Beach Towns of Washington State

Drop anchor in Washington’s tranquil beach towns.

Like seashells decorating a wave-kissed beach, each of Washington’s coastal towns offers its own special seaside vacation—no two are alike. So whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway, a family adventure, or some salty fishing-town charm, visitors can collect vacation memories in Washington’s communities year after year.

In southwest Washington, where the Columbia River empties into the Pacific, the Long Beach Peninsula serves up a serious helping of traditional family fun (and mouthwatering seafood) along a popular 25-mile sliver of public beaches and state parks. Postcard-pretty Long Beach streets offer game parlors, bike rentals, pastry shops and quirky museums. In nearby Ilwaco, bistros like OleBob's Seafood Market & Galley serve fresh sea scallops and pan-fried oysters next to a working fishing pier.

Just 90 minutes west of Olympia, the town of Westport is home to the century-old Grays Harbor Lighthouse, the tallest in the state at 107 feet. And Westhaven State Park’s wide beaches are primed for savoring a sunset. Time your visit for March to catch neoprene-clad surfers tackling the Clean Water Classic, the Northwest’s premier pro/am wave-riding competition.

On the other side of Grays Harbor, Ocean Shores offers a broad range of activities. Shops, movie theaters and restaurants vie for attention, but the wide, straight roads lead visitors right to the water. Beachcombers delight in discovering clams nestled in the sand, and storms deliver driftwood, pebbles and baubles onto miles of sandy beachfront. And just north in Seabrook, renting a ride from Buck's Bikes makes for easy exploring.

Northwest Washington’s rocky, wild shore is the westernmost point in the continental United States. Near Neah Bay, walk the Cape Flattery Trail. The easy three-quarter-mile amble boasts views of immense sea stacks and chance encounters with a host of sea life, including puffins, orcas and humpback whales. At low tide, stroll Ruby Beach, on the boundary of Olympic National Park, in search of sea stars—likely your only company on these vast stretches of deserted coastline.

—Lora Shinn