There’s not much else — in my book, at least — that compares to a trip to the ocean. The sand, the waves, the salty air, the priceless moment of watching my two sons dash from our car to the sand as if it’s Disneyland-but-better.
Needless to say, my family visits the ocean whenever we can squeeze it in. One of our favorite beach getaway destinations is Westport, Washington. Depending on your location in the South or Central Sound, it’s about a 2-3 hour drive. While the town of Westport may not offer as many tourist attractions as the popular Ocean Shores, I love the vibe of this less-crowded, laid-back fishing town with its decidedly surf scene.
Surf, sand, mermaids, and go-karts
Westhaven State Park is an absolute gem, just minutes from Westport’s marina and shops. My boys (ages 4 and 7) could play in the dunes and roll down the sandy hills all day long. And who could blame them — what a view! From the dunes, you can watch surfers ride waves to your left while pelicans dive for dinner in Halfmoon Bay on your right. A paved bike path runs through the park and into the town center, making it easy to post up at the beach, then take a 1-mile bike ride into town for lunch.
Westhaven’s surf break is super accessible to beginners, so if you have surfers-in-the-making, check out Bigfoot Surf. They offer lessons for ages 7 and up. (For kiddos younger than 7, Bigfoot pros are happy to give some pointers on getting little ones out in the waves).
Westport’s main drag, Westhaven Drive, offers the classic beach town tourist attractions (think saltwater taffy, ice cream, and those lifeguard sweatshirts that scream “preteen”). The piers running perpendicular to Westhaven Drive usually advertise freshly caught fish for sale, and my kids are always thrilled to watch fishing crews unload their catch in the evenings.
For post-beach action, I strongly recommend the Go Karts at The Breakers Boutique Inn. With just four karts, your family will likely have the track to yourselves, and the little cars are zippier than you might expect. Kids need to be 52” tall to ride on their own, but they can ride on an adult’s lap (for free) if they don’t meet the height requirement.
On our way out of town after our most recent trip, we decided to check out the Westport Winery Garden Resort. We’d driven past it for years without stopping, and apparently we hadn’t known what we were missing! This huge property boasts a wine tasting room, distillery, restaurant, gardens, art installations, miniature golf course, and the International Mermaid Museum. The museum itself is small (and charmingly cheesy), and my ocean-obsessed boys loved reading about sea creatures, diving expeditions, and — yes — mermaid mythology. (Most definitely worth the $3 entry fee). The property is located about 20 minutes out of Westhaven, almost to Aberdeen, making it a great stop on the way in or out of town.
Bennett’s Fish Shack is our go-to stop to satisfy the fish n’ chip craving that inevitably hits you upon arrival of any fishing town. Their kids menu features lots of great options (including burgers and chicken strips for non-seafood-eaters), and their portions are generous. There’s some outdoor seating, but this spot does get crowded. We usually order to-go, then snack on our fries as we drive to the Halfmoon Bay side of Westhaven State Park to enjoy dinner from the back of our car while watching the waves crash.
Another great choice, Aloha Alabama, serves up a unique fusion of Southern-Barbeque-Hawaiian food. I’m always on the lookout for a good poke bowl, and this place doesn’t disappoint. The fried pickles were a hit with my kids, and they also offer family meals for takeaway.
The Shop n’ Cart grocery store is an easy stop to stock up on some beach grub. It doesn’t look like anything special, but the baked goods here are surprisingly satisfying (the cheese bread is delicious!) and you can find some cheap, end-cap beach toys. My family always plows through the day’s snacks on the drive over, and this is a good place to reload the munchie bag.
While a day trip to Westport is doable, our family usually chooses to stay for a night or two. Westport offers a number of reasonably-priced, family friendly options for overnight stays.
LOGE Westport is a cool, beachy “surf camp” that’s awesome for families. The idea of LOGE is inspired by the road-trip, camping culture of simpler times, and is focused on community and a love of the outdoors. You’ve got options here: choose from surf-vibe hotel rooms, RV hook-ups, or campsites (many of which are covered). The large outdoor grassy area with adjacent fire pits calls for s’mores and lawn games, and the outdoor kitchen (complete with Traeger grills) is the perfect set-up for your post-beach BBQ’s. There’s also a shared community room stocked with board games and a full kitchen for those chillier nights.
The lobby’s “Sands Cafe” serves lattes, sandwiches, and snacks. You can also demo and rent outdoor gear like surfboards, kayaks, SUP’s and bikes. When we stayed here recently, the camping area was mostly occupied by families, and we had a blast getting to know some new friends.
For families looking for a more secluded camping experience, check out Grayland State Park. The only thing between you and the ocean is a long dune path that brings its own adventures. Tent sites, RV hook-ups, and yurts are available. Most sites are located on loops that work well for young bicyclists. If you don’t want to trek all your gear down the path, you can drive right onto the beach at an entrance just past the park’s gates.
Tip: although the state’s Junior Ranger Program has been on pause due to Covid, you can ask the park rangers for activity books that encourage kids to learn more about the park. When kids complete the books, they can earn an official Junior Ranger badge.
If you’re not the camping type, or your are looking for a more private space, there are also plenty of Airbnb and VRBO rentals to be found in the Westport and Grayland areas. As we roll into the middle of summer, we’re already planning our next trip to the beach.
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