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
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
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
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
You might be interested in these Airbnbs!
4. Visit the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
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
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
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
7. Read a book at a public library
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
8. See beautiful plants at Washington Park Arboretum
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
9. Relax at the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden
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.
Get Trip101 in your inbox