The Center for Wooden Boats is an iconic organization in Seattle, with a history spanning nearly 50 years. With rampant growth in South Lake Union, it was important to save some space for old Seattle, and the recent designation of the CWB as a Landmark does just that.
The city landmark status preserves the entire center, including the floating boathouse and other floating structures on Waterway 4. Since access to the CWB is free, this also helps maintain public access and space at the south end of Lake Union.
That access includes the Wagner Education Center, named for the founders of the CWB. Checking out the exhibits at the center is always free and so is walking around the docks. The center is open year-round, Wednesday through Sunday, with the exception of a 3-week closure in the winter for the holidays. Check the website for the hours, which are seasonal dependent.
In previous years the center has always run a free Sunday public sail program, but those are postponed this year, and may not resume until next year. What they’re offering instead is a one-hour free rental of a peapod rowboat. These are fairly roomy, despite the name, and can hold five adults. This is a great family activity for exploring the houseboats and sights of Lake Union.
You will need to make a reservation online to rent a rowboat, and they only offer reservations a few weeks in advance. This is a popular activity that books up fast, but checking often can usually nab you a spot.
The center also offers a free speaker series, story time for the kiddos on the Arthur Foss Tug, toy boat building at Cam Beach on Camano Island, all free or with a suggested donation.
For a fee, you can also take sailing classes – in wooden boats, of course – or take a 90-minute cruise. The cruises allow alcoholic beverages and pets.