I have lived in Washington my entire life and never once been to the Pacific Ocean coast in my home state. I don’t have enough fingers on both hands to count the times I’ve frequented the towns along the Oregon seaboard — Seaside, Cannon Beach, Tillamook, Lincoln City — but last weekend was my first visit to the sandy shores of the Washington Coast, by way of Seabrook.
A modern Pleasantville perched 70 feet above the surf, the unincorporated Grays Harbor County town was founded in 2004 and hosts over 450 homes in eight different neighborhoods across 44 acres. A Washington native, architect and founder Casey Roloff specifically designed Seabrook for optimal enjoyment of the beach and all it brings.
Roloff, who leads a town tour each Saturday, desired to create a walkable, inclusive town where all paths lead to the shoreline. All of the streets even direct toward the beach — though not all have spanning vistas, the view gets better as guests walk into town, ensuring that not all beach viewpoints are cluttered with towering houses.
ESCAPE TO THE COAST
After a summer spent at home, like so many in this bizarre world we currently live in, it was time for my small family to get out of the city and try to gain back some sanity by the sea. I’m a firm believer in that I’m a better person by the water and my toddler loves eating sand so we booked an oversized home, packed up more than we needed and headed to Seabrook. (To be fair, studies have shown that living near a body of water has a range of therapeutic benefits, from happiness to creativity, so, win!)
Our ambitions were low for this getaway — an amalgamation of a road trip and staycation during an earth-shattering pandemic — especially as areas around us lit up with wildfires, the smoke and clouds rolled in, and the temperature dropped. But, while the world was trying to under-promise on our extended weekend, Seabrook — whether this credit is due to the town itself or its location — over-delivered.
Once checked into our shingled “cottage” — Seabiscuit is a three-story, five-bedroom, fully kitted out home that can comfortably hold three families — it was time to adventure. Set right off the grassy Horseshoe Park in the Farm District, our house was the ideal location for my toddler to run off the front porch, through the aforementioned park and straight to Windgate Barn to make animal noises at the ducks and horses that rightfully ignored him. At less smoky times, all 17 of the town parks host signature fire pits where groups can gather to roast s’mores and share stories over the flames.
Less than a mile walk to the beach, we were also a stone’s throw from tennis and basketball courts, an enclosed dog park across from a seriously well-equipped playground (ziplines!), horseshoe pits, a heated indoor pool and a scenic stroll into the “downtown” corridor of Seabrook. All of downtown Seabrook is marked off with “mask required” zones, with maximum capacity of guests in each merchant shop and recommendations on staying socially distant.
TOURING THE TOWN
Each morning, we would make a stop at Red Velvet Bakery by the Sea for an oversized cinnamon roll and cup of coffee, making our way down the street to drop into the charming bookstore Joie Des Livres, Magnolias Clothing for a summer shoes sale (gotta soak it up, right?), Brooklets Toys so my son could touch every single stuffed animal we didn’t buy and Tides for obligatory “I’ve Been to Seabrook” logo tanks.
From there, we’d head to the beach to chase waves in and out of the surf, collect sand dollars and dig around for razor clams. (Pro tip: Front Street Market offers a clam-cleaning station on the side of the building.) For more adventurous visitors, Seabrook keeps the dream alive into fall and with COVID safety front of mind — 165 acres of mountain biking trails have been recently completed for leaf peeping by wheel and Buck’s Bikes offers bike, wetsuits, surfboard and skimboard rentals, as well as guided (socially distanced on the ocean) kayak tours.
On our way back to the house, we’d stop at Urban Juice Factory — a mobile juice trailer offering a variety of fresh juices and smoothies that are required for keeping up with a toddler — and snag groceries or a sandwich for lunch from Front Street Market (which also has an impressive array of pickled goods). For a little more, Frontager’s Pizza offers both dine-in and takeout options, like a leafy kale caesar salad and roasted seasonal veg along with signature pies such as the Supreme (pepperoni, sausage, red onion, mushroom, pickled Anaheim peppers, kalamata olive) or the Cured Speck with pineapple. The joint also sports Growler’s Alley Beer Garden for outdoor suds intake.
Koko’s Restaurant and Tequila Bar seats indoor and outdoor tables (with heat lamps) to take in its Latin fare, like ahi tuna tostadas, Salvadoran enchiladas and chicken flautas. Don’t miss the Mezcalita (mezcal, lime, jalapeno), served in a traditional clay mug. Stowaway Wine Bar is also a perfect getaway — say, during a tiny human’s nap time — to feel “normal” at a private outdoor table with a gas fire centerpiece, flights of wine and a charcuterie board.
DOWN BY THE SEASHORE
Outside of the food and fanfare, the team behind Seabrook is also realistic, encouraging guests “work from home” in a seaside cottage this fall, and has committed to upgrading all internet services to higher speeds and increased capacity to support the increased demand. Here’s to hoping the signal is strong enough to take a conference call from the house’s back porch hot tub.
Although all events are cancelled due to COVID safety protocol, Seabrook is not short on activities that guests can take on solo or with a small-grouped crew. Rumor has it, sunsets are best this time of year and now is ideal to find sought-after sea floats washed up on the beach after the storms begin to roll in.
This might have been the first but certainly won’t be the last Seabrook will see of our family. More sand must be eaten, more Mezcalitas must be consumed and that zipline is calling my name.