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Aberdeen (Washington)

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Aberdeen is a city in the Olympic Peninsula region of Washington. The city is the economic center of Grays Harbor County, bordering the cities of Hoquiam and Cosmopolis. The population was 16,461 according to the 2000 census.


Aberdeen is called the "Gateway to the Olympic Peninsula," because of it's proximity to the southern end of the peninsula and to Olympic National Park. In recent history Aberdeen has become more famous as being the "Birthplace of Grunge," and the hometown of Nirvana members Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic. A sign welcoming visitors to Aberdeen proclaims "Come As You Are" as a tribute to the band. Although it's hard to imagine today, at one point Aberdeen was a notorious Western outpost at the turn of the 20th century, with a number of saloons, brothels, and gambling halls in and around the town. Because of the wild atmosphere associated with these establishments, Aberdeen was nicknamed "The Hellhole of the Pacific."

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The nearest major airport (for commercial airlines) is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (IATA: SEA) [22], which is about 80 miles away. While it's possible to get to Aberdeen via a number of different bus routes (see below under 'By bus'), your best bet is to rent a car, especially if you are using Aberdeen as a jumping point into Olympic National Park as public transportation inside the park is extremely limited.

If flying in on a private plane there's one in town just west of Hoquiam off of Hwy 109 going out towards Oceanside. This one is not served by commercial airlines [23]

By car[edit]

  • From Interstate 5 in Olympia or from other places north, go west on US Hwy 101 (I-5 exit #104 in Olympia). The same main highway becomes WA-Hwy 8 past the "Shelton, Port Angeles" exit where US Hwy 101 winds northwards. Follow the Hwy 8 signs to "Montesano, Aberdeen" westward. Likewise if coming from south of Centralia along I-5 exit off at US Hwy 12 (Exit #88) and go west on US Hwy 12 to WA-Hwy 8 in Elma and go west on Hwy 8.
  • From Portland one can either go up on I-5 to Rochester at exist #88 (see above) or come around a more scenic and slow route on US Hwy 30 to Astoria and come up on US Hwy 101.

By bus[edit]

If it's not possible to drive the following are what's available:

  • From downtown Seattle via Olympia is to take a Greyhound bus down to Olympia and transfer to Grays Harbor Transit #40 Bus from the street side of the Greyhound station in Olympia. Likewise one can also travel on Sound Transit #592 (going north during weekday mornings and south during the afternoon/evening rush hours) to the downtown Olympia Transit Center. Outside the rush hour times and weekends take the Sound Transit #594 bus to the Tacoma Dome Station or the Lakewood P&R, transfer to Intercity bus #603, 605, 609 or 620 [24] to get to the downtown Olympia Transit Center, and transfer to Grays Harbor Transit #40 at the downtown Olympia Transit Center.
  • From the SeaTac International Airport via Olympia, fastest would be to take the Capital Aeroporter Shuttle Tel: 360-709-2103 and asked to be dropped off at either the Greyhound station in downtown Olympia or the downtown bus transit center. Otherwise take the #574 bus down to the Lakewood P&R & transfer to Intercity bus #603, 605, 612 or 620 [25] to Olympia.

Note that access to the Olympic National Park or any remote locations off the main roads are not doable by public transportation. It's either private automobile or hike in and out. Also note that the buses traveling along US 101 from Astoria through Port Angeles are limited and infrequent and can be quite inconvenient if a bus is missed. Private automobile is recommended if possible.

Get around[edit]

See[edit][add listing]

Aberdeen is well known for its lovely harbor, spread glittering and gray along the west edge of town, where the bay bobs with sailboats and speed cruisers.

