Living in the PNW, we’re surrounded by water, which is awesome. For this ex-competitive swimmer, having endless options and places for us to go swimming, it’s been heaven, and since we arrived last June, I’ve been on the hunt for the best kid-friendly beaches around JBLM. As you can imagine, there is no shortage, but some are definitely better than others in terms of water safety, access, and beach type.
The best part about these beaches is that most of them area just a hop, skip, and a jump from base. Simply pack up your beach tent, plenty of sammiches (as Spencer calls them), and head to the beach. Some feature rocky beaches, while others have sandy shores. Some have free parking, while others require a trail pass. But they’re all beautiful, and they’re quintessentially PNW, which makes them epic in their own right.
Sunnyside Beach Park – Located in Steilacoom, this beach is the epitome of family-friendly (and dog-friendly!) beaches around JBLM. You may remember we visited it a few weeks ago. With 1,400 feet of shoreline on the sound, there’s also a playground, volleyball court, and place for picnics by the water.
Shoreline Park – Nestled on American Lake on JBLM, Shoreline Park has a swimming beach, daily kayak and canoe rentals, restrooms nearby, and more. It does get quite crowded in the summer months, as this beach is frequented by servicemembers and their families, but it’s well-equipped and fun to visit.
Summer Cove – We visited Summer Cove for the first time a couple weeks ago, and I can already tell it’s going to be a regular on our spring and summer agendas while at JBLM. The water is warm(ish) and shallow, there are both rocky and sandy shore areas, and there’s a great playground, splash pad, and picnic area nearby. Lots of troops/units have their Org Day events here, so it can get busy, but there’s plenty room for all!
Saltar’s Point Beach – You might remember I actually had my maternity photos taken at Saltar’s Point, and it’s an absolutely stunning location in nearby Steilacoom – just on the opposite side from Sunnyside. The water is chilly, and there’s a steep set of stairs down to the pebble beach, but it’s well worth it! There are barbecue grills, and dogs are welcome, so long as you clean up after.
Lemon’s Beach – Located in University Place, Lemon’s Beach is a residential area beach with incredible sunset views, sandy shores, and a great community vibe. Kids will love the pebble-strewn shores for digging, and the water is chilly but tolerable. This, too, is dog-friendly and welcomes all! Make sure to park on Lemons Beach Road West and take the trail across the railroad tracks directly to the beach.
Tolmie Beach State Park – We’ve been regulars at Tolmie since we first discovered in last summer. The rocky shore gives way to soft black sands, tons of sand dollars, and plenty of fish. Hikers love it here because it’s a great place to take a dip, and kids love it because there’s no shortage of shallow swimming and sandy shores. Dogs are welcome, but they must be on their leash. Be sure to try low tide when finding sand dollars is absolute incredible.
Harry Todd Park – Located in nearby Lakewood, this beautiful park boasts pristine swimming access, as well as picnic shelters, a skate park, baseball fields and basketball courts, and more. It gets busy here, so many visitors park their shelters and towels on the grass, rather than the sand, to secure more space.
Andy’s Marine Park – Set on nearby Anderson Island, you’ll need to catch the ferry from Steilacoom to Anderson Island. The island plays host to 81 acres of woodlands and tidal inlet, as well as a 3/4 mile public saltwater beach. Dogs are not welcome here on or off leash except, of course, for service animals. Just a short hike (less than a mile) to the beach, you’ll enjoy an ecologically protected tidal beach.
Westport Light State Park – Just an hour and a half from JBLM, Westport is a perfect Pacific Ocean beach with plenty of parking, grass covered dunes, and ADA access. You’ll need your Discover Pass to park here, and if you’re a fan of surfing, this is a definite favorite near JBLM. Sandy shores, driftwood, and a small seaside town nearby make for the quintessential experience. Be sure to head into town for a bite at Aloha Alabama BBQ and Bakery.