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Washington State

Tours from Seattle's Waterfront

Few vacation destinations are as dedicated to aquatic recreation as is Seattle. Nearly surrounded by water, the city counts more boats per capita than anywhere in the country. Boating activity continues non-stop from Opening Day of yachting season, in early May, through mid-summer unlimited hydroplane races to the close of salmon-fishing season in the late fall.

Getting out on the water is easy for the visitor as well, and the options range from joining a harbor excursion to chartering a fully crewed yacht for a month of cruising in the San Juan Islands. All fares are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted.

Washington State Ferries is the nation's largest ferry system, serving ten routes with 27 vessels. Ferries range in size from small, high-speed passenger boats to vessels that carry 2,500 passengers and 218 automobiles. Among the most popular and scenic routes are the ones leaving

Car ferries travel to Bremerton (Olympic Peninsula) and Bainbridge Island, passenger-only ferries to Bremerton and Vashon Island. Several other routes operate on Puget Sound with comparable fares and regular sailings, including Mukilteo-Clinton (Whidbey Island) and Edmonds-Kingston (Olympic Peninsula). The Anacortes-San Juan Islands-Sydney route winds from the Washington mainland through the beautiful San Juan Islands (with stops at four of the largest islands) to Vancouver Island, just north of Victoria.

The Victoria Clipper offers high-speed passenger-only catamaran service from the Seattle waterfront to Victoria, B.C. (2-21/2 hour crossing time). Victoria Clipper also serves Friday Harbor and Orcus in the San Juan Islands. With the installation of gas turbines in April 1996, the Victoria Clipper IV is the fastest passenger vessel in the western hemisphere, reducing the travel time between Seattle and Victoria from 21/2 hours to 13/4 hours. Fares vary depending on season and destination. Special packages and d iscount fares for seniors, children and groups are available.

A number of water sightseeing options exist as well. Gray Line offers a two-hour cruise May through October that includes Elliott Bay, the working waterfront at Harbor Island, the Lake Washington Ship Canal, Government Locks and Lake Union. Tours depart from Pier 56.

Argosy runs one-hour tours of Elliott Bay (Seattle's harbor) Tours depart from Pier 55. Or, if you've got 21/2 hours to spare, cruise from downtown through the busy Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. Tours depart from Pier 55. May through October, a 11/2 hour Lake Washington Cruise departs daily from the Kirkland waterfront. Prices are $26 for adults and $14 for children.

Tillicum Village & Tours features a cruise from Pier 55 on the Seattle Waterfront to Blake Island State Park for a salmon bake dinner and a Northwest Coast Indian dancing presentation.

The Lady Washington, a full-scale replica of the first American vessel to explore the Pacific Northwest Coast, will offer tours and sailing excursions from the Seattle waterfront June through September. The Lady Washington, operated by Tall Ship Tours and the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport, will offer dockside tours, two-hour sailing excursions and evening sunset sailing excursions. Tours and excursions start at Pier 54 on Seattle's central waterfront.

Warm summer days lure canoeists who paddle through the quiet waterways around the University of Washington Arboretum. Several lakeside boathouses rent sailboats ranging from 12 to 22 feet Sport Fishing of Seattle, located on the Seattle Waterfront, offers several morning and afternoon mooching trips on Puget Sound during salmon fishing season, normally mid-summer through early fall. Charter trips are also available. Many visitors charter power boats or sailing yachts for a week or more and cruise from Seattle north through the San Juan Islands and into Canadian waters. Dozens of charter firms rent both bare boats and fully crewed vessels.

Seattles Waterfront, Pier 48
Seattles Waterfront, Pier 48

Elliot Bay at night
Elliot Bay at night

Seattles Waterfront
Seattles Waterfront



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Source: Seattle CVB;
Last modified: 20100522
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