Photography by John Clark
A bucket, clam shovel, and proper waders are clamming necessities on the brisk Newport beach.

Go razor-clamming and explore all this summer surf town has to offer in the off-season.

Written by Jess Thomson  – October 9, 2009

Why go in fall: It’s peak season for Dungeness crab, and a great time to try razor-clamming.

Population: 2,355

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; 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 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;

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;

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.

4. Refuel

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.

More: Fun fall trips in the Northwest

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