Family-Friendly Beach Day Ideas in the PNW

Toddler Sitting on Driftwood at Alki Beach in Seattle

There’s something special about summer in the PNW and nothing says SUMMER more than a day at the beach. A beach day is the perfect family-friendly outing for fun in the sun that delights everyone. There’re endless hours of activity (or relaxing). Play in the sand, go for a swim, wade into the water, hunt for seashells, race the waves, or relax on the shore. Lucky for us, the Puget Sound is full of great beach options. Here are our top 8 beaches in the area.

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Before you go outside, remember these sun safety tips! Protecting your kid’s skin from sun damage early will benefit them throughout their lifetime.

Lake Sammamish Beach Park

2182 NW Sammamish Rd, Issaquah, WA 98027

Lake Sammamish Park sits along Lake Sammamish and promises a full day adventure for families. There are two lakefront sandy beaches to soak in the sun and splash in the water. Note of caution: it’s rocky so bring water shoes. Rent a standup paddleboard or kayak to get out into the water. At 531 acres, this park has everything including a state-of-the-art playground, bike paths for riding or strolling, trails that wind through the forest and wetlands, and grassy areas to just simply play.

Meydenbauer Beach Park

419 98th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98004 

Meydenbauer Beach is a Bellevue gem sitting along Lake Washington. The park is perfect for families with little ones. The smaller scale beach is shallow and clear making it great for little feet and hands to splash and play. The park includes a pedestrian pier, a beach house with restrooms and showers, a picnic area, and a play structure. The beach house offers canoe and kayak rentals on Wednesdays – Sundays through Labor Day and weekends through September. Note: There’s no shade – so come prepared.

Golden Gardens

8498 Seaview Pl NW, Seattle, WA 98117 

Golden Gardens is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Puget Sound. This 87-acre park looks out toward the Olympic mountains. Enjoy this breathtaking view while relaxing and having fun in the sun. Kids especially love the small stream on the south side of the beach and playing on the playground. On hot summer days, the park is packed with beachgoers of all ages. Get there early, before the parking lot fills up – there’s always overflow parking on the street outside the park which does require a bit more walking.

Alki Beach

Seattle, WA 98116 

Alki Beach is one of Seattle’s large sandy beaches near the city and never fails to draw a crowd on a sunny day. Stunning views of downtown and the Space Needle, miles of sidewalk for strolling and biking, and cafes and restaurants across the street makes this a one-stop-shop for a family fun day.

Green Lake Park

7201 East Green Lake Dr N, Seattle, WA 98115

Green Lake is one of the most popular spots on a nice sunny day. The park features two swimming beaches, a playground, grassy areas, and a paved ~3-mile path. For the Summer 2023 season, only the West Green Lake Beach (near the theater building) will have lifeguards starting from May 29 on weekdays from 2pm – 7pm and weekends from 11am – 7pm. On June 24, weekday hours adjust to 12pm – 7pm. Note that this “beach” does not have much sand like some of the other lakes in the area.

Gene Coulon Beach Park

1201 Lake Washington Blvd N, Renton, WA 98056 

At the southern tip of Lake Washington sits Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park. This huge, sandy beach sparks fun for kids of all ages. There is a designated swimming area enclosed by a wrap-around dock with sand for the kids to play. The large, grassy lawn is great for spreading picnic blankets or playing frisbee. There’s a large playground for an epic time for kids and kids at heart!

Juanita Beach Park

9703 Juanita Dr NE, Kirkland, WA 98034 

Juanita Beach in Kirkland is a popular beach for families in the summer. The swimming area is completely enclosed by a paved wrap-around dock that jets out over the water and there’s sand for kids to play. The water is very shallow, so kids can wade out a bit without parents worrying about hidden drop-offs. The playground provides thrills for all ages. There are picnic tables, grassy areas to play, and a tennis court. The bathrooms are clean and family friendly which is always a plus!

Houghton Beach Park

5811 Lake Washington Blvd NE, Kirkland, WA 98033 

Doris Cooper Houghton Park sits along Lake Washington between Carillon Point and Downtown Kirkland. The beach is great for young kids – the sandy beach is prime for sand play, the shallow areas are great for splashing around, and the long pier is perfect for a stroll. The park features a ship-themed playground, beach volleyball courts, a picnic area, and ramp to launch a kayak or stand-up paddle board (rental stands are there in the summers).

Pack for Success

Essential Packing List for the Beach

A day at the beach, especially with young kids, is no easy feat. Here’s a list of must-have items to make your day as easy and fun as can be.

Sunscreen is not optional, especially for kids during the sunny summer months. We personally love the mineral based ones for their young skin, Thinkbaby and Mustela, but there are so many out there to choose from.

Foundation brush! Say that again? We saw this nifty hack on Instagram, for easy face application of sunscreen. Our kids love it.

Beach Chairs: As I age, sitting on the ground is NOT as comfortable as I remembered. We splurged on this ultra compact chair from Helinox that we love (we use for camping too). We also have a set of Tommy Bahama Lay Flat chairs for relaxation. For the kids, we have a set of character themed kids chairs too!

Sunglasses: We fell in love with Weefarer glasses, they are so stylish and come in fun colors and many sizes.

Sun Hat: Keeps those little faces and heads safe from the UV rays with one from Amazon or splurge on the mom-owned George Hats for some fun and stylish looks. 

Water friendly shoes:  Crocs and Native shoes are great to take the kids from the water to the playground. 

Goggles for those who don’t like water in their eyes.

Water Wings, swim vest, or floaties for swim safety!

Beach toys! If you are heading to a nice sandy beach, bring those sand toys! I am especially excited to try my new surfer dude, that has been surfacing on social media, a wave powered mini surfer!

Pop-up tent, which are great for littles when they need a little break (or shade). We have this one from the California beach company that was great when we had crawling babies, and this pop-up tent that has now become our go to tent as the kids grow older.  

Inflatable floaties for your toddler! We love this inflatable that also has a removable sun protection canopy. These are great for those swimming pool outings too.

~ Beach Towels/Blankets – nothing worse than sitting on hot sand.

~ Snacks, lots of water, lunch 

~ Baggies for diapers, wet clothes, garbage or found “treasures”


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