It’s impossible to visit Seattle without noticing all the water. Surrounded by salt and fresh water, there are plenty of ways to explore this side of the city. Head down to the waterfront for three options, the first of which is a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island or Bremerton. Find the ferry terminal at Pier 52. On Pier 55, Argosy Cruises has three cruises that leave from the waterfront. Go sightseeing on the Harbor Cruise or the Locks Cruise, or have a four-hour excursion to Tillicum Village, which includes food, a performance and Native American storytelling. Finally, Pier 69 is home to the Victoria Clipper, where you can go whale watching or take a trip to Victoria or the San Juans.
If you'd rather man the boat yourself, head to Green Lake for a number of rental options to get out on the water. Canoes, kayaks, pedal boats, stand-up paddleboards and more are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Greenlake Boathouse. One of the most affordable ways to rent canoes and rowboats is through the University of Washington Waterfront Activities Center, located behind Husky Stadium. Spend the day navigating the Montlake Cut and Union Bay. If you’d rather head to Alki Beach, Alki Kayak Tours has sea kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and small fishing boats available for rent. The company also has five kayak tour options, if you’d like to follow someone else’s lead.
Another fun option, if you want to be your own captain but would rather not work up a sweat, is the Electric Boat Company. Cruise around Lake Union on a 21-foot Duffy electric boat. The boats are available for two to four hours and fit up to 10 people. Anyone 25 or older can captain the boat; no experience is necessary. The boats are fun for kids, too. Children 12 and younger are required by law to wear a life jacket, and there are life jackets available for all ages, from infants to adults. Bring a picnic and get a water-side view of the Museum of History and Industry, Lake Union’s houseboat community, Gas Works Park and more. These rentals can’t be taken into Lake Washington or through the Ballard Locks.
Seattle also has plenty of options to see the city from a sailboat. From predetermined tours to completely custom excursions, sailing is a fun way to get out on the water. Check out Emerald City Charters (Let’s Go Sailing), where you can go on a 90-minute trip from the waterfront on a 70-foot yacht. There’s also a gorgeous sunset sail option. Again, leave from the waterfront and enjoy Seattle’s spectacular sunsets during the two-and-a-half-hour cruise. On both trips, bring your own food and drink to enjoy. Lake Union Charters and Adventures has a variety of sailing excursions, from 90-minute day, sunset, date night or family sails to half and full-day adventures. Rather create your own? There are custom charters available, too. This company has both a historic schooner and modern vessels, and guests are free to bring their own food and drink. For a completely custom sailing trip, Seattle Sailing Charters has private yacht trips for up to six passengers, and most cruises include food and drink.