By VALERIE MELLEMA
Those who visit Long Beach Peninsula, located in Washington State, will find a number of amazing sights to enjoy. First, enjoy a range of unique attractions here, including a number of wildlife experiences. Spend the day on the sand as this is one of the most soothing areas to explore the natural terrain of the western coast of the country. A number of cultural events take place each year, all open to any visitor wishing to come. With so much to see and do, Long Beach Peninsula is the perfect stop for a family, a couple or an entire group.
Perhaps the most unique experience that will hit you as soon as you visit Long Beach Peninsula is the expanse of unspoiled beauty. The Peninsula is located in such a way that it has the Pacific Ocean on one side, pristine Willapa Bay is on the other and the Columbia River is at the bottom of the peninsula. Each section offers its own unique experience whether it be fishing, boating or simply watching for the migrating birds that come in each year for refuge here. The entire region offers unspoiled charm with expansive beaches and a skyline that is impeccable. Watching the sunset here is truly inspirational. In fact, many call this region a seaside resort for the soul because of the beautiful natural surroundings.
Many exciting area attractions are available throughout Long Beach Peninsula. Make one of your first stops one of the two lighthouses found here. What is interesting is to learn the story behind the Long Beach Peninsula’s name of “The Graveyard of the Pacific.” The area just off the shore is filled with terrain that is less than beneficial to sea travel and has caused many horrific sea accidents in the early years of shipping in this area. In fact, the area is known as ‘the Graveyard of the Pacific’ and the Coast Guard trains its staff here because the waters are so dangerous. One of the lighthouses that helped to protect those ships was Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. This lighthouse protected visitors coming in from the Columbia River from the southern regions. Another lighthouse, North Head Lighthouse, helped protect those coming from the north. You can visit these two historic landmarks and experience their rich history.
You will find many other attractions here, too, in Cape Disappointment State Park, which is now one of the sites which comprise the new Lewis & Clark National & State Historic Park. Here are a few sites to think about visiting.
-Military Forts like Fort Columbia. Visit the military forts that used to help protect these shores from any signs of force that could come their way.
-Explore the many hiking trails throughout the Park and visit the original campsite of the Lewis & Clark party as they reached the Pacific Ocean.
-Walk through the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center which features many hands-on experiences and exhibits to help document and preserve this unique heritage. Here Lewis & Clark completed their mandate from President T. Jefferson, which was to cross over 4,000 miles of the new country to reach the Pacific Ocean.
-Waikiki Beach is an ideal location for swimming. Even with the area’s rocky terrain, beautiful swimming spots like this one make the experience quite worthwhile. In fact, this is the only swim safe location on the Long Beach Peninsula.
In addition, there is much more to do and see from just a walk around!
Long Beach Peninsula features many exciting attractions, but there are a number of great outdoor adventures to enjoy here as well. One location to start your journey is through Leadbetter Point State Park. This park is located on the tip of the peninsula. It is the separating point between Willapa Bay and the Pacific Ocean. One of the interesting features of this area is the fact that the sand dunes here keep the landscape changing constantly. You will find wild strawberries growing here, as well as sand verbena, beach pea and beautiful beach grasses. The soil is brand new and still is growing from the ocean floor (as water recedes.)
You will also find a number of unique birds here amazing. It is easy to see several hundreds of thousands of birds at any given time in the area. You will see herons, woodpeckers, as well as grouse. This is also the nesting area for the rare Snowy Plover. Perhaps the most magical are the Bald Eagles that make their home here.
When you visit this area, you can take advantage of several hiking trails that are in place. There are four trails in place that allow you to thoroughly explore the area, depending on the number of miles you want to take.
The next part of your journey through Long Beach Peninsula is the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge. It is made up of Long Island, Willapa Bay, Lewis Unit, Riekkola Unit and the Leadbetter Point. This is one of the best estuary locations in the country. The clams and crabs here are unique (you are allowed to harvest them, too, during certain open periods.) There are amazing animals here of all types including elk, beaver, bear, songbirds and deer (especially on Long Island.)
Discovery Trail, which runs along the Pacific Ocean for approximately eight miles, is a great way to see the ocean while walking through sand dunes. A boardwalk also runs above the dunes and offers an easy way to enjoy the beach without getting sand in your toes.
Even More to Do and See
When you arrive in Long Beach Peninsula, you will find plenty to keep you busy. Enjoy the amazing Ilwaco Marina or you can enjoy some water sport fun. Activities like beachcombing and horseback riding are popular. Kayaking, fishing charters and bird watching are a few more options.
A number of festivals are celebrated throughout the year including the Northwest Garlic Festival, the Washington State International Kite Festival, and the ‘Ocian in View’ (it’s spelled ‘Ocian’, just like it was by Captain Clark of Lewis & Clark) event that is held on Veteran’s Day each year.
The World Kite Museum is located on the peninsula and, because the wind here is known to be the best in the world for kite flying, the week-long International Kite Festival is held here every August.
Accommodations and More
The Long Beach Peninsula offers a number of accommodations to fill your needs. Hotels and motels are widely available. On the mainland, you can even book a cabin for a fall weekend trip, or stay in a beautiful, luxury condominium near the beach. There are many options widely available, including a large number of RV parks surrounded by trees. Additionally, there are great dining choices abound here, both on the Peninsula as well as. on the mainland.
You can plan your corporate meeting here or you can plan a fabulous beach wedding here. You can bring the family for an outdoor adventure through the most natural of settings. You can rent a cabin along the coastline, enjoy a fabulous hotel spa and watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean with your loved one. The one thing you will find is that there is excitement and beauty around just about every corner in the Long Beach Peninsula.