Photo: Courtesy Alki Kayak Tours

On the Water

Whether in salt water or fresh, by sail or by paddle, there are dozens of great ways to get out on the water in Seattle. Warm summers and heavenly falls make for glorious weeks and weeks to spend swimming in area lakes, biking around them, or paddling across them.

From Pier 50, just a short stroll south of the Seattle Great Wheel (*1301 Alaskan Way;, the West Seattle Water Taxi (801 Alaskan Way; jets off on a quick, fun ride that ends near California Avenue in West Seattle, home to a handful of great restaurants with even better views. The dock’s next-door neighbor is Alki Kayak Tours (*1660 Harbor Ave SW;, whose guides lead paddlers out to a lighthouse and around Elliott Bay. Time your kayaking excursion to get a sunset over Puget Sound or even a full moon with the city skyline shining bright from a distance.

Back in downtown, Puget Sound Sailing (2203 Alaskan Way; takes folks out on their yachts for wind-in-your-face rides. Its large boats can accommodate up to six people, and the skippers often take visitors out on scenic sunset sails. There are also options for freshwater sailing with Lake Union Charters & Adventures (2420 Westlake Ave N;, which offers an array of customizable excursions on the inland lake. North Seattle’s Green Lake Park (7201 E Greenlake Dr N) is a fun spot for outdoor adventure, too. The nearly three-mile perimeter loop makes for a pretty stroll, while Greenlake Boat Rentals (7351 E Greenlake Dr N; loans out canoes and paddleboards, as well as family-friendly pedal boats.

Seattle features a number of great places to enjoy the water from a drier vantage as well. Discovery Park (3801 Discovery Park Blvd), a massive 534-acre swath of wildland in the Magnolia neighborhood, offers gorgeous views of Puget Sound, plus gentle wooded trails down to a rocky beach strewn with driftwood. There’s also the Burke-Gilman Trail (, a 27-mile bike and strolling path that starts in Golden Gardens Park (8498 Seaview Pl NW), meanders beside canals, and hugs the top of Lake Union before hitting Lake Washington and continuing north into Redmond. Rent a bike for a quick 30-minute jaunt, or just stroll a portion of the trail for water views galore.

And summer and fall in Seattle just wouldn’t be complete without a visit to one of the city’s favorite beaches: Madison Beach Park (43rd Ave E) and Madrona Beach Park (853 Lake Washington Blvd), both havens for sunbathers and swimmers.

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