For an extra fun summer day trip that will get you out of the house for a morning or afternoon, venture southwest from Seattle to Redondo Beach. No, not the one in California – Redondo Beach is located in Des Moines (no, not the one in Iowa), just a short drive away. There isn’t enough to keep you busy for an entire day, but this trip is a great choice to fill up a morning before naptimes. Go explore Redondo Beach of Seattle!

Go: Redondo Beach is best visited on a nice summer day! Since it is right on the water, you’ll enjoy Redondo best when there is blue sky, little wind and lots of sunshine. If you want to check out the aquarium, be sure to make your trip on a Saturday, the only day they are open (more information below).

Get there: Located exactly half way between Seattle and Tacoma, Redondo Beach is a quick trip! Jump on I-5 and head south from Seattle to exit 147 at 272nd Street. Go west on 272nd, which will take you down a windy road, all the way to the water. There is a public parking lot across the street from the water where it costs about $2 to park for a few hours (credit cards accepted at the pay terminal). Want an actual address to plug into your GPS? Use 28201 Redondo Beach Drive South, Des Moines.

Travel time: Once you hop on I-5 in Seattle, it will take about 30 minutes to get to Redondo Beach, pending any crazy traffic, of course!

What to bring: Ready for this list? Here it goes! Beach toys, waters, sunscreen, towels or blankets to sit on in the sand, cash for a donation to the aquarium (optional) and snacks for the car ride home. Don’t bother with the stroller – you won’t be able to get it up the huge bulkhead stair that goes onto the beach – use a pack to carry any little ones instead!

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How to dress: If you’re coming on a warm day, dress for the sunshine! Of course, hats are always great for keeping little faces protected from the sun and at Redondo, where the beach is covered in little rocks that tender feet might not like, we suggest Crocs or water-shoes over flip-flops or sandals. If there’s a breeze at all, throw in an extra layer, such as a hooded sweatshirt to keep the chills away.

What to do: When you get to Redondo, you’ll realize that it’s really just a tiny little gem of a spot! If you are visiting on a Saturday, start your trip to Redondo with a visit to the aquarium, which has the official name of MaST – Marine Science and Technology Center. It is actually a part of Highline Community College (located four miles north of Redondo Beach) and is run by volunteers who love showing young kids around. The center itself is located at the end of the dock and hosts tanks of sea life and touch tanks for kiddos who are adventurous – they even have a new octopus, who is amazing to watch creep around the tank! Be sure to ask if you can feed the starfish and if the labs are open to help with experiments that they may be working on. For more information on MaST, visit their website and keep up with their Facebook page. MaST is free to visitors, but donations are appreciated – they suggest $2 per adult.

Next, head south to the fishing dock at Redondo! You don’t have to fish yourselves to enjoy watching others attempt to catch a fish or pulling up their crab pots. Just be sure to hold hands with little ones – this dock is a little rougher and the slats on the railings are widely spaced, so keep them from climbing to peek into the water. If you do want to fish, read our guide about fishing around Seattle and stock up on bait and ice at the stand on the sidewalk.

There are a few beach areas along Redondo that you can use for playing. Our favorite is the one on the north side of the beach, near where you drove in. It’s a long, skinny strip of beach with great old pieces of driftwood to sit on and lots of rocks for throwing into the water. Redondo Beach itself is perfect for the young crowd because it’s not crowded, the water is calm and the beach is small enough that they can explore, but will still be close by.

Tucked across the street, there’s also a fun playground to explore and lots of lush, green grass to run around in – a great spot to take a break from the beach.

Where to eat: There’s only one spot at Redondo Beach to grab lunch and thankfully, it’s a delicious one! One of Seattle’s beloved restaurants, Salty’s Seafood Grill has a location on Redondo Beach, which includes one of their traditional sit-down restaurants, as well as a walk-up fish bar. Pick your dining option based on the beach experience you’re looking for – the outdoor patio in the main restaurant is awesome for a sit-down meal (they’re super accommodating for children and it is right over the water) and the fish bar is perfect for grabbing fish n’ chips to go for taking to the beach or sitting at one of the picnic tables (Psst! They also have ice cream sandwiches!).

Cost of the trip: If you’re going during the week, this trip could be a complete freebie – find free street parking and pack your own lunch! Otherwise, costs could include parking (around $2), a donation to MaST ($2 per adult, if you’d like) and lunch (varies, depending on where you choose to eat).

Bonus: The bonus list for Redondo Beach could go on and on, but here are the top three tips: One – There are great public bathrooms along the boardwalk and a super clean family bathroom inside of MaST. Two – Next to the fishing pier, there are children’s lifejackets that you can borrow for free. Use them for exploring the beach or docks safely. Three – Keep Redondo Beach in mind for the next time you have a babysitter. Head here in the evening for dinner at Salty’s and a walk along the beach afterwards! On second thought, book a babysitter as soon as you can!

Tell us – Is Redondo Beach your family’s favorite Seattle beach spot?

– Katie Kavulla