One of my favorite places is the town of Long Beach located close to the southern border of the Washington state. It is a small tourist destination that features LOTS of beaches, quaint shops and restaurants, and a variety of nearby places to visit. It is easy to spend an entire week in Long Beach because you can take a variety of day trips or just hang around the beach and relax.
The beach is about 28 miles long and much of it is drivable depending on conditions and time of year. The sand is extremely fine and the coastal waters are very shallow. There are times when see people 150′ past the start of the water and the surf is only up to their knees. The wide and expansive beach, fine sand, rolling surf, and breeze make for ideal kite flying conditions. On this family friendly beach you often see experience stunt kite pilots, learners, people with giant kites, and lots of kids with kites in all shapes and sizes. The beach is host to a variety of sea birds including pelicans. The very shallow waters often reflect the colors of the sunset making for some nice photos.
A very cool boardwalk meanders for 6/10 of a mile above the sand between Sid Synder Drive and Bolstad Avenue. The boardwalk does not contain rides or vendors but simply offers a nice place to stroll and watch the waves and sunsets. The boardwalk changes elevation and bends this way and that, adding to its appeal. It is a fantastic place for portrait photos. There is a paved path below for bicycles, skateboard, rollerblades, the like. During the Kite Festival the board walk is a great place from which to shoot photos. Once you walk this boardwalk you will want to walk it again and again.
Long Beach is always a fun place, but it is especially fun during the annual Kite Festival in August. It is fun for those who fly kites as well as for spectators. It brings joy just seeing all of the colorful and interesting kites. The Kite Festival is so cool that it required its own blog page (click here for details).
Shops & Etc.
Long Beach is most definitely a tourist town and there are lots of shops that cater to visitors. You can find shops with traditional souvenirs such as clothing, shells, and various trinkets. If you like kites, flags, whirligig and other wind toys then be sure to visit Wind World Kites. They have simple kites and wind toys, large display kites, and a very nice selection of stunt kites for beginners through experienced flyers. Marsh’s Free Museum is both museum and store with LOTS of unique and unusual items including vintage machines, games, and music makers, toys, etc. Very touristy but very fun. There is fun stuff everywhere in the store so be sure to look up and around for eye treasures. The World Kite Museum has a store with lots of items including a nice selection of kites. Upstairs they have about 5,000 square feet of all sorts of kites including historical kites, war kites, international kites, etc. Downstairs they have a variety of kite related posters. If you head south to Cannon Beach be sure to stop at the Kite Factory on the north end of town.
In addition to shops there are lots of restaurants, treat shops, mini golf courses, horse rides, and a large arcade. There is also a sasquatch-themed go-cart track on Sid Synder Drive. If you like books then be sure to visit Banana Books on 3rd Street. It is a tiny shop with a nice selection of books. They also do book trades. While strolling through town be sure to look down. The sidewalks contain mosaics depicting historical items and animals from the area. Be sure to walk on some of the side streets because there are shops off the main street and there are lots of mosaics that are very nice to see.
We got some take-out dinner from The Chowder Stop at 203 Bolstad Avenue. We got a quart of chowder and a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. The Philly was not traditional since it came on toasted panini bread and it had a bit of spice to it. The panini included excellent home-made potato chips. You can upgrade to steak fries but it is difficult to imagine streak fries being better than the homemade chips. The clam chowder was some of the best that I have ever had. Do not bother with a cup or bowl of the chowder — just buy a quart. If you do not finish it then you WILL want more later and it tastes very good when reheated.
Other Places Around Long Beach
You can take a variety of day trips from Long Beach to Fort Columbia, Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, North Head Lighthouse, Seaside, Astoria, Fort Canby and the Lewis & Clark Museum, Fort Stevens, Waikiki Beach, Oysterville, Tillamook (little longer drive), etc. Here is some further reading:
- Long Beach Kite Festival is an annual event in August.
- Astoria, Oregon was the city filed in the cult classic movie, The Goonies. Fort Stevens and Seaside are a short drive from Astoria.
- Ilwaco including North Head Lighthouse, Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, and Fort Canby.
- Tillamook, OR is about 1.5 hours from Long Beach.
- Oysterville, WA is on the north end of the peninsula and features some stunning historic homes with immaculate gardens. Be sure to stop at the Oysterville Sea Farms store at the north end of town near the water. They have many excellent products, but the smoke scallops are insanely good.
- Jack’s Country Store in Ocean Park (about 12 miles north of Long Beach) is one of the coolest stores ever. They have a bit of everything (except clothing) including tools (hand and power), car/boat parts, cooking stuff, groceries, garden products, toys, lots of bits and bobs, etc. They have the absolute largest selection of Lodge cast iron products that I have ever seen (not a few more products, but a LOT more). Just stop in — you will be impressed.
- Raymond, WA is about midway between Long Beach and Olympia. Most people simply drive through Raymond without stopping, but do not make that mistake. When driving through Raymond be sure to watch for all of the metal sculptures on the streets. Raymond is also home to the Northwest Carriage Museum. This extremely impressive museum contains over 60 vehicles including 19th-Century horse-drawn vehicles, elegant carriages, common day buggies, work wagons, coaches, sleighs, a chuck wagon, and thousands of period artifacts and clothing.