Long Beach Peninsula, Washington
A wind rustles ominously through the trees. The sun sets and darkness creeps. There’s screaming coming from the woods… Then giggling. It’s just us girls at the Japanese sauna, shrieking and laughing, daring each other to brave the freezing outdoor shower. We’re at the Moby Dick Hotel in Nahcotta on the edge of Willapa Bay. I opt for a warm shower in my room so grab my clothes and wrap a towel around me heading back through the woods, across the lawn, hoping I won’t run into anyone en route. Oops, there’s a guy coming out of the door. I duck behind a Douglas fir. He’s looking the other way, so I slip behind a couple of rhododendrons and into the hotel unnoticed. Good thing. He’s a photographer from National Geographic.
Once upon a time…
Long Beach was the destination for family summer
vacations. It was all about salmon and clams, jumping waves,
playing in the sand and best of all, The World’s Largest Frying
Pan. It’s still there, that beloved giant cast-iron pan, as are
many of my favorite places. [more]
Bailey’s Bakery & Café, Nahcotta www.baileysbakerycafe.com On your way to Oysterville, cozy, welcoming café for quick lunch, or great breakfast sweets.
Café Akira & Wine Shop, Long Beach www.cafeakari.com Friendly locals and terrific small bites—spot prawn cakes, fish tacos, gourmet grilled paninis with wine, micro brews. Breakfast too.
The Depot, Seaview www.depotrestaurantdining.com Open
kitchen bistro, just what you’re looking for—casual & cozy
with great food. Alone there once, was offered crab mac & cheese
bites from the couple on my left; wine tasting with three guys
on my right.
Oystervillle Sea Farms, Oysterville www.willabay.com End of the peninsula on the bay, fresh and smoked oysters, salmon, cranberry condiments, and of all things, cereal. Go here, see a real oyster farm.
Pelicano, Ilwaco www.pelicanorestaurant.com Untried, but can’t go wrong with Jeff McMahon, former famous chef of Moby Dick Hotel. Fine Mediterranean style dining featuring NW fish and shellfish.
The Port Bistro, Ilwaco www.portbistro.com Chef Larry Piaskowy uses “real ingredients, real local.” Creative, inspired, top-notch steaks, burgers, seafood.
Raven & Finch, Ilwaco www.ravenandfinchwine.com Small plates rustic fare, wine and brews, live jazz.
Shelburne Restaurant & Pub,
Seaview www.theshelburneinn.com Formerly,
Shoalwater. Untried with new chef, but still fine dining in elegant
dining room and English-y casual pub.
Inn at Discovery Coast www.innatdiscoverycoast.com Unobstructed ocean views and uncluttered, less-is-more décor perfectly compliments the beach: fresh air, clean lines, simple serenity. Get a corner room if you can.
Akira Bungalows www.akaribungalows.com Sister lodging to Inn at Discovery Coast, the row of 1930s bungalow cottages have been updated—playful, lean and clean. Small and compact with tiny bathrooms, but they do have kitchens and, of course, luxurious linens. No ocean views, but just steps away from downtown Long Beach and main approach to beach. Café Akari (and wine shop!) on site.
Caswells on the Bay www.caswellsinn.com Overlooking Willapa Bay, this Victorian antique-filled home was especially designed as a romantic bed and breakfast getaway. A sweeping staircase takes you to the upstairs bedrooms with bay or garden views. Breakfast downstairs in the formal dining room.
Shelburne Inn www.theshelburneinn.com Historic bed and breakfast, immaculately restored with antiques—charming, quaint, small rooms.
China Beach Retreat & Audubon Cottage http://chinabeachretreat.com On Columbia River estuary, serenely secluded. 1909 renovated house full of exquisite antiques and memorabilia; tiny delightful new cottage bird-themed.
Moby Dick Hotel and Oyster Farm http://mobydickhotel.com Big
yellow whale of a building, 1930s hotel restored, funky, artsy,
eclectic, comfy with some shared baths and smallish rooms.
www.funbeach.com Check out The World’s Largest Frying Pan at Marsh’s Museum, which still has a crazy mish-mash of artifacts like Jake the Alligator Boy and the automated Fortune Teller. Maybe because I’m older or maybe because of it’s newer, bigger location across the street with a concentration on souvenirs and t-shirts, Marsh’s no longer holds the fascination it once did. But nevermind, there’s great hiking and exploring at Leadbetter State Park and Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, Cape Disappointment State Park where you will find Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and Discovery Trail, rocky headlands, lighthouses, Fort Columbia, the marina at Ilwaco, historic Oysterville and that fabulous, long, flat 28-mile sandy beach, perfect for kite flying. And if you arrive without sweatshirts, fishing gear, kid’s buckets and shovels, or practically anything else, never fear, there’s Jack’s Country Store in Ocean Park.