Boating in Seattle – and Other “Wet and Wild” Activities in the Emerald City

Take a day and explore the coasts of Lake Washington on a rented yacht, or soar 20-plus feet in the air on a flyboard. What's your pleasure?Read More

The vast, welcoming waters of the Pacific Northwest await. (Source: iStock / David_Johnson)

From the hustle and bustle of Pike Place Market to the towering reaches of the iconic Space Needle, Seattle has a lot that attracts visitors. We always aim to try something outside of the tourist’s go-tos, however, which is why we recently experienced just about everything water-bound in the Emerald City. If you want to experience a delightfully different side to this gem of the Pacific Northwest, then try some boating in Seattle – and flyboarding and windsurfing and kayaking and, well, all of the incredible (wet) experiences below.

Go boating on Lake Washington

Boating on Lake Washington, while slightly pricey given boat rental costs, is a delightful experience. (Source: Shutterstock / Cascade Creatives)
Boating on Lake Washington, while slightly pricey given boat rental costs, is a delightful experience. (Source: Shutterstock / Cascade Creatives)

The marine centerpiece of Seattle, Lake Washington lies to the city’s east, surrounding popular Mercer Island. While the lake boasts several lounge-worthy beaches and incredible vistas, we’re more of a hands-on troupe; we decided to take advantage of the lake’s incredible boating experiences. You can rent a runabout from any number of reputable local companies (like Yarrow Bay, with rates starting at  $139/hour for up to 3 hours), but Lake Washington peer-to-peer boat rental is preferable – the selection is often better and you can search by location, boat size, features, and more. Click and Boat is probably the best-known option; we recommend starting there.

When you’re ready to set sail, make sure you have a few stops on your itinerary. Carillon Point, on the east side of the lake, is a great place to stop for lunch – specifically, at Le Grand Bistro Américain, an ironically named French stop with New World flair. For more variety, however, you can dock up north at Kirkland Marina and make landfall for a slew of pubs, shops, and parks. A bit further south at Newport Shores you’ll find a lovely park – Gene Coullon Park to be exact – fitted with tennis courts, a fishing pier, and a playground.

Kayak on Lake Washington

For easy paddling, head to Lake Washington and Sail Sand Point. (Source: Sail Sand Point Facebook)
For easy paddling, head to Lake Washington and Sail Sand Point. (Source: Sail Sand Point Facebook)

For the best in Lake Wash paddling, head to Magnuson Park on the northwest side. Sail Sand Point will get you the kayaks you need (as well as boats and paddleboards, if you’re so inclined) with rates starting at a modest $20/hour. We particularly like Lake Washington for kayaking because it’s calm – giving you more control over the paddling. Our only tip here: This is a busy area, so keep an eye out for other boaters, windsurfers, kayakers, and other water revelers. Also, snap some photos – the views are stunning.

Paddle-board on Lake Sammamish

The key to paddle-boarding is staying upright. Don't worry; you'll get the hang of it. (Source: iStock / RomanBabakin)
The key to paddle-boarding is staying upright. Don’t worry; you’ll get the hang of it. (Source: iStock / RomanBabakin)

Lake Sammamish is overland from Bellevue to the east; it’s a smaller lake stretched horizontally. While not as popular for those who like water sports, it makes for some excellent paddle-boarding. You can rent a single-person paddle-board for $18/hour or a tandem for $23/hour. For those who are afraid to stand and paddle (it took us a while to get our balance), we recommend opting for the equally fun but more “grounded” pedal boat; rates are $23/hour.

Swim in Green Lake

Wait for the lifeguards and warmer weather – but not too warm – before you take a swim in Green Lake. (Source: Shutterstock / Denise Lett )
Wait for the lifeguards and warmer weather – but not too warm – before you take a swim in Green Lake. (Source: Shutterstock / Denise Lett )

North of the legendary Seattle Zoo is Green Lake – a capacious body of water surrounded by a green-swept park and cozy residential neighborhood. The park is a delight for people-watching, a quick jog, or a picnic, though we loved the water itself; it gets a little cold, but is still an absolute splash. There are two beaches that give swimmers access to the lake – East Green Lake Beach and West Green Lake Beach. There’s no cost to go swimming at either one, but we do recommend you go during lifeguard hours – Noon-7pm most days during the summer. Also, avoid the hot days; that’s when the Seattleites flock to the water.

Windsurf on Lake Washington

If you're not an experienced windsurfer, don't fear; classes are widely available. (Source: iStock / brians101)
If you’re not an experienced windsurfer, don’t fear; classes are widely available. (Source: iStock / brians101)

Back on Lake Washington, head to the west side of the lake where you’ll find Mount Baker Rowing & Sailing Center. Here, you can sign up for windsurfing classes so you can master the gales of the Pacific Northwest – all while staying upright. Equipment is provided (sans wet/dry suits), plus you’ll be able to try your new skills on a simulator before heading out to the open water. While most classes are held in groups, you can request one-on-one training. Check the website for available class times and costs.

Flyboard on North Lake Washington

Get some height, courtesy of iFlyboard Seattle. (Source: iFlyboard Seattle Facebook)
Get some height, courtesy of iFlyboard Seattle. (Source: iFlyboard Seattle Facebook)

Last (but most certainly not least) of your wet and wild Seattle adventures is flyboarding on North Lake Washington – the northernmost point of the lake, in fact. If you’re not familiar with flyboarding, it’s like taking a jet ski and pointing upward with the jets buried in the water. Sort of. Riders stand on a board connected to a long hose that propels water downward, pushing the board up – as high as 70 feet above the surface of the water. This experience is more for the adventure-hungry, but lessons for beginners are available through iFlyboard Seattle so you can be sure you have all the necessary skills to make the most of your flyboarding experience. Check their Facebook page, linked above, for prices and further details.

Oh, and if you’re more of a landlubber, then consider skipping the boating in Seattle adventure and take a stroll through beloved Pike Place Market instead – we particularly love it in the off-season winter months, but it’s a delight any time of year.