Now that summer is almost here, there’s no place more relaxing to plan a trip than Long Beach on Washington’s southwestern coast. This small, quaint town is complete with attractions for the whole family, a sky dotted with vibrant kites in the summer, and miles of heavenly beach scenery along the Pacific. If you’re looking to head down to the Long Beach Peninsula in the next few months, here are 10 of the many things you’ve got to experience.
1. The International Kite Festival.
For a week long, this family-fun celebration draws in visitors from all over the globe. The event features kite flying and kite making classes, amateur (and professional) competitions, lighted kite flying at night and more. This year, their vibrant, colorful kites will fill the sky from August 15-21.
Long Beach also hosts "Sandsations" - an annual sandsculpting competition in the summer. It will be going on this year from July 20-24.
2. A relaxing stroll along their boardwalk.
The wooden boardwalk in Long Beach is perfect for a brisk morning walk or sunny afternoon stroll. At only about a half-mile in length, this popular, wheelchair-accessible path winds through grass-covered sand dunes with endless views of the ocean.
3. Or along the Discovery Trail.
This paved bike path stretches for a little more than 8 miles through the grassy dunes and seaside forest between Long Beach and Ilwaco. The "Discovery Trail" marks the old Lewis & Clark expeditions, which is how it had actually gotten its name. It parallels along the boardwalk with endless vistas of the ocean, interpretative displays, and all kinds of impressive public artwork.
4. Score weird curiosities at Marsh's Free Museum.
Despite the name, Marsh's Free Museum is actually a great place to pick up weird souvenirs. They do have a few strange exhibits to see, including the famous "Jake The Alligator Man" - a half man, half alligator - as well as vintage penny machines and music boxes you can still play.
5. And unique gifts from their many other local shops.
Their downtown is easy to wander for hours, with an array of shops featuring beach and kite souvenirs, as well as a fabulous art gallery with both regional and local artists. Check out the works at Campiche Studios, or pick up small gifts from Banana Books, Above It All Kites, or NIVA green to take back home with you.
6. Try some of the freshest local food.
Long Beach is filled with fantastic dining options for every kind of taste. And with their great location along the coast, the local ingredients are about as fresh as you can get. Try a bowl of Clam Chowder from Cottage Bakery and Delicatessen, a burger from Lost Roo, or one of these wood-fired pizzas from Pickled Fish (on the top floor of the Adrift Hotel).
7. Check out all of the family fun.
Whether you're a kid at heart, or have little ones of your own, you'll be happy to find all kinds of family entertainment here, like go-carts and carnival rides. During the summer, you can also find free face painting, wagon rides, live music and more downtown at SummerFest (through Labor Day).
8. Get a photo with the "World's Largest Frying Pan" and "Largest Spitting Clam".
These huge roadside attractions are a year-long reminder of the community's popular Razor Clam Festival. Even with the frying pan's title and massive size at 14-feet-tall, it isn't actually the largest in the whole world. But it does make for awesome photo opportunities, along with the "Largest Spitting Clam" beside it - which spits out water on demand if you put in a quarter.
9. Head down to Cape Disappointment State Park near Ilwaco.
Cape Disappointment State Park is just south of the town on the Long Beach Peninsula, where the Columbia River meets the ocean. The huge park provides a scenic place to go hiking and camping by the water, with two historic lighthouses (North Head & Cape Disappointment), along with miles of beach, hiking trails and picnic tables.
10. And a peaceful walk (or drive) along their long, dreamy beach.
Long Beach is renowned for their 28-mile-long beach with sand packed so densely that it's capable of supporting most vehicles. Some parts of the beach are closed to automobiles through Labor Day, but it always remains open to pedestrians (and cyclists) looking for a quiet stroll by the water. The wide open landscape and serene oceanfront views make the long, continuous beach a complete summer paradise.
Have you been to Long Beach before? Where else would you recommend visiting in town?