Located in the Pacific Northwest, Washington state offers an oceanic coast as well as many inland rivers and lakes. The ocean water along the Pacific coast here flows down from the Arctic and is generally too cold for swimming.
With as much as 60% of Washington’s population living in the Seattle area, urban beaches are a way of life in this state. While Puget Sound is cold and best for activities like paddle-boarding, kayaking, and fishing you can still find swimmable beaches near the city. Alki Beach Park has 2.5 miles of sandy beach, but the cold waters mean that you'll mostly find sunbathers hanging out here. Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish, however, are just around the corner from Seattle and offer sandy beaches and shallow, warmer waters. A few smaller, swimmable lakes can also be found a short drive from the city centre.
Deception Pass State Park, located in the northern tip of Puget Sound and connecting Whidbey and Fidalgo islands, is the state's most visited park. From rock cliffs to sandy beaches, this park offers both saltwater in Puget Sound and freshwater at two of its inland lakes (Cranberry Lake and Pass Lake). It's cool to swim, but there are plenty of recreational activities like boating to get you out on the water.
Because of its ocean shoreline, Washington is a great place to learn how to surf if you can brave the cooler waters (you'll need a wetsuit to get in). Long Beach Peninsula is a great place to do this with an instructor.
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