Credit: JiaYing Grygiel
The best description I’ve ever heard of Seabrook came from a local friend: “It’s like a movie set.”
Right on the money.
Seabrook is a planned beach town on Washington’s Pacific coast, about a 3-hour drive from Seattle. Every detail of this charming resort is intentional: cedar-shingled cottages, oyster-shell pathways, inviting front porches. Even the people look so Norman Rockwellian you have to wonder if they’re paid movie extras.
The town sits high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Families come for the adorable vacation rentals as much as the pristine sandy beach. It’s a chance to suspend reality for a few days.
Our family has been visiting Seabrook since my second kid was born. With two littles, I wanted a place where I could just relax — and maybe be pampered a little. Let me lay it all out for you: Lovely houses near the beach, walking trails, two pools, a fun playground with a zipline and a small arcade. It’s that easy.
With each visit, we’ve watched the town grow. And grow. And grow. Seabrook recently underwent a $20-million expansion. New amenities that opened this summer include a grocery store, an outdoor heated pool, a fitness center and even an arcade.
If you’re the person in charge of meals, the 13,000-square-foot Fresh Foods Market is going to make all the difference. It used to be I’d schlep all of our groceries from Seattle, or face the overpriced, sometimes sad produce in the tiny market.
The new grocery store is fully stocked at normal prices: $3.89 for a half-gallon of milk, $1.89 for a dozen eggs. (They ran out of bananas for two days, though. So if you must have bananas, maybe bring those from Seattle.)
The old market building is now an arcade, with its blinking lights and blooping noises drawing kids like moths to a flame. It’s open 7 days a week, the perfect place to while away a rainstorm.
We love the indoor pool at Seabrook, and now there’s a new outdoor pool as well. The outdoor pool is heated to 87 degrees, and it’s open year-round, weather permitting. It was even packed during a rainstorm, the pool attendant told me. (You’re getting wet anyway, I guess…?) Super helpful: Both the indoor and outdoor pools have attached locker rooms, with showers and changing areas, so you don’t have to shiver on the walk back to your rental home.
The brand-new fitness center, next to the outdoor pool, is double the size of the old one. One wall is lined with cardio machines, the other wall lined with weights. There’s even a Peloton bike for guest use, a hint at the upscale demographic.
Seabrook founder Casey Roloff lives in town full-time, along with his wife and their four daughters. He looks like a regular guy (standard Pacific Northwest CEO code), always in a baseball cap. You wouldn’t guess looking at him that this is the guy who built the town from scratch.
Nearly 20 years in, Seabrook now has 550 houses, with another 50 under construction. Two more planned developments will triple the size of Seabrook in the next 20 or 30 years.
If you want to own a slice of this vacation paradise, be prepared to pay Seattle prices. To give you an idea, we saw a 960-square-foot cottage listed for sale for close to $900,000.
You know what goes hand in hand with growth? Construction. Everywhere. My plans to sleep in were dashed at 7:30 a.m. by the beep beep beep of a construction vehicle backing up our narrow lane. The price of progress.
Each time we stay, we pick a different rental. It’s part of the fun! About 60 percent of the houses at Seabrook are vacation rentals, and there are all kinds to choose from: cottages, townhomes, lofts, duplexes, carriage houses. The houses sleep anywhere from two to 22 people, and some are even dog-friendly.
The basic concept of Seabrook is New Urbanism, which means the town is carefully laid out so that you can walk or bike anywhere. Upon arriving at Seabrook, we park our car at our rental and we don’t touch it again until it’s time to pack up. They may look spread out on the map, but the shops and restaurants, pools, sports courts — and of course, the beach! — are all within an easy stroll.
Houses are built in clusters around communal parks. There are courts and fields for many games and sports: bocce ball, shuffleboard, pickleball, basketball, tennis and soccer. Kids roam around unsupervised like it’s the 1980s. There are no designated bike lanes, but traffic is sparse and it moves slowly.
Seabrook shops and events
The town’s core is packed with a curated selection of retail and dining. There’s an excellent pizza place, a candle-making shop, a toy store, a spa, clothing boutiques — and the only bookstore on the coast with new titles.
Inside Joie des Livres, we made our way to the young reader section, where another mom and I instantly bonded over kid book recs — no Seattle freeze here.
Seabrook runs a brisk lineup of events, from author readings to farmers markets to live music. The best show of all, of course, is the one Mother Nature puts on for us at sunset.
There are three trails leading to the beach, including one that’s gnome themed. Unless you’re staying right at the edge of the bluff, you’ll have to cross state Route 109 to reach the beach. The road has crosswalks and flags to help alert motorists.
Mornings are misty, as the sun warms up the wet sand. Kites and children and dogs live their best life here. I bundled up in a wool coat, because that cool ocean breeze doesn’t care if the calendar says it’s summer. That day on the trail to the beach we encountered another family. A far more ambitious group, they were dressed in swimsuits. We looked at each other and laughed. It’s all about your mindset.
The beach is so enormous that other the people appear as tiny specks. Walking on this gorgeous stretch of shoreline makes you realize how puny you are in the universe and how truly blessed we are to live in the Pacific Northwest.
All too soon, it’s time to go home. And start dreaming about your next trip.
More family getaway destinations in Washington...
Editor’s note: Seabrook hosted this trip, but all opinions expressed belong to the writer.