All aboard! Do you have a tiny sailor who loves all things marine? A little aquatic aficionado who can’t wait to get out on the waves? Fortunately, we live in a city that has boatloads of places that will thoroughly entertain any water-loving adventurer. From the best boat rides in Seattle to museum exhibits, this on-point navigational tool includes the all the cool places in Seattle for kids who love boats!

Salish Sea Tours

Salish Sea Tours

If you haven’t heard of Salish Sea Tours before, it might be because they are brand new! This one-of-a-kind Miner’s Landing waterfront boat touring company is Native-owned and offers an Elliot Bay tour like no other. The narrated tour shares not only the history of Seattle but focuses on its Indigenous people as well. With a fleet of two, 93-foot Native-designed catamarans, creatively called Orca 1 and Orca 2, you and your Littles can take the hour-long tour of the Bay, learn about the city’s history, be captivated by its Duwamish heritage and ride the waves in style. The boats have numerous seating options that accommodate just about anyone. Stadium seating in the front for outside viewing, indoor seating great for snack time or our plethora of rainy days and open deck seating for those beautiful summer afternoons. Plus, two full service bars (with snacks!), parents! It’s a unique and exciting addition to Pier 57, and one that is perfect for even your tiniest seafarers. Get tickets online and don’t forget those jackets. The wind can get a bit chilly out on the water.

Launch Hours: 1:30, 3, 4:30, & 6 p.m.
Cost: $30/Adult; $20/Kids (3-11); $27/Senior; Free for kids 2 & under

Pier 57-Miner's Landing
1301 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 98101

Argosy Cruises Blake Island Fast Ferry

Kristina Moy

While Argosy Cruises are revamping many of their water tours this year, one is still up and running and would make a great day trip for your enthusiastic mariners. Check out the Blake Island Fast Ferry. Departing from Pier 55 nearly every hour, jump aboard their vessel for the 30 minute trip to the 1,127-acre Blake Island State Park to experience the trails, nature life, beaches, clam digging, views and all that this little island has to offer. Stay for a couple hours or make it an overnight excursion by camping! Blake Island is only accessible by boat and makes for a great day trip away from the hustle and bustle or, better yet, a smart way to occupy kiddos on these long summer days. And you won’t be left wondering how to nosh. Hit up the Longhouse Cafe for eats and treats if exploring sets that belly rumbling. Take a break and make it to Blake, for goodness sake!

Cost: $29/Person; Free for kids 3 & under

1101 Alaskan Way
Pier 55, Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98101

Ballard Locks

Ames B. via yelp

If watching boats is more your kiddos’ speed, look no further than the Ballard Locks, the busiest locks in the nation! Located just north of the city in the Ballard community and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, these locks will ooh and aah you little ship lovers. Watch along the railings as boats and ships both large and small pass through. Or bring a blanket and a picnic and sit in the grassy hill adjacent to the Locks as you watch the boats go by. Swing by the visitor center and admin building for further historic facts or stroll the botanical garden while you're there. It is also a great way to watch migrating salmon from June through September as they pass through the salmon ladder of the viewing windows. Not a bad way to spend a day with your nautical nuts.

Hours: Daily, 7 a.m.-9 p.m.
Cost: Free

3015 N.W. 54th St.
Seattle, WA 98107

Center For Wooden Boats

free things to do with kids in Seattle
Center For Wooden Boats

If the nostalgia of a good ole traditional wooden boat is strong with you and your cadets, Seattle has just the place for you! Check out the Center for Wooden Boats, located on Lake Union. Founders Dick and Colleen Wagner, who had previously been renting out their wooden boats for the past decade, started this hands-on, living museum in 1976 to showcase and educate others about their collection. Now expanded to include the Wagner Education Center, you will be able to see more historic wooden boats than ever. Visit the gallery installations, hanging boat exhibits, restoration projects and art displays while you are there. But that’s not all. Since this is a living museum, you can rent out a wooden boat yourself! Their fleet, from rowing boats, to cats, to sailboats, are rented out for personal use right on Lake Union. ‘Wood’ you like to sail? You bet!

