Places To Kayak In Seattle (10 breathtaking places)

Seattle, the Emerald City, is settled in the core of the Pacific Northwest and flaunts a shocking cluster of streams, from the Puget Sound to the endless lakes and waterways that dab the scene.

For those looking for a completely exhilarating open-air experience, it is an outright unquestionable necessity to kayak in Seattle.

Whether you’re a carefully prepared paddler or a beginner, there are a lot of spots to kayak in Seattle that will leave you awestruck by the regular excellence and quietness of this city.

Go along with me as we investigate the best places to kayak in Seattle and find the unlikely treasures that make this city a genuine kayaker’s heaven.

Overview Of Places To Kayak In Seattle

Seattle is an incredible city for kayaking, offering miles of coastline to explore in Puget Sound. From paddling through the tranquil coves of Bainbridge Island and Kitsap Peninsula to appreciating the rugged landscapes of the San Juan Islands, visitors will be dazzled by the beauty of this region.

Those looking for a calmer experience can take in nature’s splendour while paddling along scattered shorelines, while more adventurous types may opt for a spectacular whitewater adventure. Whichever type might suit your travel plans best, the stunning waterfront views make it a must-do activity during any trip to Seattle.

Why Scenic Drives Are A Great Way To Explore Seattle

Scenic drives offer a unique perspective of Seattle’s natural beauty. A scenic drive through Seattle offers an unparalleled opportunity to appreciate the city’s natural beauty and unique attractions.

As a coastal seaport city surrounded by water, forests, and mountains, Seattle provides a breathtaking backdrop for sightseeing by car.

Flexible Travel

One major advantage of taking a scenic drive is the ability to travel at a flexible pace, stopping to explore various attractions and points of interest as they present themselves along the way.

This leisurely approach allows visitors to truly immerse themselves in the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of the Emerald City.

City Sightseeing

When exploring a city as diverse and breathtaking as Seattle, opting for a scenic drive can provide a more laid-back and enjoyable approach for visitors and locals alike.
Rather than rushing through the bustling city streets or navigating crowded public transportation, a scenic drive allows individuals to take in the beauty and charm of Seattle at their own pace.
Additionally, a peaceful drive offers the perfect opportunity for thoughtful conversations and bonding with loved ones.
The city boasts numerous picturesque routes, such as the Alki Beach Drive or the Washington Park Arboretum Loop, each providing a unique perspective of Seattle’s magnificent landscape.

Discovering Hidden Gems

Scenic drives often lead travellers to hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path destinations that may otherwise be overlooked during a standard city tour.

With numerous parks, beaches, and lookout points scattered throughout the greater Seattle area, there is no shortage of breathtaking vistas and unique spots to discover.

Seattle’s Diversity and Architecture

Additionally, these drives give visitors the chance to experience Seattle’s diverse neighbourhoods, each boasting a distinct charm and architectural flair.

From the historic charm of Pioneer Square to the eclectic vibes of Capitol Hill, a scenic drive through Seattle’s neighbourhoods offers a multi-faceted view of the city.

Fun for All

Additionally, a peaceful drive offers the perfect opportunity for thoughtful conversations and bonding with loved ones.

The city boasts numerous picturesque routes, such as the Alki Beach Drive or the Washington Park Arboretum Loop, each providing a unique perspective of Seattle’s magnificent landscape.

Creating Lasting Memories

Scenic drives in Seattle often present travellers with unparalleled photographic opportunities. As you wind through the lush landscapes, dramatic cityscapes, and majestic waterways that define the Emerald City, there will be countless moments worth capturing.

From the awe-inspiring view of Mount Rainier along the Chinook Scenic Byway to the vibrant houseboats and tranquil waters along the Lake Union Loop, you’ll find no shortage of incredible subjects for your photographs.

Exploring Seattle on a Budget

Budget-conscious travellers will appreciate that scenic drives tend to be more cost-effective compared to organized tours or individual attraction tickets.

By combining transportation and sightseeing into one activity, visitors can save money while still enjoying an immersive travel experience.

Escape the City

For those seeking respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, a scenic drive can offer an escape into the natural serenity of Seattle’s surroundings.

From the striking beauty of Mount Rainier National Park to the tranquil beaches of Puget Sound, the rejuvenating effects of immersing oneself in nature are just a short drive away.

Year-Round Enjoyment

Lastly, scenic drives can be enjoyed year-round, as Seattle’s mild climate often provides pleasant road conditions and temperate weather.

While the city is known for its rainy days, the overcast skies can create a memorable atmosphere, highlighting the lush greenery and moody coastline that define the Pacific Northwest.

