10 Best Free Things To Do In Seattle, Washington

things to do in seattle for free
Anne
Anne
Updated

Seattle is nestled on Puget Sound in Washington State and on the Pacific Northwest. The city is surrounded by mountains, evergreen forests, and water and has many thousands of acres of green parkland areas. Among its many attractions are the futuristic Space Needle, built in 1962 for the World’s Fair and the city’s most famous landmark. Seattle is also known for its artistic community and is home to many fascinating art galleries and museums. Many members of the tech industry are based in Seattle, including Amazon and Microsoft, whose headquarters are in the city. For travelers on a limited budget, the following are the best free things to do in Seattle, Washington, USA.

1. Relax in the Waterfall Garden Park

Seattle Waterfall Garden 03
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Joe Mabel used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Waterfall Garden Park is a secluded urban oasis in the center of the busy city. Located behind Occidental Square Park, there is a 22-feet (6.7 meters) waterfall, the perfect place to relax and eat a picnic or read a good book. This hidden escape is located on the spot where United Parcel Service had their headquarters in 1907.

Waterfall Garden Park

Address: 219 2nd Ave South, Seattle, Washington, USA

Opening hours: Monday-Friday 8 AM -3:45 PM

Website: Waterfall Garden Park

2. Explore the Frye Art Museum

Frye Museum winter
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Joe Mabel used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The art museum is the home of a private collection by Charles and Emma Frye and is located in the First Hill neighborhood of the city. The majority of the sculpture and paintings on exhibit are from the 19th century to the present. Various events are held at the museum on a regular basis.

Frye Art Museum

Address: 704 Terry Ave, Seattle, Washington, USA

Opening hours: Monday closed, Tuesday-Wednesday 11 AM - 5 PM, Thursday 11 AM - 7 PM, Friday 11 AM - 5 PM, Saturday closed

Website: Frye Art Museum

3. Take a First Thursday Art Walk in Pioneer Square

First Thursday in Occidental Park 04A
Source: Photo by user Joe Mabel used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The First Thursday Art Walk started in the early 1960s and is the longest established art walk of its kind in the USA. Pioneer Square is considered to be a haven for the artistic community in Seattle, with its galleries, exhibition spaces and studios. The walk is held on the first Thursday of each month, taking visitors to different venues and galleries along the way, meeting artists and viewing their work.

First Thursday Art Walk

Address: Pioneer Square, Washington, USA

Opening hours: First Thursday of each month - hours vary by Gallery and Venue

Website: First Thursday Art Walk

4. Visit the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

Seattle - Curiosity Shop interior 01
Source: Photo by user Joe Mabel used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop has been operating as a family business in Seattle since 1899. Ten years before, the city had been devastated by the Great Fire and when the wooden docks were replaced, Joseph Edward Standley opened his souvenir and curio shop on the waterfront. Many people have visited the shop over the years to buy such wonders as a miniature totem pole, or to look at a walrus skull with three tusks. Over the years the collection has grown and Standley’s family continue the business, adding mummies, shrunken heads, and natural oddities from all over the world. Visitors might find they will spend hours browsing around the fascinating shop.

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

Address: Pier 54, 1001 Alaskan Way, Seattle, Washington, USA

Opening hours: Sunday-Friday 10 AM - 6 PM, Saturday 9 AM-9 PM

Website: Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

5. Enjoy the panoramic view of Seattle skyline from Gas Works Park

Seattle
Source: Photo by user Tiffany Von Arnim used under CC BY 2.0

Gas Works Park is a public park, located on the site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company plant and on the shores of Lake Union. The park features a sundial and portions of the original plant, some of which is in ruins, while others have been converted and incorporated into a “play barn” structure for the kids. The park is also ideal for picnics, but its most popular feature is the beautiful, panoramic view over Seattle. The park has been added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.

