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Westport in the winter

Head to the coast for some off-season fun

Marina Cottages in Westport have a beautiful view of the Marina. Photo credit: Missy Bouchat

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You may have heard of Ocean Shores, the quaint summer beach town that sits on the top of Grays Harbor in Grays County, Washington, a great getaway for families looking to beach comb. If you were to look on a map, you would see another small coastal town that sits on the opposite opening to the harbor, Westport. Just under two hours west of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, this small fishing town is an easy weekend retreat for families, couples, or the solo adventure traveler. If visiting the coast is on your bucket list, then don't wait until summer, there is plenty to do there now!

While the town of Westport may be small with a population of just over two thousand, the plethora of activities and sites is vast. Mostly known for clam digging and fishing, it is a definite destination if you are interested in either, and the razor clam season has officially begun. If you are new to the sport, there are many resources to help get you started, including the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Their web page explains how, when, and where to dig for clams.

If fishing is more your sport, the official season begins March 14 for recreational bottomfish and lingcod, with many more options opening through the spring and summer including halibut, salmon and tuna. Consider booking a charter boat with the fishing experts; there are many to choose from in Westport. Or if you are looking for a more laid back and possibly less expensive option, set yourself and your rod on the docks like the locals and enjoy the company of the harbor seals.

Other activities suitable for all ages and interests include bird watching tours by Westport SeaBirds, beach combing, surfing (yes, even in the winter!), checking out the whale skeleton at the Westport Maritime Museum, and antique shopping.

If you decide to make a weekend trip, consider booking with Marina Cottages and stay in one of their adorable cottages that sit right on the harbor. Our cottage comfortably slept our family of five, came with a fully equipped kitchen, and even had a large jacuzzi hot tub. We were also within walking distance to the beach, the lighthouse, and the main street of shops and restaurants.

In the morning, we walked to the Blue Buoy, which opens extra early for the fishermen looking for a hot breakfast before heading out to sea. They serve up classics like bacon and eggs, pancakes and enormous cinnamon rolls, but also incorporate fresh seafood into their dishes, like the Dungeness Crab Omelette or the Eggs Benedict with Oysters. If you're ready to head home but still haven't gotten your full seafood fix, then be sure to stop by Brady's Oysters on your way out. You can pick up fresh or smoked oysters of all sizes. If you have time, you can even take a tour of the farm, learn about their special method of growing, and watch their shucker and grader in action.

There is so much to do in Washington while you are stationed here, and luckily a lot of the action is year round. As the locals say, if we waited for the sun to come out, we would never do anything! Now is the time to grab your rain gear and shovel, head to Westport and dig yourself some clams.

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