Without a doubt, California Avenue in West Seattle is one of the hottest spots in Seattle to stroll, eat, browse some shops and explore. With more and more young families moving to West Seattle for its great neighborhood feel, excellent public schools and cute houses, this section of Seattle is no longer just known for being the home to Alki Beach. Seattle kids and parents alike can make the trip to West Seattle for a fun-filled morning, afternoon or weekend visit.
Go: Anytime! Weekends are always bustling on California Avenue and parking can be a little trickier, but the weekend vibe is worth it. The only time to truly avoid coming to West Seattle is around the late afternoon/evening rush-hour when traffic builds up on the West Seattle Bridge.
Get there: Getting to California Avenue in West Seattle is easy – jump on I-5 from wherever you are in Seattle and take the West Seattle Bridge exit, which is right next to the Tully’s factory (you can’t miss it!) or take Highway 99 to the West Seattle Bridge, if that’s an easier route for you. Once you’ve crossed into West Seattle, continue onto Fauntleroy, which will bring you right up to California Avenue. Park anywhere you can snag a spot and get out to start exploring!
Travel time: It’s not long – once you get off the freeway onto the West Seattle Bridge, it will only take you 5-10 minutes to reach California Avenue.
What to bring: The strip of shops and places to explore is fairly long, so a stroller would be a good choice to let little ones rest their legs. Don’t forget all the other standards for a Seattle adventure – something with a hood to wear for if it begins to rain, baby wipes for wiping tiny hands after ice cream (more below on that!) and your camera!
What to do: A visit to California Avenue is all about strolling around the cool shops, grabbing bites to eat and treats along the way and just spending the day hanging out and enjoying West Seattle’s leisurely pace.
Try stopping into Easy Street Records (and browsing for some old school records (your kids will be amazed at how big they are!) and let them listen to some tunes at the playing stations. Easy Street also has a great café for grabbing breakfast or lunch (they’re open until 3pm).
If you’re exploring California Avenue, you must make a stop at Husky Deli for an ice cream cone. It’s a staple of life in West Seattle, serving the neighborhood for over 80 years now. They make their own ice cream, which is beyond delicious and offers everything from traditional flavors for the little ones to gourmet creations such as Swiss chocolate orange. While you’re waiting for your cone, browse the deli for fresh dinner ingredients to take home!
Curious Kidstuff should also be on your to-do list when you’re on California Avenue – this is far more than your average toy store. Curious Kidstuff has designed a space that is all about encouraging kids to explore and be creative – there are toys to touch and play with throughout the shop and you feel welcome to just come in and play, without a sales person breathing down your neck to buy something.
Located in the space above Curious Kidstuff, The Little Artist offers a variety of classes for artist enthusiasts from ages 18-months through school age. You can sign up for just one class by calling the studio – consider booking one for your visit to West Seattle! Each class is $15 and lasts an hour with a different emphasis in art each week.
For a spot to run around, head all the way to the north end of California Avenue to Hamilton Viewpoint Park, which has, undeniably, one of the best views of Seattle. While mom and dad check out the view, the little ones can run around in the grass and get their wiggles out!
Cost of the trip: This trip doesn’t have to cost much – it’s likely that you’ll have to pay for parking, whether on the street or in a lot, but beside that, you can spend as little or as much as you please!
Bonus: When you’re done exploring the main blocks of California Avenue, continue south from where you came, which will take you to Lincoln Park – great for hiking, playing on a playground, or splashing around in the summer!
Online: Keep your eye on the popular West Seattle Blog for more happenings on California Avenue and all around West Seattle!
– Katie Kavulla