Surrounded by water, the scenic seaside city of Seattle is home to some stunning stretches of sand, sea, and freshwater - some of which could rival the best beaches in the USA. Bordering the city's west are the salty waters of Elliot Bay and Puget Sound, and to the East, there's the colossal Lake Washington with its shimmering freshwater. With contrasting waters on each side (along with varied landscapes of rocky beaches and sandy shores to match), Seattle boasts a number of beaches to enjoy - many of which can be difficult to find for tourists despite being so conveniently close to the city.

As such, this list of Seattle's best beaches is here to help Seattle-bound visitors sieve through the sand and pick out the shores that appeal to them. All of these pretty seaside and lakeside spots offer a variety of attractions, fun, and relaxation, including beach sports, nearby hiking trails, forest walks, historic lighthouses, art displays, and photography-worthy sunsets blended with a backdrop of the mighty Olympic Mountains.

8 Discovery Park

Over 500 acres northwest of downtown Seattle makes up the very popular Discovery Park, which offers some of the very best shorelines. The landscapes and scenery are as varied as they are beautiful, featuring forest groves, grasslands, and mighty ocean cliffs with picture-postcard lighthouses. And all this is topped off by stunning skyline views of Cascade and the Olympic Mountains. As for the park's beaches, there are two particular notes to the north and south where sunbathing, beachcombing at low tide, and paddling in the sea are prime summertime activities.

Home to Fort Lawton once upon a time, the park's military history is echoed throughout, and there are even more tales of the past to be told at the Daybreak Star Cultural Center - offering visitors a fascinating insight into the region's native people. Other points of interest include the pretty West Point Lighthouse at the park's center (the trail towards which is cited as one of Seattle's best hikes), and exploring the three-mile Loop Trail. And, on quieter days, wild seals have been spotted lounging on the beach.

7 Matthews Beach Park

This is Seattle's largest freshwater beach, which is located in the city's northeast. It's an incredibly picturesque spot that attracts crowds in summer and features a narrow stretch of sand that follows the shape of the cove. The beach has a lifeguard on duty in summer, as well as a fun floating platform for swimmers to play on and jump off. There's also a lush green lawn surrounded by trees for playing sports and relaxing nearby (which is great for those who don't particularly want to get wet).

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6 Green Lake Park

Green Lake Park sits around five miles north of downtown and is amongst Seattle's most famous outdoor retreats that have been well-loved by locals and tourists since the early 1900s. The area boasts a historic bathhouse, excellent running paths, and two designated swimming areas - named East Green Lake Beach and West Green Lake Beach - with lifeguards on duty during summer. The park also offers several access points for non-motorized boats, as well as canoes, stand-up paddleboards, and kayak rentals for visitors to get the most out of enjoying the water.

For those that want a laid-back day by the water, Green Lake Beach has a generously sized sandy area for sunbathing and chilling out, which combines with the entire park's rolling green grass that invites for a relaxing afternoon picnicking, listening to music, reading, and people-watching.

5 Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

Around 15 miles north of downtown in Shoreline city is Richmond Beach Saltwater Park, which is the perfect, secluded slice of peaceful paradise from which to explore Puget Sound. Visitors who take the time to descend to the mile-long beach from the parking area are rewarded with uninterrupted panoramas of the shimmering water and the Olympic Mountains, which make the walk more than worth the effort.

Upon arrival at the beach, people can see exactly why it's such a popular escape for locals and tourists alike. This quick and convenient getaway offers scenic picnic spots, pretty walks, a photography-worthy coastline, a nearby playground ideal for little ones, and great dog-walking routes with a designated off-leash pooch area.

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4 Alki Beach

Alki Beach with its backdrop of passing boats and the Olympic Mountains goes two and a half miles from Alki Point to Duwamish Head in West Seattle and is one of the city's longest-serving attractions loved by locals and visitors. It used to be the site of an amusement park in the early 1900s and is where some of Seattle's very first modern pioneers arrived in 1851. As historic as it is picturesque, this wild coastal length is popular with runners, hikers, rollerbladers, and those seeking a scenic stroll along the 2.5-mile path next to the beach. Those in need of a bit more action and fun have the option to play volleyball on the beach, and also beachcombing during the low tide.

One of the other reasons why Alki Beach stands aside from the rest is that it's one of only two in the city where beach campfires are permitted. The park and beach have designated fire pits for visitors to light up and enjoy hearty evening roasting marshmallows and warming up by the sea.

3 Madison Park Beach

Nestled on the Lake Washington shoreline, this lovely beach, and public area is on Madison Park's far eastern side and is northeast of downtown tucked away off a quiet street in this upmarket district. This beach may be small (at only 400 feet long), but what it lacks in size it makes up for in tranquillity, beauty, and a wealth of activities to enjoy.

Visitors can lay a towel down and take in gorgeous vistas across Lake Washington, or take a dip in the designated swimming area complete with a lifeguard for safety. And, nearby Madison Park opens up even more activities and scenery, including sprawling green lawns, tennis courts, cafés and restaurants serving up famous Seattle flavors, and beautifully manicured walking paths. Those seeking peace and privacy (as well as even more dazzling sights) will love visiting Madison Park North Beach, which is a mere block away and offers some of the best lake views in the area.

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2 Golden Gardens Park

Golden Gardens Park sits along the northwest side of the Ballard neighborhood in northern Seattle. It's undoubtedly one of the most popular beaches in Seattle and is also one of the largest. The park itself spans over 80 acres and boasts more than 300 feet of sandy coast. The beautiful beach here also showcases scenic views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, along with easy water access for swimming and boating.

The sand invites sunbathers, picnickers, kite-fliers, and volleyball players to relax and have fun, and like Alki Beach, the area is the only other spot in Seattle with designated fire pits for campfires. Add in the lovely forest hiking trails in Golden Gardens, and it's no wonder this particular patch is amongst Seattle's most appreciated city escapes.

1 Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park

Just 15 miles from downtown Seattle in the city of Renton is Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park, encompassing almost 60 acres on the southeast side of Lake Washington. This inviting summer getaway spot offers a wonderful swimming beach, a 1.5-mile walking trail along the waterside, plenty of boat launches, a fishing pier, a playground for the kiddies, two tennis courts, and picnic shelters. As such, there's truly something for everyone here ranging from relaxing to energetic. The park also hosts epic public events during the year,  such as a fantastic summer concert series and fabulous 4th July celebrations.

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