This Lesser-known Coastal Destination Has a Rainforest, 6 State Parks, and the Longest Drivable Beach in the U.S.

The Long Beach Peninsula in Washington state has it all, from sandy beaches and sheer cliffs to old-growth forests and hiking trails.

<p>Craig Tuttle/Getty Images</p>

Craig Tuttle/Getty Images

When it comes to U.S. coastal destinations, we tend to think of California or Florida, forgetting that further north, the ocean still meets the land and the same perks can be found — from surfing and coastal hiking to seafood and fresh air.

One such overlooked coastal destination, the Long Beach Peninsula, stretches out from mainland Washington. On this moody stretch of Pacific Northwest coastline, the weather is dramatic and the scenery is stunning.

The long, reaching peninsula is surrounded almost entirely by water and boasts a whopping 28 miles of Pacific coastline, which is considered to be the longest drivable beach in the U.S. Packed in the coastline’s 28 miles is a little of everything. There are long sandy stretches, boardwalks above the dunes, paved walking and biking trails, surf spots, and rocky cliffs that drop dramatically into the sea.

The peninsula also has one of the Pacific Northwest’s richest razor clam grounds and great crabbing, fishing, and oystering. In fact, 25 percent of the nation's oysters come from the peninsula’s Willapa Bay. Additionally, a third of the nation’s cranberry crop comes from Washington State, and Long Beach visitors can walk through cranberry bogs or shuck oysters with third-generation oyster farmers.

Beyond being a haven for fresh food, the long, narrow stretch of land is home to six state parks. The gem of the region is the Cape Disappointment State Park on the southern tip of the peninsula. The coastal park has sandy beaches, working lighthouses, and ocean overlooks backed by old-growth forests that contain hiking trails and camping grounds. The narrow, wildly picturesque Dead Man’s Cove can be reached via the park’s Cape Disappointment Trail.

Nearby, the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge consists of over 17,000 acres of protected tidelands, temperate rainforest, and rare remnants of old-growth forest. The refuge is considered to be a lasting example of what the Pacific Northwest looked like over 100 years ago. And finally, north of the peninsula sprawls the mighty Olympic National Park.

In August, locals take advantage of the coastal winds for the largest and longest running kite festival in North America. The Long Beach Peninsula has even been dubbed "the kite capital of the US.”

The Long Beach Peninsula is located 3.5 hours from Seattle and 2.5 hours from Portland.

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