The history of houseboating in Seattle

The history of houseboating in Seattle

As old as the city itself, the history of floating homes in Seattle has its roots in the logging industry, on-the-water living also gaining in popularity during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the carefree days of the 60s and 70s, and, again, following the release of the classic rom-com Sleepless in Seattle in the early 90s. Whether you’re hoping to find your own lakeside love nest or are looking for a modern floating home with space for the whole family, a tempting selection of houseboats to rent in Seattle gives everyone the chance to leave the landlubber lifestyle behind – if only for a night or two.

What you need to know about Seattle houseboats

A luxury end-of-dock floating home in Seattle’s Portage Bay

The first thing you need to know about Seattle houseboats is that not all of them are what you might consider traditional houseboats. Sure, some of them are, of course, but even these are far from the touristy styles you see cruising the country’s biggest lakes. You can also stay in barges and floating homes in Seattle, so whether you’re enjoying a couple’s getaway or a weekend vacay with your friends, you’re sure to find the perfect “houseboat” to suit.

What are Seattle houseboats like?

Traditional houseboats in Seattle, generally considered those that were built around the 1930s, offer cozy living spaces and handy kitchens, as well as that all-important outdoor deck space. Many have been fully modernized but all boast their own character – which you’ll likely find utterly charming. Floating homes are much larger and really do come with all the comforts of a house, with the bonus of a great view.

Best time to enjoy houseboat vacations in Seattle

The lowest cost to rent a Seattle houseboat crops up in the winter, but this chilly season is far from ideal if you plan to do a bit of sightseeing. Summer rentals typically equal glorious weather, though, if you’re planning something romantic, Seattle houseboat rentals in May, June, September, or October can be a good bet. These shoulder season months are still warm but are far less busy – and more affordable too – making it the perfect time to enjoy strolls and sunsets with your other half.

How to rent houseboats in Seattle

Whether you’re an old hand at houseboat vacations or are looking to enjoy a break on the water for the first time, you can start planning your trip by heading online to check out the choice of houseboats for rent in Seattle. And when you’ve chosen your favorite vacation home rental on the water, it’s easy to book online too. Keep in mind, though, that many Seattle houseboats require a minimum stay. Some of these can be quite lengthy, so it pays to book early if you’re looking for a weekend rental or similar.

Locations to rent houseboats in Seattle

A houseboat moored in the Westlake area of Lake Union

When you first start your search for houseboat rentals in Seattle, you’ll notice that many boats are listed as being moored on Lake Union. Houseboats are indeed abundant along much of the shoreline of the city’s sprawling freshwater lake – though the neighborhoods in which you’ll find them hold an appeal of their own.

Wind down in Westlake

Westlake is best known for the end-of-dock floating home made famous in Sleepless in Seattle, though that’s not all Seattle’s smallest neighborhood has to shout about. Houseboats for rent in Westlake sit just a couple of miles from the city’s vibrant downtown – a route that’s best enjoyed from the seat of a bicycle as you cruise the Westlake Bikeway.

Deluxe stays in Eastlake

Bordered by South Lake Union, Eastlake is a relaxed, low-key neighborhood where small businesses and brightly colored homes hug the water’s edge and a chilled nightlife comes courtesy of well-worn bars and family-owned dining spots. Houseboats here are often of the floating homes variety, some of these sitting firmly in the category of luxury houseboats in Seattle.

Laidback living in Portage Bay

A tiny and delightfully laidback neighborhood, Portage Bay boasts a particularly attractive lineup of houseboats, some offering views all the way to the city’s iconic Space Needle. Casual restaurants and a handful of shops cater to boaters, though the many amenities of the bustling University District are just a short walk away.

Quirky, fabulous Fremont

A houseboat might be considered a reasonably quirky choice from the medley of places to stay in Seattle, but Fremont takes quirky and sticks a bow on it. This bohemian spot is packed with indie shops, whimsical art, colorful Sunday markets, and hip bars – leaving little wonder why it’s one of the top picks for Seattle houseboat vacations.

Planning a houseboat stay with the whole family? Check out our tips for the best things to do with kids in Seattle >