Seattle Summer Adventures: Kayaking Lake Union

 

Paddling on Lake Union with the Seattle skyline.

Paddling on Lake Union with the Seattle skyline.

Kayaking Seattle’s Lake Union used to be one of our regular weekend outings before we had kids. We were long overdue for a paddle on our favorite urban lake. Father’s Day, sunny skies and 80 degrees gave us the perfect reasons to go.

Did we really need a reason?

We did need kayaks.

We have two single kayaks hanging from the rafters in our garage that we take out on other lakes near our home (my husband more than me), but for a family outing we needed more seats.

Northwest Outdoor Center is downstairs at Julie's Landing off Westlake Ave.

Northwest Outdoor Center is downstairs at Julie’s Landing off Westlake Ave.

Fortunately our old rental place on Lake Union, the Northwest Outdoor Center, where we took out many a kayak back in the day — and even once bought a used double that we hauled home with rope on the top of our small car — is still open and going strong.

Northwest Outdoor Center rents single ($15/hour), double ($24/hour) and triple ($24) kayaks by the hour and is open every day of the week during the spring and summer months. They also rent stand-up paddle boards for $17/hour.

We reserved two double kayaks for 9 a.m. The early hour meant easy parking off Westlake Ave. (free on weekends and weekdays after 4), fewer crowds and a calmer lake than later in the day when all the boats come out.

It was surprisingly quiet when we arrived. The friendly staff helped us with our reservation and took us right out to the dock where we fitted life jackets and paddles. We stowed our lunch and water in the boat and then paddled off for a three-hour tour of the south part of the lake.

South Lake Union never disappoints. It has spectacular city views with the Space Needle, quaint houseboats and floating homes, yachts and ships, bridges and the unique Gas Works Park. Our original plan was to beach the kayaks at Gas Works and have a picnic lunch, but we learned beaching is not allowed. We should have known. We ate our sandwiches in our boats and it was just as lovely have a floating lunch instead.

My daughter treating her dad to a Father's Day paddle past Gas Works Park in Seattle.

My daughter treating her dad to a Father’s Day paddle past Gas Works Park in Seattle. In the early 20th century Gas Works was a plant that manufactured gas from coal.

Dwarfed by a big ship parked right next to one of Seattle’s floating homes.

Paddling by the floating home made famous in the movie "Sleepless in Seattle." It's the home on the left.

Paddling by the floating home made famous in the movie “Sleepless in Seattle.” It’s the home on the left.

Next time we’ll venture a bit farther up the lake and I’ll write again about kayaking in Seattle.

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