Shoes, clothes, and speed-inducing accessories line the walls at West Seattle Runner, where friendly running enthusiasts help each customer enhance their run. After a fitting, feet stride comfortably in Asics, Saucony, and Mizuno shoes or settle in to the snug hug of new Superfeet insoles. Apparel from Moving Comfort and Oiselle wicks sweat away, and snacks by Clif, Nuun, and GU ensure that athletes have the energy to go on producing more. In addition to peddling their fleet-footed wares, staffers also encourage a robust running community, leading group runs every Wednesday and Sunday.
For a quarter century, Stu Hennessey and his staff have sold snowboards and tuned-up mountain bikes for off-road jaunts at Alki Bike and Board. Today, the shop proliferates an eco-friendly, sustainable, and fun attitude toward transportation with bicycles and boards for sale and a well-kept fleet of bikes for rent. The shop’s rentals give visitors easy access to the city’s bounty of lush scenery and historic sites, and optional tours come with all the supplies necessary to take guided trips through surrounding terrain without having to use the creases on your palm as a road map.
Though founded by a seasoned international climber, Mountain Madness is dedicated to getting amateurs out on the peaks. A squad of guides, adept at both climbing and teaching, lead excursions that include climbs and wilderness treks, all while imparting practical mountaineering skills. This holds true on their specialty North American alpine summit climbs that accommodate the varying paces of beginner and more experienced climbers. At areas such as Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan, groups navigate forests, active glaciers, rugged rock formations, and intersections with broken traffic lights as they advance to the top—either in one day or over a longer camping trip.
Adventure also permeates the rock-climbing courses, and an array of lead-rope-climbing excursions. Both set out to conquer single- and multi-pitch climbs over granite and other rock on routes in Washington Pass, Leavenworth, and beyond. Though the aforementioned trips are available year-round, avalanche-preparedness training and backcountry skiing excursions present different ways to delve into the winter wilderness.
Cindy Ross was an unlikely person to found a scuba-diving school. Told by a commercial diving instructor at 19 that she was too small to scuba, Ross didn’t begin to explore the sport until she was in her 30s. Earning certification was a trial, and she spent her first four dives lugging 80-pound gear in the snow up and down a massive hill—and, adding insult to injury, the men’s equipment didn’t even fit properly. But the fifth dive changed everything. Held in Puget Sound, Ross felt a calling to the location's green waters and white anemones, and since then, the aquanaut has frolicked with such neighbors as a 1,200-pound sea lion, hundreds of Canadian seals, and a giant Pacific octopus.
At Scuba Shoppe, Ross and her team of instructors immerse guests of all ages in the sport of scuba. Try Scuba classes held in the center's 84-degree pool familiarize students with their equipment before they plunge into the water to practice. Alternatively, an open-water certification program from Scuba Schools International expounds on these pool sessions with shore dives in the rolling waters of Puget Sound, which let students hone their skills in a more realistic environment or find a dolphin pod to adopt them. As part of this training, they also have the chance to explore the briny depths aboard underwater scooters. For the more advanced,, Scuba Shoppe provides training for specialty certifications, including rescue diving, night diving, and underwater digital photography. An onsite dive shop outfits customers with all the necessary dive gear and accessories.
Out in the Bell Harbor Marina, kayakers sit at the intersection between society and nature. On one side: Seattle's gleaming skyline and unencumbered views of the shore. On the other: the Puget Sound, where a few paddles can take you past the natural habitats of seals, nesting bald eagles, and other wildlife. Those are just a few of the destinations frequented by Alki Kayak Tours. Their signature Downtown Seattle sea-kayak tour charts a course from Bell Harbor Marina along the Seattle waterfront, then off to the wildlife areas of Elliott Bay. Other voyages pass by Alki Lighthouse and float beneath the light of a full moon.
Alki Kayak Tours' team also leads standup-paddleboard tours and rents fishing boats, longboards, and other gear. Whatever the activity, Alki Kayak Tours provides everything necessary, save for a water bottle to stay hydrated and a sense of adventure that doesn't dissolve in water.
Alki Kayak Tours and her sister store, Mountain to Sound Outfitters, equip guests with all the tools necessary to delve into Puget Sound’s surrounding wilderness regardless of season. Authorized dealers of goods from outdoor brands including Rossignol, Nordica, Snap Dragon, and Boardworks SUP, Mountain to Sound Outfitters’ knowledgeable equipment masters can outfit expeditions bound for skiing trips to Mount Rainier or full-contact LARPing in Olympic National Park. Alki Kayak Tours keeps adventures moving with vehicle rentals ranging from kayaks and paddleboards to fishing boats and bikes. Guided sea-kayak and paddleboard tours meander through Puget Sound during warmer months, introducing adventurers to the Emerald City’s fragile natural beauty and the mindful guides’ various methods of preserving it.