13 Safe & Scenic Places for Families to Go Kayaking

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If you ask us, summer is all about finding adventure and exploring the city. We couldn’t think of a better way to do both than taking the kids kayaking around Seattle. If you’re game, we’ve got the 411 on cool kayaking tours, SUP and kayak rentals and safe places to kayak with kids. So grab your sunglasses and sunscreen, and bring your sense of adventure to one of these water sports hot spots.

Where to Paddle in Seattle

Agua Verde Paddle Club

Grab some oars and launch into Portage Bay from the dock of this amazing paddle club. Spend the day exploring city views and houseboats on Lake Union or floating on the lily padded waters of the UW’s arboretum. After you’ve worked up an appetite, return your kayak and head upstairs to the Agua Verde Cafe for some delicious Mexican fare.

Good to Know: The last rental takes place 1.5 hours before the close of the day. Check the website for updates and special holiday hours.

Hours: Mon., Tues., Thurs. & Fri., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Cost: $21/hr. for single kayak; $28/hr. for double kayak; $21/hr. for stand up paddle board; $30/hr. for Mirage Eclipse pedal board. Check here for special weekday discounts.

1307 N.E. Boat St.
Seattle, WA 98105
Online: aguaverde.com

Moss Bay

This super-friendly kayak center can set you and your petite paddler up with everything you need for a fun-filled family adventure. Head out from the south end of Lake Union and go explore houseboat communities, Gas Works Park, the Ballard Locks and the University of Washington. Bonus: kids’ camps, large group packages and kayak lessons are also offered. Remember, this is a first-come, first-paddle situation so get there early.

Hours: Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Cost: $20/hr. for single kayak; $26/hr. for double kayak; $20/hr. for stand up paddle board. Call ahead on holidays and rainy/windy days to see if they’re open.

1001 Fairview Ave. N., #1900
Seattle, WA 98109
Online: mossbay.co

Ballard Kayak

Set adrift from Golden Gardens and spend a memorable day on the water that the Littles will be bragging about all summer long. Hourly and full-day rentals are available as well as guided tours (designed for all paddling levels) through the Ballard Locks, Discovery Bay or the Puget Sound. Rentals are first come, first served. Psst! Call ahead and Ballard Kayak will set you up in a family kayak with a third jump-seat for mini kayakers ages 5-8 to sit cozy and enjoy the ride in.

Tour Hours: Every day except Tues., 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
Rental Hours: Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m.-dusk

Cost: $20/hr. for single kayak; $30/hr. for double kayak; $20/hr. for stand up paddle board. All-day rentals available for $150-$220/day.

Shishole Bay Marina W-dock (by the Corinthian Yacht Club)
7001 Seaview Ave. N.W.
Seattle, WA 98117
Online: ballardkayak.com

Northwest Outdoor Center

With over 20 kayak models to choose from, this rental company is guaranteed to make it an awesome day on the water for everyone. Wander from their dock on Lake Union through famous houseboat communities or make your way to the arboretum. Kids will love watching sea planes and other watercraft maneuver the lake while taking in the spectacular view of Seattle’s skyline. Phone reservations are required to rent kayaks and SUPs here, so be sure to call ahead.

Good to Know: Northwest Outdoor Center kayaks are not permitted in the Ballard Locks. 

Hours: Mon.-Fri., noon-8 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Last reservations are taken 1.5 hours before closing.

Cost: $18/hour for single kayak; $25/hour for double kayak; $30/hour for triple kayak; $20/hour for stand up paddle board

2100 Westlake Ave. N., Ste. 1
Seattle, WA 98109
Online: nwoc.com

Alki Kayak Tours

Everyone loves Alki Beach, so why not give your crew a new perspective of this summertime hot spot and spend the day on the water with Alki Kayak Tours? Reservations are required to score some kayaks from their shop at the Seacrest Boathouse next to the Water Taxi dock and Marination Ma Kai. Families can also schedule a tour online for an amazing adventure around the waters of Elliot Bay. The last rentals of the day are 1.5 hours prior to sunset.

Good to Know: Families can also enjoy landlocked adventures with Alki Kayak Tours. They have longboard, inline skate and cruiser bike rentals.

Hours: Mon.-Sun., 10 a.m.-7 p.m., weather permitting

Cost: $20/hr. for single kayak; $30/hr. for double kayak; $20/hr. for stand up paddle board; daily rentals available for $90-$120 per day.

