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10 Fun & Best Things to Do in West Seattle, Washington

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If you’re visiting Seattle, Washington, you should spend some time in West Seattle. These are our favorite things to do in West Seattle.

West Seattle is a part of Seattle proper, but it’s more like a suburb of the larger city. It’s primarily residential, and few tourists even bother to check out this area, but it’s a great place to see and stay while visiting Emerald City.

10 Fun & Best Things to Do in West Seattle, Washington

Only about 80,000 Seattleites reside in this neighborhood. Its location on its separate peninsula, southwest of the busier downtown Seattle, makes it a great and quiet little getaway spot that’s a bit separated from all the action of the larger city itself, yet is close enough to offer easy access to everything you want to do.

West Seattle is laid-back and quieter than the big city, but this neighborhood still has many things to do. Alki Beach is a popular area that offers beautiful skyline views.

There’s also a commercial area – West Seattle Junction – full of shops, restaurants, and multiple great parks you’ll love. If you plan a trip to Seattle, don’t overlook West Seattle. You may even find it your favorite part of this great city. Read on to learn more about it.

West Seattle Tour
1. West Seattle Tour: A world away and a state of mind! Top Recommendation

West Seattle is a mere mile and a half from downtown, but since it's on the other side of Puget Sound, you'd hardly know it. On this tour, take a stroll along Alki Beach and admire views of the Olympic Mountains in the distance. Wind your way through charming residential areas and visit Schmitz Park. The highlight of this trip is a walk through Lincoln Park before ending at U Village, an eclectic neighborhood with some of the best restaurants and shops.

West Seattle Electric Bike Tour
2. West Seattle Electric Bike Tour

Take in the sights and sounds of West Seattle from a unique perspective. Get there on an electric bike, which will allow you to cover more ground than you could by walking or using public transportation. Your small group will travel back to downtown Seattle on a scenic ferry ride.

Seattle Neighborhoods 101 Tour
3. Seattle Neighborhoods 101 Tour: great for building a mental map of the city!

Discover the neighborhoods of Seattle! This tour will take you from Downtown to Beacon Hill and return, giving you a great overview of the city. The tour is approximately 2 hours long, but if you would like to visit different neighborhoods, please choose the private tour version of this tour and we can craft a personalized experience for your group!

TL;DR

Need that sweet, sweet info on where to go right flippin’ now? Here’s the scoop!

Things to Do in West Seattle, Washington

Alki Beach

Alki Beach on the Puget Sound in West Seattle
Image by Cherieblehm used under Pixabay License

Address: Alki Beach, Seattle, WA 98116, USA

The most popular and fun thing to do in West Seattle, for most people, is visiting Alki Beach. Although the water in Puget Sound is cold even in the summer, locals and visitors flock to Alki Beach to enjoy its views, walking and running paths, and other activities.

Many people from the neighborhood and even from other areas in and around Seattle come here to run on the trails and paths, go rollerblading, or enjoy the views of Bainbridge Island and boat traffic on the sound. There’s always something happening and something to do in this park.

There aren’t too many major cities in the United States with sand beaches for their residents and visitors to enjoy. West Seattle’s Alki Beach is certainly one of the northernmost American cities to offer this sort of perfect little slice of nature to its citizens.

In the summer, you’ll find people sunbathing and swimming here. Year-round, you’ll find dozens of people playing beach volleyball; some may be willing to let you join their game.

For those who want to get out on the water here, Alki Kayak Tours offers kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals, but you’ll need to book online before you go.

If you’ve never tried these sports, they offer beginner’s classes (and advanced ones, too, when you’re ready!). If you’d rather go out with a group, you can sign up for a guided kayak tour as well.

However, if active sports aren’t your thing, you can still enjoy Alki Beach. You can bring a picnic breakfast, lunch, or dinner and set it up at the picnic tables for a special meal you won’t soon forget. Beach bonfires are permitted, and you and your friends might also enjoy gathering around a fire for s’mores and great conversation. This beach park is open until 11:30 pm nightly.

Lincoln Park

Playground in Lincoln Park in Seattle
Lincoln Park / Seattle.gov

Address: 8011 Fauntleroy Wy SW, Seattle, WA 98136, USA

Lincoln Park offers even more opportunities to enjoy nature in Seattle and people from all over love this park. It’s south of Alki Beach so you won’t see the Seattle skyline from here, but you can look out on the water and across it to the Kitsap Peninsula.

