14 Top-Rated Beaches in the Seattle Area

Written by Brad Lane
Updated Apr 13, 2023

Author Brad Lane lives in the Pacific Northwest and loves visiting Seattle in the summer. He most recently spent a month in the summer of 2022 living within eyesight of Green Lake Park.

Seattle is a city surrounded by water. The saltwater of Elliot Bay and Puget Sound borders the city to the west, while the massive Lake Washington offers freshwater to the east. These city-defining water sources provide a limited number of beaches to enjoy, varying from rocky shorelines to sandier expanses. And, to the untrained visitor, they are a bit hard to find.

Nevertheless, beaches dot all sides of the Seattle shoreline, ensuring everyone is close enough to visit with relative ease. Some beaches are more popular than others, and some attract more locals than tourists. A common denominator for all beaches in Seattle, though, is a beautiful view and an excellent place to enjoy a sunny day.

Fun things to do on Seattle's beaches range from volleyball tournaments to hiking nearby forested trails. Other eye-catching attractions include historic lighthouses, public art, and stunning sunsets in the evening. Always expect to encounter other beachgoers enjoying the waterfront access, especially on summer weekends.

Find the city's best stretches of shoreline with our list of the top beaches near Seattle.

1. Discovery Park

Discovery Park
Discovery Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Discovery Park encompasses over 500 acres on a bluff stretching out from the Magnolia neighborhood northwest of downtown. And this popular natural space offers the epitome of great Seattle beaches.

Two beach areas on the north and south side of Discovery Park are great for laying a towel down and beachcombing during low tide. The picturesque West Point Lighthouse splits these two beaches at the center of the park. Each beach includes skyline views of the not-so-distant Olympic Mountains.

West Point Lighthouse in Discovery Park
West Point Lighthouse in Discovery Park

Parking is limited at the beach. But the trail to reach the lighthouse, the three-mile Discovery Park Loop, ranks high as one of the best hikes near Seattle. And the shoreline isn't the only draw to Discovery Park. Other landscapes include grasslands, sea cliffs, and forest groves.

Wildlife is abundant in this still-natural place, and on less popular days, seals are seen on the beach. The park was once home to Fort Lawton, and evidence of this once-military status is still at the heart of the park. And the Daybreak Star Cultural Center provides historical information about the native population of the area.

Address: 3801 Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle, Washington

Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Places to Visit in Seattle

2. Alki Beach

Seattle skyline from Alki Beach
Seattle skyline from Alki Beach

Alki Beach extends for two and a half miles from Alki Point to Duwamish Head in West Seattle. It has been a popular sandy attraction for over 100 years. It was where the first modern pioneers landed in Seattle in 1851 and the home to an early 20th-century amusement park.

One of the most popular ways to enjoy this rugged northwest shoreline is to walk, run, rollerblade, or push a stroller down the 2.5-mile paved path that parallels the beach. Other activities include sand volleyball, beachcombing during the generous low tides, and watching the scores of boats pass. All these beach activities and more are backdropped by the Olympic Mountains.

Alki Beach is one of two areas in the city that allow campfires on the beach (with Golden Gates as the other). These fire pits offer a fun way to stay warm during the colorful sunsets. Campfires are required to be within the designated fire pits spread throughout the park.

Address: 2665 Alki Ave SW, Seattle, Washington

3. Golden Gardens Park

Golden Gardens Park Beach
Golden Gardens Park Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Golden Gardens Park comprises the northwest edge of the Ballard neighborhood in North Seattle. It's one of the most popular beaches in the city and one of the biggest. The park is spread over approximately 80 acres and has over 300 feet of sandy shoreline.

The beach overlooks Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains and easily accommodates the crowds that gather on the weekends. Swimmers and boaters have instant access to the water. And the beach caters to volleyball games, kite flyers, and those who simply want to lay a towel down and enjoy the view.

Golden Gardens also features forested hiking trails and an off-leash dog area. And like Alki Beach, campfires are allowed and encouraged within designated fire pits.

Address: 8498 Seaview Pl NW, Seattle, Washington

4. Green Lake Park

Lifeguard on duty at Green Lake
Lifeguard on duty at Green Lake | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Green Lake Park, approximately five miles north of downtown, has attracted tourists to its shoreline since 1907. It's an iconic outdoor destination that features great running paths, a historic bathhouse, and two designated swimming areas with lifeguards on duty during the summer season. These two swimming spots are East Green Lake Beach and West Green Lake Beach.

