What to Know About the Highest Flying Seattle Tour

Space Needle Flyby on a Seattle Scenic Tour. Scott Meis
Seattle Scenic Tour Space Needle Flyby. Scott Meis

The sun glistens as the Kenmore Air seaplane picks up speed and the pontoons turn the water into a white wake. Gently, the plane lifts off, soaring past Seattle’s iconic houseboats and into the sky above. The thrilling takeoff is just the opener of this iconic Seattle tour, which gives you a birds’ eye view of the Emerald city’s magnificent skyline, iconic landmarks, and plethora of waterways. 

How Long Is the Seattle Scenic Seaplane Tour?

This narrated Seattle scenic tour is roughly 30 minutes of flight time. You’ll need to check in 30 minutes before your flight at our Lake Union terminal. The lounge area is air conditioned or you can sit outside on the long deck beside the marina. Both locations offer scenic views of seaplanes coming and going, along with boats and nearby parks. 

Prior to your flight, you’re also welcome to go grab a snack or drink at one of the nearby food purveyors. (We have a list of our top nearby recommendations at the bottom of this post.)

Where Can I Park for My Scenic Flight Tour?

There are a limited number of parking spots in our Lake Union parking lot. They are available on a first-come first-serve basis and complimentary to those taking a scenic flight. Nearby paid parking is also available on a day-use basis just outside of our parking lot. 

What Will You See On a Seattle Scenic Flight Tour?

Gas Works Park. Mikaela Judd
West Point Lighthouse. Mikaela Judd

All Seattle Scenic Flight Tours takeoff and land on Lake Union. Each of these Seattle tours offers views of several houseboat communities (made popular by Sleepless in Seattle), Gas Works Park, the bright blue Fremont Bridge, and the towering Space Needle. 

However, not all tours are the same. A few different predetermined flight paths can be taken at the discretion of our pilots, who are extremely adept at providing the best possible experience. These flight paths are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which restricts flights over major sporting venues during games and other events. 

Possible sights include:

  • University of Washington (also known as the UW — pronounced ‘udub’)
  • Discovery Park and West Point Lighthouse
  • Shilshole Bay Marina
  • Elliot Bay Skyline
  • West Seattle, including Alki Beach and Alki Point Lighthouse
  • 520 Floating Bridge
  • T-Mobile Park (home of the Seattle Mariners)
  • Lumen Field (home of the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders FC)
  • Warren G. Magnuson Park (including the The Fin Project, a series of large black fins installed in the ground and visible from the air. The fins are built from the recycled diving plane fins from 22 decommissioned 1960’s United States Navy attack submarines.)

What’s the Best Time of Day for a Seattle Seaplane Tour?

Generally speaking, we say the best time of day for a Seattle Seaplane Tour is when you can get a ticket! Multiple flight times are available, but these tours can sell out fast, especially during the summer months.

When’s the Best Lighting for Photos on a Seaplane Tour?

Otter on the Dock at Lake Union. Scott Meis

While we can appreciate the desire for a golden hour shoot, our seaplanes fly with visual flight rules (VFR). Which means we only fly during the daylight. There’s no sunrise or sunset scenic tours. A few clouds in the sky always make for great texture in picture, but there’s no controlling Mother Nature — and frankly, there’s no bad picture above the Emerald City. 

What’s the Best Time of Year to Take a Seattle Scenic Tour with Kenmore Air?

Every season is so unique and beautiful. As the foliage and the mountains change, the view of the city is constantly evolving. 

If you love cherry blossoms, spring is a must. The blossoms at the University of Washington’s Quad become pink balls of happiness from the air. Love a good orange and red vibe? During the fall, Seattle’s hillsides become a riot of color.

Interested in boating? There’s no better time to see Seattle’s waterways active than during the summer. And if towering white peaks are what speak to your soul, then the winter is your best bet!

Are Seaplane Tours a Good Date Activity?

Lake Union Taxi. Scott Meis

Definitely! Seaplane tours are a favorite for couples who live in the Seattle area and those who are visiting. In fact, the tours are so romantic that they’ve been the sight of more than a few proposals. 

Are Seaplane Tours of Seattle Kid-Friendly?

Yes. These tours are definitely a hit with the littles. Not only is it a thrilling flight, but your kids can get up-close and personal with the plane and the controls. 

One thing to keep in mind though is the noise. Complimentary earplugs are provided on all flights, as are headphones on the scenic tours. Both of these items significantly cut down on the noise, but depending on the age and sensitivity of your child, this might be an activity you want to save until they are a little older. 

What To Wear for a Seaplane Tour?

Other than shoes, pants, and a shirt, there is no dress code for a Seattle seaplane tour. That being said, all flights board and depart from the dock. We recommend dressing for the weather. 

If you love wearing stilettos, you might want to bring a change of shoes as they can be a little more difficult to navigate on the dock. Furthermore, you are climbing in and out of a seaplane. It’s best to have clothes on that give you some ability to maneuver. 

What to Bring on a Seattle Seaplane Tour?

This isn’t one of those Seattle tours where you absolutely have to bring something to make it enjoyable. But most passengers have found they want:

  • A camera
  • Sunglasses

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