Summer Guide 2010: West Seattle

When it comes to West Seattle summer scenes, most people picture Alki Beach or splashy antics at the

When it comes to West Seattle summer scenes, most people picture Alki Beach or splashy antics at the outdoor, saltwater Colman Pool in Lincoln Park (8603 Fauntleroy Way SW), but there are plenty of other reasons to cross the bridge.

Sun Worship
Upon landing at West Seattle’s Alki Beach, first-timers often exclaim, “It feels like California!” It’s true. In addition to being one of Seattle’s few truly sandy beaches, Alki has convertibles cruising à la Malibu, inline skaters just like those at Venice Beach and beach volleyball tourneys as in Santa Monica. While most folks plop their blankets down (or their ’blades on) and soak up the rays at Alki, if you head west to where Alki Avenue SW turns south into Beach Drive SW (rounding the corner of Alki Point), you’ll discover a string of less populated (read: way more mellow) beach parks beckoning. Weather Watch Park, Cormorant Cove and Constellation Park may be rockier than the main Alki strand, but these beaches are always baking when it’s sunny, say locals, even on days when Alki has a chilly breeze. Go for picnicking, checking out tide pools or birdwatching. Megafauna alert: With binoculars and luck, you might spot orcas from a West Seattle beach. Head back to Alki’s main drag for a milkshake at Pepperdock (2618 Alki Ave. SW; 206.935.1000), an artisan pizza at Phoenecia (2716 Alki Ave. SW; 206.935.6550; phoeneciaseattle.com), a surrey or scooter at Wheel Fun rentals (2530 Alki Ave. SW; 206.932.2035; wheelfunrentals.com) and coffee at the Alki Bakery (2738 Alki Ave. SW; 206.935.1352; alkibakery.com).

Tour the Gardens
A bumper crop of large city lots explains the ongoing passion for gardens in this neighborhood. Get swept up in the excitement at the 16th annual, self-guided West Seattle Garden Tour (July 18, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; westseattlegardentour.com). This year’s tour features eight gardens—seven residential, one public—including a “his and hers” garden, a wildlife sanctuary and an art garden.

Get Outside
If your idea of an awesome summer entails tromping through the woods every weekend, take a break from the I-90 trail trek and head across the West Seattle Bridge instead. The main lodge at Camp Long’s Environmental Learning Center (5200 35th Ave. SW; seattle.gov/parks/projects/camp_long/) is scheduled to reopen in early July after a renovation. The park features hiking trails, a climbing rock and more activities, but the real surprise here are the rustic cabins for overnight camping, where even dyed-in-the-wool city folks can pretend to rough it. (Best part: You can replenish the s’mores stash by visiting the grocery store just down the street). Nearby, the Nature Consortium (206.923.0853; naturec.org) sponsors a free guided eco-hike in the West Duwamish Greenbelt—Seattle’s largest remaining contiguous-forest area—every third Friday from 1 to 2:30 p.m. throughout the summer. (Call or e-mail for a specific location.) Want more chances to party in the park? Check the schedule for this year’s Shakespeare in the Park series (206.748.1551; greenstage.org), featuring July performances of Romeo and Juliet and As You Like It in picturesque lincoln Park.

The West Seattle Sum