You can take a cruise the length of Windermere with Windermere Lake Cruises. On Coniston Water, the Coniston Launch offers circular cruises, or you can take a ride on the National Trust’s Steam Yacht Gondola.
For hiring your own boat, see the Outdoor activities page.
The nearest place to take a ride on a steam train is only a 20 minute drive away. The Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway runs steam trains between Haverthwaite and Lakeside (journey just under 20 minutes), and you can also look in the engine shed at their collection of steam and diesel locomotives.
You have to go a bit further for your other steam ride – the Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam Railway runs narrow gauge steam trains from Ravenglass to Dalegarth, near Boot in Eskdale. It takes about an hour to drive to Ravenglass, but if you turn right at Duddon Bridge and take the road to Ulpha and over Ulpha Fell, you get some splendid scenery on the way.
Pretty places to visit nearby include the villages of Cartmel (home of sticky toffee pudding!), Hawkshead and Grasmere. Ambleside and Windermere are larger and busier, and more ‘touristy’.
If you prefer watching the scenery to keeping your eyes on the road, Mountain Goat do various tours of the Lake District in mini-buses, and some of their trips include guided walks.