The 9 Best Beaches In Seattle (The Only Ones Worth A Visit)

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Given Seattle’s reputation for rain and dismal mist, it’s not shocking that visitors are surprised to hear that we actually have a dozen (or more) beaches right in Seattle.

In fact, because of its position between Puget Sound and Lake Washington Seattle has more beaches than just about any other single city on the west coast.

But which Seattle beaches are best? Well, luckily, Seattle’s beaches are some of the only ones I’m an expert on. Seeing as I’m a ginger and burn to a crisp elsewhere I happen to spend a good deal of time on the coast in the PNW, whether it’s rainy or not.

So whether you’re just visiting for a day or thinking of moving to the Emerald City and was to seas the day, here are some of the best beaches in Seattle, how to get to them, and what to do once you get there!

9 Great Beaches In (Or Close To) Seattle

Now I’ll have to say that these aren’t necessarily in any order. People visit the beach for a ton of different reasons so figuring out which one is best is a losing battle. Rather, these are a bundle of disparate beaches that are unique and wonderful for all kinds of reasons.

While these are generally considered some of the best options, I’ll include a list of others to check out at the end if you can’t find one that floats your boat.

So let’s start with what is probably Seattle’s most popular and well-known beach.

1. Alki Beach

Alki Beach – Quick Look

Open: 4:00 AM – 11:30 PM
Distance From Downtown: 7.1 miles (<10 mins)
Approach: Minimal
Parking: Street parking along Alki Ave. SW
Main Activities: Walking/jogging, volleyball, sunbathing, cycling
Popularity: High (especially during the summer)
Services/Amenities: Bathrooms, picnic tables, fire rings, volleyball court

Alki Beach in Seattle is a stunning 2.5-mile-long beach strip that stretches from Alki Point to Duwamish Head on Elliott Bay. The beach is one of the most popular in Seattle, and it’s no wonder why. From majestic views of the Olympic Mountains to picnicking at the bathhouse, there’s plenty to see and do.

Now, this means that this isn’t the place to go if you’re seeking solitude but it’s a solid stop on the beach route nonetheless.

Even if you’re not a big beach fan Alki Beach is a great destination as people flock here for views of the Seattle skyline across Elliot Bay. While it’s almost always crowded viewing the sunset from Alki Park is always a great part of people’s Seattle trips.

Another main attraction of Alki Beach is its rich history. It’s where the first white settlers landed in Seattle back in 1851, and Chief Seattle and his tribe welcomed them. There’s a monument to this historic event at the south end of the beach, and the beach is protected by a seawall, making it a summer park destination.

Aside from its rich history and views Alki Beach offers plenty of recreational activities. During the summer months, visitors can enjoy jogging, rollerblading, volleyball, sunbathing, cycling, and strolling along the widened path. The water temperature ranges from 46 to 56 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s perfect for a refreshing dip during the hotter months.

There are plenty of amenities at Alki Beach, including picnic tables, restrooms, and the Alki Lighthouse, which offers free tours during summer afternoons. Visitors can also take a photo with a replica of the Statue of Liberty or indulge in some delicious fish and chips at Spuds, Seattle’s first fast-food restaurant.

For a different perspective of the beach, visitors can take a harbor cruise or a seaplane flight over Seattle. There’s also a small seawall-surrounded square that used to be the site of Luna Park, an amusement park. Here, visitors can see the old 2.5-ton anchor dredged up by the Northwest Dive Club and secured at the site.

Location and Accessibility

Alki Beach is situated on Alki Point in West Seattle along Elliott Bay. It can be accessed from Harbor Avenue SW via a two-mile stretch of road that runs parallel to the shoreline. There are also several bus routes that stop near the beach as well as bike paths for those who prefer to cycle there instead.

Alki Beach is easily accessible by car from downtown Seattle via the West Seattle Bridge. There are also several bus routes that stop at Alki Beach Park, including routes 21, 37, 55, 56 & 57. Additionally, there is plenty of parking available near the beach for those who choose to drive.

2. Matthews Beach Park

Matthews Beach Park – Quick Look

Open: 6:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Distance From Downtown: 8.5 miles (<15 mins)
Approach: Minimal
Parking: Parking lot with limited spots
Main Activities: Swimming, kayaking, sunbathing, park activities, playground
Popularity: Moderate
Services/Amenities: Bathrooms, reservable picnic tables

If you’re after a large beach park in Seattle that isn’t quite so full of people, Mathews Beach Park is a decent possibility. Just be warned that, for a good part of the year, you’ll be trading people for geese and ducks…

This hidden gem of a beach is located in Seattle’s Matthews Beach neighborhood and offers 22 acres of lush greenery, sandy beaches, and crystal-clear waters.