Green Lake also has multiple access points for non-motorized boats to get on the water. Kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards can be rented through a concessionaire at the park. Green Lake Beach also has abundant sand to lay down a towel. A sprawling green grass park area surrounds both beaches, offering excellent places for a picnic.

Green Lake Beach
Green Lake Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

A 2.4-mile pedestrian path circles the entire body of water, which connects the east and west swimming areas. On the south side of Green Lake, the sprawling Woodland Park, one of Seattle's best parks, is also easily accessible, including the popular Woodland Park Zoo.

Address: 7201 East Green Lake Dr N, Seattle, Washington

5. Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park

Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park
Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park

Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park is 15 miles from downtown Seattle in the city of Renton. It encompasses nearly 60 acres on Lake Washington's southeast shore.

This popular warm-weather spot was once known as Lake Washington Beach Park and features a swimming beach, multiple boat launches, and a 1.5-mile trail that parallels the water. Gene Coulon also features playground equipment, two tennis courts, a fishing pier, and four reservable picnic shelters.

The beach is very family-friendly and caters to many interests. Community events occur throughout the year, including festive fourth of July celebrations and a Summer Concert Series.

Address: 1201 Lake Washington Blvd N, Renton, Washington

Read More: Best Lakes in Washington

6. Madison Park Beach

Madison Park Beach
Madison Park Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

This beach and public area on the Lake Washington shoreline could be considered a "secret beach" of Seattle. It's on the far east side of the Madison Park neighborhood, northeast of downtown, off a relatively quiet street in this affluent district.

The beach is only 400 feet in length, but this city park provides everything and more to enjoy the day. Alongside a gorgeous place to set a towel down and gaze across Lake Washington, the beach also has a designated swimming area with a lifeguard on duty.

The adjacent Madison Park has well-manicured walking paths, a sprawling lawn with tennis courts, and nearby caf├ęs and restaurants. Madison Park North Beach is one block away for even more seclusion on a city beach getaway and features a great Lake Washington overlook above a rocky seawall.

Address: 1900 43rd Ave E, Seattle, Washington

7. Carkeek Park

Pipers Creek Trail at Carkeek Park
Pipers Creek Trail at Carkeek Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Carkeek Park encompasses over 200 acres in Seattle's northwest neighborhoods. The park features a variety of landscapes, including forests, wetlands, creeks, and Puget Sound shorelines, providing a natural appeal that attracts thousands of visitors each year. A variety of hiking trails link together all the ecosystems of the park.

The 3.5-mile Pipers Creek Trail within Carkeek easily transports users far away from the city. Continued conservation and interest in the park have made Carkeek one of the most pristine in the city and home to one of the few salmon runs in Seattle. The waterfront area at Carkeek presents great views across Puget Sound, and low tide adds even more acreage to explore on the wide and welcoming beach.

Address: 950 NW Carkeek Park Road, Seattle, Washington

8. Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park
Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park provides a secluded place to enjoy Puget Sound in the city of Shoreline, 15 miles north of downtown. It's a moderate-descent hike to the mile-long beach from the parking area, but sprawling views of the water and the Olympic Mountains appear on the horizon upon hitting the sand.

The beach is popular for picnics or quick getaways from the city. The park leading to the beach also provides outlets for canine companions with a designated off-leash dog area. And a playground area nearby is a popular place for families to unwind.

Address: 2021 NW 190th Street, Shoreline, Washington

9. Myrtle Edwards Park

Rocky shoreline at Myrtle Edwards Park Beach
Rocky shoreline at Myrtle Edwards Park Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Myrtle Edwards Park is on the Elliot Bay waterfront. It's a nearly five-acre park with a 1.25-mile pedestrian path connectingCentennial Park to the north and the inland Olympic Sculpture Garden to the east.

The park is popular for running, walking, and all forms of muscle-powered transportation. It's also punctuated by small, rocky beach areas perfect for overlooking the Puget Sound shoreline.

