Once you visit Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula, you'll want to return again and again: it's as if you're caught up in its ocean tides. Maybe it's because no matter how many times you visit, something new appears that you've never seen before: a blue Japanese glass fishing float, a sailor’s drawing on the wall of a WWII bunker hidden under ancient ferns, or Jake the Alligator man lurking in his glass case.
After an easy 175 mile drive from Seattle, on roads that wind through forests and hug the bays, you reach Long Beach Peninsula’s 25-mile stretch of beach. When you plant your toes in the sand, nothing stands between you, the waves, and the endless ocean.
Family and pet friendly, the Breakers Resort is only a short trek through the dunes to the beach. Named for Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition to this very same coastline, the Discovery Trail is a paved 7.6-mile biking and walking trail that begins right in the Breaker’s parking lot and spans the entire peninsula down to Ilwaco. Bring your bikes for an unforgettable ride. There's an indoor pool at the Breakers along with an outdoor spa and a gazebo for barbequeing. Kids can make friends on the playground, and adults can clink their bottles together over beach fires after dark. It’s cozy, clean and well-established. breakerslongbeach.com. 1-800-219-9833. 210 26th St NW, Long Beach
The newer and modern Adrift Hotel has a very hip vibe, and boasts Foosball, Ping Pong and other games on every floor. Find the Pickled Fish Restaurant and Bar on the top floor. They feature nightly live music an impressive sunset ocean view. adrifthotel.com. 1-800-561-2456. 409 Sid Snyder Dr SW, Long Beach
Serious Pizza at Cape Disappointment Sate Park makes seriously good pizza! (And I am an East Coast girl who judges her pizza by Jersey Shore Boardwalk standards.) This wood fired pizza is the best on the Peninsula. Salt air must be the key ingredient. Be sure to order at least 45 minutes before you are planning to eat – this pizza is very popular in the summer months. 360-642-3060. 243 Robert Gray Dr SW, Ilwaco
The Lost Roo: Kid-friendly, but also Adult- friendly too, it features a breezy open deck, fabulous fish tacos and mac-n-cheese, plus cool drinks and a laid back atmosphere. The restaurant and bar are crowded with locals, always a good sign. Lostroo.com 360-642-4329. 1700 Pacific Ave S, Long Beach
The Cottage Bakery & Deli: Where else can you get a photo of your kid eating a doughnut as big as his head? This place is a glorious, old-school sugar rush. It’s a good idea to ride your bikes here, load up on the hundreds of cookies and pastries, order sandwiches, and have a picnic on the beach. Cash only. 360-642-4441. 118 Pacific Ave S, Long Beach, WA
Here are few options for places to explore. However, you may just want to bring a blanket, a kite, and a cooler to the beach, and call it a day.
Waikiki Beach and Cape Disappointment State Park: go for the endless expanse of driftwood washed up on the beach. Let your inner architect get creative and build a family compound. Wade in the waves, but please heed the warnings about riptides: They are serious. Be sure to purchase a Discovery Pass at the Ranger Station, as this is a Washington State Park. Explore the two lighthouses and find out how Deadman’s Cove got its name.
Photo: Tonya Cunningham
Oysterville: During the Gold Rush, this was the most populated town in Washington State. These days, it's a small street with stately old homes that resembles a ghost town. Immerse yourself in its history. While you're there, discover the solitude of Willappa Bay or hike at Leadbetter Point. Eagles, shorebirds, wildflowers, and shells make this one of our favorite spots.
Port of Ilwaco: At this quaint working port, the fishermen brave the waters where the Columbia meets the Pacific. The fresh crab at OleBob’s Galley Café is unforgettable. Stop in the Time Enough Book store, give the bookstore dog a pat, and choose something to read from the local section. OleBob's: 151 Howerton Way, Ilwaco, WA; Time Enough Books, 157 Howerton Way SE, Ilwaco, WA
Caught in the rain? Stroll down Long Beach’s Pacific Avenue and stop in the tourist shops and galleries! Try to choose from the 64 flavors of ice cream at Scoopers, play a little Skee-ball, ride the merry-go-round, and visit Jake the Alligator Man and all of his curious friends at Marsh’s Free Museum. Scoopers Market: 101 Pacific Ave, Long Beach, WA; Marsh's Free Museum, 409 Pacific Ave, Long Beach, WA
There's always more to see on the Long Beach Peninsula, but don’t worry, you'll be back!