Do Absolutely NothingMarine View Park
WHERE IT IS: At the southern end of Normandy Park
DRIVE TIME FROM DOWNTOWN: 30 minutes, plus a 10-minute hike to the beach
WHAT TO BRING: Take Pack Tag’s hands-free beach blanket down to the waterfront, then trek the long way back and use it as a picnic mat on the pit-stop lookout benches that dot the return trail. $38 at City People’s Mercantile, 5440 Sand Point Way NE, University District, 206-524-1200; citypeoples.com
Here’s how far the people of Normandy Park went to keep their pristine, natural, and sort-of-hard-to-get-to beach a secret: About 25 years ago, they cut the word “beach” out of its name. Marine View Park (a sneaky synonym for “beach” if there ever was one) was known as Normandy Beach Park until 1987, when the city offered students at Marvista Elementary School a chance to rename the wooded waterfront hideaway just north of the Des Moines marina. Which raises the question, Aren’t school kids supposed to be learning to share?
It’s hard to blame Normandy Park’s peeps for wanting to keep this beach to themselves. At just over 1,000 feet in length, it doesn’t take a deluge of sand seekers to spoil Marine View’s secluded vibe (although the city is snatching up plots of adjacent waterfront that will double the beach’s length by next summer). A steep, half-mile hike from the parking lot might discourage amateur adventurers, but if you’re willing to sweat a tad, you’ll find one of the more intimate picnic spots in Puget Sound. Slip a baguette, a bottle of cabernet, and a wedge of Oregon blue cheese in your backpack (the climb is tricky for cooler toting) and thank the kids at Marvista for keeping this whole “beach” thing on the DL.
Ditch Your ClothesDenny Blaine Park
WHERE IT IS: On Lake Washington in Madrona
DRIVE TIME FROM DOWNTOWN: 10 minutes
WHAT TO BRING: When you do decide to cover up, you’ll want to do so in style; try these all-cotton, oversize, striped Lacoste beach towels. $40 each at Macy’s, visit macys.com for locations
Privacy, when it comes to skinny dipping, is a mixed bag. And the peace of mind afforded by knowing your naughty bits aren’t on display for pervy prying eyes is almost canceled out by the fact that complete concealment kills the buzz that comes with sunbathing sans clothes. The beach at Denny Blaine Park, though, sports the perfect mix of sight lines and seclusion.
There’s a reason—several, actually—that this park on Lake Washington’s western shore has lured the clothing-optional crowd for years: First, without lifeguards, it’s devoid of hall-monitor types who might chase off suitless swimmers. And then there are the grassy areas and soft sand that make for comfortable lounging. But it’s the location that makes Denny Blaine a standout skinny-dipping refuge. Tucked away at the base of a small hill, behind a stone wall and a stand of trees, it offers just enough cover to keep the rubberneckers at bay.
Public nudity isn’t illegal in the City of Seattle or at city parks, but “indecent exposure” is. In other words, use discretion if you plan to let it all hang out.