Centennial Park to the north provides even more pathways to follow. Public art provides other fascinating attractions throughout Myrtle Edwards and within the sculpture Park to the south. Sunsets are a great time to tour through this tucked-away park and beach area.

Address: 3130 Alaskan Way, Seattle, Washington

10. Madrona Park

Madrona Park
Madrona Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Madrona Park is a tucked-away gem of the city on the Lake Washington shoreline. It's located on the east side of Seattle's Central District, approximately a three-mile commute from downtown. This proximity offers the perfect step back from the city.

It's a small sandy beach at Madrona Park, which loosely marks the boundaries for the designated swimming with a lifeguard on duty. A large grassy expanse extends from the beach, with equally scenic views of Bellevue across the water.

The park is also ideal for fishing, picnicking, and freshwater lake swimming. Reservable picnic areas at the park are often well utilized on the weekends, and the trail following the shoreline of Lake Washington is well-trodden throughout the year.

Address: 853 Lake Washington Blvd, Seattle, Washington

11. Matthews Beach Park

Matthews Beach Park
Matthews Beach Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Matthews Beach Park is the city's largest freshwater beach. It's in northeast Seattle, north on the shoreline of the expansive Warren G. Magnuson Park. Like all of Seattle's best beaches, expect crowds here on summer weekends.

The beach at Matthews Beach Park is a thin slice of sand that circles the cove for approximately 100 feet. A lifeguard is on duty during the summer season, and a floating platform entices swimmers to leave the shoreline. A green lawn bordered by big trees surrounds the swimming area, offering plenty of places to dry off.

Address: 5100 NE 93rd Street, Seattle, Washington

12. Denny Blaine/Howell Park

View of Mount Rainier from Denny Blaine Beach
View of Mount Rainier from Denny Blaine Beach

Denny Blaine and Howell Parks are two small pocket parks on the Lake Washington shoreline in Central Seattle. The parks are less than a half mile north of Madrona Park, and both are known within the nude sunbathing communities. Don't be surprised to see unclothed individuals when visiting.

Other than the occasional nudity, these two smaller parks are much like any other public space in the city. No lifeguards are on duty, but swimmers can wade into the water. At Denny Blaine, an old stone wall separates the water and sunbathing area, which once marked the waterline before the lake was lowered in 1917.

Denny Blaine Park

  • Address: 200 Lake Washington Blvd E, Seattle, Washington

Howell Park

  • Address: 1740 Howell Place, Seattle, Washington

13. Seward Park

Seward Park
Seward Park

Seward Park is a lovely public space in southeast Seattle. This park encompasses approximately 300 acres of the Bailey Peninsula, jutting into Lake Washington. Among its many natural attributes, the park is home to a small sandy shoreline and ample yard space next to the water. This stretch of waterfront property attracts crowds on sunny days in Seattle.

The entire peninsula is parkland, offering a valuable space to disconnect from the city. The park is perhaps just as popular for its hiking trails and forested attributes as it is for its shoreline. It's an excellent place to spot eagles that nest in the tall trees throughout. Numerous boat launches are also throughout the park for easy access to the water.

Address: 5900 Lake Washington Blvd S, Seattle, Washington

14. Fay Bainbridge Park, Bainbridge Island

Fay Bainbridge Park
Fay Bainbridge Park

Fay Bainbridge Park offers a lovely beach space and campground on the other side of Puget Sound from Seattle, on Bainbridge Island. An easy ferry ride connects visitors to Bainbridge Island for a day trip or overnight adventure.

The park is on the north side of Bainbridge Island, with a long, curving coastline and spectacular views. The beach is modest in length and often dotted with drift logs. It's great for beachcombing and simply walking around. The park's campground is a popular spot to spend the night, almost within eyesight of the beach.

Fay Bainbridge is one of several places to visit on Bainbridge Island. Other notable points of attractions include the nearby Bloedel Reserve and the island's charming Main Street.

Address: 15446 Sunrise Drive NE, Bainbridge Island, Washington

Map of Beaches in the Seattle Area

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Exploring Seattle: The top-rated tourist attractions of Seattle are a great place to start exploring the city, and from here, the best campgrounds close to Seattle and best hiking trails near the city offer even more to discover. If you are looking to make a quick getaway from the city, our Top-Rated Day Trips from Seattle article can send you in the right direction.