Whether you're playing tour guide or just want to mix up your family activities, heading to the Seattle waterfront is a great way to see the city's best sights.
Whether you’re playing tour guide this summer or just want to mix up your family-fun activities, heading to the Seattle waterfront is a great way to see the city’s best sights and have some new adventures.
Here are seven ways to make the most of the season, down by the water.
- Have a picnic with a view
Have a special lunch at a waterfront park. Of course, you can grab food at Pike Place Market and tourist-watch on the piers. But there are other, less chaotic waterfront parks, all around town.
Centennial Park, along Elliott Bay west of Queen Anne, has stunning views of the Olympic Mountains and the islands across Elliott Bay. There’s a bike/walking path to help get everyone moving, and rose garden that’s perfect for a little relaxation.
Jack Block Park is a 15-acre park in West Seattle that sits on the northwest corner of the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5. With a shoreline walking path, play area and walkable pier with an observation tower, there’s plenty to keep kids occupied. The tower overlooks Elliott Bay and downtown Seattle, and also offers a view of port operations at Terminal 5 and Vigor Shipyards.
8th Avenue South Park, located in the South Park neighborhood, offers great views of the Duwamish Waterway and, at low tides, has access to a small beach.
- Seas the bay and take a boat ride
Get out on a boat — for free — at Boatfest, a family-friendly event at Shilshole Bay Marina in Ballard on June 9, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sign up for a ride on a sailboat, powerboat or even a tall ship, try kayaking and paddle boarding, and tour houseboats. There will be live music, food trucks, a beer and wine garden and kids’ activities — plus a Seattle Fire Boat display at 2:30 p.m. that’s sure to thrill the little ones.
- Celebrate seafood at Fishermen’s Terminal
Check out a real working fishing terminal, then dine on the bounty of the sea for a quintessential Seattle experience. Walk the docks, have a lunch of fish and chips in front of the fishing boats, then visit Wild Salmon Seafood Market to pick up some fresh fish to grill back at home.
- Get close to the action at Seattle’s container terminals
If your kids (OK, and you) are fascinated by the cargo ships and giant cranes that load them, get a closer look with a self-guided tour from Jack Perry Memorial Park or Jack Block Park. You’ll learn more about the complex operations of our world-class port, and get closer to the cranes and shipping containers you usually just see in passing from the car window. If a ship is in, you’ll have a prime view for seeing the operation in action.
- Ride your bike past cruise ships
Take in views of Elliott Bay and ogle the giant cruise ships on a ride along the Terminal 91 Bike Path — a paved route that runs from Centennial Park to the to the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal in Magnolia, and continues on connecting trails all the way to the Bell Street Cruise Terminal. The trail is open to walkers, runners and bike riders.
- Take your kayak (or paddle board) out for a spin
Sure, you can hop on a ferry or take a private cruise around Elliott Bay. But for a slower, more intimate on-the-water experience, use your own power and kayak along the Seattle waterfront. There are a slew of free launch points on Port of Seattle property in Elliott Bay, as well as in Ballard, along the Ship Canal and in the Duwamish Waterway. Get even more of a workout by renting a paddle board at one of the shops near Shilshole Bay Marina and paddle around the waterfront restaurants and picturesque Golden Gardens Park.
- See a movie at a marina
Catch an ocean-themed movie at the two Movies at the Marina events at Shilshole Bay Marina in Ballard. The movies — “Overboard” on Aug. 3 and “Moana” on Aug. 17 — start at dusk, but get there early for best seating. The movies — and the popcorn — are free, and you’re welcome to bring your own snacks and well-behaved dogs. Have a boat? Sail up; there’s guest moorage available.
Recognized as a national leader on sustainability and economic development, the Port of Seattle owns and operates Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, cruise, cargo and grain terminals, Fishermen’s Terminal, four public marinas and local real estate assets.