World class fishing and a vibrant art community make Ilwaco a mixture of great eating, laid back shopping, and exciting adventures. From the basalt cliffs of Cape Disappointment to a cozy lavender farm tucked into the hills, you may be surprised what this small fishing village has to offer.
Fishing & the Port of Ilwaco
It’s difficult to separate Ilwaco from fishing! Stroll along the Port of Ilwaco where you can watch the hustle and bustle of the northwest fishing industry. Book a fishing charter for a taste of it yourself. Catch some of the finest Dungeness Crab, salmon, and albacore tuna in the northwest.
In the summer, a row of vendors and musicians line the walkway during the Saturday Market. During the holiday season, they light the Crab Pot Christmas Tree. On the fourth, they put on a fireworks display over the port.
Ole Bob’s Galley Cafe overlooks the port and has patio seating. Since it doubles as a seafood market, you know what you’re eating is fresh. Try their famous crab cakes, stuff yourself to the gills with the Captain’s platter, and don’t pass up their specials board. Beer on tap and 10 layer cakes top of this dining experience. Check their menu.
Salt Pub sits close to Jessie’s Ilwaco Fish Co. (an iconic, historic market) on the port and serves up incredible food: dungeness crab and shrimp rolls, fresh line caught tuna, and even Angus beef hamburgers. They also have delicious and fresh Willapa Bay oysters on their menu. Check their menu.
Art Galleries & Shopping
Living next to the beach tends to bring out a certain creative spirit. Handwoven beach baskets, locally inspired pieces, jewelry, ceramics, and hand spun yarn await in the colorful rows of galleries and shops.
The Ilwaco Art Walks are a great chance to get to know local artists and explore!
Visit Cape Disappointment State Park for lighthouses, gorgeous beaches, and a rich history. You will need a Discover Pass unless you ride in on the Discovery Trail, which begins at the Port of Ilwaco. Follow the trail spur to Beard’s Hollow or the North Head Lighthouse.
Take your fishing rod to Black Lake for trout and bass fishing. Hike the trails around the lake or bring along a mountain bike.
The port community of Ilwaco, Washington, on the Columbia River was named for a local Indian chief, Elowahka Jim. Established as a town in 1876, Ilwaco soon became a favorite port for salmon fishermen and a transportation hub for all of Pacific County.
Travelers from Oregon or inland Washington could take a steamer down the Columbia River to Ilwaco where they could travel by stage coach until the Ilwaco Railway and Navigation Company built a railroad. Known as the Clamshell Railroad and the Railroad That Ran With the Tides, visitors could travel to the ocean beach resorts on the Long Beach Peninsula.
The Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum brings to life the history of Chinook Nation and Euro-American settlers as well as that of the Clamshell Railroad, which ran from Ilwaco to Nahcotta from 1880 to 1930.
Photo by Robyn Unruh.
Top 12 Things to Do in Ilwaco
1. Pick up ultra-fresh seafood at the markets.
2. Hop art galleries at the port.
3. Book a fishing charter for a world class fishing experience.
4. Visit the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center.
5. Eat great seafood.
6. Hang out at the Saturday Market in the summer.
7. Learn something new at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum.
8. Hike to the lighthouses at Cape Disappointment State Park.
10. Explore Beard’s Hollow.
12. Cozy up next to the fire at Time Enough Books.