Trip Guide: Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula

by Lauren Braden

in Trip Ideas

It’s not all go-carts and saltwater taffy in this quintessential beach town, though there’s plenty of that to keep beach lovers happy. From cranberries to Lewis and Clark, the region’s cultural heritage is everywhere. And with miles of trails and wild beaches to explore, opportunities to immerse yourself in nature are abundant as well.

Trip Guide: Washington's Long Beach Peninsula

The town of Long Beach is a true beach town, a scarcity on the Washington coast. Bike rentals, kite shops and funky junk stores line the main drag. Midsummer brings throngs of families in search of fun, and they usually find it. Up the skinny peninsula, the historic town of Oysterville makes for a nice walking tour, and Leadbetter Point State Park offers miles of wild ocean beach on one side and bay beach on the other. Include a stop at nearby Cape Disappointment State Park at the south end of the Peninsula for a dose of nature and history, and check out the cool fishing town of Ilwaco while you’re down there.

Read on for our guide to a fantastic getaway on Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula.

 

DO

Trip Guide: Washington's Long Beach Peninsula

Fly a Kite. Long Beach holds the world record for having the most kites in the air at one time, and every August, during the International Kite Festival, it tries to break its own record.

Buy a kite during a visit to the World Kite Museum or bring your own. The Museum features exhibits on kites from around the world, from China to Long Beach. The museum has a kids’ table where your little ones can assemble their very own kite, one that really flies!

 

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Trip Guide: Washington's Long Beach PeninsulaDig for Clams. The meaty Pacific razor clam lives on inter-tidal coastal beaches, and Long Beach is one of the best places to dig ’em up.

Out here, the tide sets the table, and some local restaurants make delicious use of the shellfish bounty. And you can dig your own!  Razor clamming is a popular recreational activity for all ages in the fall,w inter and early spring.

Clamming is easy; all you need is a clam shovel or tube, a bucket to put your clams in (one bucket per person) and your clamming license. Kids will especially enjoy the task of finding the “clam shows,” or characteristic dimples or doughnuts in the sand that indicate a submerged razor clam.

Read all about digging for razor clams in Long Beach.

 

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Bike the Discovery Trail. One of the gems of this region, the Discovery Trail is an eight-and-a-half-mile-long, mostly paved path takes you past a massive gray whale skeleton, over windswept dunes and through a lush wetland.

Trip Guide: Washington's Long Beach Peninsula

Trip Guide: Washington's Long Beach Peninsula

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Trip Guide: Washington's Long Beach PeninsulaRide a horse. There’s nothing quite like riding a horse along a breezy beach, but such opportunities are rare in the Pacific Northwest. Not so in long beach.

Back Country Wilderness Outfitters leads horseback adventures for all ages, and a one-hour ride is just $25. Got more time? Check out their Rib-eye Ride for $80, a four-hour excursion that serves up a full steak dinner, cooked the way you want it. Even better? After you’re all full from dinner, you get to ride back with the sunset.

 

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Trip Guide: Washington's Long Beach PeninsulaHike to lighthouses. Cape Disappointment State Park, where two historic lighthouses guide mariners into the mouth of the Columbia River, is a stunner of a state park. Before the lighthouses, there were numerous shipwrecks, and the coast was known as the “graveyard of the Pacific.” You can also hike on six and a half miles of trails through diverse habitats and breathtaking scenery, and while doing so, stop by the educational Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. Discover Pass required.

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Trip Guide: Washington's Long Beach PeninsulaVisit the Farmer’s Market. Strolling the waterfront Saturday Market in Ilwaco, ice cream cones in hand, we got the feeling that people who live in these parts eat an awful lot of very fresh fish. It was for sale everywhere, right off the boat. And as if that weren’t enough to recommend this market, we also found lots of art for sale, flea market stands, woodcarvings, kettle corn and shaved ice, ribbon fries that look like potato chips right out of the kettle, mini donuts, and of course, fresh produce for sale. The region hosts markets each day of the weekend in the summer months  May–September: on Fridays 3 – 6 PM in downtown Long Beach, on Saturdays on the waterfront in Ilwaco on the mouth of the Columbia River, and on Sundays across the river in Astoria, Oregon.