10 kayaking places in Seattle

Lake Union

Located in the heart of Seattle, this lake offers great views of the city skyline and easy access to Gas Works Park

Located in the heart of Seattle, Lake Union offers spectacular views of the city skyline and is close to the many activities that Gas Works Park has to offer.

From kayaking along its shoreline and boating on its tranquil waters to simply sitting lakeside and watching boats drift by, there are endless opportunities to take in the charming urban landscape around this freshwater lake.

Visitors can also rejoice in Seattle’s iconic standouts like the Space Needle, which rises across Lake Union providing a captivating backdrop throughout the year.

Whether looking for boating adventures or an afternoon stroll through waterfront scenery Lake Union serves as an idyllic getaway.

Alki Beach

This popular beach in West Seattle is great for kayaking with views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound

Alki Beach in West Seattle is incredibly popular among local residents and visitors. This stunning stretch of shore located along Puget Sound features views of the stunning Olympic Mountains enhancing the experience for kayakers who flock to its calm waters to explore the area.

Not only does this beach offer a tranquil environment for anyone looking for a spot of relaxation, but it’s also ideal for those looking to get out on the water either alone or with others.

Whether you come to take in the astonishing views, watch the sunset over the Sound, or brave your own adventure with a kayak, Alki Beach promises an unforgettable experience.

Lake Washington

One of the largest lakes in the area, Lake Washington offers many opportunities for kayaking, including the Arboretum Waterfront Trail and Seward Park

Boasting a variety of activities and sights, Lake Washington is a great spot for outdoor adventurers seeking something close to home. Kayaking is one of the most popular activities on the lake.

With its calm waters, kayakers can launch from shorelines across the region and explore various points along the coastline including Arboretum Waterfront Trail and Seward Park.

Enjoy stunning views of the surrounding lush greenery from your kayak as you paddle around this flourishing lake. Whether it’s a peaceful solo trip or an energetic outing with family and friends, there are many opportunities at Lake Washington that will make your adventure memorable.

Elliott Bay

Paddle along the Seattle waterfront and take in views of the iconic Space Needle and the Olympic Mountains

Elliott Bay is a fantastic place to immerse yourself in the beautiful sights of Seattle. On the waterside, you can paddle along while taking in the views of the iconic Space Needle and the Olympic Mountains.

It’s such an idyllic experience that it makes you appreciate why Seattle is famous for its stunning landscape. With kayaking tours available every day, why not spend some time exploring this breathtaking location?

Not only will you get to feel connected with nature and enjoy some peaceful moments away from the hustle and bustle of city life, but also you will gain satisfaction from having accomplished something rewarding. Elliott Bay definitely is one of Seattle’s gems and a must-see destination.

Shilshole Bay

This marina and beach in Ballard provide a great starting point for kayaking adventures in Puget Sound

Shilshole Bay is a beautiful place for all nature lovers to explore. Located in Ballard, this marina and beach provide the perfect launch point for one of the most awe-inspiring kayaking adventures on Puget Sound.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just getting started, marvel at the breathtaking beauty of Washington’s outdoors that awaits you at Shilshole Bay.

With its crystal clear waters, abundant wildlife, and untouched natural beauty, it’s no surprise that this picturesque bay is one of the top destinations for local paddlers.

Head out to Shilshole Bay today and get ready to experience something truly unforgettable.

Bainbridge Island

Take a ferry from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island and explore the beautiful shoreline by kayak

Bainbridge Island is one of the many gems of the Pacific Northwest, and taking a ferry from downtown Seattle to explore it by kayak is an adventure that should not be missed.

From the vibrant colours of its shoreline to the serenity of its winding waterways, there will be plenty to take in while paddling around this lovely island.

Even if you are not a boat enthusiast, you can still appreciate the breathtaking views along the route and treat yourself to some delicious food available at various outlets lining up at the ferry dockside.

Whether you’re looking for some relaxation or an adrenaline rush, there is something special here waiting for you!

Blake Island State Park

This park, accessible only by boat, offers miles of shoreline to explore and a chance to spot wildlife such as seals and eagles

Blake Island State Park is a beautiful getaway that can only be accessed by boat. It’s the perfect spot to escape the city, explore miles of shoreline, and experience nature up close.

If you’re lucky, you’ll even catch a glimpse of some of the local wildlife, like seals and eagles. There are plenty of activities to enjoy here too, such as hiking, camping, kayaking, fishing and more.

Whether you’re looking for an adventure or just want to relax in a scenic setting, Blake Island State Park has something for everyone.

Ballard Locks

Paddle through the Ballard Locks and watch boats pass through on their way to Lake Washington

A visit to the Ballard Locks, located in Seattle, Washington, is an unforgettable experience. As you paddle through this unique nautical engineering marvel and watch ships pass from Puget Sound to Lake Washington, you will be able to appreciate the historic importance of this spot in U.S. maritime history.

