Seattle is literally surrounded by bodies of water. This sea port receives imported goods from around the world, yet the city keeps it’s cultural charm. Both fresh and salt water ebb and flow through-out the area. In addition to lakes and Puget Sound, numerous rivers cut through the area too.

The Seattle-Bremerton ferry runs across Puget Sound daily. Photo by Karen Ulvestad.

Puget Sound

Puget Sound in the largest body of water in and around Seattle. This salt-water sound is part of the Salish Sea, which extends from the north end of the Strait of Georgia Sound though to the south end of Puget Sound and includes the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The city of Seattle is built on the shore of the sound, and its called Elliott Bay. The sound is home to a wide variety of marine and bird life. Pods of Orca and migrating grey whales cruise through the sound, and many species of sea and shore birds live year round. Bald eagles are common. The sound offers opportunities to swim, boat, fish, and relax. There are many parks and public beaches to explore, and spend time enjoying a sunset. Transportation on Puget Sound is the local ferry system. These open air boats transport automobiles and people across the sound. They are unique to the Puget Sound area.

Kirkland sits on the east side of Lake Washington. Photo by Karen Ulvestad

Lake Washington

Lake Washington is the largest freshwater lake in the area. The lake stretches from Kenmore to Renton, and is crossed by 2 floating bridges. The lake is home to the Seafair Hydroplane races in August. This lake is connected to Lake Union and Puget Sound via the ship canal and Ballard Locks. The lake is the eastern border of Seattle, Mercer Island is located on the south end, and the east side of the lake borders several cities. There is shore access in Seattle, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Juanita, Kirkland, and Renton. The lake is a great place to swim, boat, windsurf, fish, water ski, and walk on the beach.

Lake Sammamish

Lake Sammamish is the largest lake on the east side. It is near the communities of Bellevue and Issaquah. The lake is surrounded by private homes, and public access to the lake is at Lake Sammamish State Park, a day use only park. The park is over 500 acres, and allows visitors access to the lake’s shoreline and water. Popular activities at the park include swimming, walking the beach, hiking, biking, boating, and enjoying a picnic.

Related: Best Places To Go Fishing Near Seattle

Green Lake

Green Lake is located in north Seattle along Highway 99 (Aurora Ave.). The lake is surrounded by a park, which allows access to the lake for swimming, fishing, and non-motorized boating. Boats can be rented at the lake during the summer months, and there is a walking/running/biking paved path encircling the lake. Across the street from the lake is residential homes, a branch of the Seattle Library, great businesses, and restaurants. Within the park is the Bath House Theater and city recreation building. The lake is a great place to have a picnic or walk the paved path.

Lake Union

Lake Union sits to the north side of downtown Seattle. On the west side is Queen Anne Hill, and the north is the University District, Fremont District, and Ballard District. Gas Works Park is on the north side, and offers incredible views of Seattle, including the iconic Space Needle. On the south side of the lake, the Lake Union park offers a great place to enjoy an outdoor park near downtown. The lake is a great area to relax at a park or take a tour of the area via a local tour company.

Related: Best Sailing Lessons In Seattle

Karen Ulvestad is a mother and professional writer/photographer, who lives in the greater Seattle area. She graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in English Composition. Her background is in fitness, travel, photography and writing. She continually researches locations to visit, and/or entertainment opportunities for family outings and/or photo shoots. Her work can be found at