This park is full of trails, playgrounds, and picnic areas, and you can spend time in the woods or enjoy a relaxing day on the park’s sandy beach if you prefer. One of the biggest and best attractions in Lincoln Park is the Colman Pool. It’s on the shore, so you can enjoy great Puget Sound views while swimming.

Colman Pool is a large, heated, saltwater pool that has a 10′ deep end and a waterslide, so it’s great for families, but keep in mind that anyone under the age of eighteen will have to pass a simple swim test before heading out into the deeper waters.

At the park’s north end, you might enjoy a walk in the park’s Driftwood Sculpture Park. There are a few permanent driftwood sculptures here and other temporary structures made by park visitors.

You’ll also likely find enough driftwood here to try constructing your own. This part of the park is quiet, serene, and popular with dog owners. Most clean up after their dogs, but also be aware and watch your step.

Alki Point Lighthouse

Address: 3201 Alki Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116, United States

There’s something beautiful and special about lighthouses that’s hard to put a finger on, but there are few people out there who don’t appreciate these structures and their important place in maritime history.

The Alki Point Lighthouse is on a point just south of Alki Beach and was built in 1913. It’s still active today and is a navigational aid for large ships and small boats traveling between Seattle and Tacoma or Olympia.

This lighthouse is rather small compared to other lighthouses, but it’s still worth a visit. Free tours are available in the summertime, and it’s a great subject and spot for photos year-round.

Hamilton Viewpoint Park

Hamilton Viewpoint Park
Image by Orange Suede Sofa used under Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Address: 1120 California Way SW, Seattle, WA 98116, United States

If you want a fantastic view of the Seattle skyline, including the Space Needle, this park is it. It’s an absolutely beautiful location that the whole family will love and you can spend an afternoon here just enjoying the view and watching boats go by.

It’s also great at sunset as the sun setting in the west reflects impressively off the skyscrapers of downtown Seattle. There’s lots of free parking and plenty of benches to relax on.

See Related: Washington Travel Guide

Schmitz Preserve Park

Address: 5551 SW Admiral Way, Seattle, WA 98116, United States

Yet another excellent park in West Seattle is Schmitz Preserve Park. Unlike the other parks listed here, this one is inland and in the middle of the neighborhood. You won’t know it when you’re there – this 53.1-acre park is full of old-growth forest.

There’s no official parking for this park so you’ll have to park on the street in the surrounding neighborhoods, but it shouldn’t be too challenging to find a spot.

Once you hike in a little bit, you’ll be amazed at the beauty of this park. It’s like a little piece of Olympic National Park right in Seattle, with gigantic old-growth conifers that are hundreds of years old.

Emma and Ferdinand Schmitz donated the land the park stands on in 1908; even then, the couple was concerned about how rapidly the Seattle area was developing, and they wanted to save a piece of it in its natural state for posterity.

In 1949, a “preservation policy” was enacted that called for the removal of all signs and structures within the park, so today, you can enjoy its 1.7 miles of foot trails with absolutely no distractions. Still, you might want to print a map to bring with you in advance so you don’t get lost.

Seattle Chinese Garden

Address: 6000 16th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106, United States

The Seattle Chinese Garden is something you absolutely should not miss. Not only is this 4.6-acre garden a celebration of the countless Chinese immigrants who have come to live in Seattle over the years, but it also offers beautiful landscaping and an incredible panoramic view of downtown Seattle and the Cascade Mountains that will take your breath away.

It’s at the north end of the South Seattle Community College campus and was built as a monument to the sister-city relationship forged in 1983 between Seattle and Chongqing, China.

This garden is open to the public, and even though it’s not a very large botanical garden, it’s one of the largest Chinese gardens outside of China, and you can get lost in it for hours, admiring all the plants, flowers, and water features within.

Admission is free, although donations are appreciated, and it’s open daily from dawn until dusk.

Alaska Junction (aka West Seattle Junction)

Address: California Ave SW at, SW Alaska St, Seattle, WA 98116, United States

Alaska Junction is a neighborhood within this neighborhood and is the hip and happening part of town. The junction referred to here is the crossing of Alaska St and California Ave, but for a few blocks in all directions from there, you’ll find cool shops and bars, and restaurants to fill your afternoon or weekend evening.

Easy Street Records will be a hit with any audiophiles at your party, and they’ll probably want to stop into Thunder Road Guitars as well.

