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Life is a beach

Heaping dose of sand and surf

Cannon Beach has dramatic coastal skies, a natural icon in the form of the striking Haystack Rock and rows of galleries to help you while away the time when you need a break from the sun and the sand. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

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What is it about a day at the beach?

The invigorating sea air? The fresh breezes? The refreshing sounds of ocean waves? Scenery that makes your heart and spirit sing? Fascinating marine and animal life? The relaxing and contemplative pace?

Whatever one's reason for visiting the beach, the Pacific Northwest has an abundance of beach beauty right in our own backyard.

Following is a guide to some of the best area beaches around and a must-see for every Pacific Northwest newcomer.

Before we begin, here's a helpful tip. Beach vacations to coastal destinations from the mid-spring to the end of summer are immensely popular in this region. It's strongly recommended to plan ahead and to book any and all reservations well in advance.

Urban Beaches

(Tacoma-Seattle Area):

Owen's Beach (Point Defiance Park, (Tacoma): Owen's Beach is one of the best gems of Point Defiance Park with its easy access and ample parking. This large and visitor friendly beach is perfect for a stroll or picnic and boasts stunning views of the bay, surrounding islands, ferries and boats. metroparkstacoma.org/point-d-owen-beach
Titlow Beach (Titlow Park, Tacoma): The extensive beach front of this park is perfect for beachcombing, strolling and taking in the views of the bay and Narrows Bridge. Enjoy the wonderful marine life and bird life. Nearby Titlow Park also features a lagoon, walking trails, playgrounds and sports courts. metroparkstacoma.org/titlow-park

Dash Point State Park (Federal Way): This nearly 400 acre camping park has well over 3,000 feet of saltwater shoreline. The views of the Puget Sound are positively stunning. Marine and animal life abound and the sandy shores make for a great experience of play and exploration. parks.wa.gov/496/Dash-Point

Kopachuck State Park (Gig Harbor): This splendid and large marine park has nearly 6,000 feet of saltwater shoreline and is situated on Henderson Bay. Take in awe-inspiring views of the Sound and Olympic Mountains. Water activities (boating, fishing and more) are popular activities here. parks.wa.gov/530/Kopachuck

Golden Gardens Park (Seattle): Located in Seattle's popular and historic Ballard neighborhood, this beautiful urban beach features panoramic views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Trails, wetlands and beachcombing are hallmarks of this beach to explore and enjoy. seattle.gov/parks/park_detail.asp?ID=243

Alki Beach Park (Seattle): This fabulous strip of beach in West Seattle commands awe-inspiring views of the Sound, Olympic Mountains, downtown Seattle and a bustling port. A terrific walking trail to take in the views while strolling and picnicking facilities round out this great beach experience. seattle.gov/parks/park_detail.asp?ID=445


Washington State Coast


Ocean Shores: Only about a two hour drive away from Tacoma, beach lovers will be greeted by iconic Ocean Shores. This popular beach destination is home to miles of sandy beach is perfect for gazing at sunsets over the Pacific Ocean, beachcombing and relaxing. The city of Ocean Shores is lively place offering shopping, restaurants, family activities and more, offering something for everyone. tourismoceanshores.com

Moclips: Just north of Ocean Shores lies Moclips, a beautiful and serene beach town that offers enchanting beaches, beach activities galore and stunning views at a relaxed pace. Surrounding communities and beaches are fun to explore as well and are within easy driving distance. pacificbeachwa.com

Long Beach: The Long Beach Peninsula certainly lives up to its name: it's one of the longest beaches in the world! The public beach is nearly 30 miles long. This magnificent beach is a marine playground and is popular for fishing, clamming, beachcombing and many other recreational activities and special events. Charming surrounding cities offer a wealth of history at the ready to explore. funbeach.com


Oregon Coast


Seaside: Located on Oregon's North Coast, Seaside offers a fun beach experience for the whole family. Sandy beaches and gorgeous views can be enjoyed from the beach itself or along the city promenade that runs 1.5 miles along the beach. Besides a terrific selection of beach recreational activities, the city is a fun place to shop and enjoy family fun (aquarium, carousel, arcades, miniature golf and more). seasideor.com

Cannon Beach: Situated just south of Seaside on Oregon's North Coast, Cannon Beach is an immensely popular beach destination in the Pacific Northwest. The picturesque beach is home to Haystack Rock, a 235 foot monolithic rock and is known to be one of the biggest in the world. The tidal pools surrounding the rock are beyond amazing - they are teeming with sea life (starfish, sea anemone, crabs and more) and the rock itself is home to several bird species. The town of Cannon Beach itself boasts terrific shopping, a variety of eateries and a vibrant art scene. cannon-beach.net

Lincoln City: On Oregon's Central Coast, sits Lincoln City, a beach and treasure lovers paradise. The glorious 7.5 mile public beach offers a special annual event that happens from mid-October through Memorial Day - handcrafted, glass floats are placed along the beach at random. If you find one, you get to keep it! Wildlife abounds in the region; one of the most exciting things to see are the Pacific gray whales during their migration from the south. Family and pet-friendly events and activities are a big feature of the region. www.oregoncoast.org

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