Looking for a great beach getaway in the Pacific Northwest? Miles of sandy beaches, a wonderful boardwalk and a great downtown full of shops and restaurants make Long Beach, Washington our absolute favorite beach town to visit along the Washington Coast.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ILLWACO & SALMON FISHING
Day 1: Starting our day off super early, we set out for the nearby port town of Illwaco. This fishing town is a popular hub for heading out the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean for world class salmon fishing. While crossing the Columbia Bar can be dicey as you head out into the open ocean, we were lucky and had calm waters and beautiful sunshine for our day of salmon fishing! While it was a slow day of fishing, we did catch a couple salmon and crab before it was time to head back. Our son Brecken had a blast learning to help reel the fish in and how to carefully pick up the crab without getting pinched! After returning from fishing - spend some time walking along the shops and restaurants in Illwaco. If you happen to visit on a Saturday, Illwaco runs a great farmer's market and is worth a stroll - stop and have some fresh clam chowder or fish & chips!
BEACH TIME AT LONG BEACH
After returning from our salmon fishing adventure, it was time to hit the beach! As you approach the beach, a sign welcomes you to the 'World's Longest Beach'. If you actually look into the stats, Long Beach is actually the 3rd longest beach in the world at 28 miles long, but it is the world's longest drivable beach, world's longest beach on a peninsula and the longest beach within the United States. With miles and miles of sand to choose from, drive down the beach and enjoy the views, then pick a spot to park and enjoy this wonderful beach!
LONG BEACH BOARDWALK & DISCOVERY TRAIL
Day 2: Kick off your day taking a walk along the Long Beach Boardwalk. This half mile long raised wooden boardwalk offers great views out to the ocean while winding thru the grassy sand dunes. If you are looking a bit longer of a walk, the 8.5 mile Lewis & Clark Discovery Trail runs from Ilwaco to Cape Disappointment State Park. Located along the trail are access points out to the beach as well as historical markers commemorating Lewis & Clark and other points of interest such as a whale skeleton. For us, anything having to do with Lewis and Clark is always extra special as we are related to Meriwether Lewis (on my husband's side of the family)! Walk or bike as much of this great trail as you'd like! There are numerous bike rental shops in town if you want to bike along this wonderful trail!
DOWNTOWN LONG BEACH
After enjoying a morning walk, we headed to downtown Long Beach to explore the main drag of Long Beach. Downtown Long Beach is filled with souvenir shops, candy stores, delicious seafood restaurants, ice cream shops and some fun art work (including giant fishermen, frying pans & razor clams). Exploring this lovely downtown makes for a fun way to spend a few hours!
Also fun for the kids are the carnival rides that operate on a daily basis! Stop in and let your kids enjoy a couple of these classic rides! Our son absolutely loved riding the 'race car' ride! A bit further down the street if you are looking for more kid friendly activities is the Funbeach Fun Center that offers go-karts and mini-golf. Also worth a stop is Marsh's Free Museum. This curiosity shop offers a bit of everything from basic souvenirs to the more 'strange' curiosities. The most famous site within the museum is 'Jake the Alligator Man', this alleged half man, half alligator sits on display and definitely sparks the imagination! Slightly creepy, but is a must see while visiting Long Beach.
WATCH THE SUNSET AT THE BEACH
To end the day, head back to the beach to enjoy some more sand, surf and sun! Channel your inner child and spend some time building sandcastles, looking for seashells, chasing seagulls and dipping your feet in the water! Bring a picnic dinner and watch the sun go down on another beautiful day along the Washington Coast.
CAPE DISAPPOINTMENT STATE PARK
Day 3: For our last day in Long Beach, we headed a bit south to Cape Disappointment State Park. This wonderful park includes campgrounds with cabins and yurts, beautiful beach access, two lighthouses, the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and old military ruins and can easily fill up an entire day of exploring! Starting off our morning, our first stop was at the North Head Lighthouse. Built in 1898, this lighthouse provides navigational aid at the mouth of the Columbia River. Today the lighthouse is still actively used (although now automated) and can be visited during the summer.
Our next stop was to explore the bunkers of Fort Canby - start by wandering thru Battery Harvey Allen. The battery was built in 1904 to overlook and help protect the Columbia River. Last operational in 1945, it is now an interesting yet slightly creepy area to wander thru. The concrete hallways and rooms can be explored - just make sure to have a flashlight on hand!
Located right next to Battery Harvey Allen is the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center which is perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The views alone from here are worth the stop - look out at the crashing waves below and in the distance you can also see Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. Inside the Interpretive Center, stop by to learn a bit of history about the area and how it was first explored by Lewis and Clark!
Also worth a visit are Deadman's Cove and Cape Disappointment Lighthouse - but you will need to either sneak in or watch for updates as to their access status. Currently both are closed down due to hazardous conditions along the trail and are being evaluated as to their future. Either way, the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse can be viewed from the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center or you can still view Deadman's Cove from up above without venturing down to the beach.
As we wrapped up our time visiting Long Beach, we also made a stop out at the historic town of Oysterville. Once a prosperous town back in the 1880's due to the oyster trade, today this historic town seems as though time has passed it by. Taking a stroll through this downtown feels as though you have stepped back in time. Today the original one room school and church are still used for community events and the post office is the oldest continuously used Post Office in the state of Washington.
Interested in planning your own trip to Long Beach, Washington? Below is our summarized itinerary for you to follow or adjust to your own preferences. ENJOY!
Day 1: Start off early with a salmon fishing trip out of Illwaco, after returning enjoy the Saturday Ilwaco Farmer's Market (if you're there on a Saturday), then spend the afternoon enjoying the beach at Long Beach
Day 2: Take a morning stroll along the Boardwalk or Lewis & Clark Discovery Trail, explore downtown Long Beach - wander the shops, ride a couple carnival rides, stop at Marsh's Free Museum & see 'Jake the Alligator Man', then spend the rest of the day out at the beach, take in a sunset out at the beach.
Day 3: Spend the day exploring Cape Disappointment State Park - stop at the North Head Lighthouse, Fort Canby & Battery Harvey Allen, Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, enjoy views of Cape Disappointment Lighthouse and Deadman's Cove. If time, drive out to Oysterville - wander the historic downtown.