Map Quest

The Long Road Trip Down Long Beach

Our southwest stretch of sand supplies almost 30 miles for beach walking and kiteflying beside the Pacific, with plenty of historic happenings along the way.

By Allison Williams May 23, 2022 Published in the Summer 2022 issue of Seattle Met

Image: Levi Hastings

1 Wake Up with the Birds

Forgive the snowy plover for its wintry name; the plump little fliers only sound like they live on frigid glaciers. The endangered shorebirds, somewhere in size between a robin and a sparrow, get their moniker from their mostly white feathers and live on the shore, snapping up kelp flies and munching on tiny crustaceans. Spot chicks in summer at Leadbetter Point State Park, which takes up most of the northernmost tip of Long Beach Peninsula—those aren’t tiny cotton balls scattered over the sand. 

2 Venture to Oysterville

The Pacific side of Long Beach understandably gets all the attention—big waves, a sandy beach you can drive on—but the eastern flank on Willapa Bay has its historic charms. With buildings dating back to the mid-1800s, Oysterville preserves a time when bivalves were big business in the region. Though the darling old cottages and church make for little more than a photo op, the cannery still houses a working business, Oysterville Sea Farms, selling local deli items and, of course, oysters. 

3 Trace the Dunes

Near the peninsula’s base, the Discovery Trail stretches eight-and-a-half miles along the oceanfront, mostly paved and largely flat (until it finds hills in Cape Disappointment State Park on the southern end); parts merge with the Long Beach boardwalk. Artworks call back to the Corps of Discovery, otherwise known as the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The route’s northern terminus sits at a bronze replica of the tree where one of the titular explorers carved his initials, at the site of the most westerly point of the famed trip. 

4 Stop for Soup

Before Long Beach chef Casey Barella opened his own restaurant just off the Long Beach boardwalk, he was selling clam chowder at farmers markets. Finally in 2019 he and his wife launched The Chowder Stop about a block from the arch that proclaims this the “World’s Longest Beach.” Though the eatery dishes paninis and fried halibut with chips, the hearty chowder made of local Pacific sea clams is the best fit for the coast’s ever-fickle weather. 203 Bolstad Ave

5 Rest in Style

The Shelburne Hotel may squat along Long Beach’s main drag like it’s been there forever, but the quaint building actually began life across the street; it was pulled by horses back in the 1920s. Long a stop for visitors riding Long Beach’s Clamshell Railroad, the hotel has the vibe of one occupied by a ghost or two—stained glass, claw-foot tubs, attic quarters. The billiards room and fire-lit parlor hearken back to when a hotel was meant to feel cozy. 

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