Named after pioneer John G. Matthews, who established his homestead on the site in the 1880s, Matthews Beach Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The park features Seattle’s largest freshwater bathing beach, where you can swim, sunbathe, or just take a refreshing dip in the lake.

If you’re a jogger or cyclist (loser…), you’ll love the Burke-Gilman Trail that runs through the west side of the park. The trail was once the tracks of the Northern Pacific Railroad and now provides a scenic pathway for outdoor enthusiasts. You can also take part in the annual “Polar Bear Plunge” on New Year’s Day, sponsored by Seattle Parks and Recreation, to start your year off with a splash.

If you have kids (like I do) you will love the playground, locker rooms, picnic tables, and barbecue pits… or at least your kids will.

Location & Accessibility

Matthews Beach State Park is located in the Magnuson neighborhood of Seattle, on Lake Washington. The park is easily accessible by car, public transit, bicycle or foot. To access by car, take I-5 north to 65th Street Northeast and turn right. Follow 65th Street Northeast until you reach Sand Point Way Northeast and turn left. Turn right onto 61st Avenue Northeast and continue until you reach Matthews Beach State Park Drive.

If traveling by bus, take the RapidRide E line from downtown Seattle and get off at 65th Street Northeast & Sand Point Way NE Station. From there it’s a two-block walk south to the beach entrance.

3. Golden Gardens Park

Golden Gardens Park – Quick Look

Open: 4:00 AM – 11:30 PM
Distance From Downtown: 11 miles (20-25 mins)
Approach: Minimal
Parking: Free parking lot
Main Activities: Hiking, sun-bathing, fishing
Popularity: High
Services: Bathrooms, drinking fountains, volleyball court, fire pits

Golden Gardens Park in Seattle is a spectacular 87-acre public park that offers visitors breathtaking views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.

The park is located in Ballard, a neighborhood in Seattle, and offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, sunbathing, and volleyball. Visitors can enjoy a walk along the rugged coastline or explore forest trails while admiring the park’s wetlands and restored northern beach.

The park also has a boat launch and an off-leash dog area for visitors to enjoy.

Beach volleyball is a popular activity at Golden Gardens Park, and visitors can reserve a court through the park’s ActiveNet reservation site or submit a reservation application during business hours.

The park has six courts, with two set aside for free drop-in play on a first-come, first-served basis.

In addition to the volleyball courts and dog area I mentioned above, there is also a wide-open space covered in wood chips for dogs to run and play, tables, benches, and a small covered area for visitors’ convenience. Whether you’re a beachcomber, naturalist, or outdoor enthusiast, Golden Gardens Park has something for everyone to enjoy!

Location and Accessibility

Golden Gardens Park is located in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. It is easily accessible by car or public transportation. The park offers free parking for visitors and is a short walk from the bus stop at 32nd Ave NW & NW 85th St.

4. Discovery Park

Discovery Park – Quick Look

Open: 4:00 AM – 11:30 PM
Distance From Downtown: 6.5 miles (20 mins)
Approach: 1.5-mile hike to lighthouse/beach
Parking: 3 free parking lots. Closer parking is available w/ a permit
Main Activities: Hiking, sun-bathing
Popularity: Low/Moderate
Services: Restrooms, play structure, drinking water, tennis & basketball courts

Tucked away in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood, Discovery Park boasts 534 acres of diverse landscapes, including forests, beaches, prairies, and bluffs. Situated on the shore of Puget Sound, this expansive park was established in the 1970s on the historic grounds of Fort Lawton.

With 11.81 miles of walking trails, the park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can explore the Daybreak Star Cultural Center, a sewage treatment plant (hooray…), and the West Point Lighthouse—the westernmost point of both the park and Seattle city. The park also encompasses most of the Fort Lawton Historic District.

Discovery Park features picturesque beaches, accessible by road or trail. The south beach offers stunning views of Elliott Bay, while the north beach provides panoramas of Shilshole Bay. Wildlife enthusiasts can spot over 270 species of birds and marine mammals such as harbor seals and California sea lions inhabiting the surrounding bays.

Hikers can traverse the 2.8-mile Discovery Park Loop Trail, which connects to other trails and showcases breathtaking views of Puget Sound. However, the park faces ongoing challenges with invasive species, including Himalayan blackberry, Scot’s broom, English ivy, and holly.

