July 15

Lake Union Activities

What do this summer on the water in SLU.

If you’re looking for a way to beat the heat this summer, head to SLU. The neighborhood is a perfect home base for exploring the shores of Lake Union. But before you recreate, it’s a good idea to educate yourself about the lake and its former inhabitants.

This 580-acre body of water was carved by the receding Vashon Glacier about 14,000 years ago. The Duwamish people lived, fished, hunted, and gathered around the lake for generations before familiar names like David Denny and Thomas Mercer staked their claims in the area.

To learn more about the history and culture of the area, plan a trip to MOHAI.

Ready to make a splash? Here are three awesome opportunities for fun on the water this summer:

Paddle out

Moss Bay Kayak, Paddleboard, and Sail Center is a one-stop shop for easy lake recreation. The outfitter provides hourly kayak and paddleboard rental for the DIY adventurer. But you don’t want to go it alone or are simply looking for some extra structure, Moss Bay offers guided kayak tours for kids ($35, 90 minutes) and adults ($75, 150 minutes). The tours are typically tailored to group size and experience, with the adult program exploring the greater Lake Union, Portage Bay, and UW Arboretum areas.

Good to know: Paddleboard rentals are $23/hour. Kayak rentals are $23/hour for a single, and $30/hour for a double. All rentals are first come, first serve.

Boat slip with several kayaks, stand up paddle boards, and other small boats.
Group of people kayaking on Lake Union.

Get brunch

Why brunch on land when you could brunch on a boat? Waterways Cruises and Events has a stellar lineup of culinary-focused itineraries around Lake Union. Perhaps most popular is its weekend brunch series. Your booking gets you a two-hour cruise around Lake Union and Lake Washington, champagne or sparkling cider, a private table, Northwest brunch favorites, tea and coffee, plus specialty cocktails, wine, and beer for purchase.

Good to know: Aside from its weekend brunch series, dinner cruises, and its wine, beer, and spirits cruises, Waterways is able to put together private events, perfect for team building, wedding parties, birthdays, engagements, or other celebrations.

Float your boat

The Center for Wooden Boats is the headquarters for maritime traditions on Lake Union. This community favorite has been serving up boating knowledge at its cozy boat house for years, and the addition if its gorgeous Wagner Education Center cements the CWB as a must-visit attraction in the city. The activities here range from free peapod rowboat rentals and paid sailboat rentals to chartered cruises. The real benefit here though is CWB’s education programming.

Kids can learn to sail at summer camp. Most youth camps are currently sold out, but there are a few late-summer spots available. Be sure to check out the waitlist. Grownups can sign up for CWB’s most popular course — SailNOW! Learn to Sail. Students learn basic boat handling skills that are the foundation for a lifetime of sailing. This one-month intensive team-learning program starts with shore school followed by 10-hours of practical lessons on the lake. Once you’re all learned up with the basics, you can learn how to race sailboats in the CWB’s popular RaceNOW! series.

Good to know: Many of the courses are great for beginners, but some require prerequisites. Read the itinerary carefully before signing up. Also, consider a membership! Becoming a part of the CWB community gets you discounts and exclusive access to classes, plus helps the nonprofit in many ways.

Story by Ethan Chung & photographs by Ethan Chung & courtesy of Center for Wooden Boats.


65 Feet

height of the climbing wall at REI flagship store