Oceanshores Interpretive Center: Now Called the Coastal Interpretive Center


This used to be the website for the Oceanshores Interpretive Center for a number of years.
The current website for the Oceanshores Interpretive Center  now called the Coastal Interpretive Center is found at: www.interpretivecenter.org/
The non-profit center continues to educate the public concerning natural and man-made environments on the Washington coast through presentation of the history and ecology of coastal life.

Popular displays include Native American artifacts and basketry, rock identification tables, and several collections of shells and whalebones. There are displays about maritime history, Japanese tsunami debris still washing ashore and information about the history of Ocean Shores. Natural history galleries focus on seabirds, area wildlife and marine life, particularly the Orca whales that live in the waters of the San Juan Islands.
A retail shop is operated on site, offering a wide variety of books and gifts. All proceeds help underwrite the center, which is also member supported.


Located at:
PO Box 1531
1033 Catala Ave. SE
Ocean Shores, Washington 98569
Between the Marina and Community Club.


Hours of Operation
March 30 - April 30
Open Thur - Mon
11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Closed Tue & Wed
May 1 through Labor Day
Open Daily
11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Sep 5 - Sep 30
Open Thur - Mon
11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Closed Tue & Wed

Content is from the site's 2002 archived pages and from more recent yelp reviews.


Circa 2002

Friendly hosts, like Interpretive Center Association volunteer, Elone Weed, welcome each visitor to the Center.
Walter Weed checks out one of the many titles of books with local interest that are offered in the retail area of the Center. Funds generated pay for exhibits and educational programs.
Local history, such as this display of the famous Chow Chow bridge over the Quinault River on Quinault Indian Reservation land, is fun to learn about through Center displays. This unique model is on loan from the Hoquiam, Polson Museum.
What is that shorebird with the bright red bill? Come to the Center and find out.
You can actually touch the inner ear of a whale at the Ocean Shores Interpretive Center.

Children's Room
Jaws from a Great White shark caught off the North Jetty in Ocean Shores.
Diane Beers is the in-house expert on bones. The kids call her the bone lady.
As Docent she is willing to provide a tour of the center or answer any questions.
In the children’s room are pelts of small mammals and drawers of discovery.
Are antlers bone or dental material? Find out at the center.

Shellfish Room
Here you will find childrens learning activities and discovery drawers, along with shell identification bins.
Recreational shellfish activities, river fishing, surf fishing and shell collecting are topics presented here.
A sand dollar exhibit explains this creature and is one of the favorite exhibits.

Geology Room
The Geology exhibit includes a hands-on rock identification table. Discovery Drawers topics are: Mystery Rocks, Grays Harbor Geodes, Exploration (Margaret Rassmussen collection) and Discover Rocks that contains a great variety of specimens. A co-operative Polson Museum / Interpretive Center display presents a unique collection of Indian artifacts, crystals, igneous, metamorphic, agatized, fossilized and petrified rocks.

This native dried wildflower exhibit from the Hariett Baller collection is a reference tool for both local residents and tourists.

Mammal Room
Small and large mammals such as these are one of the delights of the Point Brown Peninsula
Here you can meet a Black bear face to face. Have you ever seen a mother beaver and her baby? This bobcat, very common in Ocean Shores, is definitely bigger than your house cat

Indian Room
Indian Basketry
The basketry art work of Harriet Baller is displayed in an exhibit of its own with additional ethnology displays of Bear Grass and Sweet Grass.
This modern version of a northern Salish totem pole has a spot in local history as an artifact of the Ocean Shores Inn.

Seafaring Are
The Point BrownPeninsula is located at the northern end of the grave yard of ships. Displayed are three of the most famous historical local ship wrecks.
Commercial Dungeness crab fishing is a heritage industry still functioning off shore. This old survival suit is one of the seafaring exhibits.

The S.S. Catala tied up at the Marina for use as a hotel. This picture was taken from an 8mm home movie that was made in 1964.


Yelp Reviews




Port Townsend

Delightful surprise

When we visited Ocean Shores in March, the interpretive center was closed for the season. But we wanted to look around, so we parked and started looking in windows. A staff person happened to be inside, stocking and straightening materials. When she saw us, she opened the door and invited us in. How generous!