Created in the early 1970s from surplus land of the U.S. Army’s Fort Lawton, Discovery Park was dedicated in 1973 in honor of the British sloop HMS Discovery, commanded by Captain George Vancouver during the first European exploration of Puget Sound in 1792. The park has a rich history and continues to attract thousands of visitors every year, offering a variety of activities and experiences for all ages.

Location & Accessibility

Discovery Park in Seattle is located on the northwest corner of Elliott Bay, just a short drive from downtown. The park entrance is located at 3801 W Government Way, and street parking is available throughout the area.

Public transportation to Discovery Park is also accessible by bus line 15 or 18, which both make stops near the park entrance. There are also plenty of bike lanes, making it easy to reach by bike or foot. Once you enter Discovery Park, all beach access points are marked with signs for easy navigation.

5. Myrtle Edwards Park

Myrtle Edwards Park – Quick Look

Open: Open 24 hours
Distance From Downtown: 1.6 miles (<10mins)
Approach: Minimal
Parking: No dedicated parking. Alternative paid parking.
Main Activities: Walking, biking, picnicking
Popularity: Moderate
Services: None

Nestled in Seattle’s Rainier Beach neighborhood, Myrtle Beach Park is a serene, 6-acre waterfront oasis offering an array of recreational activities for all ages. Located on the shores of Lake Washington, the park provides visitors with picturesque views of the lake and the Cascade Mountains in the distance.

Myrtle Beach Park, named after the lovely myrtle trees that dot the landscape, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. With its lush greenery, sandy shores, and crystal-clear waters, the park is a perfect spot for a relaxing day out with family and friends.

Visitors can enjoy sunbathing on the beach, swimming in the refreshing waters of Lake Washington, or engaging in various water sports. The park also features a fishing pier, where anglers can cast their lines and reel in the catch of the day. For those who prefer land-based activities, the park offers a playground, picnic areas, and barbecue pits, making it an ideal location for a fun-filled day out.

Location & Accessibility

Myrtle Edwards Park is located on the north waterfront of Seattle, easily accessible from many parts of the city. It’s conveniently located just off Northlake Avenue, near the Ballard and Fremont neighborhoods.

There is ample street parking available in the area, with several free options depending on the time of day and season. The park also has multiple access points for pedestrians, bicyclists, and wheelchairs.

6. Dash Point State Park

Dash Point State Park – Quick Look

Open: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Distance From Downtown: 28 miles (35-45 mins)
Approach: Minimal (paved path)
Parking: Parking lot (permit required)
Main Activities: Hiking, biking, skimboarding, swimming, fishing
Popularity: Moderate
Services: Campground, picnic tables, restrooms, hot dog stand

Located just a short drive from Seattle (okay, not super short, but at least you get out of Seattle), Dash Point State Park is a 398-acre waterfront sanctuary offering a wide variety of beach activities and stunning views of the Puget Sound.

The park’s main attraction is its expansive sandy beach, which stretches over 3,300 feet along the shoreline. Visitors can enjoy a multitude of beach activities, including sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing for shells and other treasures. The calm waters of the Puget Sound also make Dash Point an excellent spot for paddleboarding, kayaking, and canoeing.

For those who prefer a more adrenaline-fueled experience, the park’s beach is a popular destination for skimboarding enthusiasts, thanks to the shallow water and gently sloping shoreline. Dash Point even hosts an annual skimboarding competition, attracting participants and spectators from around the region.

In addition to beach activities, Dash Point State Park offers a range of outdoor adventures including hiking and fishing. The park features over 11 miles of hiking and biking trails that meander through lush forests, providing opportunities for wildlife spotting and birdwatching. There are also designated picnic areas and barbecue pits, perfect for enjoying a meal with family and friends while soaking up the scenic views.

Location and Accessibility

Dash Point State Park is located in Federal Way, Washington. It’s easy to get to the park by car or public transportation. The nearest bus stop is about a mile away from the entrance of the park. There are also plenty of parking spots available for visitors who drive their own cars.

7. Howell Park

Howell Park – Quick Look

Open: 4:00 AM – 11:30 PM
Distance From Downtown: 6.1 miles (15-20 mins)
Approach: Short gravel trail
Parking: None available (residential street)
Main Activities: Picnics, relaxation
Popularity: Low to Moderate
Services: None (unless you count park benches as services)

Howell Park is a hidden gem in Seattle that offers visitors a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Tucked away between two private driveways, the park’s planted trail leads visitors through a wooded area to a small, gravelly beach. Despite the park’s small size, there is plenty of grass area to stretch out and enjoy the beautiful view.

One unique feature of Howell Park is that it is known for being clothing optional. While this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, visitors report that the atmosphere is respectful and relaxed, making it a great spot for naturists and nudists alike.