 

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Oh, and here’s a DON’T. Don’t swim in the ocean here. Dangerous riptides in the ocean off the Long Beach Peninsula make swimming unsafe, so stick to the sand.

Trip Guide: Washington's Long Beach Peninsula

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STAY

 

Adrift Hotel. This refurbished modern inn is popular with urban families. Its no-frills décor puts utility first, featuring coffee tables made of upcycled pallets and shelving converted from fruit crates. Colorful cruiser bikes are complimentary. Dogs are welcome ($15 per pet). Rates: $75–$135.

Trip Guide: Washington's Long Beach Peninsula

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Trip Guide: Washington's Long Beach Peninsula

Shakti Cove Cottages. Pockets of the Long Beach Peninsula have a relaxed hippie vibe, and Shakti Cove has that aura. Just a few blocks from the heart of Ocean Park, this quiet and rustic getaway has 10 cute cottages that are both kid- and pet-friendly at a nice price. Each cottage has a basic kitchen. Walk just a block to an espresso stand. Rates: $80-$95. 360-665-4000

 

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Trip Guide: Washington's Long Beach PeninsulaCamp at Cape Disappointment State Park. The 137 campsites here don’t have water views, but the park’s spectacular beach and lighthouses are nearby. There are yurts and cabins for rent, too. Don’t feel like cooking? A food stand serves wood-fired pizza and ice cream.

 

 

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EAT

 

Trip Guide: Washington's Long Beach Peninsula

First, a word about the cuisine of the Discovery Coast. There’s something for everyone here, from chowder stands to fine dining, and access to the local bounty of crab, oysters, salmon, cranberries, wild mushrooms and seasonal local produce is taken full advantage of. Come hungry.

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Trip Guide: Washington's Long Beach Peninsula42nd Street Café and Bistro, Seaview. This is our favorite breakfast / brunch spot on the whole Washington Coast! For breakfast, try the homestyle breakfast with fried razor clams, the smoked salmon scramble, or a delicious bowl of oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar. Don’t skip the homemade compote on your toast, made with marionberry, strawberry orange and walnuts. We always buy a few jars to take home with us – it’s that good.

 

 

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Lost Roo, Long Beach. One of the best spots for families is Lost Roo, where parents can enjoy a microbrew and oyster shooters while kids feast on chicken quesadillas.

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Trip Guide: Washington's Long Beach PeninsulaThe Depot Restaurant, Seaview. For a splurge, you will be thrilled with a visit to The Depot Restaurant, tucked into an original depot for the old Ilwaco Railroad (nicknamed the “Clamshell Railroad” because it operated by tide table). We started with rogue smoky blue cheese and Oregon hazelnuts on a baguette with fig compote from Lake Chelan, and believe it or not it got better from there. From the delicious start to our meal it was clear that local cuisine rules here. Chef Michael Lalewicz brings his passion for locally-sourced ingredients to your lively bistro table in the form of delectable dishes like foraged oyster mushroom soup, a plate of the most delicate fried oysters, pan-seared salmon with sun-dried tomato pesto or house-made gnocchi. The service is excellent, too. Snag the chef’s table if it’s available and enjoy watching the chefs in action from front-row seats. (360) 642-7880

 

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Trip Guide: Washington's Long Beach PeninsulaThe Shelburne Restaurant and Pub, Long Beach. The mussel chowder is excellent here, as are the Dungeness Crab Cakes. Kick up your flip flops with a bowl of chowder and a pint of ale on the pub side, or dress up a little and take a table in the formal dining room, steeped in Old World ambiance.  If you want to sample local oysters on the half shell fresh from Willapa Bay, this is an excellent place to do it, where owners Laurie and David top them off  in a signature Shelburne Inn way–with Bloody Mary shaved ice. It gives a nice kick. Finish your meal with a specialty dessert–we opted for the egg-less custard with wild local huckleberry jam. (360) 642-2442

 

Many thanks to the Long Beach Peninsula Visitor’s Bureau for helping us plan our most recent trip to the Long Beach area for this story. 

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Krista August 2, 2012 at 11:31 am

Spent a couple nights there already this summer ~ lots of fun. Check out the happy hour at Castaways Seafood Grille. Oh, and the pastries at the bakery! And a funky little shop called NIVA (new, inspired, vintage, artful). I could go on….

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