Vacation should be a time to get away from it all. To slow down and savor the small moments. Even if it’s just a quick weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle— a vacation rental in Long Beach, Washington can be just the quaint little slice of paradise you’re looking for.
Just because Downtown Long Beach is laid back, that doesn’t mean it’s worthy of only a few slow-moving days by the sand. On the contrary, this eclectic seaside destination has loads to offer prospective visitors.
An idyllic beach town frozen in a simpler time, Downtown Long Beach is the perfect place to unwind and disconnect. But it’s also ideal to hike, swim, shop, eat, and learn about the local history.
Located only hours from either Seattle or Portland, Long Beach seems a world away in pace. This may be why the small coastal city is so popular with families, giving parents a nostalgic feel of their childhood. But don’t let the small-town vibes deceive you; there is much to be explored and enjoyed throughout the downtown area.
Here’s our complete guide to savoring the slow Pacific Northwest vibe while experiencing all things Downtown Long Beach.
Sightseeing in Downtown Long Beach
Let’s start with the best things to experience within the downtown area of Long Beach. From unique landmarks to family-friendly arcades, the town has something for everyone.
World’s Largest Frying Pan
This is not just any frying pan; it is a Guinness World Record Official frying pan.
Simply walking down Pacific Avenue, this giant cooking utensil is a sight to see. Crafted in 1941, this enormous 1,300-pound cookware was commissioned to promote the first annual clam festival.
Believe it or not, this 20-foot-tall pan was actually used! It was employed to make a clam fritter that required over 200 clams, with nearly 20,000 people showing up to enjoy a bite. Today, you can’t cook in it, but it’s a local icon and makes for a great photo op.
Lewis & Clark Carved Tree Memorial
If history is your thing, this bronze tree memorial is worth a visit. Marking both the most northern and western points of Lewis and Clark’s epic journey to the Pacific Ocean, this is the perfect stop for history buffs.
Since the living version is long gone, this statue represents the actual tree Clark carved back in 1805. The scenery in this area makes for a beautiful photo opportunity as well.
The World’s Longest Beach Arch
This beach access arch is an icon of Long Beach and a great photo op on your way to the fine sands and rolling waves.
The massive white archway proclaims Long Beach’s “World’s Longest Beach” title. Cars are permitted on the beach at your own risk. Watch out for loose sand mounds, and ensure you have 4×4 capabilities before driving on the sand.
Full Disclosure, while this may not actually be the “World’s Longest Beach,” it is the “World’s Longest Continuous Peninsula Beach.” Maybe that was too big of a mouthful? In any case, this 28-mile stretch of beach extending down the coastline to Oregon is something to stop and marvel at.
Funland Arcade is a great place to take the kids on a rainy afternoon. We are in the Pacific Northwest, after all!
Music, arcade games, tickets, and prizes will bring the kid out in everyone! I have many fond memories of coming here as a child; it was always a highlight of the vacation!
Neptune Movie House
If you find yourself in Downtown Long Beach on a rainy day or want something to do at night, this family-run theater is a great place to catch a flick.
This beloved theater was purchased and renovated by a local family who wanted to keep the magic of Neptune alive. As a result, the theater now features a drive-in option, keeping with the old-school vibe of the town itself. And who doesn’t love a drive-in movie?
Hit the Links
Take the kids some fun at Fun Beach Fun Center, where you can race around in go-karts and test your putting skills in mini golf.
For serious golfers, Peninsula Golf Course offers a 9-hole, par 33 course that is also dog-friendly for a very affordable price. This 55-acre course, surrounded by sea pines and lush trees, is located only a mile south of downtown.
Nature Around Downtown
The proximity to the beach makes this downtown area versatile, as you can dip in and out of different scenery. Nature is always within walking distance of Downtown Long Beach
Walk the Long Beach Boardwalk
The Long Beach Boardwalk is an excellent way to enjoy an ocean view of the Washington coast and get in some exercise.
This path and wooden boardwalk twist you through the tall grass-covered dunes. This path is good for walking, biking, or even an evening stroll, as the 2-mile-long stretch is well-lit for after-dark visitors. Personally, I prefer it early in the morning with a cup of coffee in hand.
Sandsations Sand Castle Festival
Time your visit right, and you’re in for a real treat!
Each year in mid-July, you’ll have the opportunity to marvel at the engineering skills of world-class sand sculptors at the Sandsations Sand Castle Festival. Works of art and genuinely mind-blowing castles of all shapes and sizes line the beach near the Bolstad Beach Approach.
Better yet, if you feel confident in your techniques, you can enter your own castle in the family or individual competition!
The Discovery Trail is an excellent scenic way to get outside and enjoy the invigorating sea breeze and grass-capped sand dunes.
The Discovery Trail footpath stretches nearly the entirety of the peninsula or roughly 8.5 miles of breathtaking sea view. Starting in the Port of Ilwaco, where you can watch the fishing boats come in with fresh catches, and ending near The Breakers Hotel, this beautiful coastal walkway commemorates Lewis and Clark’s end of their historic journey, which ended here in Long Beach.
This trail is not just to be enjoyed only on foot; bike rentals are available all over town and are a better option for those looking to explore the trail in its entirety.
Visit the Gray Whale Bones
Be sure to stop by the Gray Whale Sculpture while on Discovery Trail, where you can see the remaining bones of a gray whale that washed ashore in 2000.
The story behind it is one of foul-smelling blubber, a shallow grave, bone vandals, and a local community’s efforts to recreate a rare event in Long Beach’s history. Today while most of the bones have been taken, the spine and partial jaw remain obscured in the dune grass.
Ride the Beach on Horseback
Long Beach offers excellent shoreline horseback riding opportunities.
