When I need a break from the city, Ocean Shores is my go-to seaside hangout in the Pacific Northwest. Tucked between the beautiful Pacific Ocean and lush forests, it’s got that small-town feel that I love in many cities around Washington. You can choose to rent a house and relax, or you can explore all the things to do in Ocean Shores during your trip.
As a Washington native, I’ve been coming here since I was young, with my most recent trip being in 2021. While my last vacation here was an unexpected rainy July weekend, I still found plenty of new Ocean Shores activities to check out (plus, there’s something so PNWish about being by the ocean when it rains, as most Washington locals will attest). After all, there’s a reason it’s one of the most popular spots to vacation in the Pacific Northwest.
Based on my multiple experiences here, I’ve rounded up a diverse list of what to do in Ocean Shores, whether you’re looking for ice cream for the kids, beaches to explore, or a fun pub to visit at night. I love that the city has a relaxed feel to it, so you never feel rushed when you’re out and about.
So, whether you’re popping by for the first time or you’ve been here before, this Ocean Shores guide has got you covered. These are my personal top picks – the things I’ve done over and over and still can’t get enough of.
This post has been updated and is accurate as of June 2023.
Top 11 Things to Do in Ocean Shores
Here are some of the best things to do in Ocean Shores, Washington.
1. Walk Through a Giant Shark Mouth
If you’re on a family vacation and looking for what to do in Ocean Shores, you’ll want to stop at this gift shop. The entrance alone to Sharky’s Gift Shop will make you stop, as you’ll notice there are giant shark jaws surrounding the door. Get a few photos of yourself in it, and then head inside to buy everything shark-related.
They have everything from clothing to toys to swimsuits, and I found their prices affordable for a “touristy” place. I loved getting my toddler some shark toys (since we’re in that “Baby Shark” phase still) and a comfy sweatshirt to wear for chilly nights. Whether or not you buy anything, it’s a free thing to do in Ocean Shores that’s worth stopping at and one of the more unique things to do in Washington State.
2. Take a Stroll on North Jetty
Sometime during your Ocean Shores vacation, you’ll want to head to the very south end of the strip of land to visit the Washington Coast. North Jetty is a large beach you can walk out in the water, sit on driftwood, and people watch, or watch fishermen try their luck.
You can also bring your own blankets or chairs to create your own activities in Ocean Shores. I ended up sitting on a log and watching the waves, which was very mesmerizing.
If you’re physically capable of it, I recommend climbing the rocks on the left side of the beach to see the ocean on that side. Since it’s not as protected, it produces much larger, more impressive waves. You’ll also want to bring your camera for this part of your Ocean Shores weekend.
This could also be one of the more romantic things to do in Ocean Shores if you take a sunset stroll.
3. Play Mini Golf at Pacific Paradise
Whether you’re looking for things to do in Ocean Shores with kids or are spending an adults-only weekend in town, stop at Pacific Paradise during your trip. The most popular activity here is mini-golf, as it’s a game everyone can enjoy. I loved the personal touches on the “buildings” throughout the course with Washington cities on them.
When you’re done with that, head inside to play the arcade games. From air hockey to video games, it’s one of the best family things to do in Ocean Shores. They also have bumper boats and laser tag if you want to spend a few hours here.
If you want to play on a real golf course, there’s also an Ocean Shores golf course you can visit nearby.
4. Listen to Live Music at an Authentic Irish Pub
As someone who is half-Irish and has been to the country numerous times, I almost fell over when I walked into Galway Bay Irish Pub. This restaurant is the closest I’ve ever seen to replicating an Irish restaurant, from the decor to the music to the food.
Many “Irish” restaurants just have fish and chips, but this had an extensive menu full of food I recognized from Ireland and is one of the best Ocean Shores attractions. I last came here in February in Seattle and loved how cozy it was during the winter.
I got the veggie pasty with mashed potatoes and Irish soda bread. As a proper Irish person does, I also ordered a Guinness to go along with the meal. This pub has a bar section that’s 21 and over but also has a family-friendly area you can visit during your weekend to Ocean Shores.
