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Saturday, July 17, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Alki Adventures -- There's More To The Peninsula Than Just Playing On The Beach

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

Some people think of West Seattle's Alki Peninsula as one long sandy beach overlooking Puget Sound. There is much more to see and do than just playing in the sand.

There are new parks, promenades and bike trails, a fishing pier, historical sites, funky cottages and grandiose condos, fabulous views, hidden playgrounds, sculptures, fun eateries and ferries.

The experience you have depends on when you go: On a weekday or cloudy weekend, it's a delightful place to walk, grab a bite, bike, skate or drive.

On a sunny weekend, it can be very busy, with parking scarce.

On warm nights, it can be a teen haven of music and barbecues, though Seattle Police keep it closely monitored. And during low tides, the beachcombers come out in droves.

Explore it for a day, or many visits.

Some things to see and do:

1) Harbor Avenue Southwest - The landscaping is planted, the new bike/skate path is in, the road construction is nearing completion. Alki is finally getting an entrance worthy of its beauty.

2) Terminal 5 Park - No big signs marks this amazing park built by the Port of Seattle. No real name yet, but it's been open since September, south of Salty's restaurant. Kids like the marine-theme play area. Follow the path over the little hill (or drive around) to the big pier. Climb to a high but safe viewing platform to see much of Seattle's waterfront, Harbor Island freight yards and ships. A half-mile of paved roads with few cars is great for new skaters or

bicyclists. Chain-link fences keep visitors safe from freight operations.

3) Seacrest Marina and Elliott Bay Water Taxi - Nice dock for anglers; be sure you know what's legal to catch! Teens and adults need fishing licenses; kids don't. Catch the foot ferry ($2) to downtown Seattle's Pier 54 every 30 to 60 minutes weekdays, hourly on weekends, through Sept. 6.

4) Don Armeni Park - Launch your boat, maybe find parking.

5) Duwamish Head - Where the peninsula turns west and the road becomes Alki Avenue Southwest, there are incredible views. A tiny outcropping of a park marks the site of Luna Park, an amusement center built in 1907. See remnants at very low tide.

6) Mondo condos line the road, overwhelming the few remaining beach cottages. Some of those are funky, with great art, flowers and other beachy decorations.

7) Alki Beach Park - Two miles of sand, picnic tables, running paths, volleyball courts, campfire pits, a bathhouse-turned-art studio and lots of history. See the Statue of Liberty, a human-size model of New York's famous greeter, at 61st Avenue Southwest, and the Seattle Birthplace Monument, a tribute to the settlers who landed at Alki in 1851. Eat in or out. Lots of choices in the area, from fish and chips to teriyaki and tacos, from fresh-baked scones to fresh-grilled fish. Seafair pirates land on the beach between 2 and 3 p.m. today. It's West Seattle Hi Yu, with lots of fun on the beach: salmon barbecue, pole-vault championship, crafts fair, kids' pirate costume contest, Corvette display, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

8) Alki Playground - Kids need a break? Two good play areas a block from the beach off 59th Avenue Southwest.

9) Log House Museum - More local lore? Visit the little museum at 3003 61st Ave. S.W. Long ago, it was the carriage house for the nearby 1904 log lodge that today is the Homestead Restaurant.

10) Randy's Bike and Blade Rentals - Rent bikes ($8 hour) or blades ($5) or try out a "surrey," a four-wheeled pedaled contraption for four ($15), outside the grocery at 63rd Avenue Southwest.

11) Alki Point Lighthouse - Meander past the houses, apartments and condos on both sides of Alki Avenue from about 64th Avenue Southwest to Alki Point, where the Coast Guard maintains this now-automated 1913 icon. Free tours noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and federal holidays, May to September.

12) Constellation Beach Park and Marine Reserve - More beaches beyond Alki Point, but not for swimming. Beach critters, tide pools and driftwood are the lure along Beach Drive Southwest. Check out the 3-foot bronze octopus in the sculpted "tide pool" on the sidewalk at 63rd Avenue Southwest. Walk down the steps to a tile mural with detailed images of fish, clams, mussels and more.

13) Cormorant Park - There are great plans for this undeveloped waterfront cove at 61st Avenue Southwest, but the city hasn't found money to build it yet.

14) Weatherwatch Park - A weather-vane-topped obelisk marks this tiny beach-dune park. Sit on the curved bench, watch the weather, gaze at the Olympic Mountains across Puget Sound. A bronze map names the peaks; tiles on the obelisk tell local history and meteorology.

15) Mee Kwa Mooks Park and Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook - A deep forest park, a wonderful viewpoint and a long rocky beach.

16) Fauntleroy Ferry - Travel from Lincoln Park to Vashon, Southworth and points west.

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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