Ocean Shores is underrated.
There, I said it. I’m not even sure why I had a bad image of this coastal destination, but on a recent family trip there, it exceeded my expectations.
There are go-karts and souvenir shops, but there also are great beach walks and ways to learn about nature.
If you’re looking for a change of scenery and lots of family fun less than three hours from Seattle, Ocean Shores should suit you just fine.
Here’s some of what we found and did:
Things to do with kids in Ocean Shores:
Go to the beach! Of course! The North Jetty and Damon Point highlight the unique geography of the area and are great for watching waves crash on the rocks. You can also reach the beach from the heart of town, where the main drag Chance a la Mer intersects Highway 115. Ocean City State Park is a bit removed from the built-up part of town. You’ll pass it on your way in.
Coastal interpretive Center is a natural-history museum with both indoor and outdoor exhibits, plus educational presentations and more.
Play mini golf. Pacific Paradise Park has two 18-hole courses, and they are quite good: attractive, challenging and filled with history and trivia (and hidden Bigfoots). There are also bumper boats and a large indoor arcade. Also, Playtime Family Fun has go-karts, bumper cars, a game room and a giant slide.
Go shopping, if you want to. There are plenty of places to get a T-shirt, sweatshirt, beach toys or beach-kitsch decor.
Watch the sunset. In Ocean Shores, the sunset is kind of live a drive-in movie: People drive right onto the beach, pull out camp chairs, build bonfires and watch the sun go down. Alternately, you could walk on to the beach or watch from the comfort of your own balcony, depending on where you are staying.
Things to do with kids in Ocean Shores: food and drink
Eat seafood. Bennett’s Fish Shack has been a favorite for years, and with good reason. They seem to have everything: lots of fried fish, plus tacos, salads, burgers and more. There’s a spacious dining room, and takeout also is an option.
Even better: If your accommodation has a kitchen, stop at Lytle Seafoods on the way to Ocean Shores. Stock up on whatever fresh seafood and shellfish catches your eye. (Oyster shooters, anyone?) There’s live crab, and you can watch them pull it out of the tank. They also make their own clam chowder, and they’re well stocked with sauces, seasonings, even breadcrumbs and batters for however you decide to cook your feast. And regardless of what you do or don’t buy, it’s a fun waterfront stop.
Or don’t eat seafood. We had takeout from Thian’s Thai Fusion, and it was delicious.
Have an adult beverage: If you’re of the beer-drinking persuasion (and have someone to watch the kids), don’t miss Elkhead Taproom. It is centrally located, welcoming (to those 21 and up) and fun. If the name sounds familiar, it’s a branch of Elkhead Brewing in Buckley. Also, for the wordplay and the beverages, there’s Ocean Pours Taproom (also 21+), which serves beer, wine, cider and seltzer.
Eat ice cream and candy. Peppermint Parlor (inside Playtime Family Fun) gets good reviews for its long hours, large scoops and variety of flavors.
First published October 2022
More beach fun:
Surf, sand and mermaids in family-friendly Westport
Fall family getaway to Long Beach and Hood Canal
Sparkling Seabrook is super-cute and not too far from Seattle
And more Northwest travel in Seattle’s Child