Charting Your Next Nautical Adventure on Lake Washington

Best Staycation: Boating on Lake Washington

Beer Sheva Park If you go to Beer Sheva, Israel, you’ll find “Seattle Park,” so it’s only fair that Seattle has a “Beer Sheva Park” (we’re sister cities). Row on up and eat that loaf of challah you brought with you at the playground or the generously sized picnicking area.

Cozy Cove Row your boat into this adorably named inlet and gaze at the wang-shaped protrusion that is Hunts Point, the 438-resident town with the highest per capita income in the state. Kenny G, Pete Carroll, and Steve Ballmer live here—bring a harpoon and pretend you’re a Bernie-or-Buster-turned-pirate out for proletariat revenge.

Denny-Blaine Park NUUUUDE BEEEACH. Clothing is optional here. Just don’t be a creep and spoil everyone’s fun.

Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park Welcome to Renton! This park has 57 acres of trails, tennis courts, and an Ivar’s Seafood Bar. Make seafaring grandpas across the world happy by pulling up in your boat to order fish & chips.

I-Dock A quiet hang for swimmers and the soon-to-be-sunburnt. People are usually trying to discreetly make out around here, so try not to stare—just keep your eyes on Rainier, you pervert.

Juanita Bay Park Whoa, you boated all the way to Kirkland, headquarters of Costco! There’s no Costco in this park (I know how much you wanted that $2.99 chicken bake), but there are songbirds, beavers, and a beach nearby.

Lake Washington Boulevard Park A small grass hill with a nice concrete lookout. Smells like weed 24/7.

Madrona Beach This gem has luscious rolling hills, a beach that’s usually full of happy, squealing kiddos, and an ice-cream window that’s never open when you wish it was.

Magnuson Park At 350 acres, this is the second biggest park in Seattle (after Discovery Park). Check out the restored wetlands, fly your kite on Kite Hill, and wander up to the Sound Garden art installation at the top of the park that, yeah, Soundgarden got its name from. It just plays organ tones, not “Black Hole Sun,” unfortunately.

Matthews Beach Park Park your boat and watch all the Spandex zip by on the Burke-Gilman Trail. Also, there’s an excellent swimming raft with high and low boards, so you can show off your refined belly-flop technique.

Medina Community Park You can dock your boat on the small beach here, shake your fist at the nearby Medina City Hall, and gawk at all the gated mansions while you wobble your way to the Medina Grocery Store for more beer. Whoever spots Bill Gates first will be forced to upgrade to Windows 10 on sight, or else be drowned.

Mt. Baker Beach The dock here is shaped like a Y, and the grassy area around the sandy beach always has 100 to 200 families grilling on it. (I saw the largest bowl of hot dogs in my life there.) With minimal subterfuge you can probably score at least one free hot dog.

Pritchard Island Beach This hidden gem isn’t actually an island, but it was before the Ship Canal was built and dropped the lake nine feet. Now it’s a well-tended wetland with a bath house, an amphitheatre, and a swimming raft.

Saint Edward State Park Yep, there’s a humongous state park on the lake, way up north in Kenmore. There’s a big old abandoned Catholic seminary building (very spooky), the biggest children’s playground in Washington, and a gorgeous series of trails full of all sorts of local flora and fauna, including bald eagles and otters.

Seward Park Although it sounds like “Sewage Park,” this is a gorgeous, forested, almond-shaped treasure. Beach or dock your boat here and spend your day wandering around its 300 acres getting lost. There’s almost always an ice-cream truck warbling “Do Your Ears Hang Low” in the parking lot.

Stan Sayres Memorial Park There are always lots of rowers here blaring Top 40 and doing aerobics. The docks and surrounding water are kind of scummy, but if you like incredibly bold ducks and geese, they love hanging out here in the scum, quacking away about something.

T-Dock Like the I-dock, but much busier, and shaped like a “T.” Leschi Market is a walk away if you get hungry—crazy tasty roast chicken, ribs, and salads.

Union Bay All sorts of gold here, including Foster Island’s marshy trails and floating bridges and a waterway entry to the Arboretum. Also, if you don’t have a boat, you can rent a canoe or a rowboat from UW’s Waterfront Activities Center.

Madison Park Beach You could just row up to this cozy little beach and enjoy the park, but the best way to do it is by walking to the nearby Red Onion Tavern—one of Seattle’s diviest hidden bars with a killer deal on no-frills French dips.

Read about the rest of the Best of Seattle Reader Poll winners here. If you didn’t get a chance to vote this go-round, make sure your voice is heard next year. Email us at and we will let you know when nominations open for BoS 2017.