We have never seen so much water before we moved to Washington. Bodies of water are enormous and diverse: lakes (we even have seen a true Soap Lake!), streams, Pacific ocean, Puget Sound, to name a few… More than that – often you don’t have to leave the city to enjoy it! “Things to do in Seattle and Washington” is our most favorite spots to swim, kayak, and SUP. Kids welcome!
Things to do in Seattle and Washington: paddle boarding, kayaking, swimming
1. Lake Union, Seattle
Lake Union is an iconic place in Seattle. If you are short on time, I’d name it #1 to get the idea “what is it like to live here”:). What you can see from the water: Gas Works Park, float planes landing, downtown, houseboats, sailing boats. You can swim, launch your kayak/SUP at the Lake Union Park.
2. Seattle Arboretum
Seattle Arboretum is a cool hidden spot to paddle. Secluded, with lots of water lilies, birds, and narrow passages:
Canoe/kayak/SUP landing located at the beginning of Foster Island trail (at the end of the E Foster Island Rd).
3. Mercer Slough, Bellevue
Bellevue has two sweet spots worth to explore. Mercer Slough, pictured below, is the best visited until mid-June, (after that time dry season is starting). What to expect: bridges, birds, occasional otters, turtles, and Bellevue skyline. Mosquito repellent is a must have!
4. Meydenbauer Bay Park, Bellevue
One of the most popular places in Bellevue, Meydenbauer Bay Park, is a gem for families. Built in 2019, it has playground, swimming area, boat launch, rentals, and floating platform. Love it!
5. Pine Lake Park, Sammamish
Pine Lake is our premium spot for SUP: scenery is beautiful and no motor boats are allowed. We can let kids paddle there as much as they want to. Also not to be missed: jumping from the docks (favorite summer fun), playground. I love to swim across the lake, it is my top place for the open water swimming.
6. Things to do in Seattle and Washington: Lake Wenatchee
Lake Wenatchee is great to visit any time of the year. We camped there, paddled, and swam. Lake Wenatchee State Park has the whitest sand we ever saw in Washington, boat rentals/launch, amazing sledding hill (yes! :D), and spacious beach. Scenery is breathtaking:
7. Whidbey Island, Deception Pass
For those who are craving salt water swimming/kayaking/SUP, there is a special place: Camano, Fidalgo, and Whidbey Islands. All three are an excellent example of the Pacific Northwest nature. Beaches, tidepooling, camping, and hiking are amazing:
One of the local secrets: you can rent a boat in cabin on the tiny island from Deception Pass park!
8. Lake Diablo, North Cascades National Park
Located in the North Cascades National Park, Diablo is a real gem. The beauty of the lake could be enjoyed from ADA accessible overlook; there are also restrooms and grassy area on site. Kids can become a Junior Ranger, and the bravest – take a dip (for “real”swimming water is too cold).
9. San Juan Island
Ferry ride along entire San Juan archipelago is an exiting experience and worth to take at least once! The island located in less than 10 miles from Canada and popular summer destination. Popular spots to visit: Lime Kiln state park, English Camp (#1 picture), Westcott Bay Shellfish (#2 picture), Sculpture Park (#3 picture):
Swimming is cold at San Juan, and paddling was so-so. (Without much of experience and tour guide it isn’t safe to go out in many places due to currents, tides, etc.). San Juan also has a dream camping location.
10. Alder Lake, 1 hour driving time from Mt. Rainier National Park
We didn’t expected much from the Alder Lake, except the proximity to the Rainier NP. But it turned out so good, we didn’t even visited Rainier :D. What we liked: camping, crystal clear turquoise water, views of Rainier, paddling, huge swimming area:
Things to do in Seattle and Washington: Essentials.
- The water at the Lake Diablo, San Juan, Camano, Fidalgo, and Whidbey Islands is frigid cold. Be careful to not falling into the water!
- First time we tried kayaking with our 2 year olds were Mercer Slough and Pine Lake. Seattle Arboretum, Pine Lake also a good choice.
- Gear pictured in this post: SUP from Costco, single and double kayaks from Amazon. We love and recommend all three.
- Camping is extremely popular at the all spots mentioned above, book as early as possible!
All the mentioned places on My Map
Crater Lake National Park: breathtaking scenery and easy to explore