  • The Lady Washington, 712 Hagara Street Aberdeen, (360) 532-8611. Make a visit to see the great Lady Washington, a replica of the original which sailed the seas in the late 1700's. The Lady Washington offer sailing and dockside tours, which make their way up and down the coast from Washington to California.  edit
  • Morrison Riverfront Park walk. A great way to take in the sights of Aberdeen, stroll along this 1½-mi-long trail to the 40-foot-wide Compass Rose mosaic, which joins the Wishkah and Chehalis rivers.  edit
  • Westport's Historic Grays Harbor Lighthouse, 1020 West Ocean Avenue , Located in Westport, 15 Miles West of Aberdeen, 360-268-6214. Crane your neck to check out Washington's tallest lighthouse, built in 1898. The Westport South Beach Historical Society offers regular tours of the facility year round.  edit
  • Star Wars Store, 413 E. Wishkah St., (360) 970-7080, [1]. When owner Don Sucher saw Star Wars in 1977, he was so blown away by the special effects, he decided to start collecting paraphernalia from the movie. What started as a summer hobby has now ballooned into a full-time store in downtown Aberdeen, with an estimated 70,000 collectibles.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Grays Harbor Historical Seaport, 712 Hagara St, (800) 200-5239, [2]. Set sail on the Lady Washington or the Hawaiian Chieftain for a real experience on a replica tall ship, or just explore the seaport that was once home to a thriving fishing community. This seaport aims to preserve the maritime heritage of Aberdeen and the greater Grays Harbor area.  edit
  • Aberdeen Museum of History, 111 E. Third St., (360) 533-1976, [3]. Get a taste of the local history of Aberdeen at this museum, located inside the Aberdeen Armory Building. Exhibits include a history of the local logging and maritime industries as well collections on Native American artifacts.  edit
  • Kurt Cobain Walking Tour (part of the Aberdeen Museum), 111 E. Third St., (360) 533-1976, [4]. The Aberdeen Museum of History honors the early life of Kurt Cobain, lead singer of the grunge rock group Nirvana, with a walking tour of where he grew up in town. Note that most of the sites are businesses or private residences and are unaffiliated with the museum.  edit
  • Kurt Cobain Memorial Foundation, [5]. The foundation's goal is to honor the legacy and contributions that Kurt Cobain and Nirvana made to modern rock. Each October they present Lounge Acts, a concert that highlights the work of local bands.  edit
  • Westport Winery, 1 South Arbor Rd., (360) 648-2224, [6]. Washington's westernmost winery and vineyard offers tastings and tours of their products, which are self-proclaimed "on the cutting edge of maritime viticulture." The winery also strives to capture the essence of beach culture.  edit
  • Grays Harbor Street Market, (On Broadway, between Heron St and Wishkah St), (360) 532-8443, [7]. Over 150 vendors sell everything from food to arts and crafts and offers great activities for kids, with the motto "where we make it, bake it, grow it, or create it." Open June 7th to August 30th  edit
  • Bottle Beach State Park, 1-33 Ocosta 3rd St, [8]. 75 acres and 6000 feet of mud flats are home to a rich and diverse ecology of wildlife such as invertebrates and birds. The park is an important stop in migratory patterns and is a great place for bird watching.  edit
  • Morrison Riverfront Park. Get out and stretch your legs along the Chehalis River with a 1.5 mile trail. This waterfront park offers picnic tables, a fishing and viewing dock. Great for walkers and joggers.  edit
  • Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge, [9]. Another great bird-watching area, this refuge is home to a migratory stop for shorebirds making the 15,000 mile flight from Argentina to the Arctic Circle. The refuge is also home to a number of species that live in the surrounding mudflats and estuaries.  edit
  • Charter boating and fishing, (West of Aberdeen in Westport), [10]. Take part in Grays Harbor's local fishing tradition with a charter fishing or boating trip. A number of boating companies operate out of nearby Westport for opportunities to fish on the Pacific coast or in the harbor.  edit
  • Harbor Resort (West of Aberdeen in Westport), [11]. Get your feet wet and your hands dirty clamming and crabbing. This resort located in nearby Westport offers a lot of activities for shellfish gathering and fishing.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Southshore Mall, 1017 South Boone, Aberdeen, 360-538-0760, [12]. Give your credit card a work out here with 40 specialty stores including A cinema, Maurice's and Sears.  edit
