Central Washington coast: Seabrook and beyond

Spring benefits locals ready to book it for Washington’s beaches before the crowds arrive. The weather may be unpredictable, but a morning squall is usually followed by afternoon sun breaks. If settled into a cozy vacation cottage in or near a well-planned place like Seabrook, there’s plenty for a family to do no matter the temperature. The town’s simple, friendly layout encourages old-fashioned bike riding, meeting new friends and just hanging out – think “Stranger Things” without the monsters.

The fastest route to Seabrook is usually the 138 miles along I-5 to US-101, but the most picturesque follows SR-109. Once you hit the coast, stop in at Ocean Shores for a quick brunch or lunch at the spacious Ocean Beach Roasters and Bistro, then head for the small, newly updated Coastal Interpretive Center. Learn about the region’s fairly eccentric history (involving Pat Boone and ill-fated dreams of becoming Washington’s Palm Springs), as well as maritime industries, coastal wildlife and a “weird rocks” exhibited with fused sand, leopard-spotted Petoskey Stone and bizarre sandstone formations.

Then move north along SR-109, which hugs the coastline, passing the Griffiths-Priday State Park and Copalis Beach’s quaint bungalows and refined resorts. Then, make your way to Seabrook – even if you spend the night elsewhere, the town offers plenty to do.

Seabrook, Washington

The bluffside town of Seabrook was founded in 2004 by Casey and Laura Roloff. Inspired by the new urbanism of Seaside, Florida, the city features thoughtful enhancements at every curve of pavement. Indeed, the curving roads were planned that way, to slow traffic and encourage walkability and bicycle use. The 475-plus homes differ in architectural style, but most showcase historic beachy charm despite the new construction.

Some people live year-round in Seabrook, but more than 250 homes are available for rent and range from tiny cabins and lofts for two, to sprawling houses that can sleep several families (up to 20 people). Some homes sport private hot tubs and fire pits, and all feature kitchens and everyday living essentials. Stays must be booked for at least two nights, which makes sense – it takes at least a day to settle into the town’s slow, easy pace.

Those looking for quieter streets and fewer crowds may gravitate to shoulder-season reservations in spring or fall. Seabrook’s primary season is summer, with outdoor concerts, full bookings, beach yoga sessions and many families. Winter in Seabrook often presents the best chance for deals, for those seeking great winter romantic getaways and Washington Coast storm watching may find it a great place to settle in and listen to the winds howl. Various finds and hunts, celebrations, races and events happen year-round on weekends.

Where to eat in Seabrook

Most Seabrook visitors pack the cooler and grocery bags for at-home cooking and grilling. But for a meal out or for those staying outside Seabrook, there’s an array of choices: Vista Bakeshop for coffee and artisan pastries, Koko’s Restaurant & Tequila Bar for contemporary Mexican fare, Frontager’s Pizza Company for calzones, and pizza (and ample outdoor bench seating ), and a beer garden hosting karaoke Wednesdays and Saturdays through the fall. The Stowaway wine bar boasts a 3,600 bottle collection in a new, expanded location. Rising Tide offers casual-upscale, locally sourced New American meals. In summer, food trucks round out the options and lighten lines for tables – no Seabrook restaurant offers reservations.

Front Street Market carries most necessary food staples in limited amounts, deli sandwiches and quick-prep meals (think: pasta, Alki bakery treats). It’s slated to be replaced in early 2023 year by an 11,000-square foot grocery store that can also serve the larger community.

What to do in and around Seabrook

A heated indoor community pool and gym is available to on-property guests, but daytrippers can also enjoy the property’s 18 parks featuring playgrounds, a dog park, and tennis, basketball, badminton and pickleball courts. Hiking trails surrounded by native wildlife crisscross the property, and brand-new mountain biking trails opened in late 2021. Barbecue grills and Adirondack chairs inspire get-togethers.

To try a new-to-you sport, Buck’s Northwest offers lessons to Seabrook visitors and the wider community in skimboarding, surfing and paddleboarding, and mountain bike lessons and guided services. The outfitter also rents a variety of bikes (mountain bikes, beach cruisers, road bikes) and water equipment (surfboards and surfing wear, skimboards, kayaks) and arranges guided clam digs, fishing trips and hikes.

Most of Seabrook is concentrated on the east side of SR-109. So, visiting the public beach requires a quick crossing from the town center and down a steep trail and stairs, passing through slanted trees shaped by strong winds. Head to the sandy beach for volleyball nets, kite flying, castle-building and beachcombing for “weird rocks” of your own.

The town center is worth an afternoon browse; street-level retail makes everything easily walkable. Shopping options are primarily upscale and include a spa, clothing shops, wine bar, pet-supplies store, outdoor-gear stores and home decor, most with a sea theme.

Seabrook for families

Families might pop into the toy store or bookstore Joie Des Livres for rainy-day activities such as puzzles, novels, games and drawing tools – the book store’s adorable, porthole-shaped “book nook” offers a charming surprise. Pick up candy, a scoop of ice cream or both at The Sweet Life.

Families will also appreciate thoughtful, surprising features throughout Seabrook. For example, kids are invited to collect forest materials such as twigs, feathers and stones to create “gnome homes” for others to discover, along the Gnome Trail. Tiny seats within a hollowed-out massive tree stump can be a hideout.

Beyond Seabrook

Just north of Seabrook sit the sleepy towns of Pacific Beach and Moclips. Pacific Beach State Park’s grass-covered dunes give way to open, wide beaches, and offers 18 standard campsites, 41 partial-hookup sites, and two yurts with bunk beds. Several nearby beach access roads visitors visitors to drive right onto the beach – whether that’s a good idea depends on your risk tolerance (and drivetrain).

At Ocean Crest Resort, try Grandma’s Famous Chowder, a bisque-like, slightly spicy soup first created in 1953 and a favorite of Olympic Gold medalist Apolo Ohno. The restaurant’s tableside windows offer some of the best sunset-dining views in the area, looking right onto the Pacific below.

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