I moved out to the Seattle area 5 months ago for the third time. There is just something about Seattle that keeps calling me back. If you find yourself in Seattle here are 10 things to do for under 10 bucks. Budget travelers will find that there are some budget-friendly things to do in the rainy city.
Pike Place Market. Sure it’s a tourist trap, but it’s 9 acres of fabulous. Maybe it’s the fresh fruit, the fresh flowers, or even the fresh fish! Pike Place Market is a must for anyone new to the city. Watch fish fly as fishmongers throw fish orders to one another. It’s gloriously entertaining. The market bustles with artisans, farmstands, and buskers. I find the market is best enjoyed in the mornings. Pop in across the street to Le Panier for a cup of coffee and a buttery croissant and watch the market come alive. If you happen to be down in the area at night, check out the improv theater. A few blocks away you’ll find the Seattle Waterfront. The Pike Place Market is a fun way to spend a few hours in downtown Seattle. (Free)
Pioneer Square. Seattle’s first neighborhood is a lovely place to walk around. Once leveled in a fire the neighborhood has been gloriously resurrected. Several artists and musicians live in the area filled with boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. Pioneer square offers a monthly Thursday Art Walk. Pioneer Square is a great place to bar hop at night, there is live music at nearly every other bar on the weekends. If you can work it into your budget, consider an underground tour of Pioneer Square. (Free unless you go bar hopping, then you can expect a cover charge.)
The Freemont Troll. I take everyone one of my friends to see the Freemont Troll when they come to Seattle. It’s a terrific photo op. In 1989, the city asked the Fremont Arts Council to launch an art competition and rehabilitate the area under the bridge. The area was a popular dumping ground and drug dealer hangout. Sculptor Steve Badanes won the competition. He was inspired by the folktale Billy Goat’s Gruff and created a troll of his own. Made from rebar steel, wire, and ferroconcrete, the troll stands 18 ft tall. He holds an old Volkswagen Beetle in his left hand. This troll can be found under the Aurora Bridge. The whole Freemont neighborhood is a cool place to walk around. It has lots of artsy shops and ethnic restaurants. (Free)
The Ballard Locks. The Ballard Locks, otherwise known as the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, are a man-made connection and link the Puget Sound with Lake Union and Lake Washington. Both large and small boats use the locks. You might see large boats up 760 feet long, or something as small as a kayak use the locks. The locks are also crucial for salmon to spawn upstream. A fish ladder with 21 steps allows spawning fish to climb to the freshwater side. They can be viewed through several windows. You might also enjoy lounging around the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden and watching the boats go by. (Free)
The Frye Art Museum. The contemporary museum is located on First Hill. The Frye Art Museum is Charles and Emma Frye’s legacy. Exhibits feature both emerging and established artists whose collections spans back to the late 19th century. The museum is a great place to catch the Seattle art scene. (Free)
Cheese Meat Bread. If you happen to be kicking around in Chinatown-International District (which has plenty to offer on its own) Check out Cheese Meat Bread for cheap eats. This gourmet grill cheese joint will appeal to everyone in your party, even the vegan! There are several delicious gooey options to choose from. (Less than $10)
Olympic Sculpture Park. The park was created by the Seattle Art Museum. It opened in 2007 and consists of 9-acres of outdoor sculptures and beach. Olympic Sculpture Park is located at the northern end of the Seattle seawall and the southern end of Myrtle Edwards Park. Built on an old oil and gas industrial site, the Seattle Art Museum transformed the area into one of the few green spaces in Downtown Seattle. (Admission to the waterfront park is free, as well as the 60-minute tour.)
Explore The Weird and Wonderful At Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. In 1899, Joseph Edward Standley established a curio and souvenir shop on Seattle’s waterfront. New wooden docks welcomed the steady flow of timber laborers, mine workers, and hopeful gold prospectors headed to the Alaska Yukon. Ye Olde Curiosity Shop has welcomed visitors for decades, curious about seeing a walrus skull with three tusks or touching the vertebra of the world’s largest whale. Folk found “1001 curious things” in Daddy Standley’s free museum. Five generations later, the collection has grown more interesting, adding wonders from all over the world. Ye Olde Curiosity Shop sees more than a million visitors a year. (Free)
Check out the public artworks. There are public artworks all over Seattle. Seattle even has a public art program. Artworks commissioned through the program reflect community members engaging in city-related activities and public life. A sculpture called People Waiting for the Interurban, located at Fremont Avenue N. & N. 34th Street, is a well-known landmark. People dress the 5 figures and take pictures. Why not try your hand at it? (Free)
Take a Sailboat Ride. For 25 years the sailboat rides have been a tradition. Volunteer skippers and crew take passengers out on Lake Union. All kinds of boats come every Sunday to sail them all, year-round, rain or shine for free. The Center For Wooden Boats offers free voyages on Sundays. Rides span from 45 minutes to 2 hours. Sign-ups must be in person and start at 10:00am every Sunday. Arrive early to ensure your first choice. This is a first-come, first-served opportunity. The number of spots available each day depends on boat maintenance schedules, and volunteer skipper and crew availability. (Free)
There are actually a ton of free or cheap things to do in Seattle, including visiting the original Starbucks downtown. If you are looking for more cheap eats while you are in town look here for an updated list.
If you live in the Seattle area, what are your favorite cheap or free things to do or places to visit? Let us know in the comments below.