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Free & Inexpensive Activities

“What is there to do around here?” is a question we receive regularly at the Visitors Bureau and one that is difficult to answer with brevity. There are so many wonderful, playful, serene, enriching, educational and just plain fun adventures awaiting visitors, it is often a challenge to whittle the list into something visitors can accomplish in just a few days vacation. Here are just a few of the inexpensive and free activities that are sure to keep individuals, couples and families entertained whether our quickly changing weather brings out umbrellas, sunscreen, or both!

Activities for a Rainy Day Activities for a Sunny Day Visit a Farm

Activities for a Rainy Day

• Enjoy a museum or interpretive center. Visiting Ilwaco’s Heritage Museum, The Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, Long Beach’s World Kite and Cranberry Museums, Nahcotta’s Willapa Bay Interpretive Center and of course, Jake the Alligator Man and other oddities at Marsh’s Free Museum are all low or no-cost ways to enjoy the area indoors.

• Go swimming. In the rain?! Sure! The Dunes, a professional indoor pool in Ocean Park, offers swimming classes, open swims and water exercise opportunities year-round. For more information, call (360) 665-5542. On the southern end of the Peninsula, Eagle’s Nest Resort opens its pool for public swimming (360) 642-8351.

• Go bowling. Hilltop Bowl, across from Black Lake in Ilwaco, is a great place to spend an afternoon or evening.

• Catch a flick. Long Beach’s Neptune Theater is a twin cinema that shows first-run movies year-round. For shows and times, call (360) 642-8888. The theater is one block west of the main drive downtown at 9th S. and Boulevard.

• Visit your childhood. Funland Family Amusement Center is open 361 days a year for your enjoyment. With an ever-changing array of games sure to please both trendy kids and nostalgic adults, the whole family will surely win enough tickets to trade for a special prize.

• Visit a library. Timberland Regional Libraries has branches in Ilwaco and Ocean Park. Both libraries offer public internet access, or you can curl up with that book or magazine you haven’t had time to read.1-800-562-6022

• Browse the many antique shops. Visitors are frequently surprised to learn there are in excess of 20 antique and second-hand shops locally, including several antique malls with many dealers. Find one, and ask for the treasure map to all of them!

• Take a self-guided art gallery tour. There are a number of fine art galleries dotting the peninsula, owned and operated by nationally known Peninsula artists. Pick up a list from the Visitors Bureau, or ask a gallery owner to help you find the others.

• Stroll a bookstore. With wonderful bookstores in each of the Peninsula’s shopping areas, we’re sure you’ll find the perfect book to curl up with while you listen to the rain.

• Take a drive on the beach. But be sure to see our page on beach driving, if you are unfamiliar with our beach as a state designated highway or driving in sand in general.

• Go beachcombing. The best treasures are found right after a storm, including the sought-after glass floats.

• Curl up in front of a fire. Make a toasty mug of cocoa and curl up with a warm blanket and some soft jazz.

• Sing and dance in the streets. You’re in a place where folks enjoy that sort of thing, so feel free to grab a partner.

• Sing and dance indoors. Music and karaoke are available nearly every weekend year-round. Make tonight your stage debut!

Activities for a Sunny Day

• Take a romantic walk on the boardwalk at midnight. The soft lights embedded in the wood railings are a perfect complement to the whispers of dune grass and rolling surf in the moonlight.

• Hike the many trails of the Peninsula. We’re happy to suggest a variety of great hikes, walks & strolls, and provide maps to help you find your way.

• Go for a jog. Enjoy all 28 miles of hard packed sand.

• Stroll through history. Take our Seaview, Ocean Park or Oysterville walking tours, and the Centennial Mural tour, and enjoy turn-of-the-century architecture.

• Take a photo. In addition to some of the best birding opportunities to be found, the vibrant colors of the summer season (not to mention the colorful personalities that call this place home) make for some lovely photographs. Spring, fall and winter skies create fascinating light patterns which, along with the panoramic views of Columbia River, Pacific Ocean, Willapa Bay and the Naselle River Valley, make for dramatic photos. Enter our photo contest!

• Fly a kite. The best kite flying to be found is here on the Peninsula, as evidenced by the profoundly successful Washington State International Kite Festival held each August. Our kite shop folks are more than happy to help you find the perfect kite for you.
• Go bird, mushroom and berry seeking. A wide variety of each awaits you!

• Explore the dunes. Walk one of the many trails through the dunes and discover some hidden hide-aways.

• Dock walk. Wander the docks at Port of Ilwaco and see old rowboats, cabin cruisers and fishing vessels. Enjoy Saturday Market at the marina May through September, and shopping year-round.

• Seek a sale. In addition to Memorial Day weekend’s “World’s Longest Garage Sale”, you’ll find sales just about every time the sun comes out.

• Drop a pot. Drop a crab pot off the dock at Nahcotta.

• Drop a line. Freshwater fishing abounds in local lakes, or try your hand at surf fishing. Local tackle stores serve as willing experts to teach you when, for what, and how.

• Ponder a shipwreck. …or go look for lost treasure at a low tide.

• Enjoy a game of volleyball.

• Run your dog on the beach. Fido will love you for it.

• Ride your bike. We highly recommend the ride to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Riekkola Unit, about one mile east of Sandridge Road near Long Beach. In addition to offering pedestrian access to the hills on southern Willapa Bay, the birding here is wonderful. Bike the Discovery Trail through the Long Beach dunes and it will transport even the most mature bicyclists back to their youth.

• Go skating, blading or boarding. The 8.5-mile long, paved, Discovery Trail is a great place for walkers, rollerbladers, skate boarders, and pedestrians to enjoy the dune system and vista views of the beach and surf. Skateboarders will enjoy the skate park just off the beach near Sid Snyder Drive.

• Go golfing–18 holes or miniature. There are two tournament class golf courses on the Peninsula and one mighty fine miniature course behind Stormin’ Norman’s in downtown Long Beach.

• Bump your friends. From old-fashioned electric bumper cars to the newer air-cushioned bumper cars, to bumper boats and go-carts, you’re sure to find an activity your back will hate you for in the morning.

• Rent a surrey, moped or bicycle built for two. From spring break through Labor Day, a variety of two and three-wheeled contraptions are available for rent near the go-cart track.

• Enjoy the kiddie-rides. A pint-sized carnival is also open 7 days a week during the summer season and some off-season weekends for the toddler set. (360) 642-2129

• Eat. From world-renowned chefs to carnival cuisine, you’ll find something to please your palate on the Peninsula. If you still have an appetite after enjoying elephant ears, ice cream cones, and hamburgers large enough to feed an entire family, you’ll definitely want to try some world-class fresh seafood at one of our many fine local eateries.

• Find the kitsch. Go on a scavenger hunt for the world’s largest fry pan and razor clam, the wooden sea lion, seahorse and, of course, the infamous ugly mermaid carvings. Don’t stop until you’ve found Jake the Alligator Man, Fish Alley Theater, and taken a ride on the carousel. Go on a Coastal Nature Scavenger Hunt and a Lewis & Clark Scavenger Hunt. Both can be found in the Booklet of Discovery.
Museum Photo: Chris Jacobsen
Additional Photos: beachdog.com

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