Our weekend in Ocean Shores, WA in February 2011: Wintry beaches, coastal drives on highway 109, and a fantastic Irish Pub
We were still paying off our honeymoon to Tahiti in February 2011, but I became desperate for a getaway. So I looked around and found a room in Ocean Shores, WA at the Guesthouse International Hotel for $79/night, including free breakfast. Our room had a distant ocean view, and was more or less adequate. It wasn’t quaint or endearing on any level, just a regular corporate chain hotel that you might find on the side of a freeway on a road trip. Our room did have a fridge, coffee maker, and a microwave which was nice. Two things were a turn-off, however:
1. The complimentary shampoo was a used bottle that was 25% full with the lid screwed back on and the label sealed back over the top. Tacky.
2. We were on a non-smoking floor, but for the first day our room filled with a strong odor of cigarette smoke through the bathroom fan. It was really unpleasant.
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Overall, the price was decent and sometimes you get what you pay for. I’d say the price matched the quality.
We had left Seattle in the morning and rolled into Ocean Shores around lunch time. We were ready for the obligatory fried fish basket, oysters, chowder, and the like. I’d already consulted Yelp for restaurant advice and chose Mike’s Seafood. It was small and busy, but the wait wasn’t very long. After some fantastic oyster shooters and fried captain’s platter, we were ready to go explore the town.
Above: I really wanted this gift shop to be a really cool bar or restaurant, but alas it was just a gift shop with your average mass-produced beach town souvenirs that you can buy in any other beach town anywhere in the United States. But it makes for a good photo op.
Most of the town and restaurants were about a mile from our hotel. During the summer, this wouldn’t be an issue and would be a pretty pleasant walk. In the winter, it was a little dark and cold at night to walk so we drove to go out to eat.
Ocean Shores has a run down arcade, some go-karts, and several little shops. It looked like a crusty old beach town that someone attempted to develop into a tourist spot and was probably really sucessful at it about 50 years ago. Now, it just seems like an aging, forgotten, half-ass version of Seaside, OR. I would imagine that it must be best to visit in the summer and overall it is a good family destination. If you are looking for some quaint boardwalk beach town family fun, however, I’d recommend Seaside, OR instead. It’s not that much further down the coast.
We went for a nice walk on the beach and then decided to settle in to rest and read a bit before dinner.
For dinner we consulted Yelp again and decided on Galway Bay Irish Pub and Restaurant and were pleasantly surprised. The atmosphere was nice and the food was excellent. Entrees come with a delicious fresh baked mini loaf of Irish soda bread and a salad. The prices were reasonable and the service was great.
The next day we had breakfast at the hotel. The eggs were powdered and it wasn’t a great breakfast, but it was free. I mixed some cream cheese and Tabasco in with the scrambled eggs and it made them taste decent. Paddy said the biscuits and sausage gravy was alright. There was also your standard hotel continental breakfast fare of cereals, bagels, toast, fruit, yogurt, coffee, and juices.
We then left Ocean Shores and took a drive up the coast on the highway 109 to Pacific Beach. It was a nice drive, but nothing like the beautiful 101 through Oregon. We stopped for lunch at The Seagate Restaurant and Lounge in Pacific Beach. It was a salty little dive on the bay. I had the clam chowder which the waitress said was homemade, but you couldn’t tell. It was really thick and average tasting.
We drove to the dead end of the highway 109 in Taholah, and stopped and got a few glimpses of the beach on the Quinault Indian Reservation. There were signs posted that it was reservation property and we weren’t allowed to trespass, so we didn’t stay. The beach views up here though were the best of the drive.
In the afternoon we arrived back in Ocean Shores and decided to go for some afternoon bloody marys at Mariah’s Restaurant in the Polynesian Resort. The best thing about Mariah’s is the ocean view. Otherwise, the hotel and restaurant are pretty outdated, with a boring overpriced menu and a 1980’s interior. It was a great place for some afternoon cocktails, however, and I would recommend it for that reason only. The bloody marys were very tasty.
For dinner that evening we decided that the Galway Bay Irish Pub was so good that we should just go there again. It seemed to be the best quality for the money and they had live music.
The next morning, we had the free breakfast in the hotel again and got on our way. On the highway back to Seattle we saw a giant roadside inflatable muscle man and had to stop for a picture. It made my day.
Overall, we probably won’t go back to Ocean Shores again. There wasn’t much character to the town and the beaches are much nicer further south.