One of my favorite places is the beach 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. There is a lot to do in Long Beach and this article provides a few highlights.
The beach is about 28 miles in length 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 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.
I like flying kites, especially two-line stunt kites. I saw many photos of the kite festival and finally we got to Long Beach for the 2020 festival. The official festival was cancelled but there were still lots of kites and flyers. We have been back in 2021 and 2022 and there were lots of kites, contests, activities, and just good fun.
We watched several stunt kite teams practicing during the week and they were extremely fun to watch. Most of the those teams had 5-6 kites flying in various formations. I was quite impressed by those teams. Then, on Saturday, we watched in awe at 22 kites flying in a single team. A master flyer was on one end of a line of kite pilots issuing commands and the entire team did various formations and tricks. I especially liked when they formed two concentric circles and the outside kites flew away from the center and then the inner circle kites did the same. It reminded me a large firework exploding. The leader would then call to reform the circles and do it again. The agility and precision of the four-line stunt kites is just amazing.
Shops & Etc.
Long Beach is most definitely a tourist town and there are lots of shops that cater to visitors. You can find lots of 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 variety 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.
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. It came on toasted panini bread and it had a bit of spice to it. It came with 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.
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:
- Astoria including the city, Fort Stevens, and Seaside
- 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.