Shilshole Bay is probably one of the most picturesque places in Seattle. Located on the western tip of the city along Puget Sound and bordering Ballard and Crown Hill, this is definitely a tourist destination. Some of my earliest memories of my childhood are of going to church with my family and friends and stopping at McDonald’s on the way to Shilshole Bay where we would eat our lunches at the beach and feed the seagulls. As I visited the exact spot on the beach that I had many years ago, I watched the children and their parents having a picnic lunch and reminisced. I wistfully thought how lucky they were to be creating new and one day cherished memories of their time together at this beautiful park.
Originally inhabited by the Duwamish Indian Tribe, Shilshole Bay was a place rich in salmon, clams and other seafood so that the people settled in very comfortably. The name Shilshole in Duwamish means “threading a needle”. This is thought to be because of the narrow opening in which Salmon Bay empties into the Bay. After the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, the wood mills set up shop on the water and employed many workers to work in the mills and send them downtown to rebuild the city.
One of the destinations that should not be missed are the Hiram Chittenden Locks. It is open to the public and you can actually view the “fish ladder” where the salmon are raised and lowered to adjust to the different levels of the waters. It is fascinating for children and adults alike. Another landmark place is Rays Boathouse Restaurant. It defines the quintessencial Northwest cuisine better than anywhere that I know of. Completely demolished from a four alarm fire in 1987 and another one in 1997, Rays was totally rebuilt twice. The freshest seafood from salmon, oysters, halibut and shrimp are prepared expertly by award-winning nationally recognized chefs. Enjoy wonderful dishes while looking at spectacular Puget Sound and Olympic Mountain views. Anthonys Homeport, one of many in the city, also has a coveted spot next to the Locks just down the road. It is another first class Northwest seafood restaurant with an amazing view.
Perhaps due to my humble beginnings, I am just as happy as a clam enjoying fish and chips and chowder at one of the many local joints near the beach. Totem House Seafood and Chowder, The Historic Lockspot, Little Coney Island, and Gordo’s, are great places to grab take out and enjoy at the beach. Don’t miss a little Carribean place called Paseo that just opened across the street from Rays. It is a little pink storefront that sells wonderful barbeque chicken and pork with fragrant jasmine rice and a beet salad. Yummy and satisfying and so friendly, too.
There are many condominiums along the beach area in all different price ranges , new and old with and without Puget Sound views. Or, if you prefer, there are moorages for boats so that you can fulfill your dream of living right on the water. Whatever the season, summer, fall, winter or spring, there are always interesting and lively activities going on at Shilshole Bay. Golden Gardens is the place to have a beach party or picnic, no matter how old you are. It is special and unique places in like these in Seattle that really make the city an amazing place to live. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in the world!