“This used to be a big industrial blight,” Rey Lopez said, gesturing to the waterfront. “University of Washington worked with us for many years to create what we have here, and now we have a legacy - to protect it, to make it better, and to protect it for future generations."

He opened Agua Verde in 1998 as a place to rent paddle boards and kayaks along Portage Bay. A café specializing in Mexican food is attached, for post-exercise relaxation.

Kayakers like Craig Arango have frequented the Paddle Club for decades. Now, he's sharing it with his family.

"It's my wife's birthday and she took the day off work and wanted to have a special day out,” he said, standing beside his young sons Tristan and Jasper. "Since the boys finally started wearing life jackets, we can trust them in a kayak so that's why we're here.

Double kayaks are $24 an hour and basic instruction is included. Paddle boards rent for $23 an hour

Lopez hopes every person who ventures out into Portage Bay develops a deeper connection to the waterway, and the critical role it plays in Seattle’s history and future.

"Seattle's only had these five bridges for less than 100 years, so getting from this side of Seattle to that side of Seattle was always a question of how to cross the water,” he said.

Agua Verde Paddle Club is located on Boat Street in the University District and is open seven days a week.

Agua Verde Paddle Club
(206) 545-8570
1303 NE Boat Street, Seattle, WA 98105

Evening is your guide to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. Watch it weeknights at 7:30 on KING 5 TV or streaming live on KING5.com. Connect with Evening via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or email: eveningtips@king5.com.