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Beach yourself along the water while you can

Northwest Guardian

Published: 01:27PM July 3rd, 2014

Beach yourself along the water while the weather’s good.

It’s an unspoken Washington truism for the brief summer window of July and August, and beaches here and in Oregon are just waiting for your bare feet.

Staying close to home, Owen Beach encircles Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park and has a great stretch of Washington’s signature gray sand. Trees cover the upper part of the beach in both directions, offering a cool respite from the sun.

The beach has plenty of deadwood for youths to climb too.

Titlow Park also is close by, located at the end of 6th Avenue in Tacoma, south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The beach is narrow, and parts have loose rock barriers unlike Owen Beach’s concrete bulkhead, but the smaller size tends to mean fewer people. Tacoma’s MetroParks says the adjoining park has several amenities; including a play area, several sporting courts and features a lagoon.

Chambers Creek Regional Park features a mix of rock, pebbles and sand against a bulkhead of deadwood and old harbor fixtures. Chambers Bay Golf Course acts as a backdrop, but the park also has a huge dog park, five-kilometer running trail and an additional park overlooking the golf course, beach and islands of Puget Sound.

Tacoma and Pierce County beaches and parks are free.

A little farther north is West Seattle’s famous sandy Alki Beach, with its boardwalk of inexpensive restaurants and paved beachfront walkway.

A lot farther north is Washington’s most popular state park, Deception Pass on Whidbey Island. Beach combing is easy and plentiful along the 14.5 miles of shoreline.

At night, take a little time at one of six fire circles while pitching horseshoes at the local pits. Make sure to have your Discover Pass, Washington’s vehicle permit for all its state parks. Order one at discoverpass.wa.gov.

Olympic National Park beaches are among Washington’s most diverse, going from sandy to rocky to boulder-like in the span of a few miles. Massive stone bodies burst from the sand, giving the beach the look of Northern California with less heat and gray rocks instead of red ones. Some even have cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Access varies along the park’s 73 miles of shoreline. La Push and Kalaloch are inside the park’s long coastal area and don’t always require the $15 vehicle fee depending on where you enter the beach. Otherwise, be prepared to pay for a single-visit pass (good for seven consecutive days at any park entrance).

Ocean Shores has the long beachheads typical to beachfront resort towns while having the added perk of being free. Instead of kayakers, Ocean Shores is most known for surfing on both sides of the town, which is on a peninsula that helps form Grays Harbor. You can use wheels to traverse the beach (it’s driveable and bikeable) or feet (a horse’s or your own).

Ocean Shores and its southern cousin Westport are about two hours from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

A little farther south, the Long Beach area claims to have the world’s longest beach — 26 miles. Access is best on Highway 30 in Oregon, instead of Washington’s Route 4. Popular with surfers, Long Beach has several towns with cozy motels and plenty of scenery to savor.

Across the Columbia River, visit the coastal town of Seaside, Ore., which has several ocean recreation sites and Fort Stevens State Park to the north. At about three hours away, the park offers salt and freshwater beaches overlooking Cape Disappointment on the other side of the river. For a shoreline driving experience, take U.S. Highway 101 at Montesano, Wash., which takes you along Willapa Bay, Baker Bay and then to the 4-mile-long Astoria-Megler Bridge over the Columbia River.

Also in Oregon, north coast beaches, such as Cannon Beach and Manzanita, always are big tourist destinations, with Short Sands Beach nestled between them. The beaches all have incredible views of the ocean, but also feature the full bevy of tourist needs; from hotels and restaurants to equipment rentals and guides.

Northwest Beaches

Tacoma metro

Owen Beach at Point Defiance Park Titlow Park Marine Park Brown’s Point Lighthouse Park Old Town Dock

For more: www.metroparkstacoma.org

Pierce county

Chambers Creek Regional Park

For more: www.co.pierce.wa.us/index.aspx?NID=1312

Seattle Metro

Alki Beach Park Magnuson Beach Matthews Beach Seward Park Beach

For more: www.seattle.gov/parks/beaches.asp

Washington (state, national)

Deception Pass State Park Olympia National Park

Ocean Shores Westport La Push Kalaloch Long Beach

For more: www.experiencewa.com

Oregon

Fort Stevens State Park Cannon Beach Manzanita Cape Kiwanda Cape Blanco Ecola State Park Hug Point State Recreational Site

For more: traveloregon.com/cities-regions/oregon-coast