The area of Ocean Shores is Washington’s best-kept secret. At least, it is if you believe their advertising.
However, if you’re a Seattle resident that’s looking for the nearest bit of beach it soon becomes apparent that everyone and their dogs are probably headed to Ocean Shores at the same time you are.
Despite the recent influx of tourism from both inside and outside the state, Ocean Shores remains the best shoreline within striking distance of Seattle.
Luckily, the area is big and diverse enough that there are still a few small gems that are left unspoiled by crowds or development.
About 75 miles west of Olympia (the capital of Washington), Ocean Shores is located right in the middle of the Pacific coast, on its own little (6,000 acres) peninsula that juts out in the Pacific Ocean.
There are six public beaches within Ocean Shores that are relatively clean and well cared for.
The area of Ocean Shores is divided into 5 semi-distinct areas, each with its own attractions and reasons to visit.
So let’s hit each one and figure out where you should be heading on your next day trip.
My 5 Favorite Things To Do In Ocean Shores
The area that most people visit is comprised of a stretch of coastal beaches including Ocean Shores, Ocean City, Copalis Beach, Seabrook, Pacific Beach, and Moclips.
Around 3 million people (tourists) flood into the area every year to enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking, beach-combing, golf, and just about everything else you can imagine.
Each area has a slew of fans that claim it’s the best of them all. You’ll just have to decide for yourself which is your favorite!
1. Copalis Beach
If you’re a fan of clams then you’ve probably been drawn to Copalis Beach already. Copalis Beach is the home of the largest bed of razor clams in the world. During harvest time thousands of clammers (as well as commercial harvesters) flock here to harvest thousands of what is the most sought-after shellfish in Washington state.
While this is likely a bit overwhelming to the 415 residents who are here year-round, they have to expect it living in such a desirable area as Ocean Shores.
Apart from being a place to dig clams, the beaches themselves are a big draw in this area. In many spots, you can drive your car right out onto the sand (just don’t get stuck) which makes for a great windshield while you have a picnic.
You can also see the hulking remnants of ships that have been driven ashore by some of the fierce Washington wind storms.
Staying near Copalis Beach is a fine option as there are hotels, bed & breakfasts, and restaurants available in town.
2. Ocean City
Of the many historic cities in Washington, a trip to Ocean City is one of the most visited.
This has always been so desirable that, when the city was first platted in 1925, all of the lots were bought up before they even started digging in the first roads.
Many of the first homes in the area were built from driftwood that came straight off of the beaches.
As with most towns and features in this area, you’ll probably recognize the names of some of the first people here as they left their names attached to many prominent areas. Ocean Shores is claimed to be first discovered by Lt. Whidbey (one of Vancouver’s men) when he passed through the area in 1792.
The city was first platted in 1925 and, before the community even began digging the first road, the lots were readily purchased. People built many of the first homes here from wood that came in off the beach. This is one of the most historic of all of these North Beach communities — in fact, Lt. Whidbey, who was one of Vancouver’s men, first discovered the area in 1792.
These days the city is a unique cultural melting pot which far more diversity than you can find in other small-ish Washington towns. There are a few decent restaurants had hotels here but the main draw (obviously) is the beaches which draw thousands of families out of Seattle every summer.
If you are looking to escape to one of the North Beach communities, Ocean Shores is a great starting place! Just be aware that you’re mainly visiting the beaches as the town is small and doesn’t have a ton to offer.
3. Damon Point Trail
A few blocks to the west you’ll find one of the best beaches in the Ocean Shores area. Damon Point Beach is one of the best beaches for finding sea glass in all of Washington.
We have spent several hours combing the beaches for the beautiful smooth glass and it’s still exciting when we find something unique.
If you’re looking to visit Damon Beach, Ocean Shores is the best place to find a base camp or other accommodations before visiting the beaches of the area.
While you’re here, be sure to raise your eyes from the beach for a minute and take in the Olympic Mountain range and Mount Rainier in the distance.
Even though it’s less than 3 hours from Seattle, Seabrook feels a world apart. It is a rural area with most of the community sitting along a single small main street.
If you want to escape even those few people there are dozens of paths and trails that you can take to wander off into the wilderness.
The beaches here are wide and sandy and have just about everything you could want (as long as you’re not needing a resort or spa…)
The shops and accommodations here are quaint and unpretentious so be sure to visit for the beaches and solitude more than the city lights!
5. Pacific Beach and Moclips
Once you’re done in Ocean Shores, just on SR 109 (which runs the entire coast from Ocean Shores to Tahola) and cruise the 18 miles north to Pacific Beach and Moclips. If you’re staying in Ocean Shores this is an easy day trip.
Or, if you prefer to find accommodations here you can easily take day trips to Lake Quinault, Kalaloch, or back down to Ocean Shores. We typically find a hotel up in this area for better rates and fewer crowds. Pretty much everything in this area of the coast is within easy driving distance so just find the area that has the amenities that you want.
Among the many draws that Pacific Beach has, the State Park might be the most popular.
There is a 10-acre campground here with over 2,300 feet of ocean shoreline at your disposal. If you’re looking for beachside camping then this is hard to beat.
This area has a ton of Native American history and Moclips itself started as a Quinault Indian Village. It was first established in a tourist sense when the Northern Pacific Railroad was finished and the Moclips Beach Hotel opened. Many of the original hotels, candy stores, and restaurants are now just ruins but you can pass by them and ogle their history as you head to modern resorts and hotels.
Because this area of the state is so rural, the drives are an excellent opportunity to slow down and enjoy the quality of life that the Pacific Northwest has become known for.
The people are welcoming and kind so, who knows, you might not want to head back towards Seattle.
Finding things to do in Ocean Shores really isn’t that much of a chore. If you couldn’t tell from this list, we mainly focus on the beaches while visiting because, let’s face it, Seattle has just about everything else.
If you are looking for fancy, head towards Seattle. If you want a real vacation and a chance to relax, however, then Ocean Shores is the place to be.
You can always find more information as well as current events and conditions at VisitOceanShoresWA.