A Guide to Point Shilshole Beach: Everything You Need to Know

Nestled along the shimmering shores of Seattle’s coastline, Point Shilshole Beach beckons with an enchanting blend of natural beauty and coastal serenity.

beach point shilshole

This hidden gem, located just a stone’s throw from the bustling heart of the Emerald City, offers a tranquil escape into the embrace of the Pacific Ocean. Definitely, a place where the rhythmic whispers of the tides harmonize with the distant cries of seagulls, where the sun’s gentle caress warms the sands beneath your feet, and where the horizon unfolds in a breathtaking panorama of blues and greens.

The History and Significance of Point Shilshole Beach

Steeped in rich cultural history, Point Shilshole Beach was originally inhabited by the Duwamish tribe, one of the first known indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest. The name ‘Shilshole’ originated from the Duwamish word ‘shil shoal’, meaning ‘threading a needle’, which is thought to refer to the narrow and intricate passage through the nearby waters.

Throughout the years, Point Shilshole Beach has played a significant role in Seattle’s development. In the late 1800s, it became an important stopover point for ships traveling up and down the Pacific coastline. During World War II, it served as a strategic naval location, defending the city from potential sea invasions.

Today, the beach is seen as a symbol of the city’s commitment to preserving its natural and cultural heritage. It’s a place where locals and tourists alike come to connect with the city’s past, enjoy its present, and envision its future.

Getting to Point Shilshole Beach

Reaching Point Shilshole Beach is easy and convenient, no matter where you are in Seattle. Here are three options from three different locations:

From Downtown Seattle:

If you’re starting your journey from downtown Seattle, the quickest and most convenient option is to drive. Take Elliott Avenue West and follow signs for the Magnolia Bridge. Continue onto 15th Avenue West, then turn onto Northwest Market Street. This will take you directly to Point Shilshole Beach. The entire drive should take around 15 minutes, depending on traffic.

From Sea-Tac Airport:

Starting from Sea-Tac Airport, you have a few options. One of the easiest is to take the Link Light Rail from the airport to downtown, then follow the above directions from there. Alternatively, you can rent a car at the airport and drive directly to the beach. This route will take you north on I-5, then west on NW 85th Street until you reach the beach. Expect the journey to take about 45 minutes to an hour.

From Bellevue:

If you’re in Bellevue, the quickest way to get to Point Shilshole Beach is to drive over the I-90 bridge, follow I-5 north, and then take exit 172 for NE 80th St. Follow NE 80th St until you reach the beach. The total driving time should be about 20-30 minutes, depending on traffic.

point shilshole beach

Best Things to Enjoy at Point Shilshole Beach

Point Shilshole Beach is not just a destination, it’s a hub of activities that reflect the vibrancy of Seattle’s spirit. Whether you are an adventure enthusiast, a nature lover, or someone seeking tranquility, you’ll find a multitude of offerings to keep you engaged and entertained. Here are some of the best things you can enjoy at Point Shilshole Beach:

  • Scenic Views: The beach offers breathtaking views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. These natural beauties make for an excellent backdrop for photography or introspective moments.
  • Swimming: The cool, clear waters of Point Shilshole Beach make it an inviting spot for a refreshing swim. The beach is typically less crowded than other local beaches, offering a more peaceful and enjoyable swimming experience.
  • Bird Watching: For nature and bird enthusiasts, the beach offers an array of coastal birds to observe and appreciate. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars!
  • Beach Combing: The shoreline is often strewn with unique shells, rocks, and sea glass. Beach combing can be a fun and relaxing pastime.
  • Picnicking: With its pristine surroundings, the beach is an ideal location for a tranquil picnic. Pack your favorite food and enjoy a leisurely meal while admiring the view.
  • Sunset Watching: Experience the magical moment as the sun dips below the horizon, painting the sky with hues of orange and pink. It’s a must-see spectacle for every visitor.
  • Boating and Kayaking: If you’re more into water-based activities, boating and kayaking are available. Enjoy the water and the stunning vista of the Seattle shoreline from a different perspective.
  • Trails and Hiking: Lastly, for those who enjoy a good walk or hike, the beach is surrounded by several trails that offer picturesque views of the area. Explore these paths for an invigorating outdoor experience.
the point shilshole beach

Dining and Accommodation with a View

To complement your visit to Point Shilshole Beach, indulge in the coastal gastronomic delights and comfortable accommodations that Seattle has to offer. Here are some waterfront dining options and accommodations near the area:


  • Ray’s Boathouse: Located on the shimmering shores of Puget Sound, Ray’s Boathouse offers patrons a remarkable range of seafood dishes, prepared to perfection. Their delicious menu, coupled with the stunning views of the Sound, create an unforgettable dining experience.
  • Marination Ma Kai: Offering a unique fusion of Hawaiian and Korean cuisines, Marination Ma Kai is a treat for the tastebuds. Enjoy their signature tacos and sliders while soaking in the panoramic views of the Seattle skyline and the harbor.
  • The Pink Door: Nestled in the heart of Pike Place Market, The Pink Door impresses with its eclectic Italian-American cuisine and mesmerizing waterfront views. Don’t miss their live cabaret and trapeze entertainment on select evenings.


  • The Edgewater Hotel: As the only waterfront hotel in Seattle, The Edgewater offers rooms with sweeping views of the Sound. Nestled in plush comfort, watch the ferries glide and the sunset from your room.
  • Inn at the Market: Located in the vibrant Pike Place Market, the Inn at the Market offers a unique Seattle experience. Their rooftop deck provides stunning views of the waterfront and the market — a perfect perch for enjoying a late afternoon cup of coffee.
  • Four Seasons Hotel Seattle: For a luxurious stay, look no further than the Four Seasons. Located in downtown Seattle, many of their rooms offer incredible views of Elliott Bay and Puget Sound, combining luxury and natural beauty for a stay to remember.

Frequently Asked Questions about Point Shilshole Beach

Is there an admission fee to enter Point Shilshole Beach?

There isn’t an admission fee to visit Point Shilshole Beach. It’s a public beach, open for everyone to enjoy. However, parking fees may apply.

Is Point Shilshole Beach dog-friendly?

While your furry friends love the beach as much as you do, please note that dogs are not permitted on the beach to maintain cleanliness and safety for all visitors.

Are there lifesaving services available at the beach?

Lifeguards are on duty during the summer from 11 am to 7 pm on weekdays, and from 11 am to 6 pm on weekends.

Is there parking available near the beach?

Parking is available near the beach. However, it can get crowded during the summer months, so we recommend arriving early to secure a spot.

point shilshole's beach

Final Thoughts

The charm of Point Shilshole Beach lies not only in its picturesque landscape and serene ambience, but also in the plethora of activities it offers. It’s an ideal destination for anyone seeking a blend of relaxation and adventure. Whether you’re interested in basking in the beauty of nature, exploring the vibrant marine life, engaging in thrilling water sports, or simply enjoying a quiet picnic with loved ones, this beach has something for everyone. A visit to Point Shilshole Beach promises a memorable time, making it a must-visit destination when in Seattle.

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