The Strawberry Festival is just one of the annual events in Burien. — Photo courtesy of City of Burien
Maybe – unfortunately – you’re on an extended layover at Sea-Tac International Airport in Seattle but don’t have time to venture into the city. Or maybe you don’t want to chance the sometimes crazy freeway traffic heading out of the city before a departing flight. Instead of burning hours at the airport, this is the perfect opportunity to take in a couple hours of dining, shopping, and recreation with a relaxed and quaint small-town feel. All just five minutes from Sea-Tac by rental car or cab.
Burien is a 100-year-old waterfront community along the shores of Puget Sound west of the airport. The city encompasses six miles of shoreline, and proud city residents are active in preserving saltwater access and protecting the appearance of tidy, quiet streets and public spaces. Of course there are high-end homes that command panoramic views of the sound, but between these lofty private landholders and the water, the beach remains open for all.
The prime public access spot is Seahurst Park. A favorite of area photographers, families, dog walkers, and other recreationalists, the park includes a saltwater beach on Puget Sound with views of the Olympic Mountains, picnic shelters and tables, a play area, and several trails.
After checking out the beach, head back through quiet suburban neighborhoods to the heart of Burien’s commercial center. A recent update left the small city’s main drag, SW 152nd Street, with widened sidewalks, benches, landscaping, and old-fashioned lampposts. Opened in 2009, the new Burien Town Square is bordered by a new county-city regional library, Burien City Hall, and a multi-story condominium and retail building with street level shops and restaurants. At its center is Town Square Park.
Leaving the town square area, stroll west along SW 152nd Street to enjoy browsing the several blocks of shops and restaurants of Old Burien. Along the way, you can dally over handcrafted handbags, or a selection of specialty women’s shoes, or gifts (Poggi Bonsi Gifts, Allusia home décor and gifts). Or peruse the selection at an independent bookshop (Burien Books or Bumbershoot Books) or a local art gallery.
Also during your walk, scope out one of numerous bistros (909 Coffee & Wine Bar), bars (the Tin Room, C.C.’s Lounge), delis (Hey Paison), and restaurants (the Mark Restaurant & Bar, the Australian Pie Company, Veracruz Family Mexican Restaurant), picking out a perfect place to drink, dine, and relax.
Burien’s multitude of international restaurants also feature cuisine from China, El Salvador, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Thailand, and Vietnam; and the thriving downtown scene offers a July 4th parade, a farmers market, art walks, excellent local live theater, a boutique movie house and seasonal festivals such as an annual vintage car show.