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The historic U District has seen ups and downs (see our story on “The Ave” ), but its location next to the water and a lively student vibe has kept it a perennial summer fave.
Pile your crew into a rowboat or a couple of canoes at the docks near Husky Stadium (3900 Montlake Blvd. NE; 206.543.9433; depts.washington.edu/ima/IMA_wac.php), where the University of washington offers boat rentals by the hour. Enjoy an afternoon excursion under Highway 520 and through the Arboretum (just beware of the serial streaker who enjoys startling boaters from the shore!). For the more adventurous, Urban Surf (2100 N Northlake Way; 206.545.9463; urbansurf.com) offers lessons and rentals in the latest waterborne craze: stand-up paddle surfing. (Lessons aren’t mandatory, but a good center of gravity is.) If you’re feeling competitive, show off your newly acquired skills in one of Urban Surf’s races, scheduled from mid-July through the end of August.
All-star Farmers’ Market
Get your local fruit and berry fix at the University District Farmers’ Market (corner of University Way NE and NE 50th Street; 206.547.2278; seattlefarmersmarkets.org), the grande dame of the Seattle farmers’ markets. Founded in 1993 and dedicated to farmers only (no crafters), this market is for hard-core veggie locavores. Note: It gets packed quickly so arrive early for the best pick of the vast, fresh bounty.
Get your paddle on at Agua Verde Café and Paddle Club (1303 NE Boat St.; 206.545.8570; aguaverde.com), where paddlers of any skill level can rent single or double kayaks from this perpetually popular spot at the foot of the U District. Take a self-guided short trip to explore Portage Bay’s houseboats, or a longer jaunt past Gas Works Park and under the Fremont Bridge. (Either way, you’ll want to reward yourself with a house margarita and fish tacos in the restaurant upstairs upon your return.) Agua Verde also offers guided sunset, full-moon and new-moon kayak trips for nighttime summer fun. Seeking frozen treats? Full Tilt (4759 Brooklyn Ave. NE; 206.524.4406; fulltilticecream.com), which makes its own deliciously off-the-wall ice cream flavors like mango chile, landed in the U District this year.