Last Updated on February 5, 2024 by Kelly
The city of Seattle is wedged between two large bodies of water: Elliott Bay to the west and Lake Washington to the east. In addition to those large bodies of water, there’s also Lake Union, Portage Bay, and Union Bay just to the north of downtown Seattle. To the south, there is the Duwamish River. So, although Seattle is technically not located on an island, it’s practically surrounded by water. That means that there are tons of beaches in Seattle!
You’ll find all sorts of beaches near the city. There are rocky beaches, sandy beaches, secluded beaches, saltwater beaches, and fresh water beaches. Chances are, there’s a beach nearby that you will love. Growing up near Seattle, I’ve been to many of these beaches myself. In this post, I’ll share with you my picks for 16 of the best beaches in Seattle.
Here’s my Quick Summary for the best beaches in Seattle:
- Best Sandy Beach: Golden Gardens
- Best Views: Discovery Park
- Most Unique Beach: Gas Works
- Best Swimming Beach: Madrona Beach
- Best for Beach Walks: Alki Beach
Map of Seattle’s Best Beaches
The Best Beaches in Seattle
1. Discovery Park
3801 Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle, WA 98199
I may be a little biased because we got engaged at Discovery Park, but Discovery Park has one of Seattle’s best beaches! At 534 acres, it’s Seattle’s largest park too. We have visited Discovery Park dozens of times, and it feels like we are always discovering something new there. The park has tons of trails, fields, and shoreline.
The two beaches at Discovery Park are the West Point Lighthouse Beach and the Discovery Park Beach. Both beaches are best accessed from a trail. There’s some limited beach parking. Permits are typically required from the Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center for folks that would have a hard time walking to the beach. During the summer weekends, there used to be shuttles to the beach. These have been paused due to covid, but hopefully they will return. Most people park at the either the East Parking Lot (near the Visitor Center) or the South Parking Lot.
Although the beach and lighthouse are lovely, one of our favorite things to do at Discovery Park is look at the water from the hilltop bluffs. There are lots of benches and little alcoves to watch the sunset. (Just be careful not to approach the edge too closely, it’s a steep fall!)
As you wander around Discovery Park, you’ll probably notice army buildings. The park was the site of Fort Lawton for many years.
While you’re visiting Discovery Park, you’ll also want to check out Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood. Palisade Restaurant is one of the area’s best restaurants. It’s located right on the marina with views of the water.
2. Gas Works Park
2101 N Northlake Way, Seattle, WA 98103
Whenever we have friends or family visit us from out of town, we take them to Gas Works Park. The park itself is super unique because it was the former site of the Seattle Gas Light Company’s gasification plant. (Hence the rusty structures!) It’s a great place to take photos, especially with downtown Seattle in the background. It’s also on the National Register of Historic Places.
The park is 19 acres and sits on the north shore of Lake Union. Across the lake, you’ll have direct views of the downtown Seattle skyline. A large grassy knoll gives plenty of space for picnics, frisbee, and sunbathing. A sundial at the top of the hill is a popular place for taking photos.
The grassy area juts out to the water along a bulkhead, so there’s not much of a traditional “beach.” Entering the water is prohibited, so this waterfront area is best enjoyed from the grass.
While you’re in the area, you might also enjoy checking out the Burke-Gilman Trail. It’s a 27-mile paved urban trail that is popular with cyclists and runners.
|Be sure to see our article on 33 of our favorite day trips from Seattle.
3. Golden Gardens Park
8498 Seaview Pl NW, Seattle, WA 98117
Golden Gardens might just be the best sandy beach in Seattle. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see across the Puget Sound to the Olympic Mountains.
There are five beach volleyball courts. One is a drop-in court, but the rest need to be reserved in advance. Just be sure to bring your own nets and ball.
The beach also has a fishing pier, boat launch, and an off-leash area for dogs. Depending on the season, the beach fire pits may also be open.
On a warm summer day, this is easily one of the most popular beaches in Seattle.
This is one of my personal favorite beaches in Seattle to visit during the summer. The sandy beach will make it feel like you are on vacation!
4. Alki Beach
2665 Alki Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116
Alki Beach is located in West Seattle and is another very popular beach. I like this beach because you can see Seattle’s skyline across the water. (If you look closely, you can see the Space Needle above the tree line.) This park is also extremely large, with lots of shoreline.
The park has eight volleyball courts, one of which is set aside for drop-in play. The rest should be reserved in advance.
Alki Beach has historical significance, as Chief Seattle first greeted white settlers here in 1851.
I visit Alki Beach pretty frequently. I have friends that live in West Seattle, so meeting up at Alki Beach is one of our traditions. I think Alki Beach is perfect for a beach walk, and the views of the Seattle skyline are perfection!
5. Myrtle Edwards Park
3130 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98121
Myrtle Edwards Park is located within walking distance of the Space Needle. (About a mile long walk.) I like Myrtle Edwards Park because it has great views of Mount Rainier on a clear day. It’s also closer to the downtown area, so it’s more accessible if you’re planning on doing a day of sightseeing in Seattle. The park has a 1.25 mile trail for pedestrians and bicyclists that winds along Elliott Bay. The beach itself is more of a rocky one.
While you’re visiting Myrtle Edwards Park, you’ll want to check out the nearby Olympic Sculpture Park. It’s a free park operated by the Seattle Art Museum that features plenty of outdoor sculptures.
6. Madrona Beach
853 Lake Washington Blvd, Seattle, WA 98122
Madrona Beach is a freshwater beach off of Lake Washington. Because it’s a freshwater beach, it’s more popular with swimmers.
The park features a hill that slopes down to a grassy beach, where you will find a sandy swimming area. During the summer, there are lifeguards on duty.
