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8 great Seattle-area beaches for families to explore at low tide



Charles Richey Sr. Viewpoint in West Seattle is a great place to find species such as this sea cucumber.

Fiona Cohen

 

For a few days each month, the moon’s gravity yanks enough water toward it that we can see creatures on the beach that would never normally be visible to us.  To figure out the very best time to go, check out a tide table, such as this one, and aim to be at the beach at least half an hour before the predicted low point. Here are some more tips on how to explore at low tide. Here are eight great places to go exploring at low tide, listed from north to south.

[Looking for more kid-friendly activities? Download our app and discover our customizable events calendar. Filter by child ages, location, free events and more.]

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

2021 NW 190th St, Shoreline

Getting there: The path over the train tracks and down the hill to the beach, is broad, paved and without stairs.

What’s there: Sand at the upper levels, mixed with pebble and larger rocks lower down. There are some old pilings that are worth investigating. Bonus for hot days: this is one of Puget Sound’s windy places, so if there’s a breeze anywhere, it’ll be here. Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalists come here during the lowest summer tides to answer questions.

 

Carkeek Park

950 NW Carkeek Park Road

Getting there: From the parking area near the playground, take the footbridge over the train tracks (a freaky crossing for those afraid of heights) and down many stairs to the beach.

What’s there: A mix of sand, pebbles and rocks that are fist-sized, or larger. Some eelgrass. Also, Piper’s creek empties into Puget Sound here. Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalists come here during the lowest summer tides to answer questions. Seattle Parks runs a program called “Exploring Tidepool Life” here at 12:30 p.m. August 3. Ages 3 and up. Fee $10 per person. Pre-register.

 

Golden Gardens

8498 Seaview Pl NW

Getting there: The most interesting things to find are at the north end of the beach, which is a short, flattish, stair-free walk from the parking lot.

What’s there: Rocks, sand, pebbles, and eelgrass. Bonus: the path to the beach goes over a pond where you can see a beaver dam and a beaver lodge. Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalists come here during the lowest summer tides to answer questions.

 

Discovery Park

3801 Discovery Park Blvd

Getting there: There are three ways to get to Discovery Park Beach.

1. You can hike there and get a look at the forests and meadows that make up Seattle’s largest park as you go down there. The trip is at least a mile and a half, and there is a bit of steep climbing on the way back.

2. On weekends from May 25 to Sept. 2, you can catch a free shuttle to the beach from the Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Keep in mind that on summer weekends, parking near the Environmental Learning Center can be hard to find, so you might consider getting there by bus. The number 33 bus stops at West Government Way and 36th Ave W.

3. On days when the Environmental Learning Center is open but the shuttle isn’t running, (Tuesday to Friday during the summer), it might be possible to get a parking pass if your party has kids under 6, adults over 62 or others who physically cannot walk to the beach. They are available on a first-come-first served basis.

What’s there: A lot! Discovery Park Beach at low tide is huge, with broad stretches of mud flat, sea-life encrusted boulder, pools, eel grass and abundant bird life. Plus: it has terrible cellphone reception, so your family can be out of touch for a little while. If you find anything that puzzles you, you could take a picture and show it to the knowledgeable folks at the Environmental Learning Center. Seattle Parks runs a program called “Trekking through Tidepools” here at 9 a.m. on July 14. Ages 4 and up. Fee $10 per person. Pre-register.

 

Charles Richey Sr. Viewpoint

3521 Beach Dr SW

Getting there: Also known as South Alki Beach, this beach is around a rocky point from the big, sandy, social part of Alki Beach. There are three ramps leading from the sidewalk to the beach. The number 37 bus stops nearby.

What’s there: Arguably Seattle’s best beach for exploring intertidal life. Along with the pebbles, loose rocks and sand, and some eelgrass, there’s a rare stretch of bedrock, full of pools and crevices where creatures can hide. Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalists come here during the lowest summer tides to answer questions.

[Looking for more kid-friendly activities? Download our app and discover our customizable events calendar. Filter by child ages, location, free events and more.]

 

Me-Kwa-Mooks Park

4503 Beach Dr SW

Getting there: Of the beaches that don’t require a long walk, this is probably the least accessible for mobility impaired people. The stairways leading from the sidewalk to the beach don’t go all the way, so you have to jump or scramble to the bottom. The number 37 bus stops nearby.

What’s there: A broad stretch of beach including mud, loose rocks, and strips of bedrock. Seattle Parks runs a “Low Tide Beach Safari” here at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, July 6. Ages 6 and up. Fee $10 per person. Pre-register.

 

Lincoln Park

8011 Fauntleroy Way SW

Getting there: There are four disabled parking spaces by the south end of the beach. Those who can’t park there need to get there by taking a trail from the Lincoln Park’s south parking lot. (No stairs, but it is unpaved for a stretch.) The C bus stops nearby.

What’s there: A wide stretch of rocks and pebbles, and a great view of the Vashon Island ferry. Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalists come here during the lowest summer tides to answer questions.

 

Seahurst Park

1600 SW Seahurst Park Road, Burien

Getting there: If you’re lucky enough to get a space in the lot by the beach, then you’re there. If not, there’s plenty of parking up the hill, and you can walk a quarter mile to the beach through the trees.

What’s there: This beach was restored about five years ago, so much of the animal life there arrived relatively recently. It is sandy, with two streams flowing into it, named North Creek and South Creek. Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalists come here during the lowest summer tides to answer questions.

 


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