7 beaches near Seattle: Where to go for sun, sand, and surf

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Best beaches near Seattle

Located in the evergreen Pacific Northwest, Seattle gets too much rain to be considered a classic beach destination. However, that doesn't change the fact that the Emerald City is a coastal one, located on Elliott Bay with the Pacific Ocean practically on its doorstep. That means there are plenty of beaches in Seattle if you know where to look, and while you can't expect the warm water and bright sunshine of the Caribbean, you can find some great beaches near Seattle to spend a summer's day and escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Plus, all that rain has to be good for something. Along with the ocean beaches, Seattle has a good variety of lakes that let you enjoy a completely different waterside experience. If you're looking for a place to swim and cool off, destinations like Lake Washington make exceptional places to go to find a swimming beach close to downtown Seattle.

Leave your bags behind at a Seattle luggage storage and check out some of these Seattle beaches. Whether you're looking for an oceanfront escape or a pristine lake environment, you'll have your pick when it comes to beaches near Seattle.

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Lake Washington beaches in Seattle

Lake Washington

This huge lake forms the eastern boundary of downtown Seattle, and along with the Space Needle and Pike Place Market, Lake Washington is one of the most iconic locations in the city. A great place to visit at any time of year, Lake Washington has several excellent areas that provide some of the best Seattle beaches, along with plenty of activities to enjoy.

Travel distance from Seattle

How long it takes to reach Lake Washington from the center of the city will depend on where exactly on the lake you intend to go. Log Boom Park, for example, at the far northern end of the lake, is a good 13 miles from the center of the city and takes about 20 minutes by car to reach. Alternatively, Madrona Beach is one of the closest to the city, only three miles from downtown Seattle. You can get there by car in around 10 minutes, or take the number three bus to the swimming beach for a journey of around 30 minutes.

Activity recommendations

Swimming: The water of Lake Washington is never exactly warm, but that just makes it more refreshing on a hot summer's day. The huge shoreline of the lake is dotted with many parks with great swimming beaches, and some provide good amenities while others are more unspoiled.

Food: Because the beaches of Lake Washington are so close to the city, you'll never have to search far for food. In the summer, food trucks serve the most popular beaches on the lake, and many also have great restaurants close by. Combine that with the hiking trails in the parks the beaches are part of, and you'll find plenty to do no matter what Lake Washington beach you choose to explore.

Green Lake Park in Seattle

Green Lake Park

Located just to the north of the downtown area, Green Lake Park is one of the most popular Seattle beaches for swimming on a sunny day. Easy to reach and with some good options for entertainment while you're there, this is easily one of the best beaches in Seattle to enjoy during the summer months.

Travel distance from Seattle

It's only a ten-minute drive from the center of Seattle to Green Lake Park. Alternatively, you can take a tram from University Street Station to Roosevelt Station. From there, it's possible to catch a bus or take a walk of under a mile to the beach itself.

Activity recommendations

Boat rental: The Green Lake Boathouse offers boat rentals so you can explore the lake at your own pace. Rent kayaks, standup paddle boards, paddle boats, and other watercraft and set out over the calm water. You can also rent fishing gear and see if you can land a fish at this delightful urban park.

Seattle Public Theater: Located on the shores of Green Lake, this small theater offers an intimate setting in a converted boathouse. Hosting a variety of shows from serious theater to musicals to comedy, there's always something going on here, and it makes a great nighttime activity to enjoy in Green Lake.

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

If you really want to experience the Pacific Ocean at the edge of the city, this is a great place to do it. Richmond Beach Saltwater Park is celebrated throughout the city for its incredible views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound. Although it's close to the city, this park feels a lot more isolated than it really is and can give you a true wilderness experience without straying too far from Seattle itself.

Travel distance from Seattle

About 15 miles from downtown Seattle, you can expect a drive of 25 minutes or so to reach Richmond Beach Saltwater Park. You can also take a tram to Northgate Station and then a bus from there for a journey time of around one hour.

Activity recommendations

Picnic: The views here are truly majestic, offering some of the best of the West Coast to anyone who visits. Therefore, this is an incredibly scenic place to take a picnic. You'll want to linger and enjoy this incredible natural environment, so grab some tasty food from a Seattle grocery store or delicatessen and bring it with you to make the most of your time at this beautiful beach.

Hiking: This scenic area is also blessed with some great hiking trails. Stroll along the Buddy Shoreline Walk to admire the coastal beauty, or head to nearby Shoreview Park to enjoy forest and river trails along with playgrounds and picnic tables. This is a great beach for anyone who enjoys the outdoors and provides one of the best beaches close to Seattle if you want to get away from it all.

