West Seattle is something new to add to your itinerary. If you’ve spent some time in Seattle, you’ve likely seen the major sights, but beyond the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and the Seattle Art Museum there are many neighborhoods with their own distinct flavors. Adventurous travelers can get off the beaten path and spend a few days surrounded by local residents instead of fellow tourists, with West Seattle being one of the best. This hilly district is known for its shopping, history, and Alki Beach. If you’re looking for an area of Seattle that delivers a distinct small town feel, head out to West Seattle.
Many visitors to Seattle choose to rent a car, and then are plagued by expensive parking fees. This isn’t the case in West Seattle—parking here is free, and riding buses from downtown can be time-consuming, so many travelers find it simpler to drive here. In order to encourage shopping in the friendly local boutiques, this district did away with parking fees. Both residents and visitors appreciate this fact, and it makes spending a few hours here for a meal or shopping excursion very simple. Some local favorite shops include Carmilia’s, Funky Janes Consignment Shop, and Manashe & Sons Jewelers.
Dining is a whole separate reason to visit West Seattle. Strolling along these quaint streets you will likely be tempted by every restaurant and café. On a hot day, pick up an ice cream cone for your stroll from Husky Ice Cream. If you’re looking to sit down for a meal, some of the top options include Fresh Bistro and Bakery Nouveau. If you have a sweet tooth—or want to try some of that famous Seattle coffee—local cafés include Cupcake Royale, Red Cup Espresso, and Shoofly Pie Shop. You can also dine at waterfront restaurants such as Salty’s that have views across Elliott Bay to the Seattle skyline. If supporting local businesses when you travel is important to you, this is a great neighborhood to explore and enjoy a few meals or shopping.
On a summer day, Alki Beach is one of the biggest attractions in West Seattle. Located right on Puget Sound, Alki Beach offers a 2.5-mile pedestrian walkway that is ideal for a sunny stroll. While many of the beaches on Puget Sound are made of rocks and pebbles, here you will find real sand. On a summer day popular activities include volleyball and sunbathing. One popular way to reach this gorgeous beach is with a water taxi. For a few dollars each way you can enjoy a 12 minute ride across the bay to this beach. Other than local parks, this is one of the best places to get some fresh air in Seattle, and the views of the sunset are phenomenal.
History-lovers will definitely want to check out the Alki Beach Lighthouse. This historic attraction is one of eight lighthouses that are open to the public on Puget Sound. Tours are offered during most summer weekends. Other great neighborhood attractions in West Seattle include the West Seattle farmer’s market on Sunday mornings, the ArtsWest Gallery, and Easy Street Records. The independently owned shops and galleries are a huge contribution to the local character. Once you leave downtown Seattle, you will discover there is much more to see in this city than you might have imagined.
Image: Tim Thompson