1660 Harbor Ave. S.W.
Seattle, WA 98126
Online: kayakalki.com

Where to Paddle on the Eastside

REI Boathouse at Meydenbauer Bay & Enatai Beach Park

If you're looking for classes or rentals for kayaks, stand up paddle boards, canoes or pedal boats on Lake Washington, the REI Boathouse can hook you up with everything you'll need for a perfect day on the water. The Boathouse has two locations: Meydenbauer Bay and Enatai Beach Park. If you choose the Meydenbauer Bay location, be sure to take advantage of the remodeled park with plenty of places to picnic, a new playground and awesome swimming beach before or after your water adventure. Their second location at Enatai Beach Park features views of the city, Mercer Island and Mount Rainier and kayakers often see eagles, herons, turtles and jays as well as waterlilies during their excursions. Rentals are first come, first served at both locations, so get there early. Psst! Purchase a lifetime membership for $20 and save some money on rental rates.

Hours: Thurs.-Sun., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Cost: $29-$39/hour for single kayak or stand up paddle boards; $39-$49/hour for canoe or tandem kayaks

Meydenbauer Bay Park
9899 Lake Washington Blvd. N.E.
Bellevue, WA 98004
425-902-9045 or email meydenbauer@rei.com
Online: rei.com/h/meydenbauer-bay-boathouse

Enatai Beach Park
3519 108th Ave. S.E.
Bellevue, WA 98004
425-902-9508 or email enatai@rei.com
Online: rei.com/h/enatai-beach-boathouse

Northwest Paddle Surfers

Take your crew on a sit-on-top kayak adventure around Juanita Bay with Northwest Paddle Surfers. Be sure to pack a picnic and everyone’s swim gear because after drifting on the waters of Lake Washington the kids will want to make it a day at the beach. You’ll want to reserve your rental online (at least a day in advance) as their fleet does go quickly, then pick up your kayak at the S.U.P. shack on the west side of the beach. 

Good to Know: Families can also rent kayaks and SUPs from their Adams Street Boat Ramp in Seattle on the weekends.

Hours: Mon.-Sun., noon-8 p.m., weather permitting

Cost: $25/hr. for single kayak; $40/hr. for double kayak; $25/hr. for stand up paddle board

Juanita Beach
9703 N.E. Juanita Dr.
Kirkland, WA 98034
Online: northwestpaddlesurfers.com

Carnation Paddle Sports

Trade your Puget Sound paddle adventures for the calmer waters of the Snoqualmie River. Reserve kayaks for your crew online, then head to the shores near Told McDonald State Park to get your paddle on, surrounded by the beauty of the Snoqualmie River Valley. Kayaks are outfitted for fishing, so bring your poles and fishing license too. And parents will appreciate there are restrooms and changing tents available on-site.

Hours: Mon.Fri. noon-5 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Cost: $25/hr. for single kayak, first hour, $15/hr. for additional time; $40/hr. for double kayak, first hour, $25/hr. for additional time; $25/hr. for stand up paddle board, $15/hr. for additional time

30900 N.E. Tolt Rd.
Carnation, WA
Online: carnationpaddlesports.com

Issaquah Paddle Sports

Head out for a family fun day at Lake Sammamish State Park. Look for the rental kiosk at Tibbetts Beach where you will be provided with all you need to get those paddlers on the water for some gorgeous lake views. Same-day reservations are available online, so be sure to login early. Rentals are also contingent on the weather, so call ahead if showers are in the forecast.

Good to Know: A Discover Pass ($11.50/day or $35/year) is required to drive into and park at Lake Sammamish State Park and can be purchased online or at the entrance kiosk.

Hours: Mon.-Sun., noon-6 p.m. (weather dependent)

Cost: $20/hr. for single kayak; $24/hr. for double kayak; $20/hr. for single stand up paddle board; $26/hr. for pedal boat

Lake Sammamish State Park
2000 N.W. Sammamish Rd.
Issaquah, WA 98027
Online: issaquahpaddlesports.com

Woodmark Waterfront Adventures

Psst! Here’s a secret. This water sport adventure shop isn’t just for Woodmark Hotel guests. Call ahead or book online and the staff will set you up with a one- or two-person kayak and get you ready to launch from beautiful Carillon Point. Once on the water, you’ll want to paddle south on Lake Washington to Yarrow Bay where the kiddies will love exploring the 73 acres of lush wetlands and its fascinating wildlife inhabitants.