When you’re done with your meal, you’ll want to head to their gift shop next door. Once again, instead of slapping “Ireland” all over their shirts, they’ve imported a variety of items like socks, jewelry, and more from the country.
My favorite section was all the food and drinks they had that I hadn’t seen since I was in Ireland, including my favorite Taytos (Irish potato chips). Visiting is one of the things to do in Ocean Shores in the winter, as nothing feels better than warming up in a cozy pub.
5. Stay at Ocean City State Park
You can access the beach from here, and it’s one of the best places to camp. This area is an ideal place to stay if you’re looking for a dog-friendly vacation in the Pacific Northwest, as they have plenty of room to roam. You can camp in either a tent or an RV, the latter being more popular during the colder months.
From there, you have easy access to the Pacific Ocean and may be able to see some early-morning surfers, as the area is one of the best places to surf in Washington State. After taking surf lessons when visiting Huntington Beach earlier in the year, it was a blast to watch the pros here. You can also drive on the beach if you want a thrill.
Want to keep going along the coast? Continue south on a road trip down the Oregon Coast.
6. Grab a Pint of Local Beer
Ocean Pours Taproom is a mix of locals and tourists alike and has a wide variety of Pacific Northwest beers to choose from. When it’s dry out, there’s a large outdoor beer garden to sit at and even cornhole to play if you want to try your luck.
Visiting here is also one of the best things to do in Ocean Shores with dogs, as they allow pups on their leashes outside. I was solo on my last trip here but enjoyed spending an hour sipping my beer and getting to know some of the friendly dogs who were there and wanted to give me company.
During the rainy season, you can move inside and watch the latest sports game during your weekend at Ocean Shores. I loved that the bartender was friendly and seemed to know many people coming in.
Another good option for beer is Elk Head Tap Room, just a few minutes away. This is in downtown Ocean Shores, so you can have a few pints and then walk around to the stores if you want. Visiting here is one of the coziest things to do in Ocean Shores in the winter.
7. Walk Out to Damon Point
While you’re down at North Jetty, take a five-minute drive east to Damon Point. This area is a popular place to hang out for a few hours. I saw people relaxing at the nearby RV camping sites, having a picnic on the beach, and even swimming in the ocean (brave people!), and it’s one of the best free things to do in Ocean Shores.
This part of the beach goes out for one mile, so you can take a long, leisurely beach stroll when looking for what to do at Ocean Shores and can turn this into an easy hike depending on how far you go.
Add bird watching to your list when you want fun things to do in Ocean Shores. This area is slowly being restored as a bird habitat, so you’ll be able to spot plenty when you’re here. If you’re lucky, you might even see grey whales passing by at the end of the point if it’s the right season.
8. Try the Local Seafood
You can’t be near the ocean without having fish for at least one meal. Bennett’s Fish Shack is a restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating, so you can eat here year-round. They also have a bar if you’re traveling by yourself or just want to watch a sports game on TV (I loved watching the Mariners play while I had my beer and sandwich!).
This is great for things to do in Ocean Shores when it rains if you need to wait for the storm to pass.
While they have various options on their menu, I highly recommend the crab and cheddar melt for one meal on your Ocean Shores weekend. Combined with their thick fries and a local beer, this is the best place to eat in Ocean Shores, in my opinion.
This restaurant does get crowded around prime meal times, so you can also try Mike’s Seafood. It’s an ideal time to visit, especially when looking for things to do in Ocean Shores in winter, as you’ll be nice and cozy here.
9. Bike Around Town
One of the best things to do in Ocean Shores is biking around town, as the area is very bike-friendly. I saw dozens of people going by on the street with their bikes while I was there. You can bring your own bike if you have one or rent one from several different companies. While I didn’t get a chance this time, I plan on doing it when I come back with my kids on my next visit.
Electric Bike Beach Rentals had bikes all over town when I was last there, which was a great advertisement in itself. You can rent an electric bike to ride around town if you want your own bike.
One of the best things to do in Ocean Shores with kids is to rent a peddle bike, which fits up to six people and even has a cover so you can go when it’s raining.
Worried about findings things to do in Ocean Shores with dogs? They rent out pet carriers you can wear or pet trailers that hook onto the back of your bike. Riding your bike is one of the most active things to do in Ocean Shores.
