“Are there free things to do in Seattle?” This is a question I often get as everyone knows my love for this place. So here are the sites I share with my friends (and now my online friends!)
Note that some of these are a little unusual. . . the stuff is better known by locals than Seattle tourists. Also, note that this is not a complete list. It’s just stuff I know people enjoy seeing when they visit the city.
Free things to do in Seattle: The Ferry
First of all, you should definitely board on the Seattle Ferry, Downtown Seattle Waterfront. This is the best low-cost tourist attraction in Seattle (though some never think of it that way because it’s public transportation). Park downtown Seattle and walk on the ferry to Bainbridge Island (inexpensive walk-on ferry tickets).
Free things to do in Seattle: The Ballard Locks (Ballard Neighbourhood)
A unique place where boats are raised from the saltwater of Puget Sound to the freshwater of Lake Washington. Check out the beautiful gardens and visitor centre. Don’t miss the fish ladder viewing room where you can see salmon migrate.
Free things to do in Seattle: Take a stroll at Alki Beach (West Seattle)
Alki is the original location of Seattle (now considered West Seattle). It now has a long wide walking trail, a lighthouse and one of the best views of Seattle. It’s a great place for a stroll. Try fish and chips at Salty’s Alki.
Free things to do in Seattle: Wander at the Pike Place Market Gum Wall (Downtown)
Pike Place Market is where you go to see fish being thrown. After you have had your fill of flying salmon, visit the nearby Post Alley. The gum wall is quite gross. You can even add to the collection if you like.
Free things to do in Seattle: Gas Works Park (U District)
Visit this rusting refinery on the north end of Lake Union. It has lovely views, the famous Lake Union houseboats, and the incoming floatplanes.
Free things to do in Seattle: Burke-Gilman Trail
This incredible paved trail winds east to Lake Washington from Ballard. You can walk, jog or bike it. I highly recommend it for bicycles from Ballard east through the U District (University of Washington campus).
Free things to do in Seattle: Take a look at the sculptures (Fremont & Interurban)
The Troll Under the Bridge is a large public sculpture located under the Aurora Bridge. Look closely and see that the Aurora Avenue Troll holds a Volkswagen Beetle in its left hand. A wonderfully weird attraction from the wonderfully offbeat folks in Fremont. The Troll is a great find. . . most Seattle tourists have no idea he is there!
The Troll has some other sculpted friends nearby. 6 people and a dog waiting for a train (The Interurban) that quit running years ago.
After the statue was placed in Fremont, locals thought it would be fun to decorate by giving the people clothes, signs, etc. The gag has run for years. Clothing changes frequently. You never know just how the people will be dressed until you get there. It’s also fun to window shop in the nearby stores.
Free things to do in Seattle: Kerry Park (Queen Anne Neighbourhood)
Nearly every Seattle skyline picture you see was taken from a small park (Kerry Park) atop Queen Anne Hill, just north of downtown. So take a picture of yourself for the ultimate Seattle tourist souvenir.
Free things to do in Seattle: Washington Park Arboretum
A great stroll through beautiful gardens. To see even more, rent a canoe from the nearby University of Washington and paddle the Arboretum (one of Seattle’s best paddles).
Free things to do in Seattle: Archie McPhee (Wallingford Neighbourhood)
One-of-a-kind novelty shop. This collection of weird stuff will keep you entertained.
Free things to do in Seattle: Easy Street Records (West Seattle)
A classic vinyl store located in the heart of Seattle’s famous grunge music scene.
Free things to do in Seattle: Go to the Snoqualmie Falls
The beautiful waterfall was made famous in the TV series Twin Peaks. Easy to access, 30 minutes east of Downtown Seattle.
A list of attractions near Seattle worth visiting
- North Cascades Highway: Unforgettable drive.
- Iron Horse Trail and Tunnel: Want to walk/bike for 2+ miles underground?
- Skagit Valley Tulips: Memorable experience if you are here in April.
- The Future of Flight (Paine Field in Everett, 30 minutes north of Seattle): Tours of Boeing’s massive Everett plant where its largest passenger jets are built.
- Mount Rainer: The trip can be made in one long day from Seattle. Rainer is open during the summer months only. Stop at the Paradise Visitor’s Center and take the steep hike to the alpine meadows. It is one of the most beautiful and memorable places on earth.
- Mount St. Helens: Another long day trip from Seatle. Great to have a look if you are on your way to Portland. The visitors’ centre is a great place to experience this infamous volcano.
- Washington Wineries (20 Minutes Northeast of Seattle): Most people are surprised to learn that only California produces more wine than Washington. Washington grapes are grown in the wonderful climate east of the Cascades. Still, most of the actual wineries are located in Woodinville, an easy 20-minute highway drive from Seattle. Chateau Ste Michelle, Columbia Winery and Januik Winery are among local favourites. More information on Seattle Wineries in Woodinville.