Paddle On! Where Seattle Families Go to Kayak & SUP

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If there’s one thing Seattle kids know, it’s the Sound. Whether they’re walking its rocky shores in search of sea creatures hidden under rocks or building sandcastles on Golden Garden’s sandy shores. But if you haven’t taken the kids out on the water yet (sorry folks, ferries don’t count), now is the perfect time for a new outdoor adventure. Lucky for you Seattle and the Eastside have some of the PNW’s best places to kayak with kids. Whether you BYO or rent kayaks or SUPs, you’ll have a blast padding around the magical Sound. And while we’re sure you’ll spot some harbor seals, we’ll keep our fingers crossed for orca sightings. No go out and have fun. And no splashing. Nobody likes a splasher.

Best Places to SUP & Kayak with Kids in Seattle

Northwest Paddle Surfers

Take your crew on a sit-on-top kayak adventure 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: Reservations are recommended and must be made online at least 12 hours in advance.

Cost: $25/hr., single kayak; $40/hr., double kayak; $25/hr., paddle board

Adams Street Boat Ramp
Lake Washington Blvd. S & S. Adams St.
Seattle
Online: northwestpaddlesurfers.com

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.

Cost: $23/hr. for single kayak; $30/hr. for double kayak; $25/hr. for paddle board; $35/hr. for premium single; $40/hr. premium double. 

1307 N.E. Boat St.
Seattle
Online: aguaverde.com

Related: Outdoor Eats: 13 Kid-Friendly Restaurants with Patios

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.

Cost: $23/hr. for single kayak; $30/hr. for double kayak; $23/hr. for paddle board. Call ahead on holidays and rainy/windy days to see if they’re open.

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

Related: All the Great Places to Explore in SLU with Kids

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. 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.

Cost: $22/hr. for single kayak; $32/hr. for double kayak; $22/hr. for paddle board. All-day rentals available for $136-$216/day.

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

Related: 13 Sandy Beaches Where Kids Can Swim

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: The last rental takes place two hours before the close of the day. Northwest Outdoor Center kayaks are not permitted in the Ballard Locks. 

Cost: $23/hour for single kayak; $30/hour for double kayak; $40/hour for triple kayak; $23/hour for paddle board

2100 Westlake Ave. N., Ste. 1
Seattle
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.

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
Online: kayakalki.com

Related: 18 Reasons to Plan a Daycation at Alki

Where Families Kayak & SUP 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 park with plenty of places to picnic, a gorgeous 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. 

Cost: $29/hr., single kayak; $39/hr., tandem kayak; $39/hr., single pedal kayak; $29/hr.,paddleboard; $69/hr., 6-person paddleboard; $39/hr. stand-up elliptical

Meydenbauer Bay Park
9899 Lake Washington Blvd. N.E.
Bellevue, WA
Online: rei.com/h/meydenbauer-bay-boathouse

Enatai Beach Park
3519 108th Ave. S.E.
Bellevue, WA 
Online: rei.com/h/enatai-beach-boathouse

Related: Your Guide to Seattle’s Best Playgrounds & Parks

Northwest Paddle Surfers

Take your crew on a sit-on-top kayak adventure 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. Reservations are recommended and must be made online at least 12 hours in advance. 

Cost: $25/hr., single kayak; $40/hr., double kayak; $25/hr., paddle board

Locations: Hyatt Regency Lake Washington in Renton; Marina Park & Juanita Beach in Kirkland

Online: northwestpaddlesurfers.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 is required to drive into and park at Lake Sammamish State Park and can be purchased online or at the entrance kiosk.

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

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

Related: Reel ‘Em In: 15 Places to Go Fishing with Kids

Woodmark Waterfront Adventures

We’ll let you in on a little 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 kids 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. 

Cost: $24/hr. for single kayak; $39/hr. for double kayak; $24/hr. for paddle board; $129-$199 for full-day rental

1200 Carillon Point
Kirkland, WA 
Online: waterfrontadventures.com

Imani via Unsplash

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.

Cost: $20/hr. for single kayak (sit on top); $26/hr. for single kayak (sit in); $24/hr. for double kayak (sit on top); $30/hr. for double kayak (sit-in); $20/hr. for paddle board; $28/hr. for canoe

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

Best Places to Kayak & SUP in the San Juan Islands

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.

Cost: One-day guided tours start at $119/person

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

Related: The San Juan Island Resort That Fits Every Family Vacation Style

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.

Cost: $49/adult; $39/kid (12 & under) for 1.5 hour Deception Pass kayaking tour. $125/three-hour, half-day San Juan Island guided tour

2201 Skyline Way, Suite 203
Anacortes, WA 
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.

Cost: Tours start at $125/person

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

Know Before You Go:

1. If you’re new to the sport, taking a lesson by yourself before taking the kids out for an adventure is recommended.

2. Always check the weather and water conditions before heading out for the day. Hint: tides are key.

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.

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

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