Summer showed up early this year, and it’s time for the perfect beach bonfire. But where to do it? In Seattle, you’ve got two choices: Alki Beach in West Seattle, or Golden Gardens west of Ballard. Both make sublime nights, with crackling wood and the smell of sea and smoke—but when a free evening rolls around, you want to know you picked the best possible place for summer memory-making.
As always, we’re here to help. We’re pitting Alki Beach against Golden Gardens in a head-to-head matchup.
A few things have changed in the past few years, so we revisited and updated our 2015 contest. Most notably: Alki received brand-new fire pits this year, and the Golden Gardens parking lots have started filling up more frequently (turning a stroll to the beach into a hike to the beach).
|3 points||1 point||0 points|
|6 fire pits||12 fire pits|
|136 acres||87 acres|
|2.5 miles of beach (don’t forget the “locals only” stretch south of the lighthouse!)||300 feet of beach|
|Sandy beach throughout||Rocky beach, with sandy areas|
|Lighthouse, volleyball nets, and seasonal public exhibits||Wetlands, basketball court, volleyball nets, and a short hiking trail|
|Views of Elliot Bay, downtown Seattle, and the Puget Sound||Views of the Olympic Mountains and the Puget Sound|
|Restaurants and bars along the length of the beach||Snack shop|
|Roadside parking||Parking lots (upper lot requires a walk)|
|No off-leash dog park||Off-leash dog park|
|Total: 25 points||Total: 21 points|
Whether you’re at Alki or Golden Gardens:
1) Build fires only in designated fire containers.
2) BYO firewood. No driftwood burning!
3) For safety, extinguish your fire with water, not sand.
4) Be off the beach by 11:30 p.m.
5) Don’t bring any alcohol. (Officially, that is. We’re not endorsing it, but no one’s likely to notice a few drinks in nondescript containers).
Again, for both Alki and Golden Gardens:
1) Show up early. Beaches don’t take reservations, so if you want an evening bonfire, arrive in the early afternoon to snag a fire pit. You won’t be able to start burning until the fire pits get unlocked at 4 p.m., but you can still settle in for a long, relaxing day at the beach.
2) Bring a game! Both beaches have sand volleyball courts, and spikeball is perfect for the beach.
3) Check the burn ban. Nothing stops a beach bonfire like a burn ban. Golden Garden’s fire pits get locked during burn bans, and with Alki’s new locking pits, the situation looks similar over there.
4) Know how to build a fire. This one’s pretty crucial.