The locks were built over a century ago to help boats traverse the confines of freshwater and saltwater an awe-inspiring accomplishment when you consider the lengths it took to get them up and running.

You can also stop and watch salmon pass from saltwater to freshwater in order to spawn in the channels beside the locks; it’s another magical sight that makes the Ballard Locks an incredible place to explore and observe.

Lake Sammamish

Just outside of Seattle, this lake offers plenty of kayaking opportunities with several parks and launch sites just outside of Seattle, Lake Sammamish is teeming with wildlife and serves as a great location for those looking to kayak.

This picturesque lake offers plenty of opportunities for thrill-seekers and nature enthusiasts alike. There are numerous parks surrounding the lake open for day use, many of which offer beautiful beachfront and stunning views of the Cascade Mountains.

For those more experienced, launch sites provide easy access to the lake’s waters. Kayakers will be sure to spot bald eagles, osprey, and other birds while they take in all that this gorgeous lake has to offer.

Portage Bay

This small bay near the University of Washington is a great spot for beginners with calm waters and views of the city

Portage Bay provides a great setting for those wanting to learn how to sail. From world-famous sailing schools to those offering training, the bay’s calm waters are the perfect spot for first-timers.

Not only that, but you benefit from port life, with breathtaking views of the city complete with glassy reflections of downtown skyscrapers shattered by bridge crossings.

Plus, you can never go wrong with a stunning sunset view directly over Portage Bay. It truly is a sight to behold.

Tips for Safely Enjoying the Drive

Best Time to Visit

The ideal time to visit Seattle for a drive depends on your preference for weather and scenery. If you don’t mind the rain, autumn (mid-September to November) offers arguably the most beautiful foliage and breathtaking landscapes with mild temperatures for comfortable kayaking adventures.

The spring months (April to May) provide colourful blossom displays, with fewer crowds and more availability for kayak rentals. Meanwhile, the summer months (June to August) bring warm weather, long days, and more sunshine, resulting in the peak tourist season.

Preparing for the Kayaking Experience

When it comes to kayaking in Seattle, you’ll want to be prepared for the unique conditions of the Pacific Northwest. Research the various kayaking routes and points of interest as well as the water conditions and currents for your planned route.

Layer up with moisture-wicking clothing, waterproof outerwear, and a life jacket to stay safe and comfortable.

You’ll also want to ensure you have the essential skills for kayaking, such as basic paddling techniques, how to perform a wet exit (escaping your kayak if it capsizes), and understanding water safety rules.

Must-Have Supplies

To ensure a safe and enjoyable kayaking trip in Seattle, be sure to pack the following items:

Personal floatation device (PFD) for each passenger
Kayak with appropriate size and type for intended route and skill level
Proper footwear (water shoes or sandals with sufficient grip)
Spare paddle
Dry bag with essential items, such as an extra set of clothes, a first aid kit, a map of your route, a mobile phone (in a waterproof case), and snacks.
Water and hydration system (e.g., a water bottle or hydration pack)
Paddle leash to keep your paddle secured to your kayak
Whistle, flashlight, and other signalling devices for emergency situations
Bilge pump or sponge to remove excess water from your kayak
Sun protection gear (hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen)

Kayaking Laws in Seattle

Seattle’s waterways are governed by various kayaking laws to ensure the safety of everyone on the water. Here are some important laws to be aware of:

Age requirements:

Children under 12 years old must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket (Type I, II, or III) on all vessels less than 19 feet.


Non-motorized vessels, such as kayaks, are not required to be registered in Washington State.

Boater education:

If you were born after January 1, 1955, you must possess a Washington State Boater Education Card to operate a motorized vessel with 15 horsepower or more.

Navigation rules:

Kayakers must follow the U.S. Coast Guard navigation rules, including maintaining a proper lookout, displaying required lighting, and obeying right-of-way rules.

Sound signals:

Seattle requires small vessels, such as kayaks, to carry a whistle or sound-producing device to signal during times of reduced visibility or in emergency situations.

By following these tips and adhering to Seattle’s kayaking laws, you can safely enjoy the beautiful landscapes and waterways that this unique city has to offer.


In conclusion, Seattle’s remarkable natural beauty, abundant waterways and diverse range of kayaking options all add up to an incredible water sporting experience, whatever your skill level.

From ocean shorelines to lakeside tranquillity, there’s plenty to be explored, including the lovely Lake Union, Green Lake or in world-famous Puget Sound.

Wherever you decide to kayak in Seattle, you are guaranteed a tranquil paddle packed with breathtaking views.