Affordable Mopeds is another option if you want to get around town in a different way.
10. Grab a Scoop at Peppermint Parlor
There’s no better way to end an afternoon at the beach than to get a giant scoop of ice cream. Peppermint Parlor has several dozen flavors of ice cream to choose from. I’m not even embarrassed to admit I came here twice on my last trip because it was that good! In addition, they have candy, donuts, espresso drinks, and more.
They also have some of the best family things to do in Ocean Shores with their bumper cars, go-karts, virtual reality, and more. You can easily spend a few hours here during your trip, and it’s great for things to do in Ocean Shores when it rains since it’s all inside.
11. Fly a Kite on the Beach
One of the best places to fly kites is anywhere on the Pacific Ocean, as it’s generally always windy, and places like Long Beach and Ocean Shores are always full of people flying kites, making it one of the more popular things to do at Ocean Shores.
That’s why I recommend bringing your kites with you or buying one at a local store to enjoy this popular Ocean Shores activity. Stop by Ocean Shores Kites or Cloud Nine Sportswear & Kites to get your own or help with fixing yours.
If you’re into photography, this is one of the most Instagrammable spots in the area as well. During the summer, you can see dozens of colorful spots line the beach, so you’ll want to add this to your list of things to do near Ocean Shores.
Ocean Shores Travel Tips
Here are a few things to know before planning your Ocean Shores vacation, which you’ll want to put on your Pacific Northwest bucket list.
How to Get to Ocean Shores
Ocean Shores is on the west part of Washington on the Pacific Ocean. Depending on traffic, it takes about three hours to drive from Seattle to Ocean Shores, making it an easy weekend getaway near Seattle.
While the drive from Seattle itself is fairly straightforward, there are several parts where you’ll lose service, particularly after Aberdeen.
For this reason, I recommend having the map open on your screen with the route open so you can see your GPS even when you don’t have service. That will make it easier to start your weekend at Ocean Shores when you know where you’re going. This is also one of the most beautiful drives in Washington, so make sure you enjoy it!
What to Bring for a Weekend in Ocean Shores
While Ocean Shores is technically a beach vacation, anyone in the Pacific Northwest knows this doesn’t necessarily mean sunny and warm. There are plenty of beautiful summer days in Seattle, but it’s essential to know that the weather by the ocean is unpredictable. (Regardless, it’s still a fun place to put on your Pacific Northwest road trip itinerary any time of the year!)
When I was last there, I enjoyed a beautiful day the first day, followed by rain and heavy fog the next day where I couldn’t even see the ocean. That’s why I was glad I packed warm and waterproof clothes!
Here are a few items I recommend bringing:
- Rain jacket – Have a lightweight jacket with you with a hood in case you get a sudden downpour.
- Rain boots – These make it easy to walk in the sand without worrying about getting dirty.
- Camp chair – You’ll appreciate being able to sit down on the beach when you need a break.
- Sunglasses – The glare can be strong when it is sunny, so bring a good pair of sunglasses with you.
Looking for the ultimate Seattle travel guide written by a local that tells you all the best places to go and what to see? My new ebook is now live, so click here to buy your copy!
Where to Stay in Ocean Shores
There are some hotels to stay at, as well as a handful of vacation rentals for trips to Ocean Shores.
- Quinault Beach Resort & Casino – I’ve stayed here before (21 and over only), and while it’s not in downtown Ocean Shores, it’s perfect for couples or groups who want to go to a casino at night. (rates start at $89 per night)
- Polynesian Resort – This hotel is only a few minutes walk from the beach, has an indoor heated pool, and is pet-friendly. (rates start at $102 per night)
- Pacific Surf Condo – This beautiful two-bedroom condo is pet-friendly and right by the beach. (rates start at $195 per night)
- Sea Breeze Cottage – You’ll love staying at this charming house that’s a short walk to both the beach and the shopping and restaurant area. (rates start at $130 per night)
I hope you now have a few ideas of things to do in Ocean Shores for your next visit! This area is fun to visit any time of the year, whether you’re here on a sunny summer weekend or spend a cozy, rainy winter weekend inside with a view of the ocean.