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Beach, Bikes and Downtime: Seabrook for Families

Washington coast planned community makes an easy beach getaway with kids

Published on: September 27, 2017

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Photo credit: JiaYing Grygiel
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Walk along the beach, swim in the pool, eat s’mores, repeat.

The best kind of vacation is the one where you don’t come home feeling like you need another vacation just to recover. Seabrook, a planned beach town on the Washington coast, fits that bill for families with young children and dogs. There’s not much to do beyond being beach bums, riding bikes and strolling through a sweet little town. That’s the whole point.

Seabrook founders Casey and Laura Roloff went looking for a beach community, like the ones along the Oregon coast. Not finding one they liked, they started their own. Seabrook broke ground in 2004, and now includes 335 houses. The Roloffs, along with their four daughters, are among the 40 or so families who live at Seabrook full-time. 

Seabrook is still in its “infancy,” the woman in the sales office told me. Everywhere you look, there’s more construction. The site covers 350 acres, and over the next 20 years or so, Seabrook plans to grow to 1,100 homes. The structures are designed in a New-England-meets-Pacific-Northwest style and the neighborhoods are carefully laid out around parks. The place is immaculate — we saw staff constantly cleaning, picking up trash, keeping every oyster shell in its place.

There is something “Truman Show”-esque about this vacation community. A posse of kids cruise by on candy-colored bikes. Boys tumble on the grass with a football. It seems a little too perfect to be real. Ten years ago, I would have rolled my eyes at the manufactured charm; now as a mom I love how everything’s as easy as the short walk to the beach.

We started visiting Seabrook when our family went from three people to four. I was never a rugged person and having two little kids made my love for creature comforts even stronger. We pick a different cottage each time, and typically go in spring or fall, taking advantage of rates a bit lower than summer. It's still not cheap; a 2-bedroom at mid-season rates comes to about $250 a night after taxes and fees. Check for last-minute deals and other discounts on the Seabrook site.

I prefer a house with a no-pet policy and my 5-year-old always asks for a house with bunk beds. Seabrook has about 180 houses available for rent, sleeping anywhere from 2 to 22 people, so you can choose what features suit your family.

If you want to browse sea-themed knick-knacks and souvenirs, you can wander through the retail district. There are 18 merchants, including a bakery, a toy store, a paint-your-pottery shop and a bike rental shop. Seabrook has an indoor pool and a fitness center too, both amenities included with your stay. For us, the beach was the biggest draw.

seabrook sand dollar
Photo credit: JiaYing Grygiel

Even on wet spring day, we bundled up and took the kids to the ocean's edge. There’s a staircase down a 70-foot bluff, or you can take a meandering path (the “gnome trail”) through the woods to the beach. My boys were entertained by poking sticks into the wet sand and flinging it. When the sun dried things out, they loved sinking their feet into that soft sand.

After a day of wind and sand and swimming at the pool, my kids were more than ready for bedtime. But then we’d poke our heads out and see that someone started a fire in the communal fire pit. And we’d run out with our marshmallows and fixings. My 1-year-old kept a vise grip on his first-ever s'more until every last sticky crumb was gone.

Driving home can be painful, between the traffic and leaving that idyllic scene behind. But hopefully Seabrook's specialty — beachside downtime — has left you relaxed and ready for another stretch of regular life.

What parents should know

  • You need to bring your own food. Your options for eating out are limited to the one restaurant and pizza place in town. If you forget the milk or run out of yogurt, there's a small market stocking the essentials. Expect to pay double the regular price for some tired produce. Or drive 15 miles to the IGA in Ocean Shores.
  • Bring a baby carrier. Oyster-shell paths and a long flight of stairs down to the beach make a carrier more practical than the stroller.
  • Everything at Seabrook is close. What looks like a long distance on the map is at most a 10-minute walk.
  • Bring your bikes and scooters, or rent them when you arrive. Flat, newly paved streets with little traffic are a dream for budding cyclists.
  • Dress in layers. Even when we’re roasting in Seattle, it’s chilly on the coast.
  • It's a long haul. Seabrook is located northwest of Aberdeen, on highway 109, to the south of Pacific Beach. While map programs may indicate the drive takes less than 3 hours, plan on 3.5. The good thing is once you get to Seabrook, you won’t get in your car again. Check out our list of easy pit stops on I-5 for the portion of the drive between Seattle and Olympia.

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