Seattle Beaches – A family-friendly guide

We’re so lucky in this gorgeous aqua-city of Seattle to have our pick of beaches any summer day of the week.  But in this one city, you’d be surprised how different each of them is–though they all have amazing things to offer!  Let’s go through the list of each of these beaches, and maybe it’ll help you plan your next family beach outing.

Golden Gardens  – 8498 Seaview Pl NW, Seattle, WA

Pros:  Facing west, this beach is great for watching the sun set.  It boasts really the only sandy beach in Seattle (and I’m using the word ‘sandy’ loosely), so it’s great for building sand castles and running around with bare tootsies. I like to go with my boys on weekdays/evenings when it’s less crowded.  There is a large playground, with a great rope web and climbing walls (mostly suited for kids age 5+).  If you’ve got older kids who can stay up past dusk, they’ve got fire pits on the beach, available on a first come first serve basis for a mid-summer family campfire.

Cons:  The Puget Sound doesn’t get particularly warm throughout the summer, so the kiddos will likely just be on the beach vs in the water much (though that may be a pro for a lot of families!).  It’s also the most popular beach in the summer, so parking can be difficult.  At times I’ve noticed a lot of crass language flying about due to groups of older teens/adults.  No lifeguards on duty.


Alki Beach1702 Alki Ave SW, Seattle, WA 

Pros:  Bustling with activity, Alki is great for people-watching and you get the vibe of a small beach town with it’s many bars and cafes along its strip.  Located on West Seattle, you get great views of the downtown and the Space Needle.  There is a widened path along the 2.5 miles of beach–great for strollers and little ones on scooters/bikes.  As with Golden Gardens the beach is relatively sandy and there are designated fire pits!

Cons:  It’s not a quiet beach, so come here only if you enjoy being around the ambient noise and energy of a beach town.  No lifeguards on duty.


Carkeek Park – 950 NW Carkeek Park Rd, Seattle, WA 98177

Pros:  It’s got everything in one place!  Hiking, playground, open spaces with picnic tables, beach, and trains passing by.  Our kids love standing on the bridge as trains pass under them, and they seem to come quite frequently.   During low-tide, it’s excellent for tide pool discoveries.

Cons:  Carkeek also gets quite busy on nice summer days, and again, parking can be an issue.  If you’re  with a little one, I would recommend bringing along a carrier in case you need to park a distance from the playground/beach.  The beach itself is rocky, so wear sturdy shoes that can get wet.  Not necessarily a con since our boys love rocky beaches.  No lifeguards on duty.


Magnuson Park – 6500 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA

Pros:  Gorgeous views of Mt. Rainier from the beach.  Lifeguards on duty in the summer (though in our case, this can be a ‘con’ since they stop you from tossing/skipping rocks).  There is a kiddie pool for the very little ones, if they’d rather not be on the rocky beach.  There is also a great water-accessible dog park on a trail that winds around the picturesque park.

Cons:  The beach is rocky, which can be great for playing, but not great for parental lounging.  No playground area for the kids.


Matthews Beach – 5100 NE 93rd St, Seattle, WA

Pros:  The beachfront is smaller than the other beaches in town, so your chances of losing your kid are cut down to a minimum.   And the beach is sandy, so it’s great for castle-building and moat-making.  The area behind the beach is flat and grassy–perfect for lounging around on your beach towel.    There is a great playground set back from the beach, and the park itself is adjacent to the Burke-Gilman trail around Lake Washington, if you feel like taking a nice, easy stroll.  Lifeguards on duty in the summer months.

Cons:  No shelters and very few picnic tables.  Parking can also be difficult on nice summer weekends (though I’ve found it very easy before 10am, if you can arrive early!)


Lincoln Park Beach – 8011 Fauntleroy Way SW

Pros:  This beach doesn’t get too crowded, even mid-summer.  There is a lot of fun boat traffic (ferries and the like) passing by, which is always fun for the kids to watch.  The park has many shelters and picnic tables, as well and trails that wind through the gorgeous firs and maples.  Facing west, so gorgeous sunsets.

Cons:  The is down a steep trail, which can be difficult for people with limited mobility.  The beach is rocky, so be sure to wear sturdy shoes to protect those tootsies!  No lifeguards on duty.


Seward Park Beach – 5900 Lake Washington Blvd S, Seattle, WA

Pros:  Sandy beach, and fairly small so that your kiddo can’t wander too far.  It has some grassy areas with lots of shade cover for sleeping babies and those others of us who fry in the sun.  Lifeguard on duty in the summertime.  A playground is nearby the beach.

Cons:  Because it’s a small beach, it fills up quickly.  As does parking (wow, I think I’ve said that for every single beach!  But it’s very true, and still a ‘con’)  Also, being on the Sound, the water doesn’t get warm in the summertime.


There are a few other small beach in the city at which I haven’t spent time, so I can’t offer any of my own insight.  All of the following have lifeguards on duty in the summer months:

Green Lake – 7201 E Greenlake Dr N, Seattle, WA

Madison Park Beach – 1900 43rd ave E, Seattle, WA

Madrona Park Beach – 800 Lake Washington Blvd, Seattle, WA

Mount Baker Park Beach – 2521 Lake Park Dr S, Seattle, WA

Pritchard Island Beach – 8400 55th Ave S, Seattle, WA


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