From beaches to parks, West Seattle offers array of outdoor activities

Hamilton Viewpoint Park in West Seattle is another place people can visit to see an excellent view of Seattle from across Elliott Bay.

Hamilton Viewpoint Park in West Seattle is another place people can visit to see an excellent view of Seattle from across Elliott Bay.
Jerry Simmons

Located approximately five miles from downtown and easily accessed by multiple routes, including the rebuilt West Seattle Bridge, West Seattle features many things to do, especially for people who enjoy spending time outdoors.

According to the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce website,, each of West Seattle’s neighborhoods and business districts has distinct and evolving communities. Interspersed throughout West Seattle, however, are hidden and well-known parks, beaches, viewpoints and outdoor opportunities.

Seattle Chinese Garden: “A hidden gem”

In the Delridge area of West Seattle is South Seattle Community College and the Seattle Chinese Garden. According to the Seattle Chinese Garden Society, the mission is to “showcase the rich heritage of Chinese arts and culture by building, operating and sustaining a Sichuan-style Chinese Garden that serves as a bridge of friendship between our region and Chinese people around the world.” The 4.6-acre garden, 5640 16th Ave. Southwest, is at the college’s north entrance and the garden grounds are open from dawn until dusk daily. The courtyard is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends. It is also open Tuesdays and Thursdays, weather and staff availability permitting. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

According to its website, the Seattle Chinese Garden is one of the largest Chinese gardens outside of China. The garden features the four traditional elements of a Chinese garden: plants, stone, architecture and water. Since construction began in the garden in 1999, several projects have been completed, including the Song Mei Pavilion and bamboo grove, the Chan Education Center, the Knowing the Spring Courtyard, Chongqing Entry Gatehouse and the Luoyang Peony Garden. The Seattle Chinese Garden Society hosts many educational and cultural events throughout the year, including peony, lantern and kite festivals.

People interested in strolling the garden at their own pace can take self-guided tours or arrange for a private tour. According to the tour-guide map, the garden begins with the entry path, which is aligned the Seattle Space Needle. The ridge-top site open to the south is protected by a greenbelt to the north and east, and people can also see views of the Olympic and Cascade mountains. Knowing the Spring Courtyard is the entry to the garden and is used for social and cultural activities, celebrations and festivals. The Song Mei Pavilion was the first structure built in the garden, finished in 1999. According to the Seattle Chinese Garden self-tour guide, the pavilion’s tiles and woodwork were crafted in Chongqing and the stone quarried from along the Yangtze River. The garden is a work in progress, with the next project planned a teahouse on a lotus pond.  Go to, or call 206-934-5213, for more information.

Back to nature

According to the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce website, people can walk from residential neighborhoods to business districts using the peninsula-wide trail system. Alki Beach, Lincoln Park, Schmitz Preserve Park, Camp Long, Duwamish Access Terminal 107, Me-Kwa-Mooks and Westcrest Park all have trails in the system.

Me-Kwa-Mooks Park, 4503 Beach Drive SW, is across the street from Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook and is next to the Me-Kwa-Mooks Natural Area. According to the City of Seattle Parks Department, most of the park is undeveloped and the dense trees provide homes for animals and birds, such as screech owls. Across the street, below Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook, Me-Kwa-Mooks Park has a rocky beach that people can visit during low tide.

People can also visit Schmitz Preserve Park, a 53.1-acre park and nature preserve, 5551 S.W. Admiral Way. The park features one of the last stands of old-growth forest in the city and is largely untouched.

West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails is Seattle’s largest contiguous forest and features several miles of trails, spreading over 550 acres in West Seattle from the tip of Pigeon Point to Westcrest Park. In addition to hiking, there are restoration and community group opportunities,

Beach and water

A popular spot in West Seattle is Alki Beach Park, which offers more views of the mountains, Puget Sound and Elliott Bay, as well as shopping, dining and outdoor opportunities. People use the beach for SCUBA diving, rollerblading, cycling, beach volleyball and more.

People can also visit Seacrest Park and Seacrest Boathouse for kayaking, fishing and SCUBA diving. According to the Chamber of Commerce, fishing is also popular at Lincoln Park and Lowman Beach. Swimming is available at Alki Beach and Colman Pool at Lincoln Park.

Other places to visit in West Seattle

Constellation Park in the 6300 block of Beach Drive Southwest, which has 13 images embedded in the park walkway, with each representing one of the 13 constellations visible in the Western Sky.

The Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center, 4705 W. Marginal Way S.W., is a wood-paneled gathering place for events and exhibits related to traditional Northwest Native culture. It features a museum, art gallery, gift shop and more. Go to for more information.

Go to for more information on the different districts and places to visit in West Seattle.

Seattle Chinese Garden Peony Festival coming up

The Seattle Chinese Garden Peony Festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 13 and 14. Parking is $5 for a day pass. A suggested donation is $6. A lion dance by Mak Fai Kung Fu wil take place at noon May 13. Other activities include a peony sale, kids crafts, Chinese dance, traditional Chinese music and a tea demonstration. Go to the website, for updated information.