Washington’s second-largest natural lake, located next to Seattle, is home to attractions of all shapes and sizes, from rainbow trout to swanky Mercer Island.
Take a break from the bustle of Seattle to relax on the shores or in the waters of Lake Washington. It is the second-largest natural lake in its namesake state. Find it in King County, bordered by Seattle to the west, Bellevue and Kirkland to the east, Kenmore to the north and Renton to the south.
The Duwamish tribe, the indigenous people of Seattle, called the lake Xacuabš, which, fittingly, translates to “great amount of water.” Learn how the lake was christened in 1854 after Thomas Mercer renamed it in honor of George Washington.
Lake Washington is a popular fishing destination. Catch fish including rainbow trout, largemouth bass, yellow perch and black crappie.
If you visit Lake Washington during the summer, don’t miss Seafair. Find concerts, good food and fun competitions at the annual summer festival. The Torchlight Run and Parade, which take place on the last weekend in July, draw major crowds. Don’t miss the Blue Angels performing aerial stunts over the lake.
Explore Mercer Island, which encompasses over 8,300 acres (3,360 hectares) at the center of Lake Washington. Considered a suburb of Seattle, the island has several parks, hiking trails and public beaches. Go fishing or have a picnic at Luther Burbank Park. Check out the Freeway Sculpture Park in Aubrey Davis Park. Go swimming or sunbathing at Clarke Beach at the southern end of the island.
One of the best ways to experience Lake Washington is by boat. Take a leisurely cruise around the lake. As you pass Medina, catch a glimpse of Xanadu 2.0, the storied home of Microsoft entrepreneur Bill Gates. Enjoy stunning panoramic views of Mount Rainier, stately lakefront mansions and the Seattle skyline. See the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, possibly the world’s longest floating bridge.
Relax and make a leisurely exploration of Lake Washington and the towns and cities that surround its shores, such as Lake Forest Park, Yarrow Point, Hunts Point, Medina and Beaux Arts Village. With the area’s friendly people, lots of great amenities and stunning views, this urban lake is a true gem.