Beaches are magic. Poking at crabs and anemones, kite-flying, splashing in the water, watching volleyball, burying Dad in the sand — the possibilities for whiling away the hours are endless. Here are eight of our current favorite sandy spots. (Got a beach tip? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.) Note: You will need a Discover Pass to park at the state parks.
Dash Point State Park, Federal Way. This gem of a shoreline park is a favorite of families. There are 11 miles of hiking and biking trails, excellent kite flying opportunities, and a looong beach for kids to walk down and explore. Low-tide days are especially fun. It has a nice campground, too.
Thornton A. Sullivan Park at Silver Lake, Everett. Another Everett gem: This beautiful, natural space offers a large, sandy beach and guarded swim area — great for wading toddlers because there is no current. This park also boasts a large playground, rentable paddle boats and trout fishing.
Juanita Beach Park, Kirkland. If you haven't been to the upgraded Juanita Beach Park on Lake Washington, now is the time. It boasts new benches, paths, playground, a pretty amphitheater and a dock that goes along a large swimming area that's perfect for kids, with lots of shallow water. They'll also love watching the raft of boats docking together in the summer or sail surfing in the spring and fall. (Find more summer adventures on the Eastside.)
South Whidbey State Park, Whidbey Island. A lovelyplace for a hot day, South Whidbey State Park is 347 acres of beachfront and old-growth forest that survived the logging era. The beach area is great for cooling off after a short hike — it's a half-mile walk from the parking area down to the shore. (Find more about South Whidbey State Park.)
Point Robinson Park, Vashon Island. A 10-acre park on the east shore of Maury Island with excellent views of Mount Rainier and Tacoma, Point Robinson is a favorite with locals. There's a historic lighthouse that's been in operation since 1885, excellent beachcombing and kite-flying, and picnicking. Dogs are allowed, too.
Alki Beach Park, West Seattle. For the urban beach experience, Alki is our answer to California. Alki is a long beach strip with all the beachy fun you might want, plus a serious scene of beach volleyball, biking and much more. Also, fantastic views of the downtown skyline and Olympic Mountains. A fun outing is to take the water taxi over to Seacrest Park and bike down to Alki.
Dungeness Spit, Sequim. Head to this five-mile sand spit on the Olympic Peninsula for a long day trip, or a weekend. The smooth west beach is perfect for digging, castle-building, wave-jumping and shell-seeking, with mounds of driftwood that are great for climbing or sitting. Bring buckets and shovels for beach play, and plan activities that won't disturb the wildlife. When you're done digging, grab your binoculars and head to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. Camping is nearby at the Dungeness Recreation Area.(Read more about the Dungeness Spit here.)
For more summer fun ideas, see also: