In this water-loving corner of Seattle, you'll find dragon boats, historic ships, and kayaks.
What to do in the Emerald City after you’ve zoomed up the Space Needle and been serenaded by Pike Place fishmongers? Follow the locals to Lake Union, north of downtown. Stroll paths to gaze at sleek sailboats or paddle your own craft to a café. Start at the lake’s north end. Area code is 206.
Watchless in Seattle? Your own body becomes the gnomon (indicator) on a beautifully crafted sundial at Gas Works Park, beloved as much for its awesome city views as for the picturesque rusted remnants of a 1906 coal gasification plant on its grassy slopes. 2101 N. Northlake Way, seattle.gov/parks/park_detail.asp?ID=293.
The quirky combo of tacos and kayaks makes sense at the waterfront Agua Verde Cafe & Paddle Club. Rent a kayak and glide past Seattle’s colony of floating homes (glimpsing the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat on the west side), then reward yourself with smoked salmon on fresh corn tortillas. 1303 NE Boat St., 545-8570, aguaverde.com.
The Center for Wooden Boats celebrates the lake’s tradition of watercraft built the old-fashioned way: with wood. Bring children for free Sunday boat rides, tours of historic ships, and kids’ stories on the wood-hulled Arthur Foss, star of the 1933 movie Tugboat Annie. 1010 Valley St., 382-2628, cwb.org.
Explore Seattle’s newest green space, Lake Union Park, a dozen acres with paths, waterfront steps, a footbridge, and a pond for sailing model boats. 860 Terry Ave. N., atlakeunionpark.org.
No experience is necessary to join a paddling crew on a 45-foot dragon boat. Meet at Kenmore Air next to Lake Union Park. Monday and Wednesday 6 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m., Sunday 3 p.m. First three trips are free; ages 12 to 17 welcome with a parent. 523-4518, seattleflyingdragons.org.
Ahoy, landlubbers! Circling the lake (5.9 miles) is easy on a bicycle rented from Recycled Cycles. Stop for a break at the blue-and-orange Fremont drawbridge at the lake’s northwest corner to listen for the honks and whistles of tall-masted boats signaling the bridge tender. 1007 NE Boat St., 547-4491, recycledcycles.com.
Photography by Terry Donnelly/Alamy
This article was first published in March 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.