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Thursday, December 25, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Alki Beach: By and by, here's where to get a taste of old Seattle

Seattle Times Travel editor

City Walks


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The walk: A two-hour amble here will take you through the land where the worlds of Chief Sealth and his Suquamish Tribe met the group that has become known as the Denny Party, after the white settlers landed at what would become Alki (a Chinook word for "by and by").

Once the city the Dennys would help establish adopted a version of the chief's name (Seattle) as its own and eventually started a trolley run to the beach from downtown, Alki quickly became a beach-y resort, with swimming pools (now gone), a historic amusement park (that burned to the ground) and just about every other beachfront accoutrement you could imagine (still there, but transformed).

There are walks galore here, most of them blessedly flat and easily accessible.

This particular walk (four miles) starts at the corner of Alki Avenue Southwest and 59th Avenue Southwest. Walk in the direction of downtown Seattle along Alki Avenue. It will give you a good sense of the beachfront community, with its mix of shops, apartments, condos and a sprinkling of water-facing cottages. There used to be scores of these little homes along the beach. They served, "in the old days," as summer homes and getaways for the city denizens for whom West Seattle was in "the sticks." Long-time residents still call them fishermen's cottages.

Turn right and walk up 57th Avenue Southwest, through the neighborhood, until you can't do a thing but bear right against the hillside. This will put you on Southwest Stevens Street. A block later, you'll bump into the Alki Community Center — and just to your left you'll see an entrance to Schmitz Park, an old-growth beauty, nearly 100 years old, not heavily visited by folks from outside the area.

From that corner, you can walk straight across the Alki Playfield to find Stevens Street continuing on the other side — or you can make the loop around the park, a lovely oasis of green, tennis courts, soccer field and playground for the kids.

Once you're back on Stevens, walk three blocks to 62nd Avenue Southwest, turn left and walk three blocks through more of the neighborhood to Southwest Spokane Street. There, turn right and you'll see the beach about a half-block in front of you. Once there, turn right onto Beach Drive Southwest and spend some time at the marine preserve on your left — access is via stairs at a few points along the water — or just park yourself on one of a few benches and enjoy a spectacular Puget Sound view of the water, islands and Olympic mountains.

MIKE SIEGEL / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Despite the rain, Bryce Eldred, 3, and his dad, David, have fun throwing rocks into the water at Alki Beach.
Move on, north along Beach Drive, which will become Alki Avenue Southwest near the U.S. Coast Guard's Alki Point Lighthouse (built in 1913, open in summer for tours noon to 3:30 p.m. weekends and holidays, Memorial Day to Labor Day). Then continue on Alki Avenue as it heads back into the business district where you started.

Secret tip: Not everyone knows about the Log House Museum, at Southwest Stevens Street and 61st Avenue Southwest. Built as a carriage house in the early 1900s by William and Gladys Bernard, the building was converted to a residence and finally became the museum in 1997, offering a glimpse into the history of this part of town. The main house, a half block north on 61st, has been the home for decades to the Homestead Restaurant, arguably one of the city's most beautiful restaurant settings. More museum information: 206-938-5293 or www.loghousemuseum.org. Open noon to 6 p.m. Thursdays, noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Closed holidays. Donation asked: $2 adults, $1 children.

MIKE SIEGEL / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Irmgard and Ed Tannery (facing the camera), from Florida, enjoy lunch at Spud Fish and Chips while visiting Bob Lewis, left, and Linda Lewis, from Redondo.

Lunch or snack stop: Spud Fish and Chips (2666 Alki Ave. S.W.). Record-keepers claim it's the oldest fast-food provider in the city, so you'll be munching a bit of history. Once owned by brothers Jack and Frank Alger, it's now under the Ivar's banner, another original Seattle foodie. Spud is jammed on weekends — so try midweek, midday and eat in or take your meal across the street to the beach.

Access: This is an easy, flat walk, albeit long. (It's not hard to plan your own, shorter walks should you desire.) Log House Museum is wheelchair accessible.

Parking/bus route: Take the Harbor Avenue Southwest exit off the West Seattle Freeway. Take a right on Harbor and travel about four miles to Alki's beachfront business district. There's parking curbside along and near much of the beach. Metro's Route 37 will take you there from downtown Seattle.

Terry Tazioli: ttazioli@seattletimes.com or 206-464-2224

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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