  • Arts and Crafts Unlimited, 2715 Simpson Avenue, Aberdeen, 360-532-0534. One stop shop for all your arts and crafts needs. They also offer art classes on site.  edit
  • Premier Books Direct, 2404 Pacific Ave, (360) 310-0593. With the latest arrivals from non fiction, and an impressive array of hardcover titles, you can spend an inordinate amount of time browsing these shelves.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • The Dog House, 100 N. Park Street, (360) 533-2119, [13]. Out of business, no longer there. Now Thai smiles  edit
  • Billy's Bar and Grill, 322 E. Heron Street, (360) 533-7144. Go for the great food and drink, stay for the haunting! Billy's Bar and Grill sits in an old Sailor's Union of the Pacific building, which was supposedly the workplace of William F. "Billy" Gohl, a notorious figure in Aberdeen who worked as a bartender by day, but as a strongman for the Sailor's Union by night. Legend has it that if sailor's didn't comply to union rules, that Billy's job was to make them disappear. Sit down for a cold drink at the bar and see if you can spot ghosts that still roam free throughout the establishment.  edit
  • Gabelli's Parma Northern Italian Restaurant, 116 W. Heron Street, (360) 533-6100. Upscale, Northern Italian dining featuring a menu created by the owner, Chef Gabelli. Along with specialty pastas, Gabelli's offers seafood and steaks.  edit
  • Breakwater Seafoods and Chowder House, 306 F St, Aberdeen (""phone="(360)). Locals consider this beloved Seafood restaurant a well-kept secret, and the Clam Chowder is some of the best in the area. This charmingly small, casual restaurant is in Grays Harbor and appropriate for kids. There is sparse seating indoors, yet there is outdoor seating as well, you can sit on the patio deck overlooking the Wishkah River. Beer and wine are available. Take-out is an option, and they sell fresh fish, shellfish, pickled fish, smoked fish and other seafood accompaniments. Call for daily hours of operation.  edit
  • Half Moon Bay Bar & Grill, 421 E Neddie Rose Dr, Westport, (360) 268-9166, [14]. Half Moon Bay Bar & Grill is located in Westport, WA (about 20 minute drive from Aberdeen, Washington) and is situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Westport Marina. Lunch and dinner is served and catering is available. Wine, beer, and cocktails are available and they are known for their Bloody Marys. Hours: Sun -Th 11am - 9pm ; Fri -Sat 11am-10pm.  edit
  • Mallards Bistro & Grill, 118 Wishkah St, Aberdeen, (360) 532-0731. Quaint, European-style Ballard's Bistro & Grill is a small restaurant adorned with Mallard duck deco in downtown Aberdeen. Freshly prepared continental and local cuisine, craft beers and an extensive wine list. Dinner served Tuesday through Saturday from 5:00 pm. Call for reservations. No longer open.  edit
  • Mazatlan Restaurant, 1165 E. Wishkah St, Aberdeen. This Mexican restaurant has a people-pleasing menu from Enchiladas to Chicken and Beef Fajitas and specialty dishes like Pollo de Crème. A Children's menu is available as well. The meals are comprised of generous portions and served with fresh tortilla chips and homemade salsa. Take-out items are available. Hours: Open 7 Days, Lunch Specials M-F; please call for hours.  edit
  • Ocean Palace Restaurant, 112 Wishkah St, Aberdeen, (360) 533-5808. Ornately decorated with white columns and striking Carved Jade boat, this large restaurant with friendly, family atmosphere. Menu of Chinese cuisine with a menu that has many offerings from family-style meals to old standbys like Teriyaki Chicken to the more modern, like Crab Cream-Cheese wontons. Wine and beer available. Hours: Daily 11:00 am-10:00 pm, Sat Noon-10:00 pm, Sunday Closed.  edit
  • Lighthouse Drive-In, 2121 Simpson Ave, 3605334841, [15]. M-Sat 10:30-8:00. Local favorite for burgers, fries, and grilled sandwiches. Family owned since 1984 offering great service, fresh food, and community support. Newly remodeled lobby as of 2012. under $10.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Starbucks, 1202 E. Wishkah Street, (360) 532-0349, [16]. Even in the remote areas of the Olympic Peninsula, you can find a branch of Seattle's famous coffee shop. You know the deal: coffee, lattes, espressos, specialty drinks and a variety of snacks and sandwiches.  edit
