Top Picks for Free or Cheap Seattle Activities

Planning a trip to Seattle, or newly moved to the area? Here’s a local’s pick for free or nearly free ways to enjoy the city.

1. Volunteer Park in Cap Hill: Stroll the 48 acre grounds, climb the 1906 water tower’s 107 steps for spectacular views, and experience exotic plants from around the world in the 1919 Conservatory.

2. If you get rained out at the park, visit the worthwhile Seattle Asian Art museum within the grounds on one of several free days each month. If you really love museums, here’s a whole list of them and their free days.

3. Before or after your walk, grab a coffee at any number of fantastic Seattle cafes. Don’t want to spend a lot? Buy a regular drip or an Americano and taste why Seattle’s known as a coffee-lover haven. Here’s a great list of some of our best. 

4. Magnuson Park in Sand Point: Stroll or jog through the 350 acres of one of Seattle’s best and largest parks. Dog lovers, don’t miss the huge off-leash dog park. Climbers or those who just want to play around, head to the Seattle Mountaineers Club‘s free outdoor bouldering and rock wall.

5. Discovery Park in Magnolia: This 534 acre park is Seattle’s largest and most scenic. With miles of trails winding around bluffs, beach and woods, it has something to offer for any outdoor lover, and sweeping views of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains on the peninsula.

6. Historic Ballard Catch glimpses of Scandinavian roots as you cruise around one of Seattle’s most beloved historic neighborhoods.

7. Ballard Farmer’s Market: Go to Ballard on a Sunday, and enjoy a spectacular and vibrant Farmer’s Market selling everything from whole pastured chickens and rutabagas to handmade specialty items, jewelry and treats.

8. When you’ve had your fill of historic streets and farm fresh pickings, head half a mile west on foot to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. Known as the “Ballard” locks, built in 1911, this passageway connects the salty Puget Sound with the fresh waters of Lake Union and Lake Washington. Visit mid June to October and you may just see salmon jumping up the fish ladders.

9. In the mood for a movie? The Crest Cinema runs everything from indie to Hollywood hits, and is a steal at $4. Although just outside the Seattle city limits, this is a popular theater dating back to 1949.

10. Become a member of Gociety, a free online organization connecting like-minded outdoorsy folks. This is a great platform to find out what’s being planned around town and to make some new friends to boot. Use this site all over the country and world.

 Seattelite’s suggestions welcomed below!

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3 thoughts on “Top Picks for Free or Cheap Seattle Activities”

  1. Holy cow! I just looked at that link for cafes. There are a lot I haven’t been to! Now I want to do a coffee crawl sometime ;)
    Another awesome free place is the Klondike Gold Rush museum (technically a tiny national park) in pioneer square, followed by the waterfall park down the street, a look at the pergola and coffe at Grand Central – not on the list!! Oh and Essential didn’t make it either!

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