View of Puget Sound, Olympics, and ferries
Offleash dog park
The south side of Edmonds Marina at the end of Admiral Way
Marina Beach Park in Edmonds is the southernmost park in a string of six parks in the downtown area that I will be covering. Each will get its own preview.
The four beach parks (Marina Beach, Olympic Beach, Brackett’s South, and Brackett’s Landing) are all marine sanctuaries. This means that dogs are not allowed (except in the offleash area described below). It also means that marine life should only be observed, not disturbed, and never fed. And while this is true of most public land, it’s especially important in a sanctuary that you never remove anything, including rocks, shells, and driftwood. This may take some extra explaining if you have a child who just found the perfect shell and wants to take it home.
The beach parks are all linked by the Edmonds Marine Walkway, a (mostly) paved pedestrian path that stretches for almost a mile from Marina Beach Park all the way north to Brackett’s Landing on the other side of the ferry terminal. Leashed dogs are okay on the walkway.
The fifth park is the Edmonds Marsh, located east of Marina Beach. It’s one of the few remaining undeveloped urban estuaries left in the Puget Sound region and is now a 22 acre preserve.
The sixth park is a narrow strip along Sunset Avenue. It’s located on a low bluff above the train tracks a few blocks northeast of Brackett’s Landing.
Geography and special features make each park distinct and each provides a different experience, despite their close proximity. These parks are definitely worth going out of your way to visit. You can choose to spend most of a day at the Edmonds waterfront seeing them all, or pick your flavor and settle in for a longer stay at one of them.
If you want to combine a park outing with a delicious meal there are three view restaurants to choose from at the Port of Edmonds. Closest to Marina Beach is Anthony’s HomePort, along with the more casual Beach Cafe. At the north end of the marina (right next to Olympic Beach) is Arnies. All three have their own parking lots and specialize in seafood.
Another fun outing option is to combine a trip to the beach with a ferry ride. The Puget Sound crossing from Edmonds to Kingston takes about half an hour. You can disembark and wander around on the other side before catching a later ride back or just remain on the same boat for the return trip. As of this writing the roundtrip foot passenger fee is $8.20, with a 50% discount for youth ages 6-18, seniors 65+, and disabled.
Not too bad for an hour of scenic cruising and potential wildlife viewing. Bring a camera with a zoom lens or binoculars if you have them. I’ve seen harbor porpoises near Kingston. It’s also possible to see otters, seals, and very occasionally whales, in addition to a variety of birds. Just be sure to dress appropriately because the ferry decks can be chilly even in summer.
Marina Beach Park is located at Point Edwards on part of what was once the Union Oil fuel storage facility. Giant fuel tanks were on top of the bluff above the park. Ships would arrive at Point Edwards at the end of a long pier that carried pipelines. Fuel was pumped from the ships through the pipes and up to the storage tanks. Later the fuel would be loaded into tanker cars on trains for distribution around the Puget Sound region.
When I was living in Edmonds as a teenager what is now Marina Beach Park was a scruffy area with a large gravel lot and rusted chainlink fencing.
Over the years as the property changed hands various improvements were made. The last time I was at Marina Beach prior to this was in the late 1990s with my dog. Several changes had been made to the park, but the giant pipeline pier was still in place overhead. You walked under it to get to the dog area. The pier is now gone, a pleasant park is installed where a gravel lot used to be, and up on the bluff condominiums have replaced fuel storage tanks.
With the pier removed the park has an entirely different feel. It’s wide open with an unobstructed view and it has completely lost its scruffy industrial character. So if it’s been a long time since you’ve been here it’s definitely worth a return trip to see what’s been wrought.
Marina Beach Park is small compared to other Seattle area Puget Sound parks like Golden Gardens, Alki, and Richmond Beach, but it makes the most of its limited space. While the central portion of the park is relatively citified, this beach is the most natural on the Edmonds waterfront and has a wilder feel to it, especially if a wind is blowing.
When you arrive at the park there are two parking lots to choose from. The first is best if you’re planning a BBQ picnic or have children wanting to play at the playground. This first parking lot only has one row of slots. The second lot is best if you’re going to the dog park. It has two rows of parking spaces, so you can often park closer to the beach in this one. Both lots have a couple handicap spaces closest to the beach.
In the southeast section of the second lot is the gated entrance to the offleash dog park (described below) and a row of porta potties.
In the middle of the two lots is a raised lawn with an open area, a few picnic tables, and trees which provide welcome shade in the summer.
Between the lawn and beach a paved path links the two parking lots, with a few benches strung out along it for enjoying the view.
And speaking of the view, it’s great! You get a sweeping view of the Olympics and Puget Sound. Marina Beach has the best view from shore of all the Edmonds beach parks. (You can get an even better view if you walk out on the long pier at Olympic Beach.) This is also the best of the beach parks for watching sunsets for most of the year, especially between the equinoxes when the sun is setting far to the south.
At the north end of the beach is the children’s playground, a picnic area with BBQ stands, and a volleyball net. (The net was still strung up when I was here in January.) There are a couple more individual picnic tables in the middle of the driftwood.
The beach is mostly sand up near the driftwood, though there is still some gravel mixed in. As the tide goes out it reveals a more typical gravel beach. This is a popular beach at very low tides because the beach goes out for some distance then, and all kinds of sea creatures are revealed.
