Seattle mom Leah Adams recently took an exciting and unusualÂ staycation. She slept for two nights on a Seattle houseboat with herÂ husband, daughter (10) and son (8). Leah took advantage of aÂ weekend-only special (the houseboat usually rents by the month) andÂ found that a houseboat serves up a rockinâ€™ (and rollinâ€™) familyÂ vacation.
Q: What did you enjoy about the Seattle houseboat?
I loved the cedar paneling (smelled just like I imagined a houseboatÂ would). The efficiency of being in a small space appealed to me.Â Thereâ€™s something so lovely about being totally satisfied in a smallÂ space, leaving all the extraneous stuff in our house behind. The LakeÂ Union location, near Fremont, was fantastic. Fremont deserves theÂ designation as â€œCenter of the Universe.â€
I loved being able to walk everywhere. The small conversations thatÂ happen when youâ€™re walking past someone’s garden (and peeking in theirÂ windows! ha!) really bond a family.
The resident momma mallard and her three ducklings enchanted my son;Â it seemed every time we looked out the window, there they were,Â swimming in circles right in front of our houseboat.
Everything you would expect in an efficiency kitchen was there -Â coffee maker, toaster oven, stove, full size fridge and freezer,Â dishes, cups, utensils. Plenty of towels and linens. We brought ourÂ own pillows, only because three of us are very picky. Checking it outÂ first before packing gave me a good idea of what to bring.
Q: What did you do with kids while staying on the “Molly Brown” Seattle houseboat?
On Saturday night, we walked to dinner at Blue Moon Burgers, had Royal Grinders gelato with Lenin, walked to the troll where we posed with lots ofÂ other tourists (seems our kids had never officially visited before),Â then walked home.
Sunday morning, we walked up to the Varsity Inn for a mediocre dinerÂ breakfast. We should have walked further into Fremont, even to theÂ Essential Baking Company, but I wasn’t sure it was open.
As we walked back from breakfast discovered an amazing mosaic on theÂ Wallingford steps. Then we visited Gas Works Park, running to the topÂ of the hill, down to the terrace, through the painted refinery roomÂ (kinda gross), bushwacked a bit through the park, discovered aÂ shortcut back to the marina. I was worried about surprising people inÂ the bushes, but we didn’t see (or even smell) anything foul.
Sunday afternoon, we took the bus from 35th to Northwest Folklife Festival, and back homeÂ around 5 p.m.
Monday morning, Lance and my son walked to the Essential Baking Company forÂ breakfast coffee, while my daughter and I lounged around, reading andÂ rocking. Lance chatted for ages with the neighbors, who wereÂ transplants from Bothell, about life in the marina. They glowed aboutÂ the amount of community there is at the marina compared to theirÂ neighborhood in Bothell.
Q: Could you cook in your houseboat?
There was a full kitchen, though not a ton of counter space. I wouldÂ call it a very efficient kitchen. You could definitely have frozenÂ pizza, burritos or any prepared food from the Fremont PCC frozen foods/deliÂ case heated up to eat on houseboat.
The kitchen table is small, and thatâ€™s where the television sits, so IÂ wouldn’t want to eat too many meals there. The marina is so close toÂ the park, I would probably choose to picnic most of the meals besidesÂ breakfast.
Q: Would a houseboat be difficult with a toddler or preschooler?
I guess it would depend on your particular toddler or preschooler,Â but it really wasn’t a challenge at all. There are no railings on theÂ dock, so I suppose if your child was impetuous and couldn’t tell theÂ difference between the dock and water, you might have a problem.
Q: Any challenges involved with a houseboat vacation for four family members?
This houseboat had a tiny little pump-action toilet, but there was aÂ ‘cabana’ with a full bathroom and shower for the use of the residents.Â It was just a short walk down to the dock.
The shower was lovely, but once we found out that the entire marinaÂ pumps all of their grey water into Lake Union, I started thinkingÂ differently about how much conditioner I used in my hair. TheÂ neighbors said their 40-gallon septic tank gets pumped once every twoÂ weeks, and that is even with using the toilets in the cabana most ofÂ the time. I guess you would just make a point of stopping in theÂ cabana every time you left the property. Time to take a potty breakÂ everyone!
My husband’s perception of the experience was very different thanÂ mine. He can’t put his finger on exactly what bothered him, but heÂ said he wouldn’t do it again. I loved everything about it, and heÂ wouldn’t go again. Go figure. He couldn’t wait to pack up MondayÂ morning, and I really wanted to stay there all day, lounging around,Â reading and listening to the rain.
Q: So, would you suggest a Seattle houseboat stay as a family-friendly vacation?
I do think staying on a houseboat is a family-friendly vacation, especially if the kids are 5 and up. We could have rented kayaks from Agua Verde Cafe or the Northwest Outdoor Center for additional fun around Lake Union. How cool would it be to kayak up to your front door?
We didn’t bring our bikes with us, but the Burke Gilman Trail goes right past the marina. If we had planned a little further in advance, we would have biked from the houseboat to the Seattle Center for Folklife.
Would you stay on a houseboat?