The Pacific Northwest beckons everyone when the sun is out. But when winter returns with dark clouds, howling wind and sideways rain, that’s when fearless souls with their adventurous spirits storm the coast for a unique experience.
Even if you’re not keen on venturing into the wet and cold with a poncho and whiskey, you don’t have to batten down the hatches. Embrace it. As a self-admitted nature wimp, I packed up our Subaru with hubby and Sammy, our pug, for a Washington adventure on the Long Beach Peninsula. Our friend Sara and Jet, her Portuguese water dog, who are lucky enough to live there, joined us.
Astoria Bridge is magnificent in any weather condition.
Astoria Bridge during the storm and fog.
Driving from our home in Astoria, Oregon, to Long Beach is only about 30 minutes. Driving during a storm to your destination is an adventure. Just take it easy and soak in the rain dancing on the car roof. The Columbia River and the ocean are pitch dark, but you know the vastness is there.
Cozy on the Coast
We did not rough it. We stayed at Adrift Hotel + Spa. This 82-room hotel is pet-friendly and only steps from the beach and boardwalk. We could hear the rain, wind and waves from our room, as they rocked us to sleep. A bonus for traveling to the coast during storm watching season is the fantastic rates!
Sammy storm watching in style at the Adrift Hotel + Spa.
Yoga and Books
It was pouring rain the next morning as I woke up early for a light yoga session with Sara to stretch our legs for the day of exploring ahead. River Zen Yoga in Ilwaco is only a five-minute drive from the hotel and has classes for all levels. It was the perfect way to kick-start the day.
If you’re not ready to put on your hiking boots just yet, pop inside Enough Time Books down the street from the yoga studio, and say “Hi” to Scout, the resident dog. This charming bookstore has a fireplace and space to relax and catch up on your reading, as you let the storm do its own thing outside.
Scout is Time Enough Bookstore’s official greeter.
View of the Ilwaco Port during the storm from River Zen Yoga.
Beignet, Chicory and Roots
Many of the shops and restaurants on the peninsula are open during the offseason, albeit some have shorter days. We had brunch at 42nd Street Café in Seaview. Their beignets and chicory coffee will warm your tummy and set you off on the right course.
If you crave something without getting out of your car, drive by Roots in Ilwaco. They have great salads and sandwiches, including healthy smoothies and delicious espresso. They also have the best soup. Just ask!
Linh DePledge and Sammy Walking along beach
The Other Waikiki
Finally, it’s time for some real adventuring. We went to Waikiki Beach, known for the driftwood and logs that wash up from the storm. The beach is perfect for driftwood hunting, eagle spotting and watching the waves pound on the rocks. Many people have been caught out by rogue waves, so take caution. We were lucky as it was low tide, but we were taken by surprise a few times by how quickly the water can rush in.
Sammy is not wimpy and is up for anything, well almost.
Eagle spotting! We saw several eagles during our time here.
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse standing strong during the storm.
Cape Disappointment State Park is stunning in any weather, but I find it especially most romantic during a storm. How can it not be with the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse standing bravely through the rain, wind and fog? We took the easy route by making the short, 10-minute drive, where you can see all the glory without enduring any of the beastly elements. The park offers camping and has 8 miles of hiking trails. No matter how you get there, just get there, and appreciate this treasure.
Winter brings a completely different beach perspective. That famous Pacific Northwest gray still surrounds you, yet it offers such clarity and beauty. We drove to out to Benson Beach, and when we arrived there was not another soul around. So, we unleashed Sammy and Jet and let them out to make their own adventure. As we started walking, the rain and wind just stopped, and all we had was light mist tapping on our cheeks, with expansive views of the surf and the North Head Lighthouse. That’s the secret to the coast. The weather is unpredictable, so you just need to roll with it and appreciate what you get from moment to moment.
Linh DePledge and Sammy Walking on Beach