35 Fun Things to do in Ilwaco

Jan 13, 2021 | Family Fun, Fishing

A fishing village with a thriving art community, the Port of Ilwaco is a unique pocket of culture, history, and delicious seafood. The businesses are run by locals, and the community is close-knit. If you take the time to explore and meet people, you’re likely to uncover even more than what we have in this list!

1. Watch boats come and go at the Port of Ilwaco.

No matter the season, the Port of Ilwaco is a hub of activity. Take a walk along the port to watch the comings and goings of crabbers, fishing boats, and charter boats.

For a little taste, watch this time-lapse of “Dump Day” by local Aaron Webster.

2. Book a fishing charter.

Dungeness crab, salmon, lingcod, sturgeon, and more–the fishing out of the Port of Ilwaco is good! Book with a local fishing charter for an incredible experience. Find listings here.

3. Buy fresh seafood to take home.

There are several seafood markets along the port where you can pick up fresh seafood for your own creations. Take home salmon, Dungeness crab, tuna, oysters, and other delicious local offerings.

Sportsmen’s Cannery sits right on the port promenade.

4. Find the California Condor statue on the Discovery Trail at the Port of Ilwaco.

The Discovery Trail commemorating Lewis and Clark’s journey begins at the port with a bronze California Condor and an inscription from Clark’s journal about “a Buzzard of the Large Kind”.

5. Visit the Marie Powell Gallery and Studio.

Marie Powell is a passionate artist who creates eye-catching prints using oil-based ink. She works in her studio daily to create original, one-of-a-kind pieces.

Her gallery also features pottery by Melanie Thompson and beach baskets by Susan Spence.

6. Visit the Don Nisbett Art Gallery.

Colorful watercolors and gifts fill Don Nisbett’s gallery, but you’ll also find his paintings on event posters, signs, and even the Long Beach Trolley! He’s quite the conversationalist and visiting his gallery is just plain fun.

7. Discover handmade jewelry.

Local artist Luisa Mack creates beautiful pieces of jewelry worthy of becoming keepsakes that you pass down for generations. A few of her pieces even feature gold dust from Cape Disappointment State Park!

8. Spoil yourself at Serious Pizza.

Woodfired, artisan pizza made with homemade dough? Get it at Serious Pizza in Ilwaco. Whether you eat in, on their patio, or get it for a picnic, this pizza will knock your socks off.

9. Learn something new at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum.

The Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum has a collection of over 23,000 artifacts, photos, and other historic objects. Find them on Facebook for information about their latest exhibitions and events.

10. Hike around Black Lake.

The trails around Black Lake are loved by hikers and trail runners! This is also a great area for birders, especially in the winter when Trumpeter Swans visit.

11. Go fishing at Black Lake.

Black Lake is stocked with fish and open for fishing from the last Saturday in April through October 31st. Fish for rainbow trout and bass. More information can be found here.

12. Grab the perfect picnic spread from Roots.

Roots Juice, Java, and Salad Bar in Ilwaco is a fantastic place to pick up lunch, smoothies, and coffee. Their menu has healthy options as well as yummy ways to treat yourself!

13. Get your java fix and browse antiques at the Trading Post.

The Olde Towne Trading Post is a cozy spot loved by locals and visitors alike. Get something tasty on their menu and browse their collection of antiques!

14. Enjoy creative, delicious dishes at Salt Pub.

Salt Pub uses locally sourced ingredients and fresh seafood for both classic dishes and creative twists. Enjoy a panoramic view of the port while you dine!

15. Find a book to fall in love with at Time Enough Books (and say hello the bookstore dog, Scout!).

If you can’t imagine life without a book, visit Ilwaco’s cozy independent bookstore, Time Enough Books. A friendly dog will be there to greet you!

16. Catch a yoga class at RiversZen Yoga.

The owners of RiversZen are committed to helping people live well, and they offer a variety of classes from their peaceful location in Ilwaco. Visit their website to check their schedule and learn more.

17. Spoil yourself with at Azure Salon.

Pamper your hair, skin, and nails at Azure Salon! This is a wonderful treat while you’re at the beach. Book ahead of time as this is a popular salon.

