The once-sleepyUniversity Villagewas renovated a few years ago into the best outdoor mall for shopping with kids in Seattle. Casually dressed moms wearing very good shoes wander the grounds with toddlers in tow. Upscale shops and restaurants line shaded sidewalks and fountain courtyards fitted with plenty of tables and benches for stopping. A popularoutdoor playgroundfor little kids sits at the center of the mall making this a great destination for families and stay-at-home moms.
Ample children's stores at the mall include Gap Kids and Baby Gap,Hanna Andersson,Kids' Club,Sole Food, and Village Maternity. Visitors can stop by story time atBarnes & Noble, or schedule the kids for a haircut atThe Hair Chair. APottery Barn Kidsis in full operation and children's furnishings storeThe Land of Nodhas been serving the area for years.
Significant adjacent anchors are the Seattle QFC flagship store, a largeSafeway, and anOffice Depot. In 1991, neighborhood activists initiated a campaign with the City to "daylight"Ravenna Creekthrough Ravenna Park to Lake Washington, but the segment from the park to theUniversity Of Washington or UW and theUnion Bay Natural Areawas successfully blocked by the owners of University Village.
Until the early 1990s, the character of University Village was decidedly different. Most of its businesses were small, and the chain stores were all local:Ernst Home & Nursery, Malmo Nurseries (acquired by Ernst),LamontsDepartment Store (acquired byGottschalks in 2000),Pay 'n SaveDrugs, andQFC - a grocery store. Many of the businesses began to falter toward the end of the 1980s, however, and in 1993 the owners of the mall decided to sell. The chairman of QFC and a partner bought it, and tenants such as those mentioned above began to move out. U-Village, as it is colloquially known, no longer has a hardware store, but features upscale national stores such asRestoration Hardware,Pottery Barn,Miller-Pollard,Banana Republic, andCrate & Barrelinstead (as well as related local specialty stores).
Family-friendly restaurants are scattered throughout the mall, including Atlas Foods, the always-reliable World Wrapps,Johnny Rockets, and Ben & Jerry'sice cream. No matter what the palette the mall has something for everyone, including food for the most finicky child.
Driving to the mall is convenient. From Interstate 5 travelers can take the exit at Highway 520 East, then at Montlake Boulevard. Turn left onto Montlake and cross the drawbridge. Continue forward through two traffic lights, passing Husky Stadium on the right. Follow Montlake until you see signs for 25th Avenue NE. Turn slightly left onto 25th and follow the signs to University Village. The area is servedby Metrobus routes. Parking is ample and free for all shoppers.