Seattle is a major city in Washington and one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. It is a hub for trade and business, but it is also becoming increasingly popular as a tourist destination. There are many amazing landmarks, attractions, activities, and venues that you can visit and enjoy during a stay in this diverse city. Even if you do not have a lot of money to spend during your vacation, you will find many things to keep you entertained. If you have a limited budget, then you should fill some of your vacation itinerary with a selection of the free activities available in this city. To give you some ideas on how you can spend your time, here are 20 awesome free things to do in Seattle.
1. Visit Some Museums for Free
There are many amazing museums in Seattle, and many of these offer free admission. Each of the museums has something different to offer and focuses on a different aspect of history or culture. For those who are interested in art, some of the most interesting art museums to visit include the Tacoma Art Museum, the Bellevue Art Museum, Seattle Asian Art Museum, and Seattle Art Museum. However, there are many museums that feature exhibits that are not art related. Some of the best museums in Seattle include the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, Museum of Flight, Museum of History and Industry, and Northwest African American Museum. The days in which you can enter these attractions for free varies, so check before you visit.
2. Take in Seattle Center
Seattle Center is more than just a single destination for tourists, it is a gathering space for some of the most iconic local attractions. Some of these are rather pricey, but there are plenty of things to enjoy for free. Some of these include an art gallery boasting the work of local emerging artists and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center. There are also interesting sculptures and fountains to enjoy in the grounds. Furthermore, the Seattle Center hosts various free events throughout the year.
3. Sail in a Wooden Boat
Seattle has a fascinating maritime history, and you can learn more about this at the Center for Wooden Boats. You can walk along the docks at this lakeside museum in South Lake Union and explore some of the restored boats. There is no admission cost to this attraction, and it is open every day. However, the best day to visit is on a Sunday, because they offer free rides on one of the wooden boats on this day. The boat ride gives you some excellent views of some of the most important landmarks in Seattle.
4. Take an Urban Hike at Discovery Park
According to Lonely Planet, one of the best free activities to enjoy is taking an urban hike at Discovery Park. It is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and there is a good selection of trails from which you can choose. These cover varied terrain that is suitable for different levels of ability. Some of the trails include one that involves a beach walk to explore the West Point Lighthouse and another that is almost entirely through a forest.
5. Admire the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection
Head to Weyerhaeuser in Federal Way and you will find the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection. This includes more than 100 bonsai trees from China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Canada, and the United States. These are arranged around gravel paths, and you can enjoy a free tour on Sundays.
6. See the Fremont Troll
Amongst the most unusual sights in Seattle is the Fremont Troll. You will find this giant sculpture under the northwest side of the Aurora Bridge near North 36th Street. You should use a visit to the troll as a photo opportunity. Just by the troll is a small park and community garden.
7. Walk the Seattle Waterfront
The Seattle Waterfront is where you will find many of the top attractions in Seattle, such as the Olympic Sculpture Park, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, and Pike Place Market. However, TripSavvy says that Seattle Waterfront is worth a visit in its own right. You can watch the boats in the harbor, peruse the shops, photograph the famous Seattle Big Wheel, and see the ferries come and go. If you take along some money, there are many other activities and attractions you can enjoy.
8. Spend a Day at Jimi Hendrix Park
Although there are plenty of parks to visit in Seattle, one of the most unusual is the Jimi Hendrix Park. This park is in the shape of a guitar, and the frets along the neck of the guitar contain a timeline of the musician’s life. Around the edge of the park, there are the lyrics to Hendrix’s music engraved. Right next to the park is the Northwest African American Museum. You can enter the museum for free on the first Thursday of every month.
9. Take an Art Walk
Seattle is an excellent city for people to visit if they are enthusiasts as the city is home to many amazing galleries and exhibitions. Throughout each month, there are various places that you can visit for free. Once a month, the Capitol Hill Art Walk gives you free access to several galleries in that neighborhood. Similarly, there is a Belltown art walk once a month and a Pioneer Square art walk monthly. Check when these tours are taking place when planning your visit to Seattle.