18. Learn to spin at Purly Shell Fiber Arts.

It began with a love for spinning and grew into something bigger. Not only is this a paradise of premium yarns, Purly Shell offers spinning classes for those interested in learning a new skill.

19. Go green at Ilwaco Freedom Market.

Ilwaco Freedom Market is an award-winning marijuana retailer with a large selection, exclusive product lines, and friendly staff.

20. Take a guided tour of Painted Lady Lavender Farm.

Tour the beautiful and magical Painted Lady Lavender Farm. They have lavender products available and cozy spots to sit. Follow their Facebook page for updates about their annual Belly Dance Festival!

21. Check the events calendar.

Ilwaco hosts a variety of events throughout the year including the Ilwaco Art Walk, fireworks shows, the Slow Drag, the Firecracker 5k, and even a Crab Pot Christmas Tree. Download a calendar to keep on your fridge.

22. Walk along the Port of Ilwaco.

Take a walk along the port to relax and unwind. See how many interesting boat names you can spot and check out the shops along the way.

23. Have a picnic at Black Lake.

The covered picnic area at Black Lake is perfect for family picnics! Once you’re done chowing down, hit the trails or go fishing on the lake.

24. Have a picnic at Cape Disappointment State Park (Discover Pass required).

Would you like to have lunch with a view? Head to Cape Disappointment State Park with your favorite picnic food and relax in some of the most scenic spots on the peninsula.

25. Discover local produce and crafts during the Saturday Market at the Port of Ilwaco.

Each Saturday from the beginning of May to the end of September, a lively strip of vendors pops up along the port. The Saturday Market at the Port of Ilwaco offers everything from farm fresh produce to handcrafted goods.

26. Go storm watching at Waikiki Beach in the winter.

When winter comes around, Waikiki Beach is a favorite spot for photographers looking to capture a big wave. Check out this blog for storm watching tips.

27. Visit two working lighthouses at Cape Disappointment State Park.

The North Head Lighthouse is easily accessible along a short loop trail while the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse requires an uphill hike past a hidden cove. Both offer spectacular views of the Columbia-Pacific confluence.

28. Explore Fort Canby at Cape Disappointment State Park.

Whether you’re a history buff, seeker of abandoned vibes, or simply curious, the remains of Fort Canby are a source of fascination.

Battery Harvey Allen can be found just outside the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center while Battery 247 is located at the top of McKenzie Head Trail (0.25 miles one way). You can find other structures along Bell’s View Trail, which begins in the same parking lot for the North Head Lighthouse.

29. Check out the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment State Park.

The Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center sits 200 feet above the surf and overlooks the Columbia-Pacific Confluence. They have exhibits devoted to the Corps of Discovery’s journey as well as the history of Cape Disappointment after Lewis and Clark.

30. Hike, bike, or walk the Discovery Trail.

The southernmost trailhead begins at the Port of Ilwaco before winding up a hillside into Cape Disappointment State Park.

31. Go to Beard’s Hollow at low tide.

Beard’s Hollow is a favorite spot on the peninsula for building fires on the beach, picnics, fishing, and just having a good time! Remember to pack in and pack out when you visit. Be aware of tides since this area is inaccessible at high tide (tide tables are available at the Visitors Bureau).

32. Discover artwork by Maya Lin at Cape Disappointment State Park.

Maya Lin, the creator of the Vietnam Memorial, made several art installments as part of the Confluence Project, which can be found at Cape Disappointment State Park. Find a full list here and start exploring!

33. Take a boat tour.

Take a boat tour of the Lower Columbia River. Sail out to get perfect views of wildlife, lighthouses, and historic sites. 

34. Explore public gardens.

Stop to smell the flowers at Ilwaco’s public gardens. Learn more about where to find these beautiful spaces here.

35. Browse the only record store on the peninsula!

Head on over to Ship Wrecords and Moor. Browse the selection of vinyl, cassettes, stereo equipment, and local artwork. Relax in the plushy chairs and enjoy the music. 


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