Medford and the Rogue Valley

Trip Guide: The North Beach of the Washington Coast

by Lauren Braden

in Trip Ideas

Pack up the beach chairs and clam bucket, but leave that to-do list at home. Head to the hidden stretch of Washington’s coast known as the “North Beach” for sandcastles, stormwatching and solitude. The sand stretches for miles in this less-visited coastal treasure.

Like Ocean Shores, cars are permitted to drive right on the beach in some spots, though the density of cars on these beaches is far lighter, and cars are not allowed in some parts at all. Some lodgings have private beach access; others are within walking distance to a public beach.

Get there: From the town of Ocean Shores, head north on State Route 109, hugging the coastline for 30 miles through tiny towns like Seabrook, Pacific Beach and Moclips before the road peters out at the mouth of the Quinault River. See directions from Seattle.

Read on for our guide to a great getaway on the Washington Coast, the hidden area known as “North Beach.”

 

DO

photo by Derek K. Miller via Flickr Creative Commons

photo by Derek K. Miller via Flickr Creative Commons

Build castles in the sand. The largest public beach access here is the 364-acre Griffiths-Priday Ocean State Park (Discover Pass required, a prime spot for building sandcastles, riding bikes and beachcombing. No driving on the beach here! In the park, hike along the natural Copalis Beach Spit (four miles round trip) where low dunes beckon to those looking for a peaceful respite. Bring your own buckets and shovels for building sandcastles, or purchase sand tools in nearby Pacific Beach at Hi Flyers Kites & Things, where you can also pick up a kite to fly and a delicious Mexican mocha.

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Peeps on Copalis Beach by MïKCommune with wildlife. Pack your binoculars! Soaring bald eagles and ospreys fish for their dinner, scoters bob along in the surf, and large flocks of feeding shorebirds meander to and fro.

Watch the sandpipers probe into the sand with their beaks, like needles on a sewing machine, as they search for tasty treats, such as small crabs.

 

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Visit the Museum of the North Beach. The North Beach has a rich past as a bustling logging area, fishing grounds for the native Quinault tribe and the end of the line for the Northern Pacific Railroad. Imagine, Moclips once hosted 5,000 tourists each weekend. Make a stop at this funky museum to see the fascinating trove of artifacts and historical photos, and to chat with one of the volunteer docents.

 

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Razor clam kissing by "meaduva" via Flickr Creative Commons

Razor clam kissing by “meaduva” via Flickr Creative Commons

Dig for clams. The meaty Pacific razor clam lives on intertidal coastal beaches. Clamming is fun for all ages; all you need is a clam shovel or tube, a bucket to put your clams in 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.

Note: Digging for these clams is regulated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and permitted only on designated weekend mornings, usually from October through April.

 

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Just relax. Indulge in lazy, sunny days on the sand, then let the sound of the ocean lull you to sleep at night. Mobile phone service is spotty on this stretch of the coast, making it even easier to truly unplug.

 

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STAY

Iron Springs Resort, Copalis Beach. This newly remodeled resort dates back to the 1940s as a place for families to unwind, fish and wander beautiful beaches. When the True family bought and remodeled the collection of 28 cabins they had vacationed in for decades, they prioritized sustainability and preserving the resort’s charms. The remodeled cabins reopened in 2011, and the result is stunning. Each cabin has a full kitchen, wood-burning fireplace and deck. The on-site general store stocks basic groceries and supplies. Dogs are welcome. Rates: $159–$289. 360-276-4230.

Iron Springs Resort, Copalis Beach, Washington

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Seabrook Vacation Rentals, Seabrook. The concept of an all-new beach town may seem a little contrived, but after a visit to Seabrook, built in 2004, you’ll be hooked. Amenities for families are numerous: an indoor pool house, paint-your-own-pottery studio, cruiser bikes of many colors to ride, pocket playgrounds, outdoor fire pits ringed with Adirondack chairs, and miles of beach to roam. Oh, and the brand-new beach cottages you sleep in are pretty sweet, too. There are 200 homes in all, and different cottage configurations can sleep from two to 20. Rates vary, but there’s a cottage for most any price range, starting as low as $109 for the smallest of cottages. 360-276-0099.

 

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The Gull Wing Inn, Moclips. Entering one of Carla and John Kelly’s vacation suites is like stepping into your very own vintage beach cottage, lovingly decorated with restored thrift-store finds and hand-sewn curtains. Your door is a stone’s throw from the walking path to the beach. If you like the inn’s nostalgic “shabby chic” décor, Carla runs a small antique shop up front, so you can take it home with you. Pets welcome, hot tub onsite. Sleeps two to seven per suite. Rates: $60–$85.

 

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SPONSORED

Hi-Tide Ocean Beach Resort, Moclips. leave behind your hectic daily routine and escape to the quiet, peaceful world of the Hi-Tide Ocean Beach Resort. Our 33 ocean front condominiums are situated on Moonstone Beach at the northern most end of historic Moclips, Washington, affording spectacular views of the magnificent Washington coastline and the beautiful Pacific Ocean. MORE. Rates: $75–$230.

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Go Camping. Pitch a tent at Pacific Beach State Park. This 10-acre camping park has 2,300 feet of wide-open ocean shoreline. The park’s campground is open and treeless, offering tent campers little privacy from one another, but makes up for it with the swell beachfront location. This park has a handful of yurts for rent that sleep up to five for $62-$72 per night.

 

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EAT

While most lodging on this part of the coast includes a kitchen so you can whip up your own meals, good groceries are hard to come by. Bring your ingredients from home or make a stop in Aberdeen. Last-minute gourmet ingredients can be found at a wonderful little store called Front Street Market in Seabrook.

Eating out? Don’t expect a wide array of options, but there are a few tasty eateries to try.

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Mill 109 Restaurant and Pub, Seabrook. In the beach village of Seabrook, Mill 109 Restaurant and Pub serves up omelets, pastas, burgers, salmon cakes, salads and steaks. Start with a cocktail or sip a microbrew with your meal. Seating is at a premium in this little joint, especially considering how bustling the village of Seabrook is during summer weekends. Your best bet is to make reservations.

 

 

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Locals head to Paddie’s Perch in Pacific Beach for homemade pie and steaming bowls of clam chowder, so why don’t you?

Paddie’s Perch is a small beach town diner, and the menu is pretty basic. But the food is good and the service is great. In addition to delicious chowder and a fine slice of strawberry rhubarb pie, we’ve enjoyed their fish and chips, fried oysters and pancakes for breakfast. Yum.

 

 

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Emily’s Confection, Pacific Beach. Got a hankering for a home-baked cinnamon roll or vanilla latte? How about a fresh fruit smoothie or cup of clam chowder? Eat in Emily’s Confection’s cozy cafe or make your stop a quick one by ordering a tasty treat to take with you to the beach.

 

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SHOP

There’s not a lot of shopping to be done on the North Beach, but in our travels here we’ve found a few finds worth a mention, all in the town of Pacific Beach.

Sue’s Treasure Trove in Pacific Beach is a cute little shop full of collectibles. I scored a glass float here and some very cool turquoise jewelry.

59 Main has home furnishings, candles and gifts with a refined beach cottage vibe.

Hi-Flyers kite shop sells kites and beach accessories of many types (and colors!) and they are home of the $2 latte.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

CP August 5, 2012 at 8:05 am

I wish you would report on places that do NOT allow dogs. There are many of us who want to stay in a pet free accommodation. Thank you for your columns–very interesting.

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