Boating and Kayaking
Seafair. Seattle's rowdy Seafair festivities, which occur from mid-July through the first Sunday in August, include parades, a marathon, and many other events. The popular air show and hydroplane races are held at Lake Washington near Seward Park. 2200 6th Ave., Suite 400, Seattle, Washington, 98121. 206/728–0123; www.seafair.com.
Seattle Yacht Club. In summer, weekly sailing regattas take place on Lakes Union and Washington. Contact the club for schedules. 1807 E Hamlin St., Seattle, Washington, 98112. 206/325–1000; www.seattleyachtclub.org.
Alki Kayak Tours & Adventure Center. For a variety of daylong guided kayak outings—from a Seattle sunset sea kayak tour to an Alki Point lighthouse tour—led by experienced, fun staff, try this great outfitter in West Seattle. In addition to kayaks, you can also rent stand-up paddleboards, skates, fishing boats, and longboards here. Custom sea-kayaking adventures can be set up, too. To rent a kayak without a guide, you must be an experienced kayaker; otherwise, sign up for one of the fascinating guided outings (the popular sunset tour is $69 per person). 1660 Harbor Ave. SW, West Seattle, Seattle, Washington, 98126. 206/953–0237; kayakalki.com.
Agua Verde Cafe & Paddle Club. Start out by renting a kayak and paddling along either the Lake Union shoreline, with its hodgepodge of funky-to-fabulous houseboats and dramatic Downtown vistas, or Union Bay on Lake Washington, with its marshes and cattails. Afterward, take in the lakefront as you wash down some Mexican food (halibut tacos, anyone?) with a margarita. Kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are available March through October and are rented by the hour—$18 for single kayaks, $24 for doubles, and $23 for SUPs. It pays to paddle midweek: the third hour is free on weekdays. 1303 N.E. Boat St., University District, Seattle, Washington, 98105. 206/545–8570; www.aguaverde.com.
The Center for Wooden Boats. Located on the southern shore of Lake Union, Seattle's free maritime heritage museum is a bustling community hub. Thousands of Seattleites rent rowboats and small wooden sailboats here every year; the center also offers workshops, demonstrations, and classes. Rentals for nonmembers range from $24 to $40 per hour. There's also a $25 skills-check fee for sailing. Free half-hour guided sails and steamboat rides are offered on Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm (arrive an hour early to reserve a spot). 1010 Valley St., Lake Union, Seattle, Washington, 98109. 206/382–2628; www.cwb.org.
Green Lake Boathouse. This shop is the source for canoes, paddleboats, sailboats, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and rowboats to take out on Green Lake's calm waters. On beautiful summer afternoons, however, be prepared to spend most of your time dealing with traffic, both in the parking lot and on the water. Fees are $20 an hour for paddleboats, single kayaks, rowboats, and stand-up paddleboards, $30 an hour for sailboats. Don't confuse this place with the Green Lake Small Craft Center, which offers sailing programs but no rentals. 7351 E. Green Lake Dr. N, Green Lake, Seattle, Washington, 98115. 206/527–0171; www.greenlakeboatrentals.net.
Moss Bay Rowing Club. Moss Bay rents a variety of rowing craft—including Whitehall pulling boats, wherries, and sliding-seat rowboats—but sailboats are rented only to club members. Single kayaks rent for $16 per hour, doubles go for $22, and stand-up paddleboards are $18 an hour. You can also rent kayaks to take with you on trips outside the city; daily rates are $75 for singles and $100 for doubles. Lessons and sailing tours are also available. 1001 Fairview Ave. N, Lake Union, Seattle, Washington, 98109. 206/682–2031; www.mossbay.co.
Northwest Outdoor Center. This center on Lake Union's west side rents one- or two-person kayaks (it also has a few triples) by the hour or day, including equipment and basic or advanced instruction. The hourly rate is $16 for a single and $23 for a double (costs are figured in 10-minute increments after the first hour). For the more vertically inclined, the center also rents out stand-up paddleboards for $18 an hour. In summer, reserve at least three days ahead. NWOC also runs sunset tours near Golden Gardens Park and moonlight tours of Portage Bay. 2100 Westlake Ave. N, Lake Union, Seattle, Washington, 98109. 206/281–9694; www.nwoc.com.
Waterfront Activities Center. This center, located behind UW's Husky Stadium on Union Bay, rents three-person canoes and four-person rowboats for $10 an hour on weekdays and $12 an hour on weekends from February through October. You can tour the Lake Washington shoreline or take the Montlake Cut portion of the ship canal and explore Lake Union. You can also row to nearby Foster Island and visit the Washington Park Arboretum. 3710 Montlake Blvd. NE, University District, Seattle, Washington, 98195. 206/543–9433; depts.washington.edu/ima.
Windworks Sailing & Powerboating. Although members are given first pick at this club on Shilshole Bay, nonmembers can also arrange rentals. Experienced sailors are allowed to skipper their own boats after a brief qualifying process. Daily charter rental rates range from $120 to $475 during peak season. 7001 Seaview Ave. NW, Suite 110, Ballard, Seattle, Washington, 98117. 206/784–9386; www.windworkssailing.com.
Yarrow Bay Marina. The marina rents 19- and 22-foot Bayliner runabouts for $110 an hour. Ask about daily rates, as well. 5207 Lake Washington Blvd. NE, Kirkland, Washington, 98033. 425/822–6066; www.yarrowbaymarina.com.