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Ocean Shores: The perfect Northwest beach getaway

You don't need to drive down to California to experience the sand and (limited) sun

The Grey Gull Inn has nice rooms and a pool near the beach of Ocean Shores. Photo credit: Jackson Hogan

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Washington beaches get a bad rap. Sure, they may not be year-round paradises of perfect, golden sand and water at a temperature that's actually tolerable, but they're unique in their own way. While you could always opt for a local, more centralized beach like Alki or Golden Gardens in Seattle, or Owens in Tacoma, isn't part of the beach experience supposed to be getting away from normal life?

Ocean Shores is the perfect distance away to feel like you're in a truly outside of the Puget Sound area, but it's still only a two-and-a-half hour drive, which isn't a monumental journey. Different people go to Ocean Shores for different reasons, so here are two separate gameplans for the Washington coast: one for families, and one for a romantic couple getaway.


Honestly, the ideal age to visit Ocean Shores might be when you're 9 or 10. The beach is obviously a main draw for kids, given that water, sand and sun are sometimes all they need to entertain themselves for hours. Still, even the call of the sea can't keep kids occupied forever, so here's a few other options for some family fun.

  • The goofy tourist shops right next to the beaches and hotels alongside Ocean Shores Boulevard can be enjoyable - if your kids love perusing through aisles of toys, silly T-shirts, and of course, more saltwater taffy than you could ever imagine. One store, Sharky's, truly commits to its cheesy tourist trap ambitions by having customers walk through a giant shark head to enter. Naturally, all of the products inside are shark-themed.
  • Two different mini-theme parks are also located just a couple blocks from the beach. Pacific Paradise features a whole bunch of 90s-era arcade games, along with unbeatable classic activities like bumper boats and a mini-golf course. If the young'uns need to let out some energy, Playtime Family Fun might be a solid choice, since it's hard to beat the combination of bumper cars and go-carts. They even feature, in a clever twist on the bar game, a mechanical shark that you have to hold on to for dear life.
  • In terms of food, you can never go wrong with pizza when it comes to families, and the best pizza on the Shore is Red Genie, right on Ocean Shores Boulevard. Not only do they let you pick your own toppings, but they also have a decent microbrew selection for the parents.
  • The best bet for a hotel is the Canterbury Inn, where each room features a kitchenette, so you don't have to find a breakfast-serving restaurant for your whole crew. And if you have plenty of kids, they have larger suites available.


  • After a day lying around at the beach, you might want to get up and try something a bit more active. The Ocean Shores Golf Course might do the trick. Nestled in between the local neighborhoods, this course is certainly challenging, but still doable for non-experts.
  • Then, head down to Galway Bay for a charming seaside Irish bar experience, complete with Emerald Isle staples like shepherd's pie and potato soup, along with fantastic beer, of course.
  • The best romantic hotel spot on Ocean Shores Boulevard is the Grey Gull, with small, cozy suites complete with fireplaces; perfect for a couples getaway.

So, whether you're with your kids or your romantic partner, there are plenty of exciting activities to do at Ocean Shores beyond just the beach.

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