  • Blue Beacon Restaurant and Lounge, 406 S Boone St, Aberdeen, (360) 532-2980. Local dive bar which offers a surprisingly good selection of food. Try the Big Beacon Burger, which comes highly recommended.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Aberdeen Olympic Inn Motel, 616 W. Heron Street, Aberdeen, (360) 533-4200, [17]. Conveniently located in downtown Aberdeen, with merely a 20-minute car ride to beaches with opportunities for deep-sea fishing and activities such as horseback riding and bike riding. This motel offers good value for the price with its spacious rooms and continental breakfast. All rooms have refrigerators, microwave oven, iron and iron board, and hair dryer, cable color T.V; movies and ESPN. Direct-dial phones, free local calls and free wireless internet. Fax and copy machine available upon request.  edit
  • A Harbor View Bed & Breakfast, 111 W. 11th St, Aberdeen, (360) 533-7996, [18]. This waterfront 30-room historic estate turned B&B, is perched on a hill with a welcoming view, while the porch area overlooks the town and has a harbor view. The interior is furnished with antiques and private collections. Each unique room is well appointed and has harbor views, a television (most also include a VCR or DVD player), its own private bath and wireless DSL Internet access. A cozy afternoon snack includes homemade cookies, scones, and a plethora of hot beverages, and a luxurious, multi-course breakfast awaits you in the morning.  edit
  • Econo Lodge Inn & Suites, 910 Simpson Avenue, Hoquiam, WA, (360) 532-8161. Close to Aberdeen, Washington, this Hoquiam, Washington hotel is also close to the beautiful beaches of Ocean Shores and Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge as well as easy access to nearby attractions, as well as outdoor activities such as boating, and golfing. Econo Lodge & Suites is a pet-friendly hotel (additional fees apply) and also offers a free continental breakfast, free local calls, and free wireless high-speed Internet access.  edit
  • Guesthouse Inn & Suites, 701 E. Heron Street, Aberdeen, (360) 537-7460, [19]. Located adjacent to the Chehalis River in the quaint downtown area of Aberdeen, this hotel is within walking distance to shopping and fast food restaurants. On-site is a fitness center, indoor hot tub, and indoor heated swimming pool. There is a Business center, meeting facilities, and a free daily USA Today as well as a free weekday local paper. Family plan, kids 18 and under free in room with parents. Amenities include guest coin laundry, safety deposit boxes at front desk, and same day laundry and dry cleaning (weekdays only). Bountiful, complimentary continental breakfast includes waffles and fresh fruit.  edit
  • Westport Bayside Bed and Breakfast, 1112 South Montesano Street, Westport, 1-888-318-8868, [20]. Situated on a lovely, rolling meadow, and near Washington state's central coast beaches, this bed and breakfast inn is a green-friendly environment and has many personal touches from the bouquets of handpicked flowers that decorate the B&B rooms year 'round, to the organic cotton towels and bathrobes and homemade breakfast.  edit
  • Mariners Cove Inn, 303 W. Ocean Avenue, Westport, (360) 268-0531, [21]. The pet-friendly Mariners Cove Inn is near to the Marina, oceanfront hiking and biking path, the South beach, nature trails, maritime museum, lighthouse, and dining. Reasonable room rates with seasonal and multi-night discounts. Non-smoking rooms are available.  edit

Stay Safe[edit]

Aberdeen has been in a bit of an economic slump for the past 20-30 years due to the timber industry leaving the area. Crime rates are rising and hard drug use as well as homelessness have become pretty noticeable. As a visitor the only crime you are most likely to be the victim of is having things stolen from your vehicle. Take any normal precautions that you would do to keep your valuables safe, secure, and most importantly out of sight.

Get out[edit]

Aberdeen has been referred to as the 'Gateway to the Olympic Peninsula' and is a great stop off before venturing into this impressive range. The Olympic Peninsula is home to some of the few temperate rain forests in the world, including the Hoh, Queets, and Quinault. The Olympic mountain range sits in the center of the Olympic Peninsula. This range is the second largest in Washington State. Its highest peak is Mt. Olympus.

Routes through Aberdeen
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