I love this beach. It tides me over when I'm longing for the summers I spent on the beach in Southern California. The only thing that ruins the illusion is the water. Waves aren't huge and the water is always cold. It is Seattle, after all. It never gets as hot here as it does in California, but at Golden Gardens, you can be a pretend beach bum for a day. Wade in the water, make a sand castle, throw frisbees and footballs, fly a kite, or just lay out on a blanket.
This is a wonderful location for picnics. They have a number of tables underneath shade trees on the grassy part of the park. In the summers, you have to make a reservation or have good timing in order to catch a party as they're vacating their space for the day. Come early in the evening or late in the afternoon if you want a bonfire. Bonfires outside of the fire pits are not allowed, but people obviously make them anyway because the beach sand is half charcoal. Your feet and ankles will get VERY dirty. In the summer, you can catch performers doing cool routines and stunts with fire when the sun goes down.
As beautiful as this place is during the day, it's especially gorgeous when the sun goes down and you see the silhouettes of sailboats against the red-orange sky. At night, it's magical to hear the sound of trains coming out of the darkness on the tracks that border the edge of the beach.
Parking's tough, but it's worth it to make some rounds of the parking lots. There's a decent amount of turnover.