Kayak Seattle's Lake Union

Downtown Seattle from Lake Union

We all think about sea kayaking along some remote coastline with eagles soaring, seals surfacing and bears roaming the beaches.

That's OK, but urban sea kayaking is where it's at, especially when you can combine paddling with a visit to the local chowder house and savor the taste of fine Northwest microbrews. Welcome to sea kayaking on Seattle's Lake Union.

Every time I get a chance to go to Seattle, I rent a sea kayak and take in the sights and sounds of the city from the water.

It's pretty easy. You don't have to try to squeeze your hard-shell touring kayak through airport baggage. There are several places to rent sea kayaks around the lake. It doesn't get any easier.

I rented a kayak for my wife and I from the Northwest Outdoor Center, which is right on the lake. It's so easy. Walk down the dock, get in the boat and off you go. The staff also gives lessons if you need them.

Lake Union is considered a beginner paddling adventure. There can be some winds, but if you keep close to the sides of the lake you won't get into trouble.

The best thing about paddling Lake Union is charting a course?to a restaurant for lunch. You'll find everything from Mexican to sushi and steak grills to chowder houses. Go easy on the beer because you have to paddle back to your launch point.

The lake has so many points of interest that take 3- to 6-mile round trips. You can be wowed at the Center for Wooden Boats or paddle along the docks and dream about owning yachts and sailboats. The floating homes and house boats on the lake are works of art.

You'll enjoy seeing the Space Needle from the middle of the lake or watching and listening to the sea planes take off and land. The first time one comes over your head, you instantly learn where their landing zones are and you avoid them.

You'll be out on the lake with sailboaters, other paddlers, motorboaters and some awesome-looking ships. It's definitely a wild paddling experience in the middle of the city.

By the way, some paddlers have taken off from the Northwest Outdoor Center's dock and headed for Alaska.

You don't have to do that the first time out.

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