Exploring the Long Beach Peninsula – Part 1
I’ve never been to Long Beach, Washington, or anywhere on the Long Beach Peninsula before. Say whaaat? Yep. That’s right. Over 20 years spent traveling to our vacation home, Piazza Beach House, in Seaside, Oregon, and I’ve never ventured farther north than Astoria! Crazy, right?
I took this week off from work, determined to finish the finish work created by the new windows I installed in May, (And no. I didn’t finish the finish work.), but was also keen to get away for a few days and relax and enjoy myself like a real person taking a real vacation. I knew I’d be heading to Seaside by Sunday to clean the house between renters, so picking a vacation spot in the area was key. And then I remembered my friend, April, mentioning Long Beach, Washington. She said it was one of her favorite coast locations, and that she and her hubby, Jacob, loved to stay at the Adrift Hotel and eat at the hotel restaurant, Pickled Fish. I trust their taste implicitly and knew they wouldn’t steer me wrong. Lucky for me, there was a two-night opening at a reasonable price on the days I wanted to travel.
When I arrived, I quickly discovered that Long Beach is the kite capital of the world, featuring a kite museum and annual kite festival! Additionally, there are ample opportunities to hike, bike, walk, and run in and around town, as well as outdoor art installations, a cranberry museum, and many small shops and antique stores. There are go-karts, moped rentals, horse rides, mini-golf, and many kid friendly activities, making this a great location for travelers of all ages. It was easy to see that I wouldn’t be able to do everything I wanted to do in just two days. Sigh.
The Adrift is right on the beach and the Pickled Fish has a lovely ocean view. It’s a pet friendly hotel, which I love, but I also failed to realize why there are ear plugs next to every bed. That is, until a sad, distressed puppy whined for an hour when left alone in his room. Use the ear plugs. They’re your friends. The pet friendly vibe is only the beginning of the hotel staffs’ efforts to make visitors feel right at home.
There are complimentary bikes available with locks and helmets and fresh cucumber water, citrus water, coffee, and tea available in the lobby 24/7. (The tea selection was impressive in its depth of choices.) A sitting area in the lobby, game room on the second floor, and reading room on the third floor (featuring shuffleboard, ping pong, and a wide selection of books and DVDs) meant that guests weren’t restricted to doing everything in their hotel rooms, and made for ample opportunity to meet fellow travelers. It’s clear that the Adrift is seeking to provide a great experience for their guests, not just a place to sleep while traveling.
Shortly after I arrived, I went to the restaurant for happy hour. The drink of the day was a Moscow Mule. The Mule was perfect. Tart and gingery, with a good kick of vodka to it.
I also ordered a cup of clam chowder, served with focaccia. Yummy, yum, yum, yum! Seriously. There was corn in the chowder (gets the thumbs up from me), and the clams were chewy but not tough, and very tasty. The creamy broth was rich but not overpoweringly so. In short, a delicious clam chowder.
Afterward, I decided to take a bike ride. These are cute, single gear bikes, and that’s fine, since the town and local Discovery Trail are basically flat, with only gentle rolling hills. I tooled about town and was happy to find a visitors’ bureau. It can seem superfluous, these days, what with Yelp, Trip Advisor, and all the travel blogs (like this one!) on the web, but let me tell you, it was awesome!
The gals there knew the area well, and the lady I spoke with wrote a lot of helpful information right on the brochures she gave me. Here we are in front of a map of the town. I’m working on my selfies, but clearly, I still don’t know how to look right at the camera. Neither did she, so I suppose it’s all good.
After my stop at the visitors’ bureau, I decided to bike part of the Discovery Trail. The trail begins at the north end of Long Beach at the Breakers Hotel and ends either to the south at Cape Disappointment State Park, or forks east to the port town of Ilwaco. Today, I simply biked a couple of miles right here in town. I had read before coming that there were art installations all along the trail. I was curious, how could they protect the paintings from the rainy weather? I’m not very bright sometimes! The art is, of course, wood and metal sculptures, designed to survive the weather and the test of time. Along with the sea creature sculptures, there are also information boards with quotes from Lewis and Clark, and charming drawings by young, local artists, full of information about the animals and their habitat.
I took a nap back at the hotel (hey, it’s a vacation!), then headed to the Pickled Fish for dinner – I wanted a chance to sample more of the menu. Boy, was that a good idea! I ordered the pizza of the day – garlic cream sauce, roasted corn, prosciutto, basil, and fontina. The pizza was nicely charred, with a tender, chewy, crispy crust and great flavor. I was happy to eat several pieces (exact number to remain unnamed), and take the rest for the next day. The hotel provides a refrigerator in each room and a microwave on each guest floor, which makes eating leftovers easy and convenient.
The restaurant also features live music seven days a week. As the wife of a musician, I can’t tell you how awesome I think it is that Pickled Fish supports local music. Tonight’s offering was indie folk music performed by Ash Reiter & Indianna Hale, not my usual fare, but I really enjoyed their sweet honky-tonk sound.
Pickled Fish is great about recognizing local purveyors, with a list of food suppliers written on a barn door that fits in perfectly with their rustic industrial design. Full disclosure: one of their suppliers is Graziano Foodservice, the company my husband works for – I didn’t know that when I booked my stay here. Here’s Luis and Arturo (they’re so cute! They call me Mrs. Peter) – I ran into them when I set off on my bike ride.
After dinner, I took a nice meandering walk up the boardwalk, past the Long Beach sign, and back to the hotel. The wind had died down, and as is often the case on the coast, the evening felt warmer than the afternoon.
Thanks to the hotel staff, friendly locals, beautiful views, and delicious food, my first day of vacation in Long Beach, Washington was a smashing success!