9 Utterly Cool Things to Do On & Around Lake Union Near Downtown Seattle

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Just a short distance (you can walk or take the tram) from downtown Seattle is one of the city’s sparkling jewels, Lake Union. The lake is a perfect destination for a sunny day. Here are a few things to get you out of your chair or your hotel room on the next blue skies day in Seattle.

1. Rent a kayak and see the lake from the inside out. Skirt along the edge of the lake near the houseboats and yachts. Watch the sea planes land up close and personal. Wave at the the other boaters and the people who wish they were out in the water like you. Moss Bay Kayak | Paddle Board | Sail

2. Rent a bike and ride around the lake. It’s only six miles and most of the way around is a bike trail. There are only a few minor patches where you will need to be on a road with cars. Start in Eastlake, with stops in: Fremont (for a beer); Gasworks Park (photo op); the University Bridge (where you can watch the boats going under), and for your final stop, Serafina’s or Cichetti’s, for happy hour on their lovely patio.

3. Visit the Wooden Boat Center and take part in the Sunday Sail event: “A Seattle tradition for more than 25 years! Our volunteer skippers and crew take passengers out on Lake Union for unforgettable voyages. Sprit boats, steamboats, electric boats, schooners, ketches, yawls, and yachts: come every Sunday to sail them all, year-round, rain or shine for free.”

4. Visit the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) at the south end of the lake, and just next door to the Wooden Boat Center. The current exhibit running through September 2017: “Edible City: A Delicious Journey serves up the story of how people eat in Seattle, and how urban palates have developed over the years.” Afterwards, sit outside and watch the sea planes take off and land near by.

5. Make reservations for Westward. Sit outside around a fire after the sun goes down. You will have a killer view of downtown Seattle, and you can sip great wines and order a dozen fresh oysters (or two).

6. Bring a picnic to Gasworks Park. Sit atop the hill, watching the kites fly with the sparkling blue lake and the city skyline as your backdrop. Great place to bring the kids!

7. Take the Sunday Ice Cream Cruise which leaves from in front of the MOHAI on South Lake Union. “This is a 45-50 minute tour of the Lake Union floating homes and house boats, a peek at Dale Chihuly’s studio, spy ships, Gas Works Park and the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat.”

8. Check out Paul Allen’s cool little art gallery, Pivot, just kitty-corner from the MOHAI: “Pivot Art + Culture is a 3,000-square-foot concept space located on the ground floor of the newly constructed Allen Institute building in the heart of Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. It is part of Vulcan Inc. and Paul G. Allen’s mission to make art accessible to the public.” Yay, Paul!

9. Watch the Duck Dodge from South Lake Union Park. Every Tuesday, sailboats large and small, take part in a community race on the lake. Sailing World Magazine called it “The Ultimate Beer Can Race”and Fodor’s lists it as one of the top 100 things to do in Seattle. You can even try to wrangle your way onto a boat as a crew member. Maybe bring beer.

Your turn, Seattle fans. Did I miss anything? What’s your favorite thing to do on a sunny day in Seattle?


Mary Kay Seales is a Seattle Travel Writer & Photographer, who feels superbly lucky to look out on Lake Union and the city skyline from her living room windows. Visit her website at www.marykayseales.com

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