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Leaving from Lake Union, Seattle Seaplanes' 20-minute scenic flight for $87.50 per person takes in views of Woodland Park Zoo, Downtown Seattle, the Cascades and Olympics, the Ballard Locks, and Lake Washington. The company also schedules flying lessons, charter trips to places like Mt. Rainier, and dinner flights to the San Juans and area islands. Kenmore Air makes scenic flights over the metro area, as well as to the San Juan Islands, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Port Angeles (Twilight fans take note), Victoria, British Columbia, and its surrounding areas.
Argosy Cruises offers sightseeing cruises, dining cruises, and event cruises around the Puget Sound region. Brunch, lunch, and dinner cruises are available, but of the dining cruises, the Tillicum Village excursion is a favorite with tourists—the four-hour trip takes you to Blake Island, where you'll enjoy steamed clams and alder plank–fired salmon before a performance of dance, song, and storytelling in the tradition of Pacific Northwest Coast Indians ($80 for adults, $30 for youth ages 4–12, free for children under 3). If you just want to see more of the Sound but don't want to shell out the bucks, take a quick narrated sightseeing tour around Elliott Bay with Argosy Cruises (1 hour, from Pier 55, $20–$24 for adults), the Ballard Locks (2½ hours, from Pier 56, $37–$41 for adults), which also offers a cruise between Lake Union and Lake Washington (2 hours, from AGC Marina in South Lake Union, $30–$33). Let's Go Sailing permits passengers to take the helm, trim the sails, or simply enjoy the ride aboard the Obsession or the SC70 Neptune's Car, both 70-foot ocean racers. May through early October, three 1½-hour excursions ($25–$30 for adults; $20 kids under 12; kids under 5 are free) depart daily from Pier 54. A 2½-hour sunset sail ($44–$48 for adults; kids 5–12 are $30) is also available. Passengers can bring their own food on board, and catering is available for groups. The Center for Wooden Boats offers free boat rides on a first-come, first-served basis, Sundays at 10 am. Experienced sailors can also rent boats from them after completing a check-out process.
Gray Line of Seattle operates bus, Segway, and boat tours, including a 6½-hour City Sights/Cruise the Locks Combo tour ($51; kids $25) that includes a bus tour through the city's many neighborhoods, followed by a cruise from Lake Union to the Ship Canal, the Ballard Locks, and then back to Elliott Bay. The hop-on, hop-off double-decker buses ($31; kids $16) that do hour-long loops of the city core from the Seattle Center to Pioneer Square are the best bet for travelers who want to experience the city from outside of a bus, too. Gray Line also does day trips to Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens, though these tours stop only at scenic lookouts and visitor centers—you won't actually have the chance to do any hiking or exploring in either park. Aviation buffs might enjoy the four-hour Future of Flight/Boeing tour through the Future of Flight Aviation Center and behind Boeing's hanger doors to watch actual airplane assembly.
Emerald Country Carriages narrated tours ($45 per half hour, $65 per half hour with reservations) trot away from Pier 55 and make their way through Pioneer Square and back. Special Christmas season tours start from Westlake Center. This tour is particularly fun in the evening—they provide warm blankets and have weather-proof tops in case the night is chilly or wet.
Argosy Cruises (888/623–1445 or 206/622–8687. www.argosycruises.com.)
Gray Line of Seattle (800/426–7532 or 206/626–5200. graylineseattle.com/sightseeingtours.cfm.)
Kenmore Air (866/435–9524 or 425/486–1257. www.kenmoreair.com.)
Let's Go Sailing (206/624–3931. www.sailingseattle.com.)
Seattle Seaplanes (800/637–5553 or 206/329–9638. www.seattleseaplanes.com.)
Tours Northwest (888/293-1404 or 206/768–1234. www.toursnorthwest.com.)