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Exploring Westlake, Seattle's smallest neighborhood

It's skinny and small but there's actually lots to do within Seattle's smallest neighborhood

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First things first, people tend to have different defintitions of what makes up a neighborhood, especially in Seattle. Most of our neighborhood borders are working on more of a general understanding that on a specific line in the sand. One person's Fremont is another person's Wallingford. And one person's Ballard is another person's Frelard or Loyal Heights. Personal preference and realtor buzzwords often help shape the notion of what qualifies as a neighborhood as much as anything.

micro-week

So when we say that Westlake is Seattle's smallest neighborhood, we're using a general set of criteria to determine that. You might have an idea about a smaller one where you live, but, that's an article for another day.

So, we've established that Westlake, at .15 square miles, is the smallest of the Seattle neighborhoods. The thin strip of land running the west shores of Lake Union is home to roughly 1,700 people, which also makes it one of the denser neighborhoods.

If you decided you wanted to spend a day exploring everything you needed to about Westlake, you could probably wrap that up pretty quickly. But that doesn't mean there isn't anything to do. They actually pack a decent amount of interesting things into that tiny area. Let's explore...

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1. Ride the Westlake Bikeway

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Westlake Ave N & Aloha St
Seattle, WA 98109

The Westlake Bikeway, the Westlake Avenue North Cycle Track, whatever you want to call it, it's now open. The protected bike lane that runs the length of Westlake and connects Downtown Seattle directly to the Burke-Gilman Trail is a game-changer for Seattle's cyclists. While some locals grumbled about how it took away space for cars, the track will make life easier for everyone and likely increase the number of people stopping in the neighborhood on a daily basis. Give it a whirl.

2. See the Sleepless in Seattle Floating Home

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2476 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

You're probably not going to be able to see it from land, especially since the dock it's at the very end of is private, but the 2,200 sq. ft. 4-BR might be the most recognizable home in Seattle since it's where Tom Hanks lived in Sleepless in Seattle. The place was sold in 2014 for over $2M. If you really want a good look at it, grab a kayak or rent a boat.

3. Chill out in Lake Union Park

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860 Terry Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

Okay so Lake Union Park is probably considered more South Lake Union than Westlake but they're basically connected. If you're going to walk or bike the neighborhood, you'll probably end up here at some point. You can chill on the tiny beach, chill by the fountain, or chill on the grass (watch the goose poop). Basically, you can do a lot of chilling.

4. Follow Maggie Smith's Spur Line public artwork

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Westlake Ave N & Galer St
Seattle, WA 98109

The artwork, Spur Line, draws much of its thematic content and formal cues from the history of Lake Union as a working waterway, the rail line that followed the water's edge and the drainage system below the path. The artwork consists of benches, sidewalk inserts, pedestrian handrail and a listening tube connected to the drainage infrastructure. At Waterway #1, the whimsical galvanized steel "listening tube," a double-bell reference to speaking tubes used on old boats to connect above with below, carries the sound of water from an innovative below-ground stormwater treatment unit, a Seattle Public Utility facility. The artwork's interactive element and text in the pathway reinforce references to the work SPU performs in treating stormwater.

5. Take a ride with Kenmore Air

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950 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109
(866) 435-9524
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If you've ever watched the seaplane fly over Lake Union, splash down, and then said to yourself "I want to do that," well here's your chance. Kenmore Air’s seaplane terminal is located in Westlake and you can book a flight up to the San Juans or Victoria or even just see what it's like to fly over the city and come back down in the middle of a lake.

6. Cruise around with Argosy Lake Cruises

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950 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

If you'd prefer to get out on the lake and stay on the lake, book a ride about an Argosy Cruise ship instead. Take a sightseeing cruise that stay in Lake Union or another that lets you explore the surrounding waterways. They've got special cruises for certain holidays as well so be sure to inquire about those. Incidentally, this is a great way to see the Sleepless in Seattle house as well.

7. Row your boat from The Electric Boat Company

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2046 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

Rather than letting someone else show you around, why not do it yourself? Be your own captain on Lake Union in a fully equipped electric boat. Rent the 21’ Duffy electric boat and take your friends on a fun aquatic trip around the area. Boats are good to go if you want to make it a party as well. Bring food, beverages, music and up to ten people total.

8. Eat pancakes at Swedish Cultural Center

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1920 Dexter Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

The first Sunday of the month, you can appease your Swedish pancake cravings at the Swedish Cultural Center. Not only do you get a good breakfast but there's Scandinavian folk tunes and dancing. It's not just pancakes either. Feast on lingonberries and guzzle some real Swedish coffee, too.

9. Explore Westlake Greenbelt

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Wheeler St. & 8th Ave. N
Seattle, WA 98109

The Westlake Greenbelt is one of the smaller greenbelts in the city and actually includes the wooded slopes above Westlake Ave N. It's not a side of Westlake most people usually check out but makes for a good stop for Seattle greenery completists.

