Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Washington state is often known for its dramatic views and frequent rain, but it’s also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Whether you’re an avid hiker or you prefer to relax on the shore and work on your tan, there’s a stretch of Washington’s coast that belongs on your must-visit list.
However, with an impressive 28,000 miles of shoreline to its name, figuring out where in the state you should go for your beach getaway can, understandably, be difficult. To help make your travel planning easier, we’ve done the legwork for you. We evaluated all of Washington’s beaches to create this best beach list so you can figure out which of these Pacific Northwest shores is perfect for your needs.
Map of the 13 Best Beaches in Washington State
The 13 Best Beaches in Washington State
1. Alki Beach
As the first landing site of white European settlers in the area that would become Seattle, Alki Beach is a historic part of Washington’s coast. Today, it’s one of the city’s most popular spots for beach volleyball and long walks near the water at all times of the year.
However, it isn’t the most popular spot for swimming since the water around Alki tends to be quite cold if you’re not wearing a wetsuit. If you plan on taking a Washington vacation with your pup, remember that while dogs are allowed in the park adjacent to the beach, they can’t go on the shore or in the water.
No matter where you decide to lay out your towel or beach chair, you’re in for a gorgeous view of Puget Sound and the Seattle skyline. You can even see the Space Needle from some areas on the sand.
2. Cape Disappointment State Park
Don’t let this coastal spot’s name fool you. You’ll be far from disappointed if you visit this Washington state park. Found at the bottom of the Long Beach Peninsula, Cape Disappointment has multiple activities and amenities for its visitors.
You can camp, hike, and enjoy the beautiful views of the water. However, locals and park officials don’t recommend swimming here. Currents can be strong, and the water is cold, which, combined with the lack of lifeguards, can make going in the water difficult.
That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the beaches, though! The sand is soft and even, making it ideal for leisurely strolls, and kids you’re traveling with can spend hours observing the tide pools and looking for shells and interesting rocks in the sand. You can even visit with your pets and stay in the park’s pet-friendly camping areas for an overnight visit.
3. Deception Pass State Park
Deception Pass is a body of water that separates Fidalgo and Whidbey, 2 of Washington’s islands. Due to the unique and thriving ecosystem in this part of the state, its natural landscape has been preserved as a state park since 1923.
Over the years, the park has grown, and now it’s spread out over nearly 4,000 acres. Within that land, over 2 miles are just shorelines that border both fresh and saltwater bodies of water. This park is a fantastic spot for outdoor lovers who want to hike and explore the Pacific Northwest.
Unlike some parks in this part of the country, you can even go for a dip while in Deception Pass. Just make sure you keep an eye out for signs, as only some areas within the park are safe for swimming.Hot Tip:
The water here can be cold, though, so only swim in the summer months.
4. Denny Blaine Park
With 2 acres of peaceful greenery and a shoreline on Lake Washington to its name, Denny Blaine Park is one of the most beloved places in Seattle.
The beach is surrounded by a stone wall which not only gives a small touch of added separation between the bustling city and the sand, but it’s also historical as well. In fact, that wall is where the lake’s water level reached until 1917.
Over time, the water depth dropped by 9 feet when the lake’s ship canal was built. Now, it’s a family-friendly place locals love to head to for outdoor activities like volleyball, swimming, and picnicking.
However, there are no lifeguards posted at this beach, so if you do decide to go for a dip, make sure to do so carefully. The beach is open between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
5. Fort Worden Historical State Park
Fort Warden is a large park that offers visitors 43w acres of land to explore, 2 miles of which are made up of sandy shoreline. The park is perfect for lovers of American history, as it was once the property of the U.S. Coast Artillery, which was built to keep the Puget Sound area safe from invading ships.
In addition to learning about Pacific Northwest history and swimming, you can also partake in various other activities like fishing and waterskiing. Or you can just explore the miles of trails on and around the beach.
Due to its size, this park and beach aren’t usually too crowded, even on busy days during the spring and summer. However, holiday weekends are the exception to that rule, so arrive early if you want to visit on Independence, Memorial, or Labor Day.
6. Golden Gardens Park
Golden Gardens Park offers visitors numerous opportunities to explore and have fun in the great outdoors. With wetlands, walking trails, and shorelines, there’s something for people of all ages.
The park’s beaches are most popular for sunbathing since the water can be on the cooler side. On hot summer days, though, it offers an easy way to escape the heat and humidity around Seattle. Even when there are boats in the area, the water quality is excellent and safe for divers or waders.
There are also on-site cooking areas where you can have a little barbecue, so you can spend all day here enjoying the sun and the more natural side of the city. Since it’s also a calm and peaceful shore, it’s family-friendly and allows for plenty of relaxation if that’s what you’re looking for on a beach day.
7. Jackson Beach Park
Jackson Beach on Washington’s San Juan Island is a dramatic and scenic spot for long walks near the water. The beach’s town, Friday Harbor, used to be a busy fishing village, and at that time, the beach was full of boats. Though the area’s economy has pivoted in a different direction, you can go boating here, and there’s even a free boat launch visitors can use.
The most defining characteristic of this part of Washington’s coast is its driftwood-covered beach which adds a rustic quality to the area. The park is dog-friendly, too, so you can visit with your pets and run around on the sand as long as they’re kept on a leash.
Swimming here isn’t recommended, however. The water’s temperature and current strength can be unpredictable, and there are no lifeguards, so it can be overwhelming even for professionals.
