Is Ocean Shores in Washington Worth Visiting?

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View of Grays Harbor Historical Seaport in ocean shores

The Pacific Northwest has some incredible big cities and many cool smaller communities, too. One of them has the wonderfully enticing name of Ocean Shores.

Is this coastal town a place where you’d like to stop and spend some time? Or should you keep rolling past on your way to a more famous destination?

Let’s find out!

Where Is Ocean Shores in Washington?

Ocean Shores, with a population of around 7,000, is on Washington state’s western coastline.

Looking at a state map, you’ll spot Ocean Shores about midway along the Pacific Coast.

It’s on a peninsula called Point Brown along an inlet called Grays Harbor. It’s about 130 miles southwest of Seattle and 166 miles northwest of Portland, Ore.

What Is Ocean Shores Known For?

Many people know Ocean Shores for its scenic waterways and beautiful sand beaches.

That’s somewhat unusual for this part of the country because much of the Pacific coastline is rocky and rugged.

You can almost drive directly onto the beach in many areas.

This seaside community also has a reputation going back decades as a somewhat exclusive enclave for the rich and famous.

Entertainer Pat Boone, a resident since the late 1960s, raised the community’s profile with a series of celebrity golf tournaments.

Sadly, Ocean Shores also has a notoriety for a disturbing incident that occurred on the Fourth of July in 2000.

After a violent clash that may have been racially motivated, an Ocean Shores resident died from a stab wound.

What Can You Do in Ocean Shores?

For being such a small town, Ocean Shores has a multitude of things to do.

You’ll find scores of shops and restaurants to visit, but nature tends to take a front seat. Our busy tour of this coastal community includes lots of time in the beautiful outdoors.

Attend an Educational Program at the Coastal Interpretive Center

A center like this really puts a place in perspective, historically and ecologically. This quaint, unassuming building houses a local museum that sheds light on the community’s natural and cultural history.

You can view historical artifacts related to Ocean Shores’ maritime and logging heritage.

It also has hands-on environmental activities for kids. Check their calendar ahead of time to see if there’s an event you’d enjoy attending.

Pro Tip: While you’re in Washington, should you explore a few of the national parks? Are the Washington National Parks actually Worth Visiting?

Visit the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport

The city of Aberdeen is at the other end of Grays Harbor, and this is where you can tour the historical seaport.

One of its biggest attractions, or at least the tallest, is a sailing ship called Lady Washington. The two-masted vessel is the visual centerpiece of a budding mixed-use development in this neighboring city.

This replica of a historic ship from the 1750s is 112 feet long, and its masts rise 89 feet.

View of Grays Harbor Historical Seaport in ocean shores

Visit Damon Point

This incredible observation point is a must-see, and on a clear day, you can see Mount Rainier from it. Damon Point, on Ocean Shores’ southeastern tip, is one of the most popular areas to visit for a few reasons.

This former state park has water on three sides and has miles of sandy beaches and hiking trails. Keep your eyes peeled for baby seals and the remains of an old shipwreck.

View of Damon Point, a popular area in ocean shores

Hike the Weatherwax Trail

If you like beachcombing or leisurely walks, this flat trail near Damon Point might be just the thing. It’s an easy loop (on sand) just over 3 miles long, so it should take around an hour or less.

Along the way, you can spot seashells, sea life, and scores of shore birds. Too bad dogs aren’t allowed because we know they would love it, too. It can get really windy here, so watch for big waves.

Kayak at Ocean City State Park

Just 2 miles north of Ocean Shores, this state park is a good spot for digging for razor clams. Like many other places in and around town, it’s also a wonderful place for doing some paddling.

Leave the rough open waters to the surfers and head for the calmer North Bay Natural Preserve. You can explore the shallower waters of the bay itself and a network of wetland streams.  

A couple kayaking at ocean city state park near ocean shores

Where to Camp in Ocean Shores

Spend a night or two to make the most of your time in Ocean Shores. Even if traveling at a faster pace, you may want to consider these options for a stopover.

Oceana RV & Camping Resort

This private Thousand Trails campground lies 5 miles north of Ocean Shores on State Route 109, just a short walk from the beach.

It has 88 sites, some with full hookups but most with partial (electricity and water).

Each site has picnic tables but no fire pits. Extras include free Wi-Fi and a clubhouse with a TV and a library of books and DVDs.

Pets are allowed, with restrictions. It has grassy pads and somewhat tight sites.

Keep in Mind: Want to save money while camping? This is How Thousand Trails Saved Us $4,585.51 In Camping Fees!

Quinault Marina & RV Park

This campground is farther south, on the Point Brown peninsula. If traveling with a boat, it has a launch. It also has great beach access and is close to the undeveloped Oyhut Wildlife Recreation Area.

You’ll find 50 sites here, all with full hookups and a laundry room, bathrooms, and showers. Pets are welcome, and the area has lots of wildlife.

Ocean City State Park

This 257-acre park includes beach and dune areas with access to marsh and pine thickets. It has 149 campsites, 29 of which have full hookups. The state park also has a dump station on-site, four restrooms, and coin-operated showers.

Additionally, it has two grassy areas suitable for sports like volleyball, badminton, and croquet. The park can handle rigs up to 50 feet long.

Multiple RVs at an RV park near ocean shores

When Is the Best Time to Visit Ocean Shores?

Finding the right time to visit the Pacific Northwest is tricky because it always depends on the weather. You’ll want to avoid the coldest and rainiest months.

Considering those factors, we normally shoot for late summer or early fall. Try to get your trip in before mid-October because that’s usually when rain and cold temps come sweeping in.

Is Ocean Shores in Washington Worth Visiting? 

Ocean Shores is a lesser-known locale, so if you time your visit right, you can almost have the place to yourself. Besides the gorgeous scenery, the relaxed pace is one of our favorite things about it.

It’s one of the few places on this part of the West Coast with soft, sand beaches. As a major plus, you can even drive directly onto them — and easily camp within earshot.

We do recommend giving Ocean Shores a visit. You’ll find many fun things to see and do, and, for the most part, you won’t find it overcrowded with tourists.

As a plus, the locals tend to welcome you warmly but in a casual, laidback way.

Will you stop by this seaside town on your next trip to the Pacific Northwest?

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