10. Learn to row with Lake Union Crew

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2520 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

If you've ever wanted to give rowing a shot, here's a good spot to try it out. Learn to Row programs are offered year-round for $129. There's camps and special events as well. Get some exercise and learn a new skill while enjoying the amazing views of Lake Union and the Fremont Cut as you row under Aurora Bridge.

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1. Ride the Westlake Bikeway

Westlake Ave N & Aloha St, Seattle, WA 98109

The Westlake Bikeway, the Westlake Avenue North Cycle Track, whatever you want to call it, it's now open. The protected bike lane that runs the length of Westlake and connects Downtown Seattle directly to the Burke-Gilman Trail is a game-changer for Seattle's cyclists. While some locals grumbled about how it took away space for cars, the track will make life easier for everyone and likely increase the number of people stopping in the neighborhood on a daily basis. Give it a whirl.

Westlake Ave N & Aloha St
Seattle, WA 98109

2. See the Sleepless in Seattle Floating Home

2476 Westlake Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

You're probably not going to be able to see it from land, especially since the dock it's at the very end of is private, but the 2,200 sq. ft. 4-BR might be the most recognizable home in Seattle since it's where Tom Hanks lived in Sleepless in Seattle. The place was sold in 2014 for over $2M. If you really want a good look at it, grab a kayak or rent a boat.

2476 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

3. Chill out in Lake Union Park

860 Terry Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

Okay so Lake Union Park is probably considered more South Lake Union than Westlake but they're basically connected. If you're going to walk or bike the neighborhood, you'll probably end up here at some point. You can chill on the tiny beach, chill by the fountain, or chill on the grass (watch the goose poop). Basically, you can do a lot of chilling.

860 Terry Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

4. Follow Maggie Smith's Spur Line public artwork

Westlake Ave N & Galer St, Seattle, WA 98109

The artwork, Spur Line, draws much of its thematic content and formal cues from the history of Lake Union as a working waterway, the rail line that followed the water's edge and the drainage system below the path. The artwork consists of benches, sidewalk inserts, pedestrian handrail and a listening tube connected to the drainage infrastructure. At Waterway #1, the whimsical galvanized steel "listening tube," a double-bell reference to speaking tubes used on old boats to connect above with below, carries the sound of water from an innovative below-ground stormwater treatment unit, a Seattle Public Utility facility. The artwork's interactive element and text in the pathway reinforce references to the work SPU performs in treating stormwater.

Westlake Ave N & Galer St
Seattle, WA 98109

5. Take a ride with Kenmore Air

950 Westlake Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

If you've ever watched the seaplane fly over Lake Union, splash down, and then said to yourself "I want to do that," well here's your chance. Kenmore Air’s seaplane terminal is located in Westlake and you can book a flight up to the San Juans or Victoria or even just see what it's like to fly over the city and come back down in the middle of a lake.

950 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

6. Cruise around with Argosy Lake Cruises

950 Westlake Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

If you'd prefer to get out on the lake and stay on the lake, book a ride about an Argosy Cruise ship instead. Take a sightseeing cruise that stay in Lake Union or another that lets you explore the surrounding waterways. They've got special cruises for certain holidays as well so be sure to inquire about those. Incidentally, this is a great way to see the Sleepless in Seattle house as well.

950 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

7. Row your boat from The Electric Boat Company

2046 Westlake Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

Rather than letting someone else show you around, why not do it yourself? Be your own captain on Lake Union in a fully equipped electric boat. Rent the 21’ Duffy electric boat and take your friends on a fun aquatic trip around the area. Boats are good to go if you want to make it a party as well. Bring food, beverages, music and up to ten people total.

2046 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

8. Eat pancakes at Swedish Cultural Center

1920 Dexter Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

The first Sunday of the month, you can appease your Swedish pancake cravings at the Swedish Cultural Center. Not only do you get a good breakfast but there's Scandinavian folk tunes and dancing. It's not just pancakes either. Feast on lingonberries and guzzle some real Swedish coffee, too.

1920 Dexter Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

9. Explore Westlake Greenbelt

Wheeler St. & 8th Ave. N, Seattle, WA 98109

The Westlake Greenbelt is one of the smaller greenbelts in the city and actually includes the wooded slopes above Westlake Ave N. It's not a side of Westlake most people usually check out but makes for a good stop for Seattle greenery completists.

Wheeler St. & 8th Ave. N
Seattle, WA 98109

10. Learn to row with Lake Union Crew

2520 Westlake Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

If you've ever wanted to give rowing a shot, here's a good spot to try it out. Learn to Row programs are offered year-round for $129. There's camps and special events as well. Get some exercise and learn a new skill while enjoying the amazing views of Lake Union and the Fremont Cut as you row under Aurora Bridge.

2520 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109