Road Trip through Washington: Discover Pacific County

Jun 10, 2024 | Road Trips, Summer

When the long days of summer beckon, the open road calls out to you. School break is here, and a much-needed vacation is on the horizon. You’re thirsty for adventure and ready to feel your toes in the sand. What better way to heed that call than with a summer road trip through Washington to some of the most magical towns on the coast? Pack your bags and get ready to discover Pacific County.

The Pearls of Pacific County

Nestled in the southwestern corner of the state, Pacific County is just a few hours from either Seattle or Portland and is an undiscovered pearl of the wild coast of Washington. Cradled by the Pacific Ocean, Willapa Bay, and verdant forests, our evergreen coast presents a myriad of unique experiences, blending the natural splendor of the Pacific Northwest with the quaint enchantment of small-town life. A summer road trip through Washington is incomplete without a visit to our coastal cities.

2. Road Trip Through Washington - Pearls - credit Randy Dennis

Image Courtesy of: Randy Dennis

Our region is a treasure trove of diverse attractions, ensuring every mile of your drive is a new adventure. With seven state parks, five wildlife refuges and conservation areas, and one of the world’s longest beaches, there’s no shortage of places to explore. Our area is a blend of emerald woods, endless beaches, and charming towns. As you wind through our scenic roads, our natural beauty will captivate your imagination, and our local charm will steal your heart. We are one of the last hidden gems of the Pacific Northwest.

As you visit Pacific County on your road trip through Washington, you’ll journey through multiple towns that are a patchwork of personalities stitched together with ribbons of rivers, coastal byways, teeming tidepools, and thriving thickets.

The Allure of the Long Beach Peninsula

Start your road trip through Washington with a journey to the iconic Long Beach Peninsula. This 28-mile stretch of beach is one of the longest uninterrupted beaches in the United States, offering plenty of opportunities for oceanside fun. Imagine flying kites against the backdrop of a windswept sky, building sandcastles on miles of beaches, or strolling along the wooden Long Beach boardwalk, watching the sun dip below the horizon.

3. Road Trip Through Washington - Long Beach - credit Katlyn Cramer

Image Courtesy of: Katlyn Cramer

The town of Long Beach itself is a delightful mix of kitsch and classic beach town charm. Don’t miss the chance to visit Marsh’s Free Museum, where you can see the famous “Jake the Alligator Man” or indulge in saltwater taffy from one of the local candy shops. For a dose of history with spectacular views, peruse the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Perched on a 200-foot cliff overlooking the crashing sea, it offers fascinating insights into the famous explorers’ journey and gives you a glimpse into our famous Graveyard of the Pacific.

Cape Disappointment: Not So Disappointing After All

4. Road Trip Through Washington - Cape D

Next, make your way to Cape Disappointment State Park. Despite its name, this park is anything but disappointing. It is home to two lighthouses, stunning ocean views, and miles of hiking trails that wind through old-growth forests and along dramatic cliffs. The North Head Lighthouse offers breathtaking vistas and a glimpse into maritime history. As you hike through the park, the diverse landscapes—from dense woods to windswept beaches—will leave you in awe.

Idle Away in Idyllic Ilwaco

5. Road Trip Through Washington - Ilwaco

Not far from Long Beach Peninsula is the idyllic town of Ilwaco. Continue your road trip through Washington with a roll through one of the last working ports in North America. Colorful fishing boats bob gently in the breeze, dotting its picturesque harbor. Stroll along the waterfront and breathe in the salty sea air as you admire the stunning views. Quaint shops and galleries line the streets, offering treasures waiting to be discovered, from locally crafted artwork to handcrafted souvenirs. Have the chance to sample freshly caught seafood at one of the waterfront restaurants, where the flavors of the Pacific come to life on your plate. Be sure to visit the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum for a deeper glimpse into the region’s storied history.

The Small-Town Charm of Raymond and South Bend

6. Road Trip Through Washington - Raymond - credit Shanna Gillette

Image Courtesy of: Shanna Gillette

As you further your summer road trip through Washington, take a detour inland to the towns of Raymond and South Bend. These charming towns offer a slower pace and a chance to experience local life. Raymond is known for its outdoor art installations, with over 200 metal sculptures scattered throughout the town, creating a unique and whimsical atmosphere. Be sure to stop at the Northwest Carriage Museum for a delightful curation of carriages, sleighs, buggies, and wagons. Pop into Alder + Co. for local gifts and a mug of Wild Pines Coffee.

7. Road Trip Through Washington - South Bend

South Bend, the “Oyster Capital of the World,” is a must-visit for seafood lovers. Stop by South Bend Products Retail for fresh oysters, clams, and other seafood delicacies. If you need to wet your whistle, pop by Willapa Brewing Co. and sample one of their beer flights and a slice of their famous pizza.

Weathering the Weather: Summer Patterns in Pacific County

A summer road trip through Washington means preparing for a variety of weather conditions. While summer in Pacific County generally brings mild and pleasant temperatures, it’s not uncommon to experience a mix of sun, clouds, and the occasional rain shower—all on the same day. The coastal climate can be unpredictable, so packing layers and having a flexible itinerary is key to making the most of your trip.

8. Road Trip Through Washington - Weather

Sunny days are perfect for beach outings and hiking adventures, while overcast or rainy days provide an ideal excuse to explore indoor attractions like museums, local shops, or cozy cafes. The ever-changing weather adds a layer of excitement to your road trip, ensuring that no two days are the same.

Pro Tips for an Unforgettable Summer Road Trip Through Washington

Plan, but Stay Flexible

Have a general route and must-see list, but be ready to embrace spontaneous detours and unexpected discoveries.

Pack Smart

Bring layers, a good pair of walking shoes, and all the beach essentials. Don’t forget a camera to capture the stunning landscapes and memorable moments.

Local Flavors

Make it a point to try local cuisine, especially the seafood. Pacific County offers a feast for your taste buds, from casual fish and chips to international fare.

Pro Tips for visiting Washington

Respect Nature

Pacific County’s natural beauty is one of its greatest assets. Help preserve it by following Leave No Trace principles and being mindful of wildlife habitats. Keep your distance from wildlife, and do not turn your back on the ocean. Our shoreline can be unpredictable, so watch for sneaker waves and strong currents.

Enjoy the Journey

10. Road Trip Through Washington

A summer road trip through Washington and the breathtaking towns in Pacific County is an experience filled with discovery, adventure, and pure joy. The blend of stunning natural beauty, charming small towns, and the ever-changing coastal weather creates a dynamic backdrop for unforgettable memories. So, pack your bags, hit the road, and let the magic of Pacific County sweep you off your feet. There’s no better way to embrace the spirit of summer than by embarking on a road trip through this enchanting corner of Washington.

Feature Image Courtesy of: Walter Dorsett


Road Trip through Washington: Discover Pacific County

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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