It’s important to note that while the park doesn’t offer any onsite parking, there are a few curbside spaces available along Lake Washington Blvd. Visitors should also bring flip-flops as the trees in the area do shed some sharp leaves and bark. Also, be aware that, since the part faces east, it’s in shade by early afternoon so don’t plan on any sunbathing sessions after work!

Despite its secluded location, Howell Park is well-maintained and often assisted by volunteers. Interestingly, the park is rumored to have been a frequent spot for Kurt Cobain, adding to its allure for music fans and history buffs.

Location & Accessibility

Denny Blaine/Howell Park is located in the Eastlake neighborhood of Seattle, WA. There is no onsite parking so your best bet is to get lucky and snag one of the spots on the roadside along Lake Washington Blvd.

8. Carkeek Park

Carkeek Park – Quick Look

Open: 6:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Distance From Downtown: 9.6 miles (20-25 mins)
Approach: Short trail ending with many stairs
Parking: Parking lot
Main Activities: Hiking, touring the orchard, Visitor’s Center, sunbathing
Popularity: Moderate
Services: Restrooms, drinking fountains, play structure, grills, picnic tables

Carkeek Park, a 220-acre urban haven in northwest Seattle, offers a delightful combination of lush forests, meandering streams, and a picturesque beachfront on Puget Sound. This scenic park caters to nature enthusiasts with a variety of recreational activities for all ages.

The park’s sandy beach is perfect for sunbathing, beachcombing, and admiring the stunning views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound. Tidal pools brimming with marine life provide a unique opportunity for exploration and discovery.

During salmon spawning season, visitors can witness salmon returning to spawn in Pipers Creek, which flows through the park. Carkeek Park also features an extensive network of hiking trails, winding through verdant forests and meadows, ideal for birdwatching and wildlife spotting.

Picnickers can enjoy several picnic areas and barbecue pits, set against the park’s breathtaking natural backdrop. The historic pedestrian bridge, spanning the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks, offers safe access to the beach.

Easily accessible by public transportation or car, Carkeek Park is a must-visit destination for those seeking a serene escape from the city. With its diverse recreational offerings and captivating beauty, the park promises a memorable experience for visitors of all ages.

Location and Accessibility

Carkeek Park Beach is located in Seattle, Washington. It is easily accessible by car or public transportation. The beach can be reached from the Burke-Gilman Trail, which runs along the Puget Sound shoreline. There are also plenty of parking spots available near the beach for those who choose to drive there.

9. Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park – Quick Look

Open: 6:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Distance From Downtown: 14 miles (25-30 mins)
Approach: Short paved path
Parking: Multiple parking areas
Main Activities: Beach walks, sun-bathing, picnics
Popularity: Moderate
Services: Restrooms, off-leash dog area, restrooms, playground, picnic area

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park is, in my opinion, one of Washington’s most underrated beaches.

The park’s main attraction is its beautiful but thin strip of sandy beach, ideal for sunbathing and beachcombing. The beach also features tidal pools, offering visitors a unique opportunity to explore and learn about the diverse marine life that inhabits the area.

Tables are available by the beach or on the upper level, and there are lots of opportunities to get exercise by walking up the stairs, down the beach, or on the upper trail. The park is also home to an off-leash dog area, making it a great place to visit with your furry friend.

The park offers various amenities, including picnic areas, a playground, public art, unpaved trails, and restrooms. Visitors should note that while the beach is accessible by a paved trail and is ADA accessible there is a bridge over the railroad tracks that would require wheelchairs to be pushed.

Location and Accessibility

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park is located in the city of Shoreline, Washington. It is easily accessible by car or public transportation. The park offers plenty of parking and a bus stop nearby for those who choose to take public transit.

Other Notable Seattle Beaches

Unsurprisingly there are a bunch of beaches that didn’t make it onto this list. However, since I don’t want to appear uninformed, I’ll include them here!

Most of these are still worth visiting, they just don’t quite make the top 10. For me at least, your feelings might be different so you better visit them all to see!

Denny Blaine Park

Denny Blaine Park, a hidden gem located in the upscale Denny Blaine neighborhood, is a small but charming park with a sandy beach perfect for sunbathing and swimming. Surrounded by lush greenery, this secluded spot offers a tranquil retreat from the city and is ideal for those seeking privacy and relaxation.

Green Lake Park

Green Lake Park, situated in north-central Seattle, is centered around the beautiful Green Lake. The park features a popular 2.8-mile walking and biking path along the lake’s shoreline, as well as designated swimming areas, making it an ideal destination for fitness enthusiasts and families looking to enjoy a day by the water.