The West Seattle Farmer’s Market is here too; it happens on Sundays from 10-2 all year and is full of local vendors offering their wares, which include many of the best organic and local products Washington state has to offer.

Almost every restaurant on this strip is well-rated, so you can take your pick. Still, you might enjoy Lady Jaye, which serves meats smoked on the establishment’s giant outdoor fire pit, or Talarico’s Pizza for some high-quality west coast pizza. Stop into A la Mode Pies on the corner of the junction for dessert – you won’t be sorry.

Brunch at Salty’s

Salty Seafood Fish and Chips in West Seattle

Address: 1936 Harbor Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98126, United States

Speaking of good food, people travel miles to Salty’s Waterfront Seafood Grill on Alki for weekend brunch. This is not your average brunch buffet, and you will leave this meal several pounds heavier than when you arrived. Salty’s is in the northwestern part of West Seattle and offers excellent views of Puget Sound, but you’ll probably be too focused on the food to care.

This brunch includes custom omelets, a salad bar, made-to-order pasta and crepes stations, meat carving stations, crab legs, a chocolate fountain, and more. Wear pants with an elastic waistband to this meal if you’re wise.

Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center

Address: 4705 W Marginal Way SW, Seattle, WA 98106, United States

If you’re interested in learning about the Native American history and culture in this area, then you’ll love this relatively new attraction. Chief Si’ahi, also known as Chief Sealth, Seattle’s namesake, was an influential leader for the Duwamish Tribe, and you’ll learn about him and his people during your visit here.

The longhouse is a traditional cedar post and beam building that you can enter and view, and there are tribe members on hand to answer your questions about the exhibits inside. There’s also a gift shop with native crafts and art; you’ll likely leave with a thing beautiful and memorable.

West Seattle Water Taxi

Water Taxi in Seattle
Image by Scottslm used under Pixabay License

Address: Seacrest Ferry Dock, Seattle, WA 98116, United States

Are you sick and tired of watching the boats on Puget Sound go by while you stand stationary on the shore? Countless charter boats you can take out on the water, but none are as affordable as this water taxi that runs between West Seattle and downtown.

It’s only a ten-minute ride, but the views are unique, and you can walk around downtown a bit before hopping back on to ride around. It’s only $5.75 each way, and it runs over a dozen times every day of the year except on major holidays when it doesn’t run at all.

How to Get Around Settle

Skyline view from West Seattle

It’s easy to get around Seattle and particularly West Seattle. Much of this neighborhood is walkable, but you’ll encounter hilly areas like the rest of Seattle. You can also rent bikes; most bike rental companies in West Seattle are in the Alki Beach area.

But most people travel by car in West Seattle, and you’ll be happy to find relatively easy parking anywhere you want. If you’re flying into the area, you can easily rent a car at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport from multiple providers using RentalCars.com.

Since West Seattle is part of a major city, you can also travel by Uber, Lyft, or other ride-sharing services without waiting too long for pickup. Taxis also service this area, but since it’s a bit out of the way from downtown Seattle, call well in advance if you need one; you may have to wait quite a while, especially at busy times or late at night.

You can get to West Seattle from downtown Seattle by bus on the RapidRide C Line, but you can’t use it to get around within West Seattle; there are only a few stops in this neighborhood. You can also get to West Seattle from the city center via water taxi (mentioned above), which is much quicker and easier.

FAQ

What is the best time of year to visit West Seattle?

West Seattle is lovely year-round, as is the rest of Seattle; the Pacific Northwest does not get much snow, and it’s comfortable for tourism regardless of the season. But the best time to visit West Seattle is in the summertime, as you’ll get the most enjoyment out of Alki Beach and the other parks mentioned above when the sun is shining and it’s warmer outside.

How far is West Seattle from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport?

Most points in West Seattle are around twenty to thirty minutes to the airport with no traffic, but Seattle has plenty of traffic, so watch your timing. The Kings County International Airport is even closer, just fifteen minutes away on a perfect day.

How far is West Seattle from the Seattle city center?

Although you can see Seattle’s downtown from many places in West Seattle, it can be harder to reach than you might think. If you’re driving, your trip might take thirty minutes or more, depending on traffic. In most cases, you’re better off taking the water taxi, which takes only ten minutes – it’s an excellent choice if you want to explore Pikes Place Market and other popular tourist attractions because you won’t have to worry about finding parking.

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