Long Beach Peninsula is 100% Awesome

#OneHourWalk to  Lighthouse in Cape Disappoinment State Park1.jpg

By Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’


Featured guests on Big Blend Radio include travel writer Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ – President of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association; artist Susan Spence – Beach Baskets, and Nancy Allen – Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau & Music in the Gardens Tour.


Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula is all about exploring the things you love—whether it’s 28 miles of sandy beach, terroir-driven cuisine, or the beauty of the Pacific Northwest garden. There are plenty of things to do and see, but make sure you plan at least one trip around the Music in the Gardens Tour which takes place each July.

Here’s a list of things you must see and do to take advantage of this 100% awesome destination. 

1. Glimpse breathtaking views of private home gardens

Each year the Water Music Society presents the wildly popular Music in the Gardens Tour. The gardens in Long Beach Peninsula are a source of pride and beauty for the community. You will be amazed by the diversity of plants and ideas on how to display them in your own backyard Approximately (depending on the year) seven private gardens are opened to the public for one day offering exclusive glimpses into the creative minds of local garden aficionados. Think edible gardens, seaside gardens, graceful symmetry in small and large lots, and formal British inspired gardens.  Wafting music and small bites are the perfect complement, as guests gather ideas and inspiration. A MUST see for all garden enthusiasts.  At $20, it is a steal of a deal. Tour via your own car from 10am – 4pm.

2. Make an Appointment

Hard to believe, but did you know you can contact the Chamber of Commerce to arrange even more private garden tours, not on the garden tour?  I was treated to three private gardens that inspired and engaged every one of my senses. Many talented locals are honored to share their passion with visitors. It’s like spending a day with friends.  Highly recommended.

3. Savor the Terroir

Love trying regional foods?  “Dine at the source” is a saying on the Long Beach Peninsula, reflecting the many delicious dining opportunities available to visitors. Where else can you enjoy fresh Willapa Bay oysters, Dungeness crab, Chinook salmon and albacore tuna found in the Pacific Northwest, but not leaving out outrageous meat and chicken based dishes styled in a regional plate?

Local chefs are all in —featuring their own distinct, terroir-driven cuisine at award-winning restaurants like The Depot (ask to be seated at the Chef’s Table), The Pickled Fish (try the pizza), 42nd Street Café & Bistro (order the Bistro Steak & Prawns),  The Shelburne Pub (Pan-Fried Willapa Bay Oyster ) and the Salt Pub (Albacore tuna fish & chips). Celebrate local bounty and creative menus at each one. Expect a wide range of dishes and affordable pricing. Dinner reservations are a good idea. Restaurants are pretty much done by 9:30pm so plan accordingly.

4. Dip your toes and go fly a kite

With 28 miles of sandy shoreline, tourists can experience it all…including the nation’s longest beach. Build sandcastles, spread a blanket on the sand, dodge incoming erratic wave formations, and build your own driftwood cabana. 

Waikiki Beach is a favorite for good reason. Snuggled in a cove fronting the river, Waikiki Beach offers a view of the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse and dramatic storm-watching during the winter.  Benson Beach extends two miles from the North Jetty to the rocky base of North Head, a perfect place for beachcombing and kite-flying.  Consider lighting a beach bonfire while munching on a picnic dinner with the blazing sun melting into the Pacific as your own personal backdrop. The Peninsula is sprinkled with six public beach access points, so make a plan and stake a claim!

5. Take a memorable #onehourwalk

Perhaps the best place for nature and history lovers can be found at Cape Disappointment State Park in Ilwaco.  Visitors can hike four scenic trails through coastal forests and headlands, bike along the park’s paved roads, or stroll two sandy beaches. If you can’t find a one-hour-walk to suit your personal style, you just aren’t trying.

I know you will enjoy the North Head and Cape Disappointment Lighthouses, as well as the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Walking and hiking trails vary in length.  Easy or challenging – it’s up to you.

I’ve mentioned this above, but it’s worth repeating.  I’ve seen a whole lot of beaches in my travels but nothing like the one nestled inside of the park in a cove fronting the river.  Waikiki Beach offers a view of the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse and fun times dodging waves and building driftwood shelters. Parking is easy.

Whale watchers stalk Cape Disappointment’s vantage points, such as North Head, to search the ocean for gray whales during late December, early January, and March through May. Wildlife sightings, especially black-tailed deer and a variety of birds, are also a favorite find.

Two century-old working lighthouses continue to delight mariners of all ages. The 161-year-old Cape Disappointment Lighthouse guides sailors into the mouth of the Columbia River from the south, while the 119-year-old North Head Lighthouse illuminates the way for ships approaching from the north. Short hikes lead to both lighthouses from a large well maintained parking lot. Along the way spectacular views of the state park and greater peninsula are yours.

The main question in this area is why the name “Cape Disappointment?” A bit of research says the name was bestowed upon the area by English explorer John Meares after he failed to find the Columbia River in 1788.  That being said, today’s visitors will find the park’s old-growth forests, ocean beaches and recreational opportunities anything but a disappointment.

For the dedicated hiker, the 8.5-mile Discovery Trail meanders through the beach dunes between Cape Disappointment State Park and Long Beach, following the path of early explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, whose overland expedition ended near the peninsula in 1805. The path is ideal for walking, jogging, bicycling and skateboarding, or just about any non-motorized activity. The trail is lined with local art and interpretive signs that narrate the area’s history and wildlife.

6. Make a sensational buy on local art

The Long Beach Peninsula boasts a robust artist community. Artists are absolutely everywhere. I need to come back to dig deeper in to the great things happening here, but  for now, if you see the Marie Powell Gallery check out the crazy-beautiful basket work of Susan Spence.  Susan takes ropes found on her beach walks and using a special crochet technique turns them into high end magical baskets. I’ve not seen anything quite like it before.

Walk through downtown Long Beach for souvenir hunting, and ask the Long Beach Visitors Bureau for a map or two that will guide you on the art trail or the antique/thrift store trail. Stop by the wacky Hobo Junction for glass fishing floats and Japanese fishing flags. Sensational pottery by local artist David Campiche is on display at the Shelburne Inn.

7. Where to stay

Need a Place to Stay? The Shelburne Inn is an excellent choice. A boutique bed and breakfast dating back to 1896, it is the oldest, continuously operating hotel in Washington State.  Expect a daily lavish breakfast and large rooms. Flowers and gardens everywhere! Pet-friendly. Affordable rates, generally between $129- $250.  4415 Pacific Way, Seaview, 360-642-2442. Book the room with a private balcony overlooking the herb garden. A pristine 28-mile stretch of wild Pacific seacoast is just a 10-minute walk. Great restaurants are walkable also. Although built in 1896 the owners have kept current with a to-die for breakfast, comfy rooms and a large lobby. Try lunch or an evening cocktail at their Pub.  Furnishings are antique, but the comfort level is just fine.  Take time to peruse the unique pottery of David Campicheon on display. I scored two “Cha Won tea bowls” for my collection. It is my sincere hope that the owners will be on premise during your stay.  They are charming and extremely knowledgeable about the past, present and future of the Peninsula.


Travel Resources

Twitter: @funbeach

YouTube: www.youtube.com/funbeachCOM

Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau: https://funbeach.com  


Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer based out of Southern California, who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits. Visit www.AllInGoodTaste.info.

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About the Author:

Linda Kissam 'Food, Wine & Shopping Diva' is a professional travel, food, and wine writer based out of Southern California, who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits.

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