Seattle is the land of waterfront for all. I am biased to a life filled with water views, beaches, boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, water skiing, and swimming. As a Chevron brat, I grew up on the Gulf Coast in Pascagoula, Mississippi and had an incredible beach house that my parents built in nearby Gulf Shores, Alabama. I also lived in the San Francisco Bay area and spent many teen-aged summers in Santa Cruz. I had a waterfront home in Lake Oswego, Oregon and spent many hours doing bridge walks around Portland’s Willamette River. I currently live in a floating home in Seattle. In short, I am a water baby. If you don’t love the water and want more access to it, then don’t bother reading the rest of this.
In Seattle, there are endless bodies of water and a ton of access points ranging in cost from free to millions of dollars for Seattle waterfront homes. Here are some of my ideas for you and there are so many more, but this is a good basic guide for living a water lifestyle in Seattle.
Street Ends: This. Is. Incredible. Following the original views of our city’s founders, in the 1990s, the city went to great measures to preserve water access for all. As a result we have 149 access points directly to the water. These are highly coveted by surrounding homes as their community waterfronts. If you live near a streete end waterfront access point, it makes a water lifestyle very easy and these are scattered everywhere in the city. From the city page: “Much of Seattle’s 200 miles of shoreline along Lake Washington, Lake Union, Puget Sound, and other waterways is either privately-owned or park land. The City of Seattle designated 149 public streets (map) in Seattle that end on waterfronts as special rights of way to be preserved and improved for public use (City Resolution 29370, adopted in September 1996, followed by Ordinance 119673 in 1999).”
Parks: Not to mention the sweeping Puget Sound and Olympic Mountain Range views, Discovery Park has some fine beaches and water access points. Magnusson Park and Matthews Beach Park on the northern end of Lake Washington offer great options. Lincoln Park and Alki Beach in West Seattle are incredible. Car Keek is probably one of my favorites - I love the train bridge and gorgeous sandy beach. Gas Works Park is on the Burke Gilman Trail and always popular. Lots of kite flying and one of the best vantage points for Fourth of July Fireworks, South Lake Union Park, and Seward Park are also local favorites.
Loops & Trails: These offer great views of the water and multiple access points on some. Green Lake Loop, Portage Bay Loop, Lake Union Loop (Chesiahud Loop), Queen Anne Boulevard, Magnolia Boulevard, Burke Gilman Trail, Arboretum Loop, Elliott Bay Trail (from Magnolia to Downtown waterfront), Alki Trail, Volunteer Park, and Myrtle Edwards Park. I also love the south side trail of the fremont cut (on the Queen Anne side). There is a cool waterfront trail in Union Bay that should not be missed - lots of Eagles and turtles over there. My favorite water trail is through the arboretum on a kayak behind the Broadmoor Golf course. If you are looking for your golf ball, chances are it is over here.
Water Views, Dining & Unique Water Experiences: Space Needle and Smith Tower Observation decks offer fabulous views of our water and also help with orientation to all the different bodies of water we have. My favorite out of town guest destination is to take them to the Ballard Locks. Constant boat parades and cool engineering from over a hundred years ago make this a must see stop. Aside from the downtown waterfront classics, you can also find great waterfront dining at Ivars and Westward in Lake Union, Rays in Shilshoe, or Salty’s at Alki. Lastly, Molly reminded me of another unique thing that should be on this list would be a seaplane ride - there are two spots in Lake Union to book a ride and one in Lake Washington.
Boat Rides: Low cost boat rides around Seattle include a jaunt on the Washington State Ferries across Puget Sound and back to Lake Union cruises that start at or around the Wooden Boat Museum and MOHAI in South Lake Union. You can also rent an electric boat in Lake Union’s Westlake neighborhood if you want to shell out the $99/hr. The historic Virginia V is always a big draw and does a number of cruises throughout the week. You can pedal your way on a beer drinking paddle boat
or try one of the doughnut boats or hot tub boats. Argosy Cruises have a number of cruises throughout the day. You can take a kayak tour from Alki or rent a kayak in South Lake Union, Westlake, Ballard, or on the north shore of Portage Bay. Seattle Boat Company has a cool boat share program. There are too many boat rentals in Seattle to name them all.
Waterfront/ Waterside Real Estate - Houseboats, Floating Homes, over the water homes on stilts, and waterfront homes - there are many many waterfront living home choices. If you want to live on or next to the water, we have you covered. You can find all Seattle floating homes for sale on our site and we are happy to tour you around and show you are favorites. We also specialize in Seattle waterfront homes. We are happy to show you our favorite firstname.lastname@example.org