Gas Works Park

Address: 2101 N Northlake Way, Seattle, Washington, USA

Opening hours: 6 AM - 10 PM

Website: Gas Works Park

6. See Bonsai collection at Weyerhaeuser

Bonsai
Source: Photo by user Joe Goldberg used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Weyerhaeuser Bonsai Garden is located in the Garden of the Pine Wind. It was designed by landscape garden artist David Slawson with the help of Kinsaku Nakane, an expert from Japan. This is a showplace for miniaturized trees and bushes, grown in shallow pots or trays. There are around 30 bonsai trees in the garden, including elms, dwarf pines, junipers, azaleas, and other plants.

Weyerhaeuser Rhododendron and Bonsai Gardens

Address: Place 33663, Weyerhaeuser Way/S Federal Way, Seattle, Washington, USA

Opening hours: 6 AM - 10 PM

Website: Weyerhaeuser Rhododendron and Bonsai Gardens

7. Read a book at a public library

Seattle Public Library - IMG_1477
Source: Photo by user N i c o l a used under CC BY 2.0

Read a book or browse the internet at the Central Library in Seattle, the flagship library of the city’s library system. This spectacular modern building was constructed of glass and steel and opened to the public in May 2004. This air-conditioned library features free public computers and Wi-Fi and a Chocolate Coffee Cart does the rounds offering refreshments for a fee while browsing or reading.

Seattle Public Library - Central Library

Address: 1000 Fourth Ave., Seattle, Washington, USA

Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 10 AM - 8 PM, Sunday 12 PM - 6 PM

Website: Seattle Public Library - Central Library

8. See beautiful plants at Washington Park Arboretum

E. Lynn Street Bridge, Washington Park Arboretum
Source: Photo by user Joe Wolf used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Washington Park Arboretum nestles on the shores of Lake Washington and offers a huge assortment of plants, many of which are found nowhere else in the Northwest. Visit the Graham Visitors Center to find out more information about the park and buy souvenirs and stroll the walkways, gazing at the attractive plants. The Japanese garden is a relaxing spot at the end of the Arboretum, but that garden does charge an entrance fee.

Washington Park Arboretum UW Botanic Gardens

Address: 2300 Arboretum Drive E, Seattle, Washington, USA

Opening hours: 9 AM - 5 PM

Website: Washington Park Arboretum UW Botanic Gardens

9. Relax at the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden

Seattle — Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Gardens — 03
Source: Photo by user Steven Pavlov used under CC BY-SA 4.0

In 1931, the US Army Corps of Engineers hired Carl S. English to transform a gravel lot, left after the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks were built, into a grassy field, for public events and training drills. English instead brought the land to life as an English-style landscape garden, which nowadays has more than 1,500 varieties of plants from all over the world. His efforts have been continued and the lovely gardens are considered to be a botanical masterpiece, waiting to be visited today.

Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden

Address: 3015 NW 54th St, Seattle, Washington, USA

Opening hours: 7 AM - 9 PM

Website: Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden

10. Take a free dance class at the American Dance Institute


The American Dance Institute is renowned for its dance classes in Ballet, Irish, Hip Hop, Tap, Flamenco, Jazz and many more styles of dance. Free classes are provided to allow people to decide which dance type is for them. It is necessary to register on their website and give details of which dance type is of interest, and which branch of the popular dance school is most convenient.

American Dance Institute

Address: 8001 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle, Washington, USA

Opening hours: Monday and Thursday 9 AM - 8 PM, Tuesday 9 AM - 7:45 PM, Wednesday 9 AM - 8:15 PM, Friday 9 AM - 6:30 PM, Saturday 8:30 AM - 7:30 PM, Sunday 8:30 AM - 5 PM

Website: American Dance Institute

Have fun exploring Seattle and all it has to offer

Enjoy a budget tour of the attractions of the city while experiencing the best free things to do in Seattle, Washington, USA.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Anne Sewell was born in England, but has spent most of her life in Africa - Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa - and now resides on the beautiful Costa del Sol in southern Spain. She loves writing...Read more

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