Family Fun Activity Idea: Canoeing at UW Waterfront Activities Center

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Did you know you can rent a canoe at the UW Waterfront Activities Center? It’s located just behind the Husky Stadium and it’s such a fabulous way to spend a summer day. I have taken both my kids on separate occasions now, and both of them LOVED the experience. I thought I’d take the time to share a little bit about it in case you were unaware, or were just looking for one last fun outing to do with your kids before school starts back. It would also make a lovely date idea!

Getting there is pretty simple. Just head like you would to the Husky stadium and drive behind it until you get the activities center. There is paid parking available. I believe I ended up spending $6 for 2 hours. Boat rentals are available only seasonally (May – September), so *do* make sure to check the boat rental hours before heading out. I’ve never had an issue getting a canoe, but during busy times/weekends, you may want to plan on getting their early just to be safe. I’ve only ever rented a canoe, but they also have rowboats and single- and double-kayaks available. A canoe holds 2 people (and 3 if the 3rd person is under 90 pounds). A rowboat holds up to 4 people and is the same rate as the canoe rental (currently, $8/hour). You pay at the end, when you return your boat.

Now, you can canoe lots of places, but I absolutely adore canoeing here! It’s fun to canoe past the Stadium, or go across the bay to the Arboretum.

Canoeing over to the Arboretum is kind of magical. There are tons of lily pads, ducks, and heron. It’s like out of a fairy book! You could even pack a picnic lunch if you planned ahead and stop over there before canoeing back.

There are so many little inlets and places to canoe through.

My son thinks we spotted about 10 heron during our trip! We’d find them hidden among the grasses, standing so still.

There were so many ducks and geese and they really didn’t seem too bothered by us! A few of them followed our canoe, which was pretty sweet.

The areas you’ll canoe around are protected wildlife areas. Keep your eyes peeled! We saw a frog, a turtle, and a couple bald eagles as well.

It’s also fun to see the city from a completely new perspective!

There are also spaces to test out your ninja canoeing skills, such as negotiating this foot bridge. I have to admit, there were a few points that I had to figure out how to canoe with my son so we wouldn’t run aground. But the good news is, we made it. Even if you get “stuck,” you can almost always use your paddle to back yourself out or turn around. I once went here with a friend and honestly, I don’t remember having laughed so hard! You really will figure it out, even if you’re a complete novice.

I hope I’ve given you a fun idea to consider the next time you’re looking for a family adventure! It’s not too far, not too expensive, and a way to connect with nature and each other. For more information and to plan your trip, please do see the Boat Rental page at the website.