Madrona Business Spotlight: Switchback Travel

switchbackSwitchback Travel occupies a quiet corner on 34th Avenue and Pike Street in Madrona, but visit the travel company’s website and find yourself among fjords in Norway, glacier-blue lakes in Patagonia, and looking out over jaw-dropping vistas from the peaks of the North Cascades in our own backyard. An underlying theme of adventure threads throughout Switchback’s catalogue of detailed travel guides, focusing on where to hike, ski, climb and more in locations as varied as the well-tracked American West to Tierra del Fuego in the southernmost reaches of Argentina. Not only that, but the site’s extensive selection of product and gear reviews ensure you’ll know which tents will keep you dry, which shoes will hold up on your trek, and which camera to capture it all with.

Switchback founder David Wilkinson set out to create an online destination for travel guides that don’t follow the traditional guidebook formula, and prioritizes quality and length of content over quantity. “We aim for articles that are longer than the norm, have writing that is more polished, and are written by people that truly are experts in the field. Instead of publishing articles as fast as we can, we try to make sure they are written and designed the right way,” Wilkinson wrote in an e-mail. For example, readers can follow contributor and accomplished climber Chris Kalman up and down the peaks of the Andes in the Cochamó Valley in Chile through his three-part journal, or read about photographer Cody Duncan’s personal journey to the Lofoten Islands in Norway.

The site is easy to navigate and every page brings one stunning photograph after another, which was part of Switchback’s design strategy. Wilkinson says, “I was always someone who grabbed a travel guidebook and went straight for the photographs in the middle, so photography and good user experience both were big priorities.” There is also only one ad per page, which is a refreshing departure from travel sites running endless ads for car rentals and hotels.

Although the site, which was founded in 2011, now has a global reach (a third of its readers are in Europe), Wilkinson says he is enjoying the office’s tucked away location in Madrona. The neighborhood was the first place he visited in Seattle, and he says “There is a lot more in terms of business here than most people realize, with start-ups, design studios, small businesses, etc. Madrona is a vibrant community and I’m happy to be a part of it.” So, give the Switchback crew a wave when you’re in the neighborhood, and visit the site for endless travel inspiration!

New Pop Up Shop in Madrona

Pop Up Madrona

Photo by Pop Up Madrona

If you’ve already been browsing for Christmas presents in Madrona, you may have noticed the new storefront on 34th Ave, POP UP MADRONA. They recently had a casual opening last Wednesday, and offer artcycled jewelry, accent pillows by South End Design, and fun women’s fashion items. The shop also has unique and fun notepads, handmade cards and prints by Mary Margaret Briggs, and women’s clothing and accessories by Lysle  Style (I love the scooped neck dress!).

Their hours will be Wed-Sat 11-6, and Sun 10-5, and their grand opening celebration will be during the Madrona Artwalk this Saturday Dec 14th. They will also be open Dec 23rd from 11-6 and Dec 24th from 11-3 for all you last minute shoppers searching for the perfect gift! For more information on the shop, visit Pop Up Madrona on Facebook.

Support Madrona Blossoms

This is the 8th year of the Madrona Blossoms program, which hangs the beautiful flower baskets in the Madrona business district each spring and its a wonderful time of year to give back to the community. These gorgeous baskets brought color and life to the neighborhood last spring, summer and fall and this year the Madrona Blossom’s committee has a new goal to keep the baskets in bloom nearly year round, with hanging flower baskets from May – October! madrona blossoms

The Madrona Blossoms are made possible by the support of the neighborhood, and cost $275 annually per basket to plant and maintain, so consider giving the gift of a basket or two to the community this holiday season, or even pool together with a group of friends and neighbors to sponsor a basket. Your donations helps beautify the neighborhood each year, and if you didn’t receive the Madrona News issue this month (which included an envelope to mail in your donation) you can call 206-323-6128 for more information. If you’re interested in volunteering with planting/maintaining the baskets this year, email Marie Doyle at

Madrona Blossoms Are Up!

madrona blossomsMadrona Blossoms went up this past Mayfair weekend, and are now a lovely addition to the streets of the Madrona business district.

These baskets are made possible by the Madrona Community Council, and take a year to grow and water throughout the summertime, and they look quite nice and full this year! If you’re around this Memorial Day weekend, head on over to Molly Moon’s for a scoop, and check out the baskets. madrona blossoms