This is a fine place to learn about the history and species in the area. Lots and lots of hands-on opportunities to touch feathers and skins and furs - kids will love it.

The detailed history of the native Americans in the area was interesting.

The staff (more than one) were so welcoming and willing to talk with us that we left promising to come back when they are 'open'.

What a delightful and informative afternoon we had.



Spokane Valley, Washington

Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile


The people were really friendly and informative! There's actually quite a bit there, very hands on, great for kids!

Thank madierose16


A TripAdvisor Member

Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

Free Fun for the whole Family

This is a non-profit museum style center. The volunteers are really nice and Love what they do. It was a fun visit and we learned a lot. You will be suprised the things you will see and learn. They have a gift shop and you can also make a donation via credit card or cash that is tax deductible.


Dawn W

Topeka, Kansas


Don't Skip!

I highly recommend the Coastal Interpretive Center! I wish we would have had more time to explore the center. There is a great deal of information to look through. The staff is super friendly and informative. Think southern hospitality on the west coast!!! I didn't want to leave. I enjoyed the conversation, hospitality, and information. There is even a nice playground behind the building. My 5 year old son even had a great time looking through the information.He was very curious about the wildlife and tsunamis. He was thrilled when they gave him a sand dollar and let him pick a seashell.

I very much hope I get the opportunity to return to the Coastal Interpretive Center!!


Kay L

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Good place for education

Not much else to do in Ocean Shores that's healthy when it's rainy and cool. This place used to be supported by local taxes, not anymore. All they get is our visitors' donations. Nice array of displays, including local shellfish varieties, taxidermy, earthquake. We can also pick up most things to check out. I liked being able to feel and compare different pelts.



Angela G

Reviewed September 25, 2014 via mobile

Awesome every time we visit

There is always a docent if you have questions. There is a small gift shop with a decent collection of books. Not a touristy one with lots of knick knack stuff. The exhibits are very informative covering both historical and natural history. A real gem. Supported by volunteers and donations rather than expensive entry fees, so please be generous.



Seattle, Washington, Usa

Reviewed September 23, 2014

Coastal Interpretive Center is a Hidden Gem on Washington Coast

We stumbled on the delightful Coastal Interpretive Center on our way to Damon Point. It doesn't look very big or impressive on the outside, but it is surprising how much is there. Piles of whale bones and baleen, pelts of beavers, an alarmingly large stuffed sea otter, seashells, birds, and much more. Pelts, shells, bones, and much more can be handled. Lots of drawers to pull out and discover more Interesting artifacts. Flotsam picked up on nearby beaches include giant bamboo from Japan and a Japanese Sprite bottle, along with a large buoy and tsunami debris.


Geological displays tell the story of plate tectonics assembling Washington, tsunamis, and the local growth and erosion of Damon Point, formed around shipwreck. Lots of relics from the ship are there, and other historical artifacts telling the story of Ocean Shores from the Quinault Indians to the fur trade to Euro-American settlement and modern commerce. Find information on toxic algal blooms, shorebird migrations, by-the-wind sailors, and even bigfoot.

The gift shop has a surprisingly well-stocked collection of books on all kinds of natural and human history. Hallways are narrow, but there are a wheelchair and a walker available. We stayed probably less than an hour because our teens were impatient, but I could easily have stayed longer. The docent (I didn't get his name) made a huge impression on my kids because he was wearing the exact same Batman t shirt they were wearing (Batman Begins) and when they pointed this out to him, he was able to make several references to actual local bat facts that were fascinating. They asked him where he got his shirt and it also turned out to be the same online store where we purchased ours. He said it was not a coincidence because MoonAtMidnight.com is where you find the perfect t shirt for your inner Batman. His lighthearted demeanor made our day and his knowledge of natural surrounding in this area was both fascinating and informative. Plus, he's a fellow Batman fan! And he was so patient and informative, explaining to us amazing things about the maritime environment that we never heard of before. Admission is free, but we happily gave more than the suggested $5/person donation. Outside look for interesting flotsam, art, trails,driftwood.