Visitors can also take advantage of lots of activities, including swimming and sunbathing on the sandy shores, kayaking and SUP boarding on the lake, as well as plenty of picnic spots and walking trails.

Madison Park Beach

Located in the east of Seattle, this beach spot boasts perfect views of Lake Washington and the Cascades. Visitors can enjoy swimming, relaxing on sandy beaches, or participating in various water sports such as kayaking and paddle boarding.

The park is also a popular spot for beach volleyball, frisbee, and other games as it has a large beach as well as an extensive grassy area.

The beach is also within striking distance of several restaurants and other amenities.

Madrona Park

Madrona Park, nestled along the shores of Lake Washington, boasts a peaceful beach, grassy fields, and a wooded hillside. The park’s serene atmosphere and beautiful views make it a perfect spot for picnics, sunbathing, and swimming, while the nearby Madrona Woods trail offers a lovely hiking experience.

Fay Bainbridge Park

Fay Bainbridge Park, located on Bainbridge Island just a short ferry ride from downtown Seattle, features a picturesque sandy beach with stunning views of the Puget Sound and the Cascade Mountains. The park offers camping facilities, picnic areas, and opportunities for beachcombing, making it a perfect weekend getaway destination.

During the summer months, visitors can enjoy local events such as outdoor movies and music festivals. With its easy access and range of activities available, Fay Bainbridge Park is the perfect place to experience all that Seattle has to offer.

Idylwood Beach Park

Idylwood Beach Park, situated on the eastern shore of Lake Sammamish in Redmond, is a family-friendly park with a sandy beach, playground, and picnic facilities. Its calm waters make it ideal for swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding, while the park’s grassy areas provide a relaxing space for sunbathing and picnics.

Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park, located in West Seattle, is a sprawling 135-acre park that offers a diverse range of recreational activities. In addition to the great view and beach activities the park also offers a playground, trails, and even a pool!

Warren G. Magnuson Park

Warren G. Magnuson Park is a stunning beach park located in the north of Seattle. The park’s freshwater beach is perfect for swimming and sunbathing, while the adjacent wetlands and trails offer opportunities for birdwatching and exploring the local flora and fauna.

The park also offers great views of Lake Washington and plenty of opportunities for swimming, kayaking, and fishing.

With its convenient location, you’ll likely be fighting with crowds who are all trying to enjoy a picnic in the area.

FAQs in Relation to Best Beaches in Seattle

Does Seattle have nice beaches?

While the beaches of Seattle (and the PNW in general) might differ from the traditional sandy beaches, they are several incredibly popular beach parks in and near the city.

The city is located on the Puget Sound and has several public beaches with beautiful views of the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier. Alki Beach Park in West Seattle offers stunning sunsets over Elliott Bay, while Golden Gardens Park in Ballard features a beachfront park with trails for walking or biking. Other popular spots include Discovery Park near Magnolia and Carkeek Park in North Seattle, both offering sandy shores and plenty of outdoor activities.

The most popular beach in Seattle is Alki Beach. Located on the western shore of Puget Sound, it offers stunning views of downtown Seattle and the Olympic Mountains. It’s a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, picnicking, or just taking a leisurely stroll along its two-mile-long sandy beach.

Visitors can also enjoy biking and rollerblading along the nearby bike path or take part in some water sports such as kayaking and paddleboarding.

Are there swimmable beaches in Seattle?

Many of Seattle’s beaches (both saltwater and freshwater) are suitable swimming destinations.

Alki Beach is a popular beach destination located on the Puget Sound with stunning views of downtown Seattle and the Olympic Mountains. It’s a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, or just taking in the scenery. There are also several other beaches around Seattle that offer swimming opportunities such as Golden Gardens Park and Matthews Beach Park.

Where do Seattle locals go to the beach?

Knowing where the locals go to the beach is very helpful if you’re traveling to Seattle. It means that you can either join them and enjoy the local secrets or avoid them like the plague and go to a less popular spot.

Most locals go to Alki Beach in West Seattle as it is the largest, most iconic “beach”, and has a bunch of amenities.

Other beaches popular among locals include Golden Gardens Park in Ballard, Lincoln Park on Vashon Island, and Myrtle Edwards Park along Elliott Bay.

Conclusion

No matter which beach you choose to visit in and around Seattle, you can be sure that it will provide a unique experience (just like everything else in Seattle…it’s a “unique” place).

No matter which beach you choose, you’re sure to have a great time as they are all, honestly fairly similar. And, if you choose poorly, don’t worry, another beach is only a short drive away!