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It’s time to visit some of the lovely coastal towns in Washington state, perfect for a summer vacation escape or a relaxed, ethereal spring or fall visit.
The beauty of Washington’s coastal landscape is its diversity. From miles and miles of beaches at Long Beach Peninsula to rocky shorelines and forests near Neah Bay, the Pacific Northwest’s seaside and coastal communities offer unique experiences just waiting to be explored. Whether it’s challenging hikes or a little razor clam digging, the Evergreen State’s seaside and coastal communities welcome you.
Here’s a look at 10 of Washington’s best towns to visit to explore the coast.
10 Best Coastal Towns in Washington State
1. Neah Bay
At the top of the world, as Washingtonians may say, Neah Bay offers the best of both worlds when it comes to ocean fun. On the east side, Neah Bay faces the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with its rugged shoreline, while on the west, the Pacific Ocean invites you to spend time on the beach, or hop in the water for a little surfing or swimming.
While in Neah Bay, visit the Makah Tribe’s museum and cultural center, where you can view artifacts as old as 500 years and tour replicas of significant tribal history.
Explore the area by hiking Cape Flattery Trail, a 1.5-mile roundtrip showcasing Cape Flattery as you explore the trail, taking you along a boardwalk in a bog.
Since you’ll need to purchase a permit to hike the area from the Makah, use the pass to also visit Shi Shi Beach, with beautiful views of the Point of Arches and the Olympic coast.
Bremerton isn’t necessarily a place you’ll go to enjoy the beach, but it is a great coastal town in Washington that’s close to Seattle and offers an opportunity to learn more about Washington’s naval history.
The largest city on Kitsap Peninsula with about 38,000 people, Bremerton is a Navy town. With the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard located there, the city is home to the Puget Sound Navy Museum. At the Navy Museum, you can explore the history of the shipyard through interactive exhibits, as well as learn what life was like aboard the USS John Stennis, an aircraft carrier.
While in Bremerton, climb aboard the USS Joy Turner, a destroyer decommissioned 40 years ago. Explore each deck, with its unique exhibits, such as a brig, mess hall, and sleeping quarters.
3. Long Beach Peninsula
Long Beach Peninsula, or as we called it while we visited, “The LBP”, it’s a quaint little coastal town only 3 hours from Seattle or about 7 hours from Spokane. It’s not only a delightful seaside town in Washington state, it’s also on our list as one of the best places to retire in Washington state.
While there is plenty to do in Long Beach itself, you’ll want to explore the entire Long Beach Peninsula. Long Beach is “home” to the world’s largest beach, with 28 miles of sandy and rocky beaches lining the Pacific Ocean, with access points.
The beach at Long Beach is home to boardwalk trail, and features the World’s Longest Beach Arch (which you can get a picture with, but just watch out for cars!) Known for razor clams, you’ll find people with shovels and buckets patrolling the beach in the early morning hours.
In town, Long Beach is home to the World Kite Museum and hosts the International Kite Festival every August. Make sure to book your stay in Long Beach months ahead of time if you want to stay during the International Kite Festival, as the town is small and stays within walking distance book up quickly.
While in Long Beach, check out the local souvenir shops – and don’t forget to grab some chowder! Our favorite places to eat in Long Beach were:
- The Chowder Stop (can’t miss!)
- Dylan’s Cottage Bakery and Delicatessen (perfect for breakfast and picnic lunch on the beach)
- The ice cream parlor inside of Scoopers Market (after a long day of walking)
Head out to Cape Disappointment State Park and visit the lighthouse that stands above the confluence of the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean. Listen to the roar of the waves as they crash against the cliffs. The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center highlights the expedition of the Corps of Discovery in the area, and you can walk Discovery Trail to the Lewis and Clark Carved Tree, which celebrates Lewis and Clark’s journey.
4. Port Townsend
Buildings still stand from the former military post, giving visitors a glimpse into the fort’s role in protecting the sound from potential enemies. Stroll the fort with its gun placements, officers’ quarters, and other buildings.
Learn more about the town of Port Townsend itself at the Rothschild House Museum, near the Old Ferry Dock. Definitely try and see if you can get a docent to show you around, as they are incredibly knowledge about the area and the house itself.
About two hours from Olympic National Park, you can plan a hiking tour of the park, or head for a sightseeing cruise to Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge, where you can partake in fun bird watching activities.
