I travel in the U.S. quite a lot and when I travel, it’s on the cheap. There are more fun things to do that are reasonably priced than you might think. Seattle is a very pretty city with a lot of pretty parks, gardens, and historic memorials. We took two separate trips in order to see all these sights. Here are my suggestions of things to do for free, cheap, and reasonable.
Free -Pike Place Market – between First and Western Aves. There are nearly 200 year-round vendors, hundreds of craftspeople and farmers who rent table space by the day; and street performers and musicians on nine acres. Pike Place attracts 10 million visitors a year and is one of Washington’s most frequently visited destinations. Pike Place Market has been around since 1907. You don’t have to spend a dime at the market to have a good time there – although with all the amazing wares available for purchase, it might be very difficult not to pick up a few treasures. I enjoyed the cacophony of sights and sounds, albeit for a short time, while vendors tossed their fresh fish around yelling the price for the catch of the day, the pizza man tossed his dough over his head, and the flower vendor extolled the freshness of her daisies and lilacs.
Free -Pioneer Square – located between downtown and the stadiums is Seattle’s first neighborhood. This area is a nice break from the hub-bub of the market. Take the fresh fruits you picked up there and enjoy a walking tour, buggy ride, or a stop in the Waterfall Gardens – a lovely, secluded park. Occidental Park offers towering totems and the Fallen Firefighters memorial.
Seattle Aquarium – on Alaskan Way is a short walk from Pike Place. The admission price of $10.50 for youth & $16.00 for adults is worth it for what you get here. They are open from 9:30 – 5pm daily. You can listen to the calls of the northwest’s orca whales, watch the glowing jellyfish, touch a sea anemone’s soft tentacles (it was fun watching a toddler decide if the animals in the touch pool were gross or not) , and enjoy watching the antics of the sea otters as they float on their backs while balancing a snack on their belly. This place will teach, amaze, amuse, and inspire you on how to help protect our marine environment
CityPass – This can be of great value if you’re going to stay awhile. This is a five-attraction ticket to fun stuff featuring admission to the Seattle Aquarium, Argosy Cruises Seattle Harbor Tour, Pacific Science Center, Woodland Park Zoo and the Museum of Flight, or Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum. Purchase your pass at the Aquarium ticket booth or on their website. The pass can be used up to nine days at Seattle’s best sights
The Seattle Center Monorail was originally built for the World’s Fair in the ’60s. It is the nation’s first full-scale commercial monorail system. It was quick, convenient, and a fun new way to make a short trip from downtown Seattle to Seattle Center. Daily Hours of Operation: – Sunday through Thursday- 9:00am to 9:00pm, and Friday and Saturday- 9:00am to 11:00pm The monorail departures every 10 minutes from two stations: Seattle Center station, across from the Space Needle, and Westlake Center Mall station, at Fifth and Pine Street. Each trip takes two minutes to travel the 1 mile route. Round-trip fares are $4.00 for adults, $1.50 for youth ages 5-12, $2.00 for senior 65+, disabled, and persons with Medicare cards. One-way rates are 1/2 of the round-trip price. Children 4 and under ride free.
Pacific Science Center – 200 2nd Ave N, Hours: Mon-Fri 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sat-Sun-Holidays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m… Admission: is $8 for kids & $11 for adults. This museum was a real treat. The boys didn’t want to leave after several hours. The exhibits were nearly all hands on and included everything from electricity to sound waves, and motion to weights. You could play basketball with a “virtual” Sonics player or run inside of a wheel causing the water to make other things go around.
Space Needle – $8 and$16 – I thought this was pretty steep for nothing more than a long wait in line to ride an elevator to the top in order to look out over the city. The view was amazing, though, and I suppose it is something you should say you’ve done once.
South Seattle – Museum of Flight – $7 & $14, open daily 10 – 5. If there is an aircraft buff in the family, and you have extra time, this is a must. We took a public bus to get here (which cost next to nothing). The history of flight is depicted along with everything from a load of different jets to a flying car. There is plenty to see, so allow at least a couple of hours.
Lighthouses – If you’re a lighthouse fan, Seattle is a great place to spend a few days. The closest ones include: Alki Point at the southern entrance to Elliott Bay and West Point on the tip of Discovery Park. both of these can only be looked at from the outside. Mukilteo is very nice and can be seen inside. There are some interesting historical displays. It is a short drive north of the city and is right at the ferry to Whidby Island where you can see yet another lighthouse..
Snoqualmie Falls – 29 miles mostly east of Seattle. At the falls, you will find a two-acre park, hiking trail, observation deck, gift shop, and the famous 270 foot waterfall. The trail to view the waterfall is on a short, accessible trail and for the adventurous, you can hike down lower and closer to the falls. This is one of my favorite waterfalls anywhere.
Unless you’ve got a week to spend in Seattle, you’ll have to pick and choose what you want to do from my list. It really won’t cost you a lot of money to enjoy yourself in this city, and remember Seattle is worth a return visit just to make sure you don’t miss anything!