Seattle has had 3 freakishly sunny April weekends in a row and word on the street is that next weekend could complete the month with dry weather! There really isn't a better place to soak up some of this normally-rainy-city-sun than Lake Union. It lies right smack in the middle of Seattle, right next to downtown. When it gets sunny and 'warm' it fills with sea planes, sailboats, powerboats, kayakers, stand-up paddle boarders, and Seattle's iconic house-boats (okay, so the house-boats don't come out only in the sun...they're pretty much always there).
I usually like to stay away from Lake Union and favor nearby Lake Washington due to less boat traffic and more woodsy places to paddle but, in my effort to cover all of the Northwest's waterways, decided to join the crowds and give it a go.
My friend and I launched from the 14th ave boat ramp in Ballard. It's near the Ballard bridge on the Ballard side, near Trader Joe's and the Ballard Greenlake (the empty lot across from T-Js...that I may paddle one of these days:)
The start of this paddle takes you through the Lake Washington Ship Canal and provides plenty of Instagram-fodder with barges and tons of metal-ish stuff.
As you head East you'll go under the Fremont and Aurora (it's really called the George Washington Memorial Bridge) bridges, by Gasworks park (to the North) and the City (to the South).
After about 45 mins to an hour & 1/2 (depending on your kayak/wind/how many pictures you take/sun-bathing) you'll arrive at Ivar's Salmon House. It's on the Northside of the lake just before the I-5 and University bridges. We were lucky that the patio was open this early in the season (they said they opened it last minute due to the nice weather). We grabbed a drink, took a break, and eventually took off back to 14th ave.
Total time on the water for us: 3 hours-ish
Free parking and lots of spots at 14th ave: yep
Tides?: nope, it's a lake.
Salty?: nope, it's a lake. Food at Ivar's is salty.
Choppy? not too bad.
Sunny on this trip for you next weekend?: ? ;)
~Paul, Vic -ETC
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