8. Jetty Island Park
Jetty Island is a coastal jewel just off Washington’s main coast. With ferries available to transport visitors to and from the mainland, the entire island is secluded and peaceful. Once you arrive, the Jetty Island beach has 2 miles of sandy shoreline for you to enjoy, as well as multiple walking trails.
While you can visit the island and explore its trails all year, the beaches are only open during the summer. Swimming isn’t allowed during other seasons because the lack of lifeguards would make going in the water too risky for most people.
This is a more natural beach without too many amenities. However, while many of Washington’s more rustic beaches allow dogs, this isn’t one of them. So, if you’re going to visit, keep in mind that dogs aren’t allowed on the island or even on the ferry to get there.
9. Lily Point Marine Park
Lily Point’s beach stretches out over 1.4 miles which allows guests to explore the area’s diverse coastal ecosystems. From bluff cliffs to tide pools, you can get a closer look at the natural flora and fauna that call this part of the Pacific Northwest home.
This is one of the best beaches in the state if you prefer spending your time strolling through nature, hunting for rocks and shells, or just sitting on the shore to listen to the waves. You can even catch glimpses of whales breaching in the distance between May and December.
However, this isn’t the best place for avid swimmers to visit. Even if you’re confident in your abilities to handle currents, the water here can be unpredictable, and for your safety and the preservation of the area’s wildlife, guests are recommended to stay on land.
10. Long Beach Boardwalk
The Long Beach Boardwalk provides a 0.9-mile loop walk around the coast. With multiple benches and an even route, it’s popular for people wishing to go for a run near the water and for those who prefer leisurely nature walks.
You don’t have to worry about being stuck on the walkway, though. The boardwalk offers numerous access points to the sand, so you can easily scope out the perfect spot to lay out a beach towel.
Many of Long Beach’s shores are busy throughout the year, but the boardwalk trail is often more secluded, so it’s easier to find some peace and quiet. You can even just spend hours meandering around the area’s dunes, especially during the winter when the water is too cold for swimming. This is a natural part of the city’s coast, though, so expect to find some weeds or tall grass.
11. Madison Park Beach
Depending on when you visit, Madison Park Beach offers a different sort of beach experience. During the summer, it officially opens up for the season, so swimming is allowed, and lifeguards are on duty every day to keep a watchful eye on visitors.
However, during the cooler months, this is a favorite spot for locals and out-of-towners who want to relax on dry land near the water and enjoy it when the sun comes out. You don’t have to worry about kids getting bored, either. Even if they can’t go for a swim, there’s a playground area near the beach.
Keep in mind this is a beach near Seattle, so it can get busy on nice days, especially on summer weekends. So, to make sure you get a good spot on the sand, head out early to beat the crowds.Hot Tip:
Traveling with the family? Check out our guide to the best things to do in Seattle with kids.
12. Pacific Beach State Park
Pacific Beach State Park has nearly 0.5 miles of shoreline which is plenty of space for dog walking, long strolls, and even kite flying on breezy days. During the summer, between Memorial and Labor Day, the beach opens at 6 a.m. During the rest of the year, you can head to the beach at 8 a.m.
No matter when you visit, you can stay on the sand until dusk. You can even set a small bonfire, just as long as you’re at least 100 feet away from any plant life that could catch fire, and, of course, make sure the fire is completely out before you leave.Hot Tip:
The park has a campground on the property, but you can’t sleep on the beach, so make sure you have a site reserved if you plan on staying overnight.
13. Seabrook Beach
Seabrook Beach is a few hours away from Seattle and Olympia, making it a great, relaxed place to get away from the busy noise of the cities.
The beach is just a short distance from the town of Seabrook, so if you forget something in your beach bag, you don’t have to worry. The shoreline, on the other hand, is quiet and pristine. It’s backed by thick, vibrant greenery and is covered in soft sand that’s perfect for laying out on.
Though the beach isn’t usually too busy, it still offers numerous activity options. You can play volleyball on the shore, take your dog for a walk, or even rent a bike so you can explore the area’s trails. During the summer, the water is usually warm and gentle enough to go for a swim or wade in the shallow areas near the sand.
Washington is an often-underrated beach destination on the U.S. West Coast, but it clearly has numerous options to choose from. From secluded and natural stretches to more vibrant and lively shores, there’s something for every beachgoer who visits the state. We hope that this list has brought you a step closer to choosing which Washington beach to visit first!
Featured Image Credit: Alek Newton via Unsplash
Frequently Asked Questions
Due to Washington’s varied landscape and Pacific Northwest location, it offers numerous beach experiences, from rustic and natural to more manicured and touristy. For that reason, it’s one of the best places for visitors to go on the West Coast for a beach getaway.
There are many swimmable beaches all along Washington’s shoreline. Nearly any waterfront town has a stretch of shore for visitors to enjoy. However, some places might be prone to rough tides or boat traffic, so check ahead to make sure it’s safe to swim.
Washington has a varied landscape, which includes its beaches. You can find numerous types of shorelines, from those with soft sand to pebbles. There are even beaches with a combination of both rocky and sandy stretches, particularly at Washington’s more natural coastal spots.
Seattle and its surrounding area have numerous spots that are safe for swimming. The biggest concern to be aware of is temperature. For example, Puget Sound tends to have cold water all year which can make swimming uncomfortable. However, there are warmer spots, too.
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