West Seattle is an often overlooked area of Seattle that offers one of the few destination beaches on the Puget Sound. Alki Beach has a two and a half mile long pedestrian walkway and provides a popular hang-out for sun worshipers, beachcombers, and volleyball players. Most of the beaches on Puget Sound are covered in rocks and rough terrain, but on Alki Beach, visitors can walk in the sand, get some exercise, learn about Seattle's earliest settlers, and take in a great view of the city's skyline.
Alki Beach can be easily reached by car via the West Seattle Bridge. From downtown Seattle, travelers follow the signs onto Interstate 5. Take the exit for West Seattle and once across the bridge, turn right onto Harbor Ave SW. This will lead around the tip of Duwamish Head, and onto Alki Point. Parking can be complicated on the weekends, but street parking not too far from the main strip along Alki Avenue SW is available. During the summer, leave the car behind and take Metro's water taxi. The taxi leaves from locations between piers 55 and 56, and for two dollars (each way) provides a twelve minute ride across the bay. At Sea Crest Park, the taxi's West Seattle terminus, guests will find Metro's Free DART shuttle which will take passengers to Alki Beach or West Seattle Junction.
Seattle's first white settlers arrived on Alki Beach in 1851. They were helped through their first winter by the Duwamish people, led by Chief Seattle. The settlers named the area New York-Alki. Alki is a native word meaning "by and by'', and the settlers chose the name to reflect their hope that the new settlement would grow to achieve the size and importance of New York City. After one winter camped on the beach, most of the party moved across Elliot Bay, to the less exposed shores of Seattle's current waterfront.
Some of the area highlights include Alki Beach Park which provides 2.5 miles of sandy beach. This area has a great seawall for walking and people watching. The park runs from Duwamish head to Alki Point. The water is cold at the beach, but on a hot August day is well-populated and can't be beat. There is always something athletic going on in this neighborhood. Second only to Green Lake in Seattle, this area is known for athletics and outdoor fun.
Also in the Alki Beach neighborhood is Salty's located at 1936 Harbor Ave SW. Salty's has become a northwest institution due to its spectacular view and romantic atmosphere. This is the only restaurant in the area with a view of the Seattle skyline from the SW side. Salty's is a favorite destination for couples and those celebrating special occasions. The restaurant specializes in seafood and on Saturday and Sunday mornings offers a great brunch to start the day.
The Alki Point Lighthouse is one of eight lighthouses on the Puget Sound that is open to the public and can be enjoyed at Alki Beach. Built in 1913 and still maintained by the Coast Guard, the lighthouse has been fully automated since 1984. Inside the house, you can see old instruments, photographs, and charts of Puget Sound.The lighthouse is located at 3201 Alki Avenue SW.