Hours: Weds.-Sun., 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Closed Mon. & Tues. Last boat out at 5:45 p.m.

South Lake Union
1010 Valley St.
Seattle, WA 98109

The Electric Boat Company

Jacquelyn F. via yelp

What’s that? Captain your own boat? Yes, you can! The Electric Boat Company located on Lake Union lets you drive around your very own crew of up to 12 people. Easy to maneuver and navigate, with plenty of seating for all your skippers, these leisurely electric boats are where it’s at for a DIY glide on the water. We recommend the Duffy boats, perfect for a family. The kiddos will be able to check out all manner of boats and ships on the lake, as well as the draw bridge, the floating house community, and all the other quintessential Lake Union sights. Life jackets are complimentary for adults and kids and you can even bring your own food and bevvies while out on the ride. A pro when touring the lake this way is that the Duffy boats can also be fully enclosed and are heated if you book outside the summer months!

Cost: $125/hr. (minimum 2 hours)

2046 Westlake Ave. N., Suite 102
Seattle, WA 98109

Maritime Seattle at MOHAI

free or cheap museum days Seattle
courtesy MOHAI

Anyone who has been to Seattle knows how important our waterways are to our region. Lakes, chilly glacier runoff rivers, the Sound and the Pacific are all within our fingertips. It’s no wonder we have so many little lovers of water ready to learn and explore more! Check out the permanent Maritime Seattle exhibit at the Museum of History and Industry with your aquatic, inquisitive bunch. Located in MOHAI’s Naval Reserve Building, this gallery features old-timey diving equipment, a WWII-era submarine periscope with 360-degree views of Seattle, a Fresnel lens from the Smith Island Lighthouse, a real working ship’s wheel, an engine telegraph system and a tour of many historic ships with interesting tales to tell. You and your gang will leave here with tons of maritime knowledge that you won’t soon "castaway!"

Good to know: Check out MOHAI's newest exhibit Da Vinci-Inventions when you visit.

Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs. in Aug., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Cost: $22/Adult; Free for kids 14 & under

860 Terry Ave. N.
Seattle WA 98109

Emerald City Pirates Family Treasure Cruise

Kristina Moy

Arrr, Matey! Climb aboard for a pirate treasure cruise on the Emerald City Pirates’ ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge! Your buccaneers can join in this floating, interactive marauder experience while you toil around Lake Union in a pirate ship! You can take in the awesome view of the city skyline, but the real treat is the treasure search, games and the talk-like-a-pirate lessons your kiddos get while on board the hour-long swashbuckling cruise. They also have the chance to try their hand at the water cannons and will get a gift of their choice from the ship’s treasure chest. It’s truly all the fun your little hearties are searching for. You will want to walk the plank to the ship about 30 minutes ahead of time to board. And make time to check out the booty, swag, snacks and drinks at the ship’s store beforehand, too!

Hours: Sat. & Sun., hours vary
Cost: $32/Adult; $27/Kid (18 mos.-14); $15/Kid (18 mos. & under)

860 Terry Ave. N,
Seattle, WA 98109

Lake Sammamish State Park Boat Rentals

Alaina Weimer

With so many glorious lakes in our PNW region, it is hard to pick just one that is great for kayaking. But Lake Sammamish State Park is one of many worth the mention. If you are hitting up the Eastside and your Littles are eager to hit the waves, check out Lake Sammamish. There is a boat launch with kayak and board rentals at Tibbetts Beach. Get the kiddos jacketed up and send them out into the calm waters of the lake for a great day of paddling. Glide past the swimming area, hit the sand bar or check out the connected salmon creek. Don’t forget to keep your eyes on the sky. There are always bald eagles to be spotted here! Then, once your Littles get oar-arm, hit up the huge playground as well as the large sand beach for some picnic or sandcastle-building time. The concession stand is open now, too. Grab some ice cream, or if everyone is feeling the tummy rumbles, they also serve hot dogs, chicken sausages, nachos and…wait for it….Zeek's pizza! You won’t famish at Lake Sammamish! Full summer day filled with water fun? Check! Just remember your Discover Pass.

