Why We Were Voted One of the Best Coastal Small Towns

Apr 22, 2024 | Family Fun, Recreation

Step onto the sandy shores of Long Beach, Washington, and you’ll understand why a USA Today poll awarded us one of the Top 10 Best Coastal Small Towns. From the rugged beauty of our cliffs to the tranquility of our dunes, Long Beach captivates the senses and beckons adventurers to explore our hidden treasures. Our charm is rooted in the forests and bays surrounding us and washes against our coastline with every wave. Our beautiful beaches, state parks, recreational opportunities, and out-of-this-world seafood have bewitched visitors for years. We’ve always known that our hidden gem was something special. We’re thrilled to share our slice of paradise with the world! Dive in as we reveal a few reasons why we made the list.

Relax on Our 28 Miles of Uninterrupted Beautiful Beach

One of the reasons we’re one of the best coastal small towns is our silver ribbon of unbroken shoreline. While we once boasted the title of the World’s Longest Beach (you can still visit the arch over Bolstad Street), we are, in fact, the World’s Longest Contiguous Beach. Our shore stretches from where the Columbia River embraces the Pacific Ocean to where it kisses the mouth of Gray’s Harbor. You can walk uninterrupted for 28 beautiful miles of unprecedented ocean views.

2. Best Coastal Small Towns - Beach

Our picturesque beachfront peninsula hugs the ocean against the endless backdrop of the horizon. Undulating tides create mirrored mirages, where the heavens reflect for miles in either direction. Whether strolling hand in hand at sunset, building sandcastles with loved ones, playing with your pup at the water’s edge, or embarking on exhilarating kite-flying escapades, every step along Long Beach’s 28-mile stretch is a journey of discovery and delight.

Bike, Hike, and Kayak in Our Unparalleled Recreation

3. Best Coastal Small Towns - Recreation

Long Beach, Washington, is not just a destination—it’s an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise where the possibilities for adventure are as endless as our coastline. With miles of scenic trails winding through lush forests and along pristine shores, biking enthusiasts find themselves in two-wheeled bliss, exploring the diverse landscapes that make this gem one of the best small coastal towns in the nation. Whether pedaling through town or meandering along the picturesque pathways of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, every turn of the wheel unveils a new vista. And for those seeking a break from biking, the recreational opportunities are equally abundant, from paddleboarding or kayaking along the Willapa River to hiking through ancient forests teeming with wildlife. In Long Beach, the great outdoors isn’t just a backdrop—it’s an invitation to experience the natural beauty and boundless possibilities that await around every corner.

Stroll Our Stunning Coastal Boardwalk and Discovery Trail

4. Best Coastal Small Towns - Boardwalk - credit Lucid Images - Mark Downey

Photo Courtesy of: Lucid Images – Mark Downey

Not every experience needs to be high-impact. Embark on leisurely journeys along the Long Beach Boardwalk and Discovery Trail. These enchanting pathways wind through the heart of one of the nation’s best coastal small towns, offering a unique perspective of our oceanside getaway. The boardwalk, spanning less than a mile, hovers over the dunes, providing an unhurried stroll with ocean views. For a more immersive experience, take the 8-mile paved Discovery Trail that winds from Ilwaco through Long Beach. Discover the wonder of Beard’s Hollow, navigate the dunes, and traverse the forests. Along the way, wooden sculptures and landmarks pepper the pathway, adding a sprinkle of excitement to your panoramic pilgrimage. Both paths are accessible to people with a range of mobility.

Explore Our Seven State Parks and Five Conservation Areas

5. Best Coastal Small Towns - State Park - credit Walter Dorsett

Photo Courtesy of: Walter Dorsett

Our intimate, untamed shoreline features a staggering seven state parks and five wildlife conservation areas. Hugged by the passionate arms of the Pacific Ocean and weighted by the verdant foliage of Washington’s forests, these areas offer a tapestry of landscapes to explore. Visit the dramatic cliffs, hidden coves, and wild waves of Cape Disappointment. Explore the sea dunes and sandy beaches of Leadbetter Point. Delve into the echoes of the sentinel past of Fort Columbia. The abundance of natural sanctuaries solidifies our spot as one of the best coastal small towns, inviting you to discover our unbridled beauty. Remember to grab a Discover Pass before you visit our state parks.

