golden gardens_laura onstot.jpg
Laura Onstot
You brought the frosty mugs, right?!
This is probably jinxing it, but still: HOLY CRAP, SUMMER! Don't look now, but every Teva-wearing, zip-off


Top 5 Best Beaches in Seattle for Brown-Baggin' it

golden gardens_laura onstot.jpg
Laura Onstot
You brought the frosty mugs, right?!
This is probably jinxing it, but still: HOLY CRAP, SUMMER! Don't look now, but every Teva-wearing, zip-off cargo short-sporting, granola Seattleite is busting out their pasty skin and heading to wherever it is you're headed. Yay for traffic, wet dogs, hot car seats, and bee stings! Even if it only lasts five more days, it's going to be the best five days ever. The heat gives all of us weather amnesia, so we won't remember that it was 60 degrees (give or take) well into July.

Since we recently covered the Five Best Picnic Parks in Seattle, it seemed only right that as the weather gets nicer, we focus on beaches and brown bags (be they full of food or refreshing, illicit beverages, we won't judge). Check out our list of must-do beaches and bag pairings, and saddle up for some pre-Seafair fun in the sun.

5. Carkeek Park (950 N.W. Carkeek Park Rd.)

Miles and miles of trails, wetlands, and beach front cover 220 acres of beautiful scenery. Carkeek is pretty much the family-friendly pick of the bunch, so if your brown bag includes Capri Suns instead of Campari cocktails, this is your speed. You'll need a bigger bag to hold everything a beachgoing family requires, but you're probably well versed in that by now. Carkeek offers all the nature and freezing cold water you can shake a stick out, with much less colorful characters on the whole. Get ready for a PG afternoon at the beach.

Carkeek Park_Brian Bailey.jpg
Brian Bailey

4. Matthews Beach (49th Ave. N.E. & N.E. 93rd St.)

If you love to bike and feel the breeze in your hair, then grab your two wheels, hop on the Burke-Gilman, and head to Matthews Beach. The 22+ acres that make up Seattle's largest freshwater bathing beach is a breeding ground for a good time. This is the perfect beach to pack in, pack out at. As for what to put in that bag? Go with hearty sandwiches, a pasta salad, and a sweet treat (be that liquid or chocolate, or both!). You're gonna need the energy to peddle back up the trail on a full stomach.

City of Seattle

3. Madison Park Beach (E. Madison St. & E. Howe St.)

Winner of the 2010 Best Beach for Babe-Viewing award, this place speaks for itself. If you plan to join the regulars and "strip down to your skivvies," then you won't want too much in your brown bag. With all the great joints up and down Madison, might we suggest stopping off at the Cactus or The Attic after your BA shenanigans?

City of Seattle

2. Golden Gardens (8498 Seaview Pl. N.W.)

If you're already over in the black hole that is Ballard (OK, we all love it, but could it be any harder to get in and out of?!), your pick is definitely Golden Gardens for all the obvious reasons. With the ever-entertaining gangs (literally) of kids, dog runners, and college volleyball tournaments, this beach will keep your attention for hours. It doesn't hurt that Little Coney is still down there, pumping out the overpriced, generic ice cream cones. As for brown-bagging? Our own Laura Onstot pulled together a perfect sack to satisfy while you watch the sun go down over the Olympics: a French-inspired grab bag of cheese, grapes, chocolate, and beer. What more could you ask for?

City of Seattle

1. Alki (1702 Alki Ave. S.W.)

Literally the best people watching of the season, hands down. Also, Alki likely has the highest sand-to-crack ratio around the Sound, so you're bound to find a spot to plop and fry. For this beach, we highly recommend hitting it early afternoon fully lathered in baby oil from head to toe, and then slap a margarita on that sunburn around 7 p.m. at any of the beachfront bars. Don't bother brown-bagging here--if you do, you'll be the watched, rather than the watcher . . . catch our drift?

City of Seattle

Honorable Mentions: Mount Baker Park Beach, Magnuson Park

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