Discovery Park beach near Seattle

Matthews Beach Park

One of the many beaches along the Lake Washington shoreline, Matthews Beach Park deserves a special mention as the biggest freshwater swimming beach in the city. Although it gets crowded in the summer, the amenities on offer here make it a wonderful option for families and anyone who wants lots to do on their beach day.

Travel distance from Seattle

Eight and a half miles from downtown Seattle, Matthews Beach Park requires a drive of 15 minutes to reach. You can also get there by a combination of tram and bus, which will take about 45 minutes.

Activity recommendations

Sports: With basketball and volleyball courts and areas for beach soccer, this is a great beach for anybody who wants to stay active. Bring your friends to form a team or see if you can join in on an existing game and make some new friends while you enjoy the best of what this beach has to offer.

Swimming: The lake is one of the main draws for city dwellers to Matthews Beach Park. Patrolled by lifeguards, the beach is backed by a large grassy area where you can stretch out and dry off, making this the perfect place to cool off during a Seattle summer. There are also tall shady trees that can help you beat the heat and get out of the sun for a while.

Discovery Park

Right on the edge of the city on a promontory that projects into Elliott Bay, Discovery Park is a great place to enjoy the Seattle coastline. With several worthy attractions in the area, there's more on offer here than just the cold waters of the Pacific, so it's a great place to spend a day or more enjoying the wilder side of Washington State.

Travel distance from Seattle

Seattle bus route 33 takes you straight from 3rd and Union in the heart of Seattle to Discovery Park itself. From there, it's a very pleasant walk through the park to the beach on its western edge.

Activity recommendations

Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center: Located at the north end of Discovery Park, this cultural center celebrates the art and culture of the indigenous people of what is now Washington State. With an ever-changing selection of art exhibitions and performances on offer here, it's the perfect place to get better acquainted with the culture of the Pacific Northwest and a fascinating place to learn more about the original inhabitants of the land.

Hiking: As well as having one of the best beaches in the area, Discovery Park also offers some of the best hiking trails near Seattle. There are several trails to explore from both ocean views and forest walks, making this the perfect place to explore the diversity of the coastal Pacific Northwest.

Golden Gardens Park near Seattle

Golden Gardens Park

Another wonderful coastal park close to Seattle, Golden Gardens Park offers tremendous views of the Olympic Mountains. Located in North Seattle, this 80-acre park offers more than 300 feet of sandy beach and is one of the most popular in the city — for good reason.

Travel distance from Seattle

It's under 10 miles from the center of the city to this park, giving you a drive of about 20 minutes. Public transport does come here in the form of the D Line bus, which can get you here from downtown in about one hour.

Activity recommendations

The Grove: This nature preserve is located right off the beach and is the perfect place for a walk. It's also a lovely destination to enjoy the sunset with a view of the beach or to take shelter from the sun in the shade of the trees. In fact, Golden Gardens Park offers tons of hiking trails that compare favorably with any of the beaches in Seattle, so if you want to stretch your legs while you're here, you have plenty of choices.

Nutcracker House: A little way back from the beach, this private house goes all out for festive decorations. At Halloween, Christmas, and other times of the year, this house is elaborately decorated, and it makes a great photo opportunity while you're in the area.

Olympic National Park

First Beach

Even the ocean beaches in Seattle are quite calm and placid, sheltered as they are by the huge landmass of Olympic National Park. If you really want to see the wildness of the Pacific and some beautifully remote locations on the coast, you'll need to head west of Seattle until the land runs out and you're confronted with the full majesty of crashing waves and rocky cliffs at First Beach.

Travel distance from Seattle

Located in the town of La Push, First Beach is 200 miles from the city, so you'll need to drive for almost four hours to get there. However, it's a beautiful drive through Olympic National Park with stunning views of the Olympic Mountains, and the rugged and isolated beauty you'll find here makes it worth every hour you'll spend in the car.

Activity recommendations

Beachcombing: The primal beauty of this secluded beach make it ideal for beachcombing. Along with the polished driftwood that rolls in every day from the sea, you'll find beautiful shells and interesting marine life in the many tide pools among the rocks. That makes this beach perfect for beachcombing.

Camping: There are several beautiful campsites in this area, and since it's such a long way from Seattle, it's worth considering staying a night or two here. Campsites can be booked in advance, and it's definitely a good idea to do so in the summer as this area can be quite popular despite its remoteness.

Conclusion

There are tons of Seattle beaches close enough to the city to give you a place for a quick swim after work or at the end of a hot day. But along with the great beaches in Seattle, the more remote beaches of the Washington Coast make ideal destinations for weekend getaways from the city. Plus, these many lakefront and oceanfront parks are also some of the best free things to do if you're traveling to Seattle on a budget.

Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Seattle and get ready to enjoy these great beaches. Whether your preference is freshwater or salt, you'll have some great options here.

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