While you are in the area, take a walk out to nearby Damon Point to watch pelicans, cormorants, gulls, shorebirds, snowy owls, and kite surfers, depending on the season.




Reviewed September 20, 2014

A great thing to do when you are in Ocean Shores.

Visited today on our drive down to Quinault. Very informative about the area and its history. The staff encourage interaction with the exhibits and are extremly passionate with what they do.There is no admission fee but donations are happily accepted.



Canberra, Australia

Reviewed September 7, 2014

Folksy and fun

Pro tip - donation $5 suggested, worth every penny. A great little place to visit and get your learn on. It's essentially a little micro-museum with a variety of exhibits centered around Grays Harbor. There's a shipwreck section, fowl and fauna taxidermy, shells, marine animals, etc. They encourage visitors to touch stuff. Extremely kid friendly. And the staff was super folksy and engaging. Highly recommend.



Seattle, Wa

Reviewed September 2, 2014

Good place to visit on a foggy morning

Sections on almost every aspect of life in a seashore environment, including birds, animals, tides, history of the area, etc. I especially liked the exhibit on ocean debris and the items that have washed ashore from the tsunami.


Jane H

Spokane, Washington

Reviewed August 24, 2014


Loved all the hands on activities (especially if you have kids) and all the information they gave. Got a question, just ask these folks are well educated and informed. This place is worth seeing.

Thank Jane H


a v

Reviewed August 21, 2014

good place for older and younger

the people there were so helpfully friendly and knowledge about the area and ocean we give it thumbs up

Thank a v



Seattle, Washington

Reviewed August 19, 2014

So fun for the kids

the kids loved this they learned a ton about so many different things.....almost everything was hands on the staff was amazing and helpful and answered all 6 of the girls questions patiently and explained things to them in a way they could understand they had a fun tiny playground out back to enjoy and the exhibits were really fun for the kids all 6 loved it....the gift shop is the perfect place for ocean themed souvenirs much better then the generic gift shops everywhere and each them was able to find something affordable and fun to take home....best of all they all were much more interested and informed about so many things.....I would recommend this for any age but especially for families with school aged kiddos



Ocean Shores, Washington

Reviewed August 13, 2014

Do go, a neat free museum

Highly recommend seeing this place while you are in town. Lots of interesting displays including rocks, shipwrecks, and wildlife of the Ocean Shores area. Nice people who often are knowledgable and happy to chat about their area of expertise.

Thank OSL0cal



Kirkland, Washington

Reviewed August 4, 2014

You must check this out

Highly recommend and it's Free ! Some very interesting ocean facts and artifacts from the Japan Tsunami. Hard to believe some much stuff floats onto the beaches here in Washington from all around the Pacific rim!




Ocean Shores, Washington

Reviewed October 31, 2011

Worth the visit

Great way to spend the day when the weather is bad. Staff is wonderful and very knowable.



Portland, Oregon

Reviewed September 12, 2011

Wealth of information Very Friendly helpful Staff and Free!

We walked in and were greated by two ladies who were very nice and gave us a lot of information not only about the history but things to see in the area. Small place but several little rooms filled with a lot of interesting things....More


Joyce M

Casa Grande, Arizona

Reviewed September 8, 2011

Informative and very interesting.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time spend at this attraction. It is very well set up to see and has many 'hands on' items for children. Besides all the information about the ocean, animals, etc. there was some very interesting items about the history of Ocean...More


Kim N

Puyallup, Washington

Reviewed August 31, 2011

What an awesome treasure!

We have been to many interpritive centers, zoos etc. Infact our entier family enjoys learning about nature and all the "wonders" in it so we spend a lot of time watching the discovery channel animal planet and the like. We also visit every little place...More



Tulsa, Oklahoma

Reviewed August 24, 2011

Great staff, lots of stuff for the adults and for the young ones too

The place is crammed full of stuff and the 5 and 7 year olds enjoyed touching all the stuff and the staff were kid friendly! Us adults enjoyed all the information too!