The Seattle skyline, as seen from the car deck of the Kaleetan. Photo by Lauren Segal.
We are tied to the sea. And in this region's complex patchwork of waterways, there is, perhaps, no more iconic transport than the ferry. Washington State Ferries, a wing of the state department of transportation, has dispatched vessels from a network of docks throughout the entire Salish Sea since 1951—though the region's maritime history dates back much further than that. From the relatively remote channels of the San Juans to the pier-lined edge of downtown, these boats tote harried commuters and selfie-ready tourists along routes that, while roadless, are technically a part of the state highway network. It's the most extensive ferry system in the country and one of the largest in the world, yet it feels like a quaint slice of the Pacific Northwest. So step aboard, grab the best snacks in the galley, and explore Washington's remarkable resource for traveling across the water.