city in Grays Harbor County, Washington, USA

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 about 17,000 in 2019.

'Come as you are' in honor of Kurt Cobain

Understand edit

Aberdeen is called the "Gateway to the Olympic Peninsula", because of its proximity to the southern end of the peninsula and to Olympic National Park. Since the late 1980s, Aberdeen has been 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. Professional wrestling fans will know it as the hometown of Bryan Danielson, now performing under his real name in All Elite Wrestling but perhaps better known for his long run in WWE as Daniel Bryan.

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 flights is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA IATA), which is about 80 miles away. While it's possible to get to Aberdeen via a number of different bus routes, 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 unavailable.

By car edit

From Seattle, Interstate 5 provides access to Olympia, where you can take US Hwy 101, which becomes State Route 8 after passing the Shelton Exit into or along U.S. Route 12 from Exit #88 (especially if coming from south of Olympia) west into the city.

By bus edit

If traveling into Aberdeen without a car from Sea-Tac take:

The Aberdeen (bus) Station for Grays Harbor Transit and Pacific Transit occupies an entire city block at Wishkah & G Streets, across the street from Rite Aid in downtown Aberdeen:

Get around edit

Map of Aberdeen (Washington)

By public transit edit

  • Grays Harbor Transit provides local bus services in and around Aberdeen (Rt #5, 10A, 10B, 20); Cosmopolis (#30) and Hoquiam (Rt #20, 40, 50, 60, 70)

See edit

The Lady Washington under sail

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 St, +1 360-532-8611. Make a visit to see the great Lady Washington, a replica of the original which sailed the seas in the late 1700s. The Lady Washington offer sailing and dockside tours, which make their way up and down the coast from Washington to California.
  • 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.

Do edit

  • Grays Harbor Historical Seaport, 712 Hagara St, toll-free: +1-800-200-5239. 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.
  • Aberdeen Museum of History, 111 E. Third St., +1 360-533-1976. 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.
  • Kurt Cobain Walking Tour (part of the Aberdeen Museum), 111 E. Third St., +1 360-533-1976. 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.
  • Kurt Cobain Memorial Foundation. 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.
  • Westport Winery, 1 South Arbor Rd., +1 360-648-2224. 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.
  • Grays Harbor Street Market (On Broadway, between Heron St and Wishkah St), +1 360-532-8443. 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
  • 1 Bottle Beach State Park, 33 Ocosta 3rd St, +1 360-268-9717. 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.    
  • 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.
  • 2 Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge (from Hoquiam, head west on Hwy 109, then turn left on Paulson Road and right on Airport Way), +1 360-753-9467. 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. Free.    

Buy edit

downtown Aberdeen
  • Shoppes at Riverside (formerly Southshore Mall), 1017 South Boone, +1 360-538-0760. M-Sa 9AM-7PM; Su 10AM-5PM.
  • Arts and Crafts Unlimited, 2715 Simpson Ave, +1 360-532-0534. One-stop shop for arts and crafts. They also offer art classes on site.
  • Premier Books Direct, 2404 Pacific Ave, +1 360-310-0593. 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.
  • Cannabis 21, 1000 E. Wishkah. Recreational marijuana retail store.

Eat edit

  • Billy's Bar and Grill, 322 E. Heron St, +1 360-533-7144. 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 with 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 are said to still roam free throughout the establishment.
  • Amore Italian Restaurant, 116 W. Heron St, +1 360-533-2442. 11:30AM-9PM. Italian restaurant.
  • Breakwater Seafoods and Chowder House, 306 F St, +1 360-532-5693. Locals consider this 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.
  • Mazatlan Restaurant, 1165 E. Wishkah St. This Mexican restaurant has a people-pleasing menu including enchiladas, chicken and beef fajitas and specialty dishes like pollo de crème. A children's menu is available as well. The meals are in generous portions and served with fresh tortilla chips and homemade salsa. Take-out items are available. Open every day, lunch specials M-F; call for hours.
  • Ocean Palace Restaurant, 112 Wishkah St, +1 360-533-5808. Daily 11AM-10PM, Sa noon-10PM, Sunday closed. Ornately decorated with white columns and striking carved jade boat, this is a large restaurant with a friendly, family atmosphere. Serves Chinese cuisine with a menu that has many offerings including family-style meals, teriyaki chicken and more modern items like crab cream cheese wontons. Wine and beer available.
  • Lighthouse Drive-In, 2121 Simpson Ave, +1 360-533-4841. M-Sa 10:30AM-8PM. Burgers, fries and grilled sandwiches. Family owned since 1984. under $10.
  • Ann Marie's Cafe, 110 S I Street, +1 360-538-0141. 7AM-2:30PM. Comfort food, breakfast, coffee.
  • Rediviva Restaurant, 118 E Wishkah St, +1 360-637-9259. Tu-Sa 4-11PM. Restaurant & bar serving locally sourced Pacific Northwest dishes in a chic, contemporary setting.

Drink edit

  • Starbucks, 1202 E. Wishkah St, +1 360-532-0349. 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.
  • Blue Beacon Restaurant and Lounge, 406 S Boone St, +1 360-532-2980. Local dive bar which offers a surprisingly good selection of food. Try the Big Beacon burger.

Sleep edit

  • Aberdeen Olympic Inn Motel, 616 W. Heron St, +1 360-533-4200. 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 TV; movies and ESPN. Direct-dial phones, free local calls and free wireless internet. Fax and copy machine available upon request.
  • A Harbor View Bed & Breakfast, 111 W. 11th St, +1 360-533-7996. 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 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.
  • Guesthouse Inn & Suites, 701 E. Heron St, +1 360-537-7460. 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.

Go next 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.

  • Hoquiam - sharing a border with Aberdeen, Hoquiam maintains its own identity but shares a history in the lumber industry.
  • Westport - located fifteen miles west of Aberdeen, Westport is situated on a peninsula on the south side of the entrance to Grays Harbor from the Pacific Ocean and is home to Washington's tallest lighthouse.
Routes through Aberdeen
END  W   E  MontesanoOlympia via  
Port AngelesHoquiam  N   S  → Jct   ERaymondAstoria
END  N   S  WestportRaymond

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