). 1525 10th Ave.; 206-325-0807, oddfellowscafe.com

More info: pikepinetriangle.com

Downtown Seattle

The compact retail core of downtown Seattle is where big-city elegance meets Pacific Northwest casual. Fleece and flannel mix with suits and stilettos on wide sidewalks that edge century-old architectural gems and modern high-rises.

The pedestrian-friendly retail core is an area loosely bordered by First and Sixth avenues, between Westlake Center to the north and Seneca Street to the south. Westlake Center, packed with shops and eateries, is flanked by two longtime Seattle favorites, the Nordstrom and Macy’s department stores. In the surrounding blocks are international and national retailers, mixed with small high-end boutiques, one-of-a-kind stores and the upscale Pacific Place shopping center, with 50 stores, eateries and a multi-screen movie theater. A few blocks farther south, Rainier Square offers more dining and retail options.

More than a dozen hotels are located in or near the area; some house designer shops, eateries and specialty stores at street level. Hunger- and thirst-quenchers are found throughout the area in casual soup-and-sandwich cafes, coffee shops, wine bars, pubs, food trucks and fine-dining restaurants.

Shop around

Nordstrom, the flagship store of this high-end men’s and women’s apparel and accessories chain, began in 1901 as a Seattle shoe store. 500 Pine St.; 206-628-2111, nordstrom.com

Made in Washington stocks local gifts and souvenirs, from chocolate-covered cherries to tea, glass art and paintings, coffee-table and children’s books. The Seattle rain globe is a fun version of the old snow globes. Westlake Center, 400 Pine St.; 206-623-9753, madeinwashington.com

Ward & Co. has grooming products and accessories for men including shaving brushes, razors (double- and single-edged) and creams. Rainier Square, 1304 Fourth Ave.; 206-971-0951, wardmensgrooming.com

Refuel

Lines can be long at times for ice cream from Gelatiamo, an Italian-style gelateria. About 16 rotating flavors of gelato compete with temptations in the pastry and dessert case. Try an espresso, too. 1400 Third Ave.; 206-467-9563, gelatiamo.com

More info: downtownseattle.com

Ballard

Overlooking Salmon Bay, this northwest Seattle neighborhood proudly shows its more than century-old Scandinavian heritage and offbeat modern mood. Once home to lumber and shingle mills, its commercial district developed along Ballard Avenue, a block away from the ship canal that leads to Puget Sound.

Ballard Avenue continues to be a lively, pedestrian-friendly, commercial hub. The vintage brick buildings are packed with cafes and ethnic restaurants, pubs, live-music bars and quirky retail stores selling everything from clothing to home furnishings. The street also hosts the Ballard Farmers Market (year-round on Sundays). Ballard’s busy commercial district also stretches along Northwest Market Street, a bustling stretch of restaurants, cafes and shops.

Shop around

Lucca Great Finds is patterned after stylish Parisian gift shops of the early 20th century. Its dark walls and chandeliers create an evocative setting for handmade papers and greeting cards, jewelry, candles, garden adornments, coffee-table books and more. 5332 Ballard Ave. N.W.; 206-782-7337, luccagreatfinds.com

Second Ascent is packed with outdoors equipment, both used and new, from clothing and gadgets to hiking, backpacking, skiing and cycling gear. 5209 Ballard Ave. N.W.; 206-545-8810, secondascent.com

Re-Soul has been offering stylish shoes, including some imported and handcrafted shoes, for a decade. Check out their bags, wallets, belts, socks and jewelry, too. 5319 Ballard Ave. N.W.; 206-789-7312, resoul.com

Refuel

At Fresh Flours, try the macaroons, infused with green tea, or the black sesame cookies produced in this Japanese-influenced bakery and coffee shop. Its indoor tables fill fast at noon and lines form early. 5313 Ballard Ave. N.W.; 206-706-3338, freshfloursseattle.com

More info: inballard.com

Kirkland

There’s a small-town feel in the heart of this Seattle suburb, on Lake Washington’s eastern shore. Its retail area, which edges the city’s marina and parkland, mixes midcentury low-rise and multistory modern residential buildings.

Clothing boutiques, art galleries, decorator and other specialty stores are intermixed with eateries that range from coffee shops to upscale restaurants. Follow a pedestrian- and dog-friendly scenic route south along Lake Washington Boulevard past the city’s half-dozen waterfront parks (don’t miss the outdoor sculptures or views of the Olympic Mountains) to Carillon Point, home to a hotel, small shops and places to eat.

Shop around

The Grape Choice has a large selection of domestic and imported wines displayed on custom shelves (made by the owner), and the store is a favorite gathering place for locals. In its small tasting bar you can buy wine to drink at inside tables or on the patio. You may be greeted by the owner’s two golden retrievers at this dog-friendly establishment. 9 Lakeshore Plaza. 425-827-7551, thegrapechoice.com

Eastside Trains is train heaven. It sells model trains, tracks and accessories; train videos, train books and magazines and even boxed cookies in the shape of trains. The shop is housed in a building that resembles a train station. 217 Central Way. 425-828-4098, eastsidetrains.com

At Hannigan Adams Jewelers the small showroom is filled with custom pieces created by the owners/designers/artists/goldsmiths, Frank Hannigan and Beth Adams, whose workshop is in the back. Gold, platinum, silver, gemstones — describe it and they will create it. Or simply select one of their already-made pieces. 1260 Carillon Point. 425-889-9450, hanniganadams.com

Refuel

The French Bakery entices with French pastries, beverages and breads, including a half-dozen types of croissants, baguettes and a cinnamon-apple-raisin loaf. 219 Kirkland Ave.; 425-898-4510, thefrenchbakery.com

More info: explorekirkland.com

Fremont

With a massive sculpture of a troll under the Aurora Bridge, an imposing statue of Vladimir Lenin, and a slogan declaring Fremont “The Center of the Universe” (with a directional sign to prove it), this is a fun-loving, quirky neighborhood about a 10-minute drive (or 15-minute bus ride) north of downtown. It’s home to a chocolate factory, one-of-a-kind small shops and restaurants, and a lively nightlife scene. There’s also a year-round Sunday street market and, every June, a wacky annual Solstice Parade (locally famous for its naked bicyclists).

Shop around

The Theo chocolate factory and retail store offers free samples and a popular factory tour ($6, reserve in advance). It bills itself as the first organic and fair-trade chocolate maker in the U.S. Take home some chocolates, including a kit to pair chocolates with beers or wines. 3400 Phinney Ave. N.; 206-632-5100, theochocolate.com

Les Amis is a high-end women’s clothing store housed in what looks like a rustic French countryside cottage, with a wisteria vine and flowers at its front door. 3420 Evanston Ave. N.; 206-632-2877.

Portage Bay Goods is reminiscent of an old five-and-dime store, although the merchandise is funkier. Find greeting cards, personal journals, jewelry, cards, crafts, toys and games. 621 N. 35th St.; 206-547-5221, portagebaygoods.com

Refuel

Wine Tea Chocolate, a relative newcomer to Fremont, is a combination wine bar, tea house, coffee shop and chocolate cafe. Small plates include breakfast items, soups, salads, wraps and pastries. Try the signature grilled white-cheddar cheese and fig sandwich on sourdough bread and served with fig jam. 3417 Evanston Ave. N., No. 102. 206-402-5492, wineteachocolate.com

More info: fremontseattle.com

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