The biggest drawback of this park for those with mobility issues is that there is a driftwood barrier between the paved path and the water. Marina Beach is the least accessible of the four in this regard. Depending on how the logs are arranged from storms and high tides, there’s usually no clear and easy path to take. I did find the going a little easier nearer the south end.
This is a fun park for photography enthusiasts to wander around. Every time you turn around there is something near or far to focus your lens on, from shells and rocks in the sand, to driftwood, to mountains, to a variety of birds. I was quite excited when I saw a bald eagle on my first visit for this preview. Unfortunately, I’m still batting zero when it comes to getting a decent photo of one.
If you like trains, the tracks are just east of the park and trains pass by fairly regularly, especially on weekdays. There is a chainlink fence between the park and tracks, so be aware of that if you’re planning photos.
Though a bit small, Marina Beach Park in Edmonds is a wonderful place to go, whether it be for a brief stop, a long lazy afternoon, or colorful sunset. It’s the kind of park that’s great to visit any time of year and in almost any kind of weather.
Marina Beach Offleash Dog Park
This is a fantastic dog park, especially since it’s one of the very few Puget Sound beaches dogs are allowed on. But there are a couple drawbacks you need to be aware of before heading there with your pooch.
The dog park is fairly large, so plenty of room for Fido to run around or splash in the water. There are a few benches and lots of driftwood for humans to sit on, and a fresh water spigot. There is even an agility course to practice on.
There is an enclosure in the northwest corner for little shy dogs, but the enclosure is extremely small. If that describes your dog there are better dog park choices for you.
The first drawback is that dogs are only allowed in the offleash area. You can’t let your dog frolic and then bring it on a leash to picnic with you in the main park. You will need to either leave the park or keep your dog in the car. (The latter obviously not being an option in warm weather.)
The other drawback is that the offleash area fencing doesn’t go all the way to the water due to tides. Near high tide this isn’t too much of a problem because rocks and driftwood on raised ground form a partial barrier between the dog park and people park. However, when the tide goes out there’s nothing but you to prevent Spot from racing over to the main beach. So you need to have good voice control if you bring your dog here.
Things to Know
6 am – Dusk
A few benches.
At least 10 picnic tables.
Five porta potties, four small and one large, located in the southeast corner of the parking lot next to the dog park gate.
Two narrow lots in the park with handicap spaces at the ends closest to the beach.
The lots don’t have real turnarounds at the ends, but there are wide areas cars aren’t allowed to park that you can use. On busy days it can get a bit chaotic if several cars are looking for parking and need to turn around while others are unloading beach and picnic supplies. You also have to be careful not to hit unwary pedestrians while maneuvering.
Overflow parking is available along the road just before you enter the park and in marina parking lots further to the north. Just be sure to pay close attention to the signs telling you where it’s okay to park in the marina lots or you could end up with a ticket.
On an average day there will probably be quite a few cars in the lots, but finding parking is usually easy enough.
On sunny weekends any time of year the lots inside the park can fill up. There is a pretty high rate of turnover from the dog park people, so except for the worst days spaces frequently open up.
Marina Beach Park is heavily used by both locals and people from the greater south Snohomish and north King County areas.
Many people come just for the dog park and many others arrive on foot via the Marine Walkway and just pass through to look around but don’t linger long in the park.
Even on below freezing sunny weekday afternoons in January there were quite a few people around, though it was far from crowded. My guess is that in inclement weather there will still be a few hardy souls here.
On a sunny Sunday when it had warmed up to the low 40s the park was hopping. All nearby parking was full and a lot of people were in the dog park.
Given how popular the park was on a sunny weekend in mid-January I expect that in summer the weekends are extremely busy.
I’ve only seen seagulls and a bald eagle. But this is a decent spot for viewing a variety of birds, especially water birds that winter on Puget Sound. At low tides various sea creatures can be seen.
You can also occasionally see seals and harbor porpoises, and not too often, whales.
Sunsets, Olympic Mountains (best in winter), birds, driftwood, sea life at low tide, trains.
Best light: Morning for the mountains, late afternoon, and sunset.
Olympic Beach and pier, Brackett’s Landing, Edmonds – Kingston ferry, Edmonds Marsh, Anthony’s HomePort, Beach Cafe, Arnies.
If you’re coming from outside the surrounding area there is a best way to get to Marina Beach Park. If you’re arriving from the north it looks out of the way to use this route, but trust me, this is much easier than driving through congested Lynnwood traffic with all the stop lights. The speed limit is 40 mph for at least half the distance using this route.
From I-5 take the Highway 104 exit for the Edmonds ferry and head west.
Follow the highway, pass under Hwy 99, and keep going for quite a distance. Once you pass straight through a major intersection with shopping centers stay in the right lane and look for the ferry signs.
As you start to head down the hill the highway will split in two and you want the right branch as if you’re taking the ferry.
After the road curves around and flattens out you will come to a traffic light. Turn left at the light onto Dayton Street.
Cross the train tracks and turn left onto Admiral Way.
Follow Admiral Way until you get to a three-way stop.
Jog left at the stop sign and follow the road until you get to the park at the end.