Alki Beach is an iconic strip of surf and sand with one of the best views in Seattle. Located only minutes from the waterfront piers of downtown, Alki is a must-see destination for Seattle visitors. Whether your favorite pastimes are boat watching, great eats, water sports, or nature – Alki offers the best of West Seattle in a single package. Explore these top things to do in the area.
Ride or Watch the Ferries
The Washington State ferry system is the largest ferry system in the United States, boasting 20 different terminals and 22 vessels. One of these ferries is the West Seattle Water taxi, which drops off foot and bike passengers about 2 miles down the path from Alki’s main beach. The water taxi is one of the smaller boats in the ferry fleet, highly favored by locals for the up-close view of the water and the speedy trip just minutes to Pioneer Square. In addition to the fun of the boat ride itself, the ferry drops you at a great viewpoint and food destination at Marination Mai Kai. Grab a house special Mai-Tai and some Kahlua Pork Tacos and grab a spot at the outside tables. You’ll have a classic view of Seattle Center including the Space Needle and both small and large ferry boats traveling past.
Alki Beach by Bike or Board
Your next stop will be to grab one of the many e-bikes along the way and take the flat, paved path to Alki proper. These bikes are simple to rent and don’t require a return location – just a phone app. If two-wheeled bikes aren’t your thing, grab a friend and spend an hour with 4-wheeled surrey or a deuce coupe. You can also rental beach umbrellas, chairs, and sand toys. In addition to bikes, Alki beach is a popular spot for longboarding on land, and paddle-boarding in water. This entertainment is also available to rent, plus kayaks too.
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Boardwalk for All Ages
Take a break after your exercise and explore the tiny “boardwalk” area of Alki shops. There’s pizza and ice cream, coffee too. Enjoy some spicy Mexican, Thai, or a crispy order of fish and chips with malt vinegar. Lined up in a row along beach drive you won’t lack for selection, from beach casual to fine dining. While you stroll, stop in at the eclectic beach shops and breweries. There’s a little something for everyone.
Take a Moment in Nature
A lesser-known secret is Alki’s proximity to the Schmitz Preserve Park, a nature reserve in the city hidden right under a bridge. You can take a shorter or longer hike depending on your trail choice, forest-bathing in the great green trees of the Pacific Northwest. There’s a babbling stream that runs through the center, and while sizable for a city preserve, the park is small enough it would be difficult to get lost as all trails meet back at the beginning. Blocks from Alki, this offers a cool oasis on a hot day.
Perhaps the showstopper, this one’s hard to describe in words. Settle down for an Alki sunset with a cozy beach blanket, or enjoy an adult beverage from one of the many beach-facing food and beverage joints. Take a sunset stroll to learn the rich history of the Alki area, or just sit back with your feet in the sand.
Alki beach is an ideal spot for any day trip, and an iconic part of Seattle. Be sure not to miss it!
-Kate Hagan Gallup is a mom, wife, writer, digital strategist, and geek located in West Seattle. A UW grad, she loves writing about all things local from food to fun.