Go razor-clamming and explore all this summer surf town has to offer in the off-season.
Why go in fall: It's peak season for Dungeness crab, and a great time to try razor-clamming.
Pounds of seafood harvested here yearly: More than 150 million
Main drag: Westhaven Drive, which overlooks Grays Harbor, Washington’s largest fishing port.
Dress code: Skip the clamdiggers (brrr!); instead, pack your hat, gloves, and parka. Waders for clamming are a must.
Best way to get your heart rate up: Scale the Westport Viewing Tower for a crow’s-nest perspective of the harbor.
Where to hang 10: Rent a board (and wetsuit―you’ll need it) for cold-weather surfing at Steepwater Surf Shop (rental gear $39; 360/268-5527), then hit the jetty at Half Moon Bay (at Westhaven State Park; 800/345-6223).
For home cooks: Buy fresh crab right off the piers for tonight’s dinner.
Cozy overnight option: The remodeled Glenacres Inn (from $50; glenacresinn.com) has eight B&B-style rooms and two cottages.
More: What to do in Westport
1. Go razor-clamming
Wedged an arm’s length beneath the sand at low tide, razor clams take some effort to unearth―but pan-fried and buttered, they’re worth it. What you’ll need: a clam shovel, a bucket, a razor-clamming license (it takes just 5 minutes online), and a sense of adventure. Before you head out, go to wdfw.wa.gov and read up on regulations, which beaches are open for clamming, and how to clean and cook your catch. Dec 12–14; 360/249-4628. Clamming license: WA resident $8.21; fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov
2. See how seamen used to live
Take a walk by Grays Harbor Lighthouse, Washington’s tallest (on Ocean Avenue), then head to the Westport Maritime Museum a mile away and soak up the town’s seafaring past. Exhibits include a working 120-year-old lighthouse lens and giant whale skeletons. $4; 2201 Westhaven; westportwa.com/museum
3. Taste real saltwater taffy
Granny Hazel’s Candy and Gift Shop, named for the woman who started selling fudge here almost 50 years ago, makes taffy the old-fashioned way (by pulling it). Fish for 51 flavors in the shop’s candy boat―we recommend the hot buttered rum. 2329 Westhaven; 360/268-0033.
With its laid-back vibe, Mermaid Deli & Pub reminds us that Westport is a summer surf town (even if it doesn’t feel like it in December). After a chilly morning of digging clams, nothing beats the Mermaid’s hot Reuben and a cup of their creamy clam chowder. Sit in the back room to see the giant undersea mural―kids will dig the mermaid and the killer whale. $$; 200 E. Patterson St.; 360/612-0435.