Courtesy Seattle Balooning
Photo: Nick Hall Photography

Seattle's Top Outdoor Activities

Seattle’s moderate climate and natural features beckon to you to get out there!

When the sun comes out, Seattle’s outdoor-oriented culture shines, which means that adventurous activities, many within city limits, are bountiful. Here are some of the best ways to enjoy the unique mix of urban adventure Seattle has to offer:

View from Discovery Park. Photo: Panchenks


Seattle isn’t only a hustling, bustling urban metropolis. It’s also home to some of the nation’s best and wildest parks, perfect for leisurely strolls or vigorous hikes. Two of our largest parks, Discovery Park and Seward Park offer particularly beautiful hiking opportunities that will satisfy even the most avid of trekkers.

Seattle’s largest park, Discovery Park, covers 534-acres in the Magnolia neighborhood along the shores of Puget Sound. Visitors can hike it’s more than 11 miles of trails through meadows and forest, eventually winding down to both a north and south beach, with an iconic lighthouse bisecting the two. Plus, if you keep your eyes peeled along the shore, you just might spot a whale breeching or a local harbor seal poking its head above the water’s surface.

Located southeast of Seattle’s downtown, along the west edge of Lake Washington, Seward Park boasts more than 300 acres of beautiful forest land with miles of hiking trails that wind through old-growth forest. Come down out of the woods on any side of the park and you’ll be greeted by lapping waves nearly surrounding the park. Bald eagles are plentiful here, so be sure to look up whenever you can!

Looking to venture further afield? With easy access to countless spectacular trailheads, Seattle is the perfect base camp for your hiking adventures. Visit the Washington Trails Association for detailed hiking guides, maps and trip reports for trails throughout the region.

Photo: David Newman


Getting out on the water in Seattle is easy: whether you want to be out on our salt-water Elliott Bay or Puget Sound or in our fresh-water Lake Union or Lake Washington, you’ll find a facility to help you make it happen.

  • Ballard Kayak – Located just 10 minutes from downtown and within walking distance of the Ballard Locks, we offer Seattle stand-up paddleboard (SUP) and kayak rentals by the hour.
  • Alki Kayak Tours – Our paddleboard and kayak tours explore the wilder side of Puget Sound as we scout for curious seals and observe nesting bald eagles perched above the “birthplace of Seattle.”
  • Crystal Seas Kayaking – Crystal Seas Kayaking specializes in guided 3-hour, full-day, sunset and multi-day kayaking and multi-sport trips in Washington’s sunny San Juan Islands – mid March through mid October.
  • Northwest Outdoor Center – We rent paddleboards and kayaks (single, double & triple) from our docks outside our door on Lake Union.
  • Agua Verde Paddle Club – Head towards Lake Union for views of the city, houseboats, and Gas Works Park – or venture through the UW Arboretum to paddle the water trails and check out the local flora and fauna.
  • Moss Bay – Moss Bay Row, Kayak, Sail and Paddle Board Center provides year round boating opportunities near the heart of downtown Seattle.
Photo: Nick Hall Photography


Bicycling opportunities are numerous, especially in the South Lake Union neighborhood. In addition to friendly streets lined with restaurants and shops, the area offers a new recreational trail that provides sweeping views of the lake and some good, old-fashioned exercise. The Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop is a six-mile path that loops around Lake Union. The trail includes interpretive signs that celebrate Seattle’s maritime, industrial, Native American and natural histories. There are plenty of nearby restaurants to grab a snack. Seattle Cycling Tours offers guided bicycle tours of the city and provides the bikes, helmets and the local knowledge. Also check out The Bicycle Repair Shop and Eagle Rider motorcycle tours.

Photo: Kenmore Air


Whether you’re looking for an incredible “flightseeing” experience or an island-hopping excursion, Seattle’s seaplanes are the ticket to an unforgettable adventure. Kenmore Air, which began their Seattle operation in 1946, is one of the oldest and largest sea plane operators in the world with a fleet of 25 aircraft. Take a seat on one of their regularly scheduled flights between Seattle and Victoria, B.C. (just one hour flight time!), or to Friday Harbor and other points in the San Juan Islands, Olympic Peninsula and British Columbia’s Gulf Islands. Charters, fishing trips and other packages including a 20 minute Seattle “flightseeing” excursion are popular offerings as well.

Seattle Seaplanes offers more options to lift off from Lake Union, including year-around sightseeing flights and “dinner flights” to popular restaurants and resorts in the San Juan Islands, Victoria, B.C., Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula and the towns of Port Ludlow, Port Hadlock and Poulsbo on the Kitsap Peninsula. Charters, special occasion flights and flight instruction are also available.

Looking for something a little bit different? Try a luxury hot air ballooning experience. Seattle Ballooning limits their guests to four per balloon as they fly over river valleys and right in front of Mt. Rainier.

Ferry Puget Sound Photo: David Newman

Ferry Riding

One of the best ways to easily and comfortably get out on the water is on a Washington State Ferry. Our ferry system is the nation’s largest, too, carrying 23 million passengers each year aboard 28 vessels serving ten routes. Drive, walk or bike onto a ferry leaving for Bremerton or Bainbridge Island from Seattle’s Pier 52. Among the most popular and scenic routes are the ones leaving Seattle’s waterfront. These car ferries (also open to foot and bicycle passengers) travel to Bremerton (on the Kitsap Peninsula) and Bainbridge Island.




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