Good to Know: Weather may affect operating hours. We recommend you call in advance to ensure availability. Peak days are weekends and holidays from Memorial Day to Labor Day. 

Hours: Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 10 a.m.-9 p.m. 

Cost: $24/hr. for single kayak; $24/hr. for double kayak; $24/hr. for stand up paddle board; $129-$199 for full-day rental.

1200 Carillon Point
Kirkland, WA 98033
Online: waterfrontadventures.com

WhatsSup Stand-Up Paddle & Surf

Offering two locations in Bothell and Kenmore, WhatsSup Stand-Up Paddle and Kayak offers a variety of services to meet your water sport needs. Their kayaks are great for two adults and a child and they offer a variety of kayaks—sit-on-tops are the most popular with families since they’re easy to get in and out of. WhatsSup will supply the paddles, PFD’s for all rentals, and of course, instruction. Hours are weather dependent, you can either book online in advance or do a walk-up rental.

Hours: Mon.-Sun., 11 a.m.-7 p.m. (last rentals one hour prior to closing)

Cost: $20/hr. single kayak sit on top; $24/hr. double kayak sit on top; $26/hr. kayak sit-in; $30/hr. double kayak sit-in

The Park at Bothell Landing
9919 N.E. 180th St.
Bothell, WA 98011
Online: whatssup.net

San Juan Island Paddle Spots

Sea Quest Kayak Tours

Set out on the tranquil waters of the San Juans for a full or multi-day wildlife adventure with this super knowledgeable and well-trained kayak company. You will spend the day tracking down orcas, dolphins, seals and many other fascinating marine animals along the west side of San Juan Island. Kids ages 5 and older are welcome, and no experience is necessary.

Hours: 1-5 day rentals scheduled daily. View the tour schedule online.

Cost: One-day guided tours start at $109/person

2 Spring St.
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Online: sea-quest-kayak.com

Anacortes Kayak Tours

If you’ve been dreaming about checking out a San Juan kayak experience but aren’t sure your brood is fully committed, Anacortes Kayak Tours is your place. Their 1.5-hour tour (a.k.a "The Quickie") travels the waters of Deception Pass and is perfect for beginners or those who want to avoid ferry travel. Longer trips are available with tours starting from Anacortes or Friday Harbor.

Hours: Varies and is based on scheduled tour time. View their available day trips online.

Cost: $39/Adults; $35/Kids (12 & under) for 1.5 hour Deception Pass kayaking tour. $99/three-hour, half-day San Juan Island guided tour. 

2201 Skyline Way, Ste. 203
Anacortes, WA 98221
Online: anacorteskayaktours.com

Crystal Seas Kayaking

If your water bug is ready to hop on a ferry and venture on an unforgettable kayak experience, look no further than Crystal Sea Kayaking to make it happen. They offer special family tours of the west side of San Juan Island to those of us lucky enough to have 5- to 9-year-olds in tow. Bring back an ocean full of memories of the amazing views and incredible wildlife seen on a half-, full- or multi-day trip. They offer a free shuttle service from the Anacortes ferry to their private kayak dock in Friday Harbor, so you can even leave your car and just walk on.

Hours: Varies and is based on scheduled tour time.

Cost: Tours start at $119/person

40 Spring St.
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Online: crystalseas.com

Know Before You Go:

1. Many of these spots aren’t currently taking walk-up reservations. Be sure to book your kayak online before heading over, and check out their current COVID precautions.

2. Do check the weather and water conditions before heading out for the day.

3. Get set to get wet! It’s best to wear clothing that can dry quickly, such as athletic gear or swim wear and skip the cotton. Temperatures on the water tend to be cooler, so dress warm and in layers.

4. Do bring water, snacks, sunblock, sunglasses, hats, towels, extra clothes and leave all your valuables and the kitchen sink at home. Pack anything you want to keep dry in Ziplock or dry bags.

5. More often than not life jackets will be provided, but if you’ve got minis weighing under 30 pounds in your crew, call ahead to check availability or bring your own P.F.D.

—Allison Sutcliffe, Kristina Moy, Jeffrey Totey & Rachael Brandon


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