Navigate Our Two Historical Lighthouses

6.Best Coastal Small Towns - Lighthouse - credit Corey Dembeck

Photo Courtesy of: Corey Dembeck

Follow the guiding beams of our two lighthouses to our award-winning, small coastal towns. Perched proudly on the craggy cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, our twin sentries are guardians of our shoreline. Cape Disappointment Lighthouse is the oldest in Washington. Standing since 1856, it cast its glow over the confluence of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. North Head Lighthouse arrived later and has stood watch since 1898. Both towers weathered the tempests of time, guiding sailors through our treacherous waters. Visitors can hike to either location for a bird’s eye view of the waves they protect to this very day.

Discover Our Twelve Unique Museums and Nine Quirky Roadside Attractions

Our unique museums and attractions are some of the reasons we were voted one of the best coastal small towns. As a treasure trove of eccentricity and charm, we were hardly surprised. The blanket of our tranquil beauty is a quilt of history and whimsy. We are home to twelve charming museums and nine selfie-worthy roadside attractions, so we understand the fascination.

7. Best Coastal Small Towns - Museum - credit Corey Dembeck

Photo Courtesy of: Corey Dembeck

Visit the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum to unearth the artwork and history of our region. Pop into the Cranberry Museum, where the fascinating journey of our tart, crimson fruit unfolds, from bog to table, in a celebration of local heritage. Or wander through the Marsh’s Free Museum, where bizarre curiosities like Jake the Alligator Man and vintage arcade games ignite your imagination. As you venture along downtown Long Beach, keep an eye out for the whimsical landmarks that freckle the landscape. From the World’s Largest Chopsticks to one of the world’s largest frying pans, every corner holds a delightful surprise.

Take Flight with Our Exceptional Birding

8. Best Coastal Small Towns - Birding - credit Bill Wagner

Image Courtesy of: Bill Wagner

Our small coastal town is a haven for bird enthusiasts. Our moody skies are alive with a symphony of wings, drawing seasoned birders and curious novices alike. You’ll spy swooping bald eagles on our beaches and boardwalks and catch glimpses of thousands of migrating shorebirds. Our birding opportunities are so renowned that we host the annual Wings Over Willapa Festival, celebrating our plethora of feathered friends.

Savor Our Stellar Seafood and Local Restaurants

9. Best Coastal Small Towns - Seafood

When you’re one of the best coastal small towns, you are the epicenter for sumptuous seafood and artisan meals. Our oceanfront communities teem with boutique bistros and quaint culinary gems featuring local seafood and farm-to-table delicacies. Indulge in warm Cioppino from the intimate Mycovio’s or slip into garlicky steamers at the quaint Depot. Every menu will showcase our world-famous Willapa Bay oysters and the freshest seafood plucked from our waters.

Make Memories On Our Wild Coast

Being recognized as one of the top 10 best coastal small towns is more than just an accolade—it’s a testament to our oceanside haven’s enduring charm and vibrant soul. With each sunrise painting the horizon and every tide ushering in new delights, our quaint towns welcome you. We invite you to discover our wild coast and see why we’re an award-winning, hidden gem along the shore.

10. Best Coastal Small Towns - State Parks - credit Kimberly Spencer Photography

Image Courtesy of: Kimberly Spencer Photography

Feature Image Courtesy of: Walter Dorsett


Why We Were Voted One of the Best Coastal Small Towns

By: Danelle Dodds

Danelle is an international traveler, road tripper, writer, and artist. She firmly believes in testing the limits of word count, mileage, and AYCE sushi.




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