Here in Seattle, we are surrounded by water. From the serene and salty waves of the Puget Sound to the freshwater playgrounds of Lake Union and Lake Washington, our beautiful city is all about water. When the sun shines, I can’t imagine a more beautiful place to be than on the lake or the sound, taking in the spectacular views of the Seattle skyline.

One excellent way to experience Seattle as a tourist is to hop on to one of Seattle’s guided boat tours. As part of a exploratory family field trip, I signed us up for an afternoon sailing aboard an Argosy Cruise Taste of Seattle History Cruise, a lunch and sightseeing cruise that combines a history lesson with a Northwest-themed lunch.

This particular cruise was a first for me and my girls, and I was excited to learn more about Seattle’s history and how water played an important role in our city’s formation.

We picked up our boat on the Seattle waterfront at Pier 55, just south of the Seattle Great Wheel (which is one of the largest observation wheels in the United States). We were shown to our table and greeted with a small mason jar filled with thick cream that stuck to the sides of the glass. The girls were instructed to shake the jar until it turned to butter and told that they would be making butter like our early settlers did. We ate this butter on sourdough bread with lunch.


  • Photo snapshot of A Taste Of Seattle, Argosy Cruise

  • Trying on bonnets and early Seattle role play

  • Provisions list for gold rush


The learning about Seattle didn’t stop there. Over the course of the next couple hours on our tour of historic Elliott Bay, our tour guide shared with us stories of Seattle’s rich history. In particular, this lesson spotlighted some of the people, personalities, and pivotal moments that shaped the early days of what would become our hometown.

(It is mind-boggling to think that not more than 150 years ago, Seattle was home to fewer than 300 entrepreneurial settlers and is now one of the fastest growing U.S. cities, according to 2014 population estimates from the Census Bureau.)

Viewfinder Tip: Don’t miss the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard, working locks that also include an active fish ladder.

Later in the tour, the girls learned how to tie nautical knots and got a chance to meet the captain and sit in the captain’s chair. Before we disembarked, the girls tried on bonnets that were used in part of the history lesson, tasted smoked salmon, and savored strawberry shortcake with Fisher Scones, sweet strawberries, and whipped cream. Most important to me and my husband, our daughters learned to appreciate Seattle’s rich history, a past that will be part of their present every day until they grow old.  

What is your favorite city to explore by boat and why?