- Gig Harbor Living Local
The Longest Beach in the United States: Long Beach Peninsula
At 28-miles long, it is perfect for social distancing
Story & Photos By Marguerite Cleveland
With the COVID-19 pandemic dragging on much longer than anyone expected, it can be challenging to find a safe place for a getaway. The Long Beach Peninsula in Washington state, with its many wide-open spaces, is perfect for a less risky vacation. The 28-mile-long beach is an ideal destination for social distancing. You can drive on the beach and remain in your car or just stroll for miles. Shops and restaurants are open and following state rules regarding safe distancing and wearing masks. The main drag has lines painted 6-feet apart on the sidewalk to aid keeping the recommended distance. During these chaotic times you may not want to leave your pooch behind. The Long Beach Peninsula is super dog friendly, so bring him along.
Safe Distancing Activities
Go fly a kite. This is a perfect activity for social distancing. Head out to the beach for miles of accessible space to fly your kite. The wind is always kicking, making it easy for your kite to find its way up into the sky. The World Kite Museum is worth a stop—if it is open. The gift shop has a great selection of kites for sale in all shapes and sizes. Make sure to check out the Bald Eagle flag. It is very impressive.
Pack a picnic and head to either end of the peninsula to explore a Washington state park. Cape Disappointment State Park is at the southern end and has a variety of activities as well as two lighthouses to hike to. It is also part of the Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks and highlights the westernmost terminus for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Make sure to check out Beards Hollow at both the scenic overlook and down below on the trail. The area was once a cove and is now marshy land. At the northern tip of the peninsula is the Leadbetter Point State Park, which has 7 miles of hiking trails. The park has beach frontage on both the Pacific Ocean and Willapa Bay. This park is not well known, so chances are you will find a place all to yourself.
The paved 8.5-mile Discovery Trail is well maintained and perfect for bike riding or pushing a stroller. It starts in Downtown Ilwaco and ends on Long Beach at an 18-foot bronze tree. There are displays and sculptures along the way, as well as great beach views. It is relatively flat except for the portion going through Cape Disappointment State Park, which is hilly. The half-mile Long Beach Boardwalk is not what you would expect for a beach boardwalk. There are no food stands or rides but instead you have panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and a bird’s-eye view above the sand dunes.
There are six little towns that comprise the peninsula, each with its own charm. Visit Ilwaco, Long Beach, Nahcotta, Ocean Park and Seaview to enjoy their shops and restaurants. Oysterville is an 80-acre National Historic District and is a lovely place for a stroll. Purchase fresh oysters and other local products at Oysterville Sea Farms. Profits from the Willabay brand help to preserve Oysterville’s last oyster buildings. You won’t find fresher Willabay oysters and clams; these are harvested the same day.
Where To Stay
Boardwalk Cottages is Adrift Hospitality’s newest property. The 13 cute cottages each have their own unique charm and size. The location in Downtown Long Beach is perfect for a quick walk in the morning to grab coffee and pastries at the Cottage Bakery & Delicatessen. You will be blown away by the choices. There are lots of cute shops nearby as well. You also have access to the amenities at the Adrift Hotel and Spa, which include a heated pool, barrel sauna, and beach cruisers to rent. Also located at the hotel is the Adrift Distillery, a fun place to tour and imbibe. Pet-friendly rooms are available.
In the fishing village of Ilwaco, At The Helm is its newest lodging. Just steps away from the marina, this lovely bank building has been lovingly repurposed into an eco-friendly boutique hotel and restaurant by owner Marcene Miller. You can see the love, care and hands-on work she put into each choice during the renovation. Rooms are named after the owners’ fishing vessels they had throughout the years. Staying here allows you to bask in luxury not normally found in this area, and all the extra amenities make you feel special. It begins with a complimentary glass of beer or wine at check-in, breakfast delivered to your room, and a basket of snacks to enjoy during your stay. So worth the splurge. Take time to look at the interior décor, as there are so many interesting touches and artwork to observe. Note: This hotel does not have pet-friendly rooms, but they are welcome in the outdoor seating area of the restaurant.
What To Eat
A surprisingly good place to eat is at the Peninsula Golf Course at the Cove Restaurant. It is also one of the most pet-friendly places I have ever eaten at. Popular with the locals, the Cove menu has many country-club favorites such as a Prime Rib dinner available Thursday through Saturday and is heavy on the local seafood with great burgers, sandwiches and salads as well. Where it really shines is the nightly specials, where the chef can flex his cooking chops. A recent special was Halibut, Scallops and Prawns served over rice with a curry sauce. Very flavorful with just a hint of spice. The cooking staff has competed and won local food competitions. Make sure to try the award-winning Tiramisu Cheesecake with a caramel drizzle. Yummy.
The Peninsula Golf Course is one of five in Washington state that allows dogs on the course. At the Cove Restaurant your pet is welcome at the outdoor seating. They even offer a Patio Pup Menu with Haida’s Turkey Bites, named after a pooch who frequented the patio. A big water bowl is offered for the pups as well. The menu features a variety of fish, turkey and beef that is sure to please even the most finicky dog.
The Waterline Pub in At the Helm has incredible food. You can choose to dine indoors, which is adorned with reclaimed wood, or outside on the patio overlooking the marina. The menu is heavy on the local seafood, which comes right off the fishing boats in the marina. Everything is delicious, but you must try the Seafood Nosh Board—not your typical charcuterie. This is loaded with fresh crabmeat, prawns, oysters, grilled Brie cheese, olives, house-made sauces and served with grilled bread. The crab is served plain, and its sweet freshness with a squeeze of lemon is delicious. With good, quality ingredients you don’t have to do much to highlight it. The chef does a variety of chowders, stews and specials each day. Well worth a stop—and pets are welcome on the patio.
Planning a trip during the pandemic can be done. Just take a few extra steps to ensure your safety and that of the destination you are going to. Call ahead to lodging, and ask about restrictions. Wear a mask and practice social distancing. Make reservations to any restaurant that you wish to eat in, as seating is limited. Enjoy more outside activities and get exploring.
For information on visiting and updates on COVID-19
Where to Stay
Boardwalk Beach Cottages
At The Helm
What to Eat
The Cove Restaurant
Waterline Pub (in At The Helm)
What to Do
World Kite Museum
Washington State Parks
Oysterville Sea Farms