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 out to upwards of $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 older son always asks for a house with bunk beds. Seabrook has about 180 houses available for rent, sleeping anywhere from two to 22 people, so you can choose what features best suit your family or group.
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 pottery-painting shop and a bike rental shop. Seabrook has an indoor pool and a fitness center, too, and both amenities are included with your stay. For us, the beach was the biggest draw.
Even on a wet 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 had started a fire in the communal fire pit. And we’d run out with our marshmallows and fixings. My then-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.
Tips for parents...
Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2017 and updated in 2019.