Over the sprayground? Had it with barnacles?
Here’s a round up of area parks and beaches where you can find actual sand!
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/Tedondo
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. Read more in my Best Beach Outings post. This is a state park, so you’ll need to invest in a Discover WA Pass.
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.
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.
Steel Lake Federal Way Popular park with kids’ playground and a swimming area with some sand.
South King County
Isaac Evans Auburn 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.”
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 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.
Fb reader Cindy recommends Lake Wilderness near Covington/Maple Valley
Gene Coulon Beach in Renton
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.
American Lake, Lakewood Boat launch, swimming area with small section of sand, picnicing, playground Busy, popular park There is also a swimming beach with a lifeguard on duty at Harry Todd. Link will take you to all Lakewood City Parks options.
Spanaway Lake-Swimming area with a small section of sandy beach (much smaller than you may remember if you went here as a child). Parks and rec staffers suggest parking in the D or C lot. Playground, paddle boat rentals, and trails. There are parking fees in the summer.
I think some other Des Moines area parks must have good beach, but I don’t know. If you do, leave a comment for me!
Lake Tapps/Bonney Lake
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. 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. One note: The lake is low this year. I don’t know about swimming or boating-if you do, let me know.
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. 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.
If you want a Guarantee of sand fun, you’ll want to mark your calendars for the Sand in the City event in Olympia, the Hands on Children’s Museum’s signature event, and a sandventure not to be missed.
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.