Glide across Elliott Bay on the top deck of a high-speed water taxi to a scenic peninsula isolated by water on three sides.
Pick up a free shuttle to a funky neighborhood shopping hub lined with cafes, antique shops, two bakeries and a destination deli. Then stroll downhill to a paved waterside path dotted with pocket parks and pebbled beaches.
Where are you?
If you didn’t guess West Seattle, then you are in for a treat. With bridge access closed to most car traffic since March of 2020, Seattle’s oldest neighborhood would not seem to fit the description for a hassle-free day trip.
Leave the car at home, however, and you’ve got the makings for a delightful fall getaway.
All aboard the water taxi
Think of this trip as a throwback to a time when crossing Elliott Bay by boat was the only way to get to and from the neighborhood where Seattle’s first European settlers landed in 1851.
Passage in those days meant boarding a steam-powered side-wheeler. Today, the best way to avoid the bridge closure headaches is by walking on the King County Water Taxi, which offers daily service between Pier 50 on the Seattle waterfront and Seacrest Park in West Seattle. (See st.news/watertaxi for schedule.)
Grab a seat on the top deck for views of the Seattle skyline and the big container ships docked in Elliott Bay. The 15-minute crossing is a bargain at $5 each way (with discounts for seniors and youths). Racks accommodate “fat tire” and electric bikes, and to ease traffic congestion while the bridge is being repaired, winter service has been extended to include weekends and more midday sailings.
Shuttle to the Junction
The first ferry commuters rode up the hill to the developing Admiral District in a cable car. Today, free DART minibuses meet the water taxi and shuttle passengers between Seacrest and the West Seattle Junction shopping district.
If you’re here on a Sunday, check out the year-round West Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Market at California Avenue Southwest an Southwest Alaska Street. Otherwise, spend an hour or two exploring both sides of California Avenue.
Pop into iconic West Seattle mainstay Easy Street Records for coffee (and perhaps some bin browsing for Brandi Carlile’s new album on vinyl), or check out the shelves at Pegasus Book Exchange, where 90% of the stock is used books.
Whatever the time of day, stop for ice cream at Husky Deli, in business since 1932. Order a scoop of Mexican horchata or Swiss chocolate-orange, and take a seat at a wooden counter facing shelves lined with gourmet mustards, coffee and spaghetti sauce.
Do take time to peek at the back sides of buildings, many of which are covered with murals depicting scenes from West Seattle’s past, commissioned in 1989 as a community project led by civic leader Earl Cruzen.
Find a list of locations and descriptions at st.news/WS-murals. Standouts include “The Hi-Yu Parade” by Lanny Little, on the back wall of the post office; “Mosquito Boat Landing” by Susan Tooke at 4554 California Ave. S.W.; and Mural Alley, a passageway between Northwest Art and Frame and the Puerto Vallarta restaurant that has been repurposed as a showcase for community art.
Walk the beach
Leave the Junction for a fall beach walk, starting by following Erskine Way Southwest at the intersection of California Avenue and Southwest Edmunds Street. Look out for westward Southwest Hudson Street and walk about a mile downhill toward the water along Hudson to Southwest Jacobsen Road and Beach Drive Southwest.
From here, it’s a 1.5-mile stroll northbound along a waterside path to the closest shuttle stop (DART 775 bus route), which will scoot back to the Seacrest dock, or a total of 3.3 miles if you walk the whole way along the Alki beachfront. Rental scooters are available at various points along the way.
Peep some pocket parks
Stroll along Beach Drive Southwest and explore a few West Seattle pocket parks with benches, scenic overlooks and beach access at low tide.
The first is Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook, donated to the city in 1945 by Emma Schmitz “for a park and … no other purpose whatsoever.”
Further north is Cormorant Cove, named for cormorant birds that can sometimes be spotted here. There’s access for nonmotorized boats and accessible viewing platforms.
Running parallel to Beach Drive from 63rd Avenue Southwest to Alki Point is the Charles Richey Sr. Viewpoint, which includes Constellation Park and a marine reserve.
Look out for the tiled interpretive wall with text in Spanish and English. Its illustrations of flora and fauna include species found on local beaches. It’s the perfect place to reflect on wildlife: This is one of the best spots in the Seattle area to see whales and other marine life.
Head on home
From here, make your way back to Seacrest dock, either by shuttle, scooter, rental bike or on foot along the paved path that runs the length of Alki Beach.
If the next water taxi is due in soon, consider catching a later boat — instead of rushing back, stop for a cocktail or late lunch on the lovely patio of Marination Ma Kai, a Hawaiian Korean snack bar that, per Times food writer Bethany Jean Clement, “wins when it comes to a combination of the best food at the best price with the best view.”
Transport yourself to the tropics with a mai tai served with a red umbrella — and relax, knowing you won’t be stuck in traffic on the way back to downtown Seattle.