The beachside community of Birch Bay can feel like a trip back in time. Driving down Birch Bay Drive in the middle of summer, you can still pick up the vibes of poodle skirts and the sight of classic cars cruising the strip. Now home to thousands of permanent residents, it still pulls in thousands of visitors seeking the sand and warm waters of the shallow bay. Year after year, tourists come back to enjoy walks along the beach and the variety of retro restaurants and stores, including The C Shop, which is stocked with homemade chocolates, sweets, ice cream and other treats.
The community’s claims to fame are its long curving beachfront and its access to nature. Located on the Pacific Flyway, a densely-populated route for migratory birds, birdwatching is particularly popular in Birch Bay. Enthusiasts can bring their binoculars and observe migratory species such as dunlin, brant and black-bellied plover from the panoramic view spot in Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve, which features a fully-accessible trail and 54 acres of forest. The trail leads down the bluff to the beach overlooking the Strait of Georgia where visitors can also catch sight of the resident populations of great blue heron and bald eagles.
Roughly a mile and a half away from the reserve is the 664-acre Birch Bay State Park, which offers a campground, playground, picnic tables, boat launch, the Terrell Marsh Interpretive Trail and an amphitheater. Starting in June and going through September, the BP Heron Center and Wildlife Theatre offers free educational programs for visitors and residents led by local experts and park staff. Birch Bay State Park is a great place for exploring tide pools in the summer.
The miles-long beach of Birch Bay is a favorite stop for beachcombers to explore tidal pools or go clamming or crabbing while kayakers and paddle-boarders push out into the open water. On July 20 and 21, the beach will be flooded with amateur sandcastle architects for the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce’s annual Sand Sculpture Competition. The Rollback Weekend Car Show takes place on the same weekend, featuring Rat Rods in 2019.
If the waterfront and trails are not the adventure visitors are looking for, they can take a short drive or walk inland to Birch Bay Waterslides, the region’s largest water park, or the go-kart track and mini golf course at Miniature World Family Fun Center.
Over the August 16-18 weekend, the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce hosts Discover Birch Bay Days celebrating the local culture and history of Birch Bay. The event features a parade, crab derby, chainsaw carving and a kids beach Olympics competition.
Make sure to dig out your blue and green and get ready for Fan Fest! New this year to Birch Bay, Fan Fest is joining Discover Birch Bay Days for a weekend of family fun. Seahawks fan unite over a golf tournament, 5k run, preseason game, meet alumni players and families, crowd games and tons of other events.
To learn more about Birch Bay, visit birchbaychamber.com.