Take a romantic horseback ride along the beach with your significant other, or saddle up the whole family for a fun and adventurous day. Several companies offer daily tours that last an hour and are a good way to enjoy the scenery along the coast.
Check out our guide to horseback riding in Long Beach for more information on all the equine adventures this beach offers.
Dig for Clams
Love fresh clams? Want to do the digging yourself?
Long Beach is famous for the Pacific Razor Clam. If you find yourself here between October and April, you can try your luck and dig along the beach for your clams. This activity is fun for the whole family; all you need is a shovel and bucket!
Pro tip – be sure to have a current shellfish and seaweed license that can be purchased online and adhere to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife guidelines.
Take a Day Trip to Cape Disappointment State Park
While everything else on this list keeps you right in the heart of downtown Long Beach, a trip to Cape Disappointment State Park will get you out of town for a deep breath of fresh air.
Aptly named for the number of shipwrecks occurring off this rocky coastline, this spot is also known as the “Graveyard of the Pacific.”
A naturalist’s favorite, this park has an abundance of trails, beaches, and historical sites to discover. The North Head Lighthouse that sits atop the bluff is a great photo opportunity and a beacon of caution about the treacherous waters below.
Nearby are hiking trails to Deadman’s Cove and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, where you can learn more about the journey and hardship they faced while exploring the Pacific Coast.
If you have extra time, put your toes in the sand along Waikiki Beach (the Pacific Northwest version!) and sit among the driftwood enjoying the sea views.
The Best Museums Around Downtown Long Beach
When most people think “museum,” a stuffy gallery may come to mind. Not so in Long Beach.
The museums here represent the unique character of the town.
Marsh’s Free Museum
Less of a museum and more of an assortment of bizarre souvenirs and arcade antiques, it will surely transport you one hundred years into the past upon entering.
Of course, no trip to Long Beach is complete without a trip to Marsh’s Free Museum and a meeting with Jake the Alligator Man – a (mythical) mummified half-man, half-alligator who sits in a display case.
As disturbing as Jake may seem, he’s an icon of the area, and the myths surrounding his existence speak for themselves. This curiosity shop is a beachcombers paradise with everything from bizarre taxidermy, salt water taffy, quirky gifts, and a massive sea shell collection.
You can easily get lost browsing the cluttered antique shelves full of all sorts of oddities. This is a must-stop with any visit to Long Beach, Washington.
World Kite Museum
Long Beach is famous for them, and with the right conditions (lots of wind), you’ll see the sky littered with colorful kites of all shapes and sizes.
This museum houses over 1500 kites from all over the world! If you happen to be visiting here during the third week of August, you’ll have the rare treat of seeing the annual Washington State International Kite Festival, where some of the most amazing kites take flight all along the beach.
There are more than a few places in the downtown area to pick up a kite and try your luck with flying one yourself!
Another quirky local museum! Tart and sweet, the Cranberry Museum is a fun and educational experience offering tours of Cranberry bogs, funding research in preserving and protecting the farming practice, and a gift shop that offers recipes and cranberry goods of all sorts!
Washington may be known for its apples, but the sandy soil and cool ocean air make cranberry farming perfect for the Pacific Northwest. If visiting during fall, these bogs bloom fluorescent red and are truly a sight to see and taste.
The Best Eats in Long Beach
The food scene in Long Beach feels local, eclectic, and fresh. Here are a few places you can’t miss a meal during your next visit to the Long Beach Peninsula.
Dylan’s Cottage Bakery and Deli
Satisfy your sweet tooth or love for baked goods at Dylan’s Cottage Bakery and Deli, a staple of Long Beach for all your bread and pastry needs. In operation since 1908, very little has changed since its opening. Still, family-run and somewhere locals and vacationers alike inevitably find themselves frequently.
Besides their famous donuts, they serve up muffins, cookies, pastries, cakes, bread, pies, soups, and sandwiches.
Vacation is the only excuse you need to indulge in a decadent ice cream cone, and this place does it best.
Scoopers Market has been in operation since 1938, and they carry some delicious local flavors and unique concoctions with everything from Huckleberry Cheesecake to Mango Sorbet.
That sweet smell wafting out the door, luring you inside, comes from their made-from-scratch waffle cones. Once you see the size of your cone, you’ll understand why this is the go-to local ice cream spot.
North Jetty Brewery
After a day of exploring or relaxing on the beach, enjoy a craft beer and brats from North Jetty Brewery. This local brewery has friendly owners and a great selection of craft brews. Lunchtime favorites include savory brats, soft pretzels, and 100% beef burgers.
Indulge in the Freshest Seafood
You won’t have to venture to Oysterville or Willapa Bay to find amazing fresh seafood; Downtown Long Beach serves up some of the freshest ocean eats, including Dungeness Crab, razor clams, and oysters.
Crab Pot Seafood & Market is perfect for enjoying a hot meal or picking out the freshest products from live tanks. They’ll also equip you with the proper tools, a bib, mallet, and paper-lined tables to tell you that they take their seafood seriously!
Or, if you’re craving some world-class chowder on a chilly day, stop by family-owned Drop Anchor Seafood & Grill. Calamari, Coconut Prawns, and Clam Strips are all waiting for you.
Downtown Long Beach Has Something For Everyone
There are many layers to this vibrant beach community. From Pacific Avenues’ quirky shops to windswept sand dunes, you’ll enjoy the slow pace of a sleepy small beach town without the hoards of travelers. Unlike so many destinations, Long Beach hasn’t succumbed to overdevelopment and has maintained its small-town magic over the years – just you and the locals.
Long Beach, Washington, is a perfect seaside destination for those who want to stay busy but stay rested. Come for the luxury beach vacation rental, and stay for the quaint small-town charm.
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