Within easy reach of Portland and Seattle, Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula is arguably one of the most visited oceanfront spots in the Pacific North west
In the summer, that is, when elbow-to-elbow crowds jostle for a glimpse of Jake the Alligator Man, and traffic idles bumper-to-bumper on the “World’s Longest Beach” (as an iconic, if not quite accurate, sign proclaims). In the off-season, though, this windswept peninsula—from the mouth of the Columbia River to the oyster-rich Willapa Bay—is all yours. As empty and awesome as the clear, cold day in 1805 when explorer William Clark declared, “Ocian in view! O! the joy …”
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN LONG BEACH
History is on full display in Cape Disappointment State Park in Ilwaco, where two century-old working lighthouses continue to guide mariners toward shore. 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, which offer spectacular views of the state park and greater peninsula. The name “Cape Disappointment” was bestowed upon the area by English explorer John Meares after he failed to find the Columbia River in 1788. Modern-day visitors, however, find the park’s old-growth forests, ocean beaches and recreational opportunities quite delightful.