Updated last 7/5/2020
Here’s a round up of South Sound area parks and beaches where you can find actual sand! To the best of my knowledge these are all open; however, there may be some restrictions on hours or facilities, so use the provided links to confirm details before you head out!
One important change for 2020: No beach or lake I’ve checked has a lifeguard on duty this summer.
One note: You won’t find as much sand at lake front parks these days. Fish and other creatures need those native, grassy plants, which is why many parks have less sand than you might remember.
Federal Way/NE Tacoma/Redondo Sandy Beaches
Dash Point Here it is, friends. If you want a “going to the beach,” experience worthy of your sand buckets, head to Federal Way to this glorious spot. This is a state park, so you’ll need to invest in a Discover WA Pass. It is open, but parking may be limited, so go early, on a weekend especially. Note that playgrounds at all state parks remain closed as of 7/5/2020.
Dash Point Wait? Two Dash Points? Yes. This one is a MetroParks Tacoma park. Not quite as expansive as the state park but plenty fun. It is open, though the permanent restroom is currently closed. There is a portable one available. Do read the notes on parking or bring some cash for the nearby pay lot.
Dumas Bay Sanctuary Also in Federal Way Almost as good as Dash Point, and it’s hidden away in a neighborhood, so it’s super private. You may also get to watch skim borders. Downside: It’s more tide dependent. If it’s high, you’ll have much less to work with. Also, after this post ran originally, a reader pointed out that it is a heron sanctuary, so you’re not supposed to dig. If you just want the feel between your toes, go for it! You wind through a neighborhood to get here-past a dead end sign. Keep going!
Redondo Des Moines Unless the tide is up, you can find some sand on both sides of the fishing peer. The boardwalk is also fun to walk. Note from SFM: I am unsure about the status of the fishing pier here, which was having some repair issues at one time. Let me know if you find out.
Steel Lake Federal Way Popular park with kids’ playground and a swimming area with some sand. Note that there are no lifeguards this year.
South King County- Auburn, Kent Area Sandy Beaches
Isaac EvansAuburn (link takes you to a list of all Auburn parks-scroll down to the one you want). Access to a swimmable (well, splashable) area of Green River with a small area of sand. The water reminded me a bit of splashing in a mud puddle, but the boys enjoyed it. Lovely, shaded picnic areas and trails. Small but fun play structure. Downsides: Folks seem to come here in noisy groups, and the loaner life jackets seem to have all gone “missing.” Auburns parks and trails are all open, but the numbers allowed on the playground at one time are restricted.
Lake Meridian Kent Large swimming area with a sand and gravel beach Lake Meridian also has a great playground, picnic areas, and a seasonal lifeguard (NO lifeguards for 2020) at the swimming area. If you don’t mind crowds (and there will be a crowd), it’s a great day trip. Here’s a post on it.Kent parks are open; the number of kids permitted per play structure is restricted.
Fb reader Cindy recommends Lake Wilderness near Covington/Maple Valley.
Gene Coulon Beachin Renton
Tacoma Area Sandy Beaches
Ruston Way, Tacoma Most Tacoma area beaches are better for beach combing than sand play, unless the tide is out. The section of Ruston Way next to Jack Hyde park (where the sundial is) almost always has some sand.
Lakewood Area Sandy Beaches
American Lake, Lakewood Boat launch, swimming area with small section of sand, picnic places, playground Busy, popular park Number of children per play structure limited; no lifeguard on duty for 2020.
Spanaway Lake-Swimming area with a small section of sandy beach (much smaller than you may remember if you went here as a child). Lake closed as of 7/5/2020 due to toxic algae. Link has info. on other current restrictions.
Lake Tapps/Bonney Lake Area Sandy Beaches
Lake Tapps North Sumner Roped off swimming beach A small area of sand is near the concession area. You’ll have to pay to park. Very popular place. Link has more detail on current restrictions and hours.
Allan Yorke Park is on the south side of Lake Tapps and also has a swimming area, but I think the amount of sand is very small. Let me know if you know different.
Olympia Area Sandy Beaches
Tolmie is a great spot for beach adventures You will need a Discover Pass. I think Priest Point may have some tide dependent sand, too. If you know, leave a comment!
Beyond the South Sound
If you want to day-trip it to Seattle, it’s hard to argue with Alki Beach, or for a true summer day trip (and you’ll need to start early), Jetty Island north of Everett is a great sandy spot to spend the day. Note: There is no ferry to Jetty Island this year due to budget cuts. It’s open if you can access it via personal boat or kayak.
Or heck-load everyone up and head out to the Washington Coast. It’s not quite Maui, but there is plenty of ocean and plenty of sandy beach.
It’s totally possible I’ve missed somewhere sandtastic, so please don’t be shy about leaving a comment and letting me know.
Updates from readers: Reader Suzanne recommends Des Monies Creek Beach. Several Facebook readers also recommend Sunnyside Beach in Steilacoom (You do have to pay 5.00) to park in the city owned lot, and it’s gated.