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Battle of the Bonfires 2018: Alki Beach v. Golden Gardens

Posted by Johnine Larsen on April 24, 2018
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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).


The Scoring:

3 points 1 point 0 points

Alki Beach

Golden Gardens

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
Restrooms Restrooms
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
Very crowded Crowded
Roadside parking Parking lots (upper lot requires a walk)
No off-leash dog park Off-leash dog park
Total: 25 points Total: 21 points

The winner…

Alki Beach!

Alki Beach’s new fire pits (installed 2018)


The Rules:

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).


The Strategy:

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.