Just north of downtown Seattle, the glacially carved freshwater Lake Union is ringed with houseboats—including the one made famous by the movie Sleepless in Seattle—and home to numerous recreational opportunities. The lake is a true urban gem, contributing to Seattle’s high standard of living.
Visitors can experience Lake Union in several ways. For those who want to be in the water, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and canoeing are popular activities. The Northwest Outdoor Center and the Agua Verde Paddle Club rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, while the Center for Wooden Boats hosts free Sunday public sailing tours and rents canoes.
If you’d rather stay dry, the lake’s shores offer many scenic parks to explore, such as Fairview Park, South Lake Union Park, North Passage Point Park, Gas Works Park, and Terry Pettus Park. The Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI), on the lake’s southern end, is another draw, with a permanent collection of over 100,000 objects including Seattle artifacts, local inventions, maritime pieces, local artwork, and historical textiles. The museum also has rotating exhibits, historical workshops and lectures, and public tours.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Activities on and around Lake Union are great for families and active travelers.
- The weather can change rapidly in Seattle, so bring warm and waterproof layers.
- You’ll experience lots of sun exposure on clear days, so wear sunscreen.
How to Get There
Lake Union is roughly north of downtown and south of the Fremont and Wallingford neighborhoods. It’s accessible by public transit from several areas around Seattle. The South Lake Union line of the Seattle Streetcar and buses 40 and 62 service the neighborhood.
When to Get There
Lake Union is busiest on sunny summer weekend afternoons, and warm days are the best ones to visit. You can avoid crowds by visiting during the week, before 5pm.
Lake Union Restaurants
Several restaurants nearby offer views of Lake Union. Try fish-and-chips with a pint of beer on the waterfront patio of The 100 Pound Clam. Sister restaurant White Swan Public House has excellent Northwest fare. Across the lake, boats can tie up to Westward, where oysters, Mediterranean fare, and cocktails are the draw.