There is a small picnic area that sits on top of the hillside overlooking Puget Sound. It is made up of several picnic tables, some of which have cooking stands, a single picnic shelter that may be reserved, and a pit toilet facility. The pit toilet comes equipped with a time-limited parking spot.
While there is a view of Puget Sound, it is not an easy one, as the tree coverage here is fairly heavy. In winter, if you manage to get a clear day, the view is the best as the leaves are off the deciduous trees. There are a few tables that are in clear areas with a very good view, but there are only two or three of those.
By far the biggest attraction to Dash Point State Park is the beach area. Here, you will find the largest parking area anywhere in the park.
However, the beach area is quite small, so on popular weekends expect this area to be full of people.
There is a small restroom facility very close to the beach, a number of picnic tables, and some very large pieces of driftwood that have come in with the very highest of tides.
Oh yes, about the tides: while the tides here are not as severe as you will find at Nisqually Reach or the Olympia area, the tides do still provide a significant amount of open mudflat during low tide, and a very small amount of exposed beach during high tide. Pay attention to the water level, and if you wander far out into Puget Sound be sure to be headed back when signs of tidal changes start to happen.
Also, be very careful of the mudflats, as they may be very soft and similar to quicksand.
The beach is largely sand, rather than the more typical gravel beach that you find in many places in Puget Sound. The small creek that comes down the hill from the surrounding neighborhoods provides an outfall of sediment here, and thus the likely reason for the sand rather than stone beach.
Somewhat inland from the beach and restroom area there are two picnic shelters.
If you hear an odd screeching high pitched horse whinny sound coming from the tops of the trees, get your binoculars and start looking for the local bald eagle population, perched way up there in the trees above the beach area.
Keep in mind that the beach is privately owned outside the borders of the state park, and these beaches are fairly jealously guarded by their owners.
While officially inside the bounds of the city called Federal Way, Gino's Bistro is actually closer to Dash Point State Park than it is to the main business center of Federal Way. In fact, it is located in an odd suburb of a suburb community called Twin Lakes, which is mostly residential. This little restaurant is the only place in the area right now.
I was very suprised to see that it is far more attractive on the inside than it is on the outside. Being located in a strip mall with a gas station out front, I figured it would most likely be a place that was mostly a snack shop.
It is in fact a very attractive restaurant inside, and a wide ranging menu. The owner (naturally, Gino) is from Peru and does much of the cooking and his wife (Kelly) does a lot of the serving during the weekdays. Cuisine ranges from seafood to Italian to American.
As well as the official web site, below, there is also a facebook page:
Favorite Dish: I had a misto sandwich ( $8.95 ) with a side of soup ( small cup $2.95 ). The soup was kind of expensive for the price, but it was also amazingly good. If I had it to do over again I would order only a bowl of the soup and forget the sandwich.
The soup, unfortunately, is a type that I can't remember. Some sort of pepper I believe is what Kelly told me it was.
These prices seemed a little high compared to the quantity of food, but at the same time Federal Way has a lot of chain restaurants that are at best mediocre and thus it should be expected that a higher class restaurant such as this would also be serving a little higher prices.
Dash Point State Park is located on the edge of Puget Sound, slightly north of the northern reaches of Tacoma and on the western edge of Federal Way.
My method of getting to the park is not one I would recommend anyone else do. My method involved taking bus route 187 from the Federal Way Transit Center west to the intersection of SW 320th Street and 47th Avenue SW. Here, I walked north on 47th to Dash Point Road, and then west to the entrance of Dash Point State Park. This worked, and for the most part the shoulders of the roads are narrow but wide enough that it is possible to do this without getting killed, but certainly not a route I would suggest anyone undertake. The roads are very narrow and people drive far faster than the posted 35 mph speed limit.
Instead, if you are coming here by public transit, instead I suggest taking the same bus route as I took : 187 from Federal Way. However, get off at the next stop after the bus turns onto 47th Avenue / Hoyt Road SW (the road changes names here). This next stop at Hoyt Road and 323rd is very close to a minor hiking trail entrance from the surrounding neighborhood. Thus, it is only necessary to walk on busy roads without sidewalks for several feet if you get off at this stop and use the hiking trail to access the park.
I will point out, however, that this was not possible to do when I visited the park. Everything south of Dash Point Road was closed to the public due to downed trees due to a mixed ice storm and wind storm.
Getting here by driving is fairly easy: Interstate 5 to SW 320th Street, go west to 47th, then north to Dash Point Road. It is also possible to follow the bizarre curving route of state route 509, as it includes Dash Point Road as it passes through the park. However, it follows a very circuitous route to get there.
Once again I would like to point out that Washington State Parks require a Discover Pass for day use, if you drive to the park. Using the park and ride lot at Federal Way keeps you from having to pay the $10 day use fee. Campers have the day use fee included in their camping fee.