7. Richmond Beach Saltwater Park
2021 NW 190th St, Shoreline, WA 98177
Just north of Seattle in the town of Shoreline is Richmond Beach Saltwater Park. To reach this park, you’ll walk a short trail, cross a pedestrian bridge over train tracks, and then walk down to the beach. I’d estimate it’s a quarter mile walk from the parking lot. If you’re lugging a lot of beach equipment (e.g., chairs, umbrellas, coolers), it might be better to choose a beach near Seattle with more direct access from a parking lot.
If you don’t mind a bit of a walk to reach the beach front, Richmond Beach Saltwater Park is a beautiful escape. There’s open water access and trails to explore. The beach is rocky with lots of driftwood logs to sit on.
Richmond Beach Saltwater Park has an off-leash dog area that is open seasonally. It’s also worth checking the tide schedule to explore the beach during low tide. No beach fires are allowed.
Richmond Beach Saltwater Park has restrooms available at the waterfront, as well as restrooms available at the parking lot. There’s also picnic shelters in both locations. Just up the hill from the parking lot is a playground.
We like visiting Richmond Beach Saltwater Park for the playground (pirate ship themed) and for the walk to the beach.
You can read our full review of Richmond Beach Saltwater Park to learn more and see more photos.
8. Seward Park
5900 Lake Washington Blvd S, Seattle, WA 98118
Seward Park is located on the Bailey Peninsula on the east side of Seattle (facing towards Mercer Island). The beach is a freshwater beach located along the shores of Lake Washington. It’s another one of Seattle’s largest parks, with over 300 acres to explore.
There are picnic shelters within the park, as well as beaches for swimming access.
9. Carkeek Park
950 NW Carkeek Park Rd, Seattle, WA 98177
Carkeek Park has beautiful views of the Olympic Mountains across from the Puget Sound. The beach itself is more difficult to access, as it’s across from the train tracks. To access the beach, you’ll walk across a bridge and down some stairs.
10. Lincoln Park
8011 Fauntleroy Way SW, Seattle, WA 98136
Lincoln Park is another beautiful park in West Seattle. It’s right next to the Fauntleroy Terminal to go to Vashon Island. The park has 4.6 miles of walking paths, five picnic shelters, and even an outdoor heated saltwater pool! (Which I would definitely recommend over swimming in the freezing cold waters of the Puget Sound.)
There’s a path that runs right along the beach. You can step off at various points to walk down to the water.
I recently visited Lincoln Park to meet up with one of my friends, and I really liked the trail that followed the shoreline.
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Travel Tip: If you’re planning a trip to Seattle, consider buying a Seattle CityPASS. You’ll be able to save money if you plan on visiting multiple attractions.
11. Denny Blaine Park
200 Lake Washington Blvd E, Seattle, WA 98112
Denny Blaine Park is located along Lake Washington, so it’s also a freshwater beach. It’s a smaller park (about 2 acres). The park is especially popular for the lesbian and queer community. During the summer, it’s often a clothing-optional park.
12. Green Lake Park
7201 East Green Lake Dr N, Seattle, WA 98115
Green Lake is one of the Seattle’s most popular urban, green spaces. There is a 2.8-mile paved loop around the lake, which is extremely popular for pedestrians and cyclists alike. During the summer, you’ll see lots of sunbathers in the grassy areas.
There is a beach at Green Lake Park. It has a local reputation as unclean for swimmers, but there have been recent studies suggesting that rumor may be exaggerated. I personally have never gone swimming at Green Lake, but I have very much enjoyed walking around its beaches!
13. Fremont Canal Park
199 N Canal St, Seattle, WA 98103
The beaches along the Fremont Canal Park are great for walking (but not for swimming). I really like this beach because of its proximity to the hip Fremont neighborhood. Pack a picnic, walk around the neighborhood, and end at the beach canal.
14. Marina Beach Park
470 Admiral Way, Edmonds, WA 98020
Located a bit north of Seattle in the town of Edmonds is Marina Beach Park. We love this park because it has a beautiful beach, a fun playground, and an off-leash dog area. This is one of our favorite beaches, because we love the views of the Puget Sound!
In addition to this beach, we really like the Olympic Beach Park in Edmonds. If you haven’t seen our post on things to do in Edmonds, be sure to check it out! It’s a really quaint city right on the water.
15. Pocket Beach
Located in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle, there is a small beach just north of the Olympic Sculpture Park. This beach is small, but it’s an easy beach to visit while you’re in downtown Seattle.
16. Find a “Secret” Beach
The beaches we have listed here are fairly possible. But if you’re looking for something a little more under the radar, you might be interested in one of Seattle’s many Street End Beaches. Thanks to a resolution passed by the City Council in 1996, dead-end streets that end at waterfronts were designated as mini public waterfront parks. Be sure to see a map of all of these Street End Beaches. Feel free to explore them and let us know which is your favorite!
What to Pack for a Trip to a Seattle Beach
When headed to a beach in Seattle, you might want to bring a few of these items…
- Large beach blanket (You’ll want one that’s easy to wash, since many of the beaches are rocky and have seaweed. This one can fit 4-7 adults.)
- Extra beach towels (Many of the beaches are rocky, so you’ll be more comfortable laying on some extra towels)
- Portable cell phone charger (Don’t lose a battery charge when you’re outside all day)
- Water shoes (Again, many of the beaches are rocky with lots of barnacles. Water shoes will protect your feet!)
- Large sun hat (Yes, it’s occasionally sunny in Seattle!)
Summary: Best Beaches Near Seattle
Because Seattle is surrounded by multiple bodies of water, there are lots of unique beaches to explore. We enjoy visiting these beaches year-round.
We hope you enjoyed this post on Seattle’s best beaches!
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