South Lake Union.
A sailboat is a machine. This machine was invented thousands of years ago, and was reinvented thousands of times over. Human beings are still tweaking this machine to make it more comfortable, faster, easier to maneuver, and more durable. The constraints have been in place from the beginning: wind as the sole power source to propel the vessel. (Oars or engine are used only to get in and out of the dock.) The system is surprisingly simple, yet vastly complicated at the same time. It takes just a few days to learn and a lifetime to master.
A sailboat, particularly a dinghy, is mystically charming. When the sails catch the wind, the boat picks up speed as if it is starting to fly, then it glides on the water in a magical way. Then, without warning, something changes: the wind played a trick on you, you need to change direction, another vessel interacted with you, or water moved differently. You needed to react: trim this or that sheet, steer the rudder, shift your own location, etc. Surprisingly, mostly simply pulling or loosening a rope. The system has three dozen operators yet only one variable: the wind.
Sailing can be mentally challenging, physically demanding, or overall relaxing at the same time. South Lake Union is the perfect place to enjoy or learn this craft.
Come to Seattle downtown and find the streetcar station at Fifth and Olive. It takes 8 minutes’ ride to South Lake Union. Walk into the park and find Center for Wooden Boats. If they agree that you can handle the boat, you may rent a boat and sail out on your own. Otherwise, like myself, you can just sign up for a class ($60). The instructors are enthusiastic, friendly, knowledgeable, and patient. Reservation is highly recommended, from the website.
SLU district is now teeming with restaurants and cafes. A boating excursion followed by a nice dinner, or drink, would be an excellent afternoon.