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The beach takes center stage on Washington State's Long Beach Peninsula (LBP), and rightly so. Its mesmerizing 28 miles of broad white sand with grassy dunes and skittering seabirds provide reason enough to visit this getaway.
But look closer at the LBP — a 2.5-hour drive from Portland, Ore., and a 3.5-hour drive from Seattle — and you’ll find much more than oceanside strolls. Comprised of a chain of eight small towns, the seaside retreat delivers rewarding experiences in cuisine, festivals, history, accommodations and activities.
Feeling active? The LBP aims to please. For starters, go horseback riding, join a fishing charter, dig for razor clams and play golf. Hike the wilderness and coastal trails of Cape Disappointment State Park and watch the waves crash against steadfast sea cliffs. Pedal a bike along the half-mile boardwalk that rises above swaying sea grass. Channel your inner child with carousel rides and salt water taffy. Of course there’s always that beautiful beach, a playground for volleyball, kite flying, picnicking, frisbee tossing and long, luxurious walks.
The LBP's restaurants draw on the bounty of local ingredients (think meaty wild mushrooms, piquant cranberries and succulent razor clams). At The Depot, Chef Michael Lalewicz whips up wonders such as a mouthwatering bouillabaisse swimming in regional seafood. The 42nd Street Cafe serves such gourmet comfort food as ultra-tender pot roast and skillet-fried chicken. Pickled Fish enhances top-floor ocean vistas with the likes of beer-battered fish-and-chips and The Shelburne Restaurant and Pub sates diners with specialties including Oregon pork chops and pan-fried Willapa Bay oysters.www.adrifthotel.com/pickled-fish/pickled-fish1.htmwww.depotrestaurantdining.comwww.42ndstcafe.comwww.theshelburnerestaurant.com
Museums and Historical Sites
Quench your thirst for knowledge in the history-rich LBP, notable as the culminating point of Lewis and Clark’s early-1800s Voyage of Discovery. Retrace the end of the corps’ trek on the eight-mile Discovery Trail, stopping at interpretive markers along the way, and see artifacts at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Visit 19th-century lighthouses that still stand sentinel by the sea. Add meaning to your surroundings during tours of the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, Cranberry Museum and World Kite Museum.www.capedisappointment.org/lewis-clark-interpretive-centerwww.columbiapacificheritagemuseum.comwww.cranberrymuseum.comwww.worldkitemuseum.com
The Events of the Year
More than 60 annual events enliven visits to LBP. At April's Razor Clam Festival, families slurp chowder and take pictures with mermaids and pirates. Purebreds and mutts alike frolic at the Doggie Olympic Games each June, while July’s Sandsations brings four days of awe-inspiring sand sculpturing. Colorful airtoys dance overhead during the state’s International Kite Festival in August and cooking classes and themed dinners whet appetites at the Wild Mushroom Celebration, spanning October and November. Year-end festivities include a lighted boat parade and a New Year’s Eve fireworks celebration over the sea.
Where to Stay
The LBP's accommodations promise travelers a solid night’s sleep before the next day’s explorations. High on the list is the 80-room Adrift Hotel and Spa, sporting a creative beach-chic vibe that is just a stone's throw from the sand. The three-room China Beach Retreat bed-and-breakfast boasts floor-to-ceiling windows with restful views of a serene cove. Shelburne Inn, channeling its 1896 roots with antiques and stained glass, indulges guests in a gourmet breakfast as part of the nightly rate.www.adrifthotel.comwww.chinabeachretreat.comwww.theshelburneinn.com