10. Enjoy a Ladies Musical Club Performance
An interesting activity to enjoy if you are a music fan is to watch a Ladies Musical Club performance. This group of all-female performers was established with the aim of increasing interest in classical music by giving free performances. They perform various classical styles of music in smaller community venues between Wallingford and West Seattle.
11. Pike Place Market
Although buying things from this market will cost you money, visiting it and strolling through the stalls is completely free. Surprisingly, Pike Place Market is one of the top tourist destinations for people visiting Seattle as the huge marketplace filled with hundreds of stalls is such an impressive sight and it has such a great vibe. It is a great place to people-watch and to sample some local fare.
12. Visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
For those who are interested in science and the environment, an interesting day out is a visit to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. However, this attraction is not all about science. In fact, most people who visit this venue do so to admire the artwork on display. The most popular of the public artworks is called ‘A Sound Garden’. This consists of 12 steel towers that have organ pipes operated by the wind. If there is a breeze, the art installation makes eerie howls. It is important to note that you will need photo I.D. to visit this attraction for free.
13. Watch the Boats at Hiram M. Chittenden Ballard Locks
More commonly known simply as the Ballard Locks, this is a significant place in the function of the city that has become a landmark that attracts tourists. It is the point where ships and boats move between Puget Sound, Union Lake, and Washington Lake. Tourists sit to watch the parade of boats that passes through and they also enjoy sea-life spotting at the fish ladder part of the locks.
14. Go to Gas Works Park
Gas Works Park is another unusual park to visit in Seattle as it is on the site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company, and some of the ruins of the former structures are still in place. This means it is a visually unusual park that combines an industrial feel with green open spaces. One of the main reasons that people visit this park is because you can enjoy panoramic views across the city. This is a popular place for flying kites and watching the boats against the backdrop of the Seattle skyline.
15. Admire the Architecture of Seattle Public Library
TimeOut points out that visiting a library might not be on the top of the list for things to do on a vacation for most people. However, this is a public library with a difference. One reason why this has become a tourist attraction is because of the impressive architecture, so it is worth a visit for this reason alone. Another reason to visit the Seattle Public Library, which is located on South Beacon Hill, is to admire the interior design of the 11-story glass and steel structure. One feature you should not miss is the Red Hall. You should also take the time to climb to the top of the library to enjoy spectacular city views. Finally. You can spend some time perusing the huge collection of works in the library and admiring the artwork on display.
16. Have Fun on the Beach
Most people do not think of Seattle as a beach destination, but its location on the Pacific coast makes this a great place to have fun on the beach. One of the best beaches to visit is Alki Beach. Located in West Seattle, this pretty beach is a good spot for wildlife spotting and beachcombing. It is also a good place to just hang out and relax or to take a stroll. Many people enjoy a bonfire on this beach in the evening, and fire rings are available for free on a first-come, first served basis. If you choose to enjoy a fire here in the evening, you can also watch a beautiful sunset.
17. Visit Washington Park Arboretum
Located in Capitol Hill, Washington Park Arboretum is one of the prettiest places to visit for free in Seattle. Positioned on the shores of Lake Washington, this park covers 230-acres. It has many easily accessible flat paths and it boasts a vibrant array of plant life to enjoy.
18. Go to Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
Many people miss this museum and park in Pioneer Square because it occupies such a small space. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park museum tells the story of how gold was found in Canada in the 1890s and those heading for the gold fields passed through Seattle, leading to a boom in the city. Located in the former Cadillac Hotel, this museum features interactive exhibits, a film, and a tour. The latter of which includes a tour of the surrounding grounds in the summer months. This gives visitors the chance to absorb themselves in the rich history of the area. In the winter, it is possible to take the same tour alone.
19. Wonder at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop is a combination between a shop and a museum because although you can buy the items on display, many people just go to look around and see the interesting artifacts. There are items such as shrunken human heads and Sylvester the mummy on display.
20. Relax in the Olympic Sculpture Park
Olympic Sculpture Park is a fantastic place to relax and is also a great destination for art enthusiasts. The park is managed by Seattle Art Museum, so it is hardly surprising that the highlight of a visit to this park is the dozens of large artworks and the magnificent sculptures. Two of the most notable features of the park are the unusual Echo sculpture and the sweeping red Eagle. This destination combines relaxation with a cultural experience.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn