Home Features Take the Lakes

Take the Lakes

by Kate Calamusa
Summer Lakes Feature

Seattle is a city renowned for its captivating blend of urban allure and natural beauty. At the heart of this unique juxtaposition are two shimmering gems cherished by locals and visitors alike—Lakes Union and Washington. Conveniently dotted with many marinas, they beckon to boaters 365 days a year, but come summertime, man, do these watery jewels take on a little extra sparkle. The dock-and-dine spots throw open their doors, cruising parties converge on the lapping waters, seaplanes dive down from overhead, and sunbathers rejoice and repine on boats’ bows. It’s the hometown waters’ time to shine, and even if you’ve traversed them for years, this summer provides some gleaming new opportunities, plus buzzy updates from a few favorite haunts, that are ripe for the taking—sip, savor, paddle, and power your way with our guide.


Summer Lakes Feature


From Renee Erickson’s venerated Westward to the quintessential establishments of Duke’s Seafood and Ivar’s Salmon House, Lake Union is awash in delicious and delectable bites. All three of the aforementioned eateries offer dock-n’-dine amenities, as well as expansive patios for enjoying your fare. You can also take it to go, something that Bowriders, located next door to Westward near the base of the University Bridge, has made especially easy to do. Order online via their website, then their new tracking system will notify you when it’s time to nose up to their designated dock to receive your food delivery from a friendly team member. (When it comes to ordering, we heartily recommend the summery tequila-marinated shrimp tacos or the fan favorite lamb sliders that often pop up on the specials menu.) Hankering for some fish n’ ships ? Head over to South Lake Union, where the 100 Pound Clam, the sister restaurant to White Swan Public House, has now opened up shop for the season, shelling out fried fish, chowder, and seasonal faves like charred corn from their walk-up window. Enjoy your choice on their sunny deck, which overlooks the developing action at Lake Union Piers. More info: westwardseattle.com; dukesseafood.com; ivars.com/salmon-house; bowridersgrill.com


Speaking of Lake Union Piers, prepare to whet your whistle at The Cove by summer’s end. To be located in the same complex as the offices for Chuck Hovey and Silver Seas Yachts, as well as mere steps from Hampton Yacht Group and Worth Avenue Yachts, The Cove will offer wine from the Seattle-based Ackley Brands’ impressive portfolio—which includes Montifore Estate, Cataclysm Wine Co., and Borealis Vintners—as well as craft beer options from their newest acquisition, Mac and Jack’s Brewing. Sate your thirst until then at Tapster, a self-serve tasting room located just steps off the lake across Valley Street in South Lake Union. Fill up your own glass and sample from the rotating arrays of beers, hard ciders, and seltzers, then park yourself on the patio or embrace your inner child by snagging one of the ceiling-mounted swing seats. More info: ackleybrands.com; tapstertastingroom.com


The organization that lovingly cares for Tordenskjold, Arthur Foss, and the Lightship No. 83 SWIFTSURE that all stand tall outside of MOHAI, the Northwest Seaport is celebrating its 60th anniversary in June with a slew of events in SLU. Pay homage to local maritime history by taking part in a community chantey sing at Lake Union Park on June 14th, or mosey on by the Classic Workboat Show set for the weekend of June 15th-16th to see workboats old and new and enjoy tours of the historic ships at the wharf. You can also hop aboard the Arthur Foss later in the summer as the organization’s popular Tugboat Happy Hours, which resume for the season on July 9th. More info: nwseaport.org/60th-anniversary-events.html


Nestled in the waterways that connect the two lakes, an old standby, Agua Verde Cafe & Paddle Club, is offering up refreshed summertime vibes from their Marina Cantina, which is only accessible to those in the know from the water (you can walk there from the public kayak dock near Boat Street Marina, or dock at the free boat slips at the main cafe). Open seasonally from May-September, and offering Tex-Mex fare like chips and salsa, burritos, and tacos alongside a full bar menu, this pavilion area provides a welcome respite after a paddle. (Speaking of paddling, it’s also well worth checking out the Paddle Club’s Kayak Tours of the area. The sunrise or sunset options are sure winners, and the full moon night trip is one for the bucket list!) More info: aguaverdecafe.com/marinacantina; aguaverdepaddleclub.com/tours-classes/


Lakes Feature


The state’s second largest and the largest lake in King County, Lake Washington provides ample opportunities and well, curiosities, for boaters: Marvel at the majestic homes in Medina or on Mercer Island (rumor has it that you can still spy the T. Rex fossil in Nathan Myrvhold’s Medina abode!) or spy someone sunning in their birthday suit at Denny Blaine Park’s infamous nude beach. Coming from Lake Union, you could easily start with the lapping waters situated near the university campus. Spy water birds, beavers, frogs, and gorgeous flora and fauna in the inlets of Union Bay and around Foster Island, take part in a preseason “sailgate” by the football stadium, and in a new development, cruise on by the ASUW Shell House as it begins transforming into a museum and events space. And while the famous home of the “Boys in the Boat” is officially closed for construction until 2026, there still will be infrequent tours of the space if and when construction allows, coupled with the UW’s already popular Guided Tours of the Conibear Shellhouse; keep an eye on their site and perhaps gather some insider intel for us all. More info: washingtonrowing.com/history/tours/


Located at the base of the Hyatt Regency Lake Washington at Seattle’s Southport, near the Boeing Renton factory, the pop-up restaurant and bar Dock & Drink pretty much has it all: standout burgers, refreshing brews, delicious cocktails, and breathtaking views, all enjoyed from their dockside terrace situated next to the boardwalk. Only open during the summer months, the eatery offers complimentary moorage for 3 hours, plenty of time to while away a sunny afternoon. Plus, this year marks the debut of the Dockside Market next door that will offer grab-n-go snacks and essential items like sunscreen, ice, and hats. Here you can also rent paddleboards to launch from the small beach in front of the hotel. You can’t talk about good eats and not mention the culinary hub that is the Kirkland waterfront near Carillon Point. You can tie up to the 175-foot-long dock in front of The Beach House to satisfy your super-sized sandwich craving, or indulge in the truly splendiferous setting of Como, the Italian-themed eatery in the Woodmark Hotel that exudes true Lombardy vibes. Come the summer months, Como ups the ante by offering diners pre- or post-dinner cruises aboard the Como Boat, a 1951 22’ Shepherd stunner that comes complete with a captain to spirit around the sites as you sip some bubbly. (These slots fill fast, be sure to reserve your jaunt ahead of time!).  More info: dockanddrink.com; beachhouserestaurants.com; comousa.com; comoboatusa.com


One might not immediately think of sailboat racing when it comes to the lake, but Lake Washington plays host to one of the more thrilling series of the summer: Corinthian Yacht Club’s Lake Solstice & Summer Evening sailboat races that take place every Tuesday and Wednesday off Leschi and culminate in the Moonlight Race. To be held August 10th this year, this beloved event made a recent return after a long hiatus and has quickly become a summer classic; it’s well worth a watch, or even participating should you wish it. Kirkland Sailing Club also offers Friday night fodder with their KSSS Summer Racing Series, and both the Renton Sailing Center and Mount Baker Rowing and Sailing Center recently opened up their summer sailboat lesson calendars—fair winds! More info: cycseattle.org

You may also like

Leave a Comment