While in this charming Washington state coastal town, learn about the town’s history at the Poulsbo Historical Society’s museum.
The U.S. Naval Underwater Museum offers a look at life in submarines, and what makes them work. An impressive historical look into the Navy’s underwater missions, as well as a few special exhibits, makes the museum a must when visiting Poulsbo.
Offering hands-on experience with sea life, such as star fish and other marine animals, the Sea Discovery Center is fun for adults and children. Prefer non-aquatic animals? Pet an alpaca or llama at the Sawdust Hill Alpaca Farm.
6. Oak Harbor
Only about 2 hours from Seattle, Oak Harbor is a beautiful, craggy seaside town. Deception Pass State Park is Washington’s most-popular park, attracting visitors for its coves and rugged cliffs.
A great spot for hiking, kayaking, and swimming, Deception Pass State Park is known for its breath-taking sunsets. Located on two islands – Fidalgo and Whidbey – the park is connected by Deception Pass Bridge, a two-lane bridge 180 feet above the water, sending chills down some people’s spines.
Oak Harbor itself is a quaint coastal town, known for the oak trees that shade the community. Home to the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum, you can view aircraft that have served the Whidbey Naval Station from World War II through today.
7. Ocean Shores
Fly a kite on the beach, or maybe take a guided horseback ride with the Pacific Ocean only a few feet away. Ocean Shores is a fabulous beach community, home to all kinds of fun activities, including kayaking and hydrobiking, as well as fishing.
Learn more about the area at the Coastal Interpretive Center, where you’ll find shipwreck items, local history, and more.
With three main breaks, Westport ranks as one of the top places to surf in the world. Whether you enjoy “hanging ten,” or watching in awe as men and women delicately negotiate the giant waves of the Pacific Ocean, there’s plenty to enjoy at this coastal beach town. You can bring a picnic to the Wesport Viewing Tour, with striking views of the ocean and downtown Westport area.
Its beaches are perfect for walking, whale watching, and enjoying amazing sunsets. Westport’s beaches are also known for razor clamming and catching oysters.
9. Port Ludlow
Only about 2 hours from Seattle, Port Ludlow is a charming and small community with incredible hiking trails and even a local waterfall. For a long time, many Port Ludlow residents were retirees or those with vacation homes, but lately as working-from-home becomes more common, you’re beginning to see many more people live there year round.
While visiting Port Ludlow, be sure to check out Shine Tidelands State Park, which is known for its shellfish harvesting, kayaking opportunities, and plenty of walking. You also won’t want to miss Ludlow Falls, which is just an easy walk/small hike down from the gravel parking lot.
Not sure where to eat in Port Ludlow? No need to leave – visit Molcajete (which means “mortar and pestle” – you’ll notice it on the sign outside the restaurant!) for delicious Mexican food and Cove Coffee Co. for coffee and pastries.
Where should you stay in Port Ludlow? Check out Paradise Heights Bed and Breakfast, which is tucked away from the town and just off the Hood Canal Floating Bridge. If you’re looking for an escape from the noise, you’ll find it at Paradise Heights, which features only three bedrooms (no crowded hotel accommodations here!), jaw-dropping views, and a decadent breakfast served every morning.
With a beautiful coastline, Seabrook offers the best of two worlds, with easy access to the Pacific Ocean and Olympic National Park.
A surfer’s delight, Seabrook’s beach offers one of the best spots for cold water surfing. You can even sign up for lessons.
Perfect for whale watching and boating, Seabrook is also a nice spot to enjoy a walk along its beaches. Enjoy a drive along the Olympic Peninsula Loop, taking you around the perimeter of the national park, with its mountains, forests, and natural attractions, including waterfalls. Seabrook is home to a few historical museums, including a century-old cabin, with tales to tell. The Museum of the Northwest explores the area’s history.
Visit One of Washington State’s Seaside Towns
One of our favorite things to do as Washington state residents is heading to the coast when the weather gets hot. There’s nothing better than enjoying the cool ocean breeze on a hot day, and walking back to where ever we’re staying with an ice cream cone.
Looking for a Washington coast beach to visit? Plan your trip below!
Of course, visiting Washington’s coastal towns is also a delight in the spring or fall, too, when the misty fog rolls in the early mornings or evenings, covering everything in a spooky mist. If you’re looking for that classic Pacific Northwest experience, you’ll certainly find it at one of these coastal towns!