Foodie footnote: If a non-concession lunch or dinner is in the plan, hit up the XXX Root Beer Drive-In restaurant a few miles away for a monstrous burger, fries and a root beer float. There are only two of these themed eateries left so you won’t want to miss this novelty. Plus, it’s filled to the brim with groovy, nostalgic decor, making it a fun and unique place worthy of the visit while in the area!

2000 N.W. Sammamish Rd.
Issaquah, WA 98027

King County Water Taxi

Andrea U. via yelp

If bigger is better when it comes to boats, consider taking an adventure on one of the King County Water Taxis! Departing from downtown Seattle, there are two trips you can take on the Taxi. Head to either West Seattle or Vashon Island for the day. Departing from Pier 50, the taxis leave just about every hour for the Seacrest Dock in West Seattle, or if you are heading to Vashon to play for the day, the taxi leaves in the morning and evening commute times. These vessels hold 278 people and there is room on board for bicycles if you feel like biking instead of hiking. If a day in West Seattle or Vashon is on your bucket list, your itty bitty cruisers will find this means of getting there totally up their waterway! The online schedule has exact taxi times.

Foodie footnote: About half a mile down Harbor Ave, Salty's on Alki Beach is a must for their famous brunch (on Saturdays and Sundays), lunch or dinner! You get one of the very best views of the Seattle skyline plus award-winning Northwest seafood cuisine (think: crab, lobster, salmon, halibut, name it!), and it’s absolutely worth a pop over! And, yes, they do have a kids menu if your kiddos prefer to see their sea life in the water as opposed to on their plate!

201 S. Jackson St.
Seattle, WA 98104

Ice Cream Cruise

Seattle Water Tours

Claimed to be the “sweetest trip around Lake Union,” the Seattle Water Tours’ 42-passenger Ice Cream Cruise is clearly meant to be enjoyed by your kiddos with ice cream treats in hand. Their ship, the Fremont Avenue, leaves on Sundays, every hour on the hour for a 45-minute trip around the lake. Youngsters can learn about some of the hot spots on Lake Union including the history of Boeing, the floating homes community and a shipyard that has been working for over 100 years. It’s even dog-friendly, if you feel like bringing the pooch! The excursion is on a first-come, first-served basis for cruises on Sunday year-round, and also for select times on Saturdays in the summer. Perfect for your little boaters and your sweet tooth. I scream, you scream, we all scream for cruising with ice cream!

Days & Hours: Sun., year-round sailings every hour, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat. summer-only sailings at 11 a.m., noon & 1 p.m.
Cost: $15/Adult; $10/Kids (3-12); $4/Kids (2 & under)

860 Terry Ave. N.
Seattle, WA 98109

Woodmark Waterfront Adventures

Tweens and teens and even brave little teenies, we haven’t forgotten about you! If hitting the waves means taking your kiddos out for a bit more of an audacious ride, you may want to consider looking into Woodmark Waterfront Adventures. Located on Lake Washington at Carillon Point in Kirkland, this boat rental outfit has everything from ski/wakeboard passenger boats to jet skis, and from one and two-seater kayaks to SUP boards. They are all up for grabs! You can captain your own crew on a passenger boat, zoom around with your wild child on a jet ski, or, if you are feeling a sightseeing vibe, they also offer a captained boat to motor you around the scenic lake where you can see all the luxury real estate along the shore. You never know who’s house you may glimpse!

1200 Carillon Point
Kirkland, WA 98033

—Alaina Weimer


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