Traveling doesnt always have to cost a fortune, it can be day trips to nearby cities, hiking adventures, lazy days at the beach, and creative sightseeing in your hometown. For us, exploring the emerald city while trying to spend as little as possible was a specialty we developed since we were always in Seattle because of college.
Being on a college student budget, meant we had to cut back on admissions costs, and use walking as our main mode of transportation or public transportation, So if anyone knows how to explore Seattle while on a budget and as well know what things can be done for free, well it’s us. Trust us, we couldn’t spend the money even if we had wanted. So get ready to jot down these ideas because we have lots to cover when it comes to being a thrifty traveler ?.
This post is all about traveling while on budget when visiting Seattle WA and finding the best free things to do in Seattle. We made this comprehensive list because we relate well with the restriction of having a limited budget, yet still wanting to have fun. So continue reading to find the ultimate list of the best free or super cheap things to do in Seattle!
Pike Place Market – The Best Free Things to do in Seattle
Visiting Pike Market is one of the biggest tourist attractions that Seattle offers. it brings in thousands of tourists every year and locals frequently shop there to grab fresh produce and try new items. If you’ll be visiting Seattle and want to stay on budget, then visiting the Pike Market is a sure way to cut down on costs since it’s free to explore!
The famous farmers market is located on Pike Place in downtown Seattle. It is centrally located to nearby tourist attractions such as the shopping area and pioneer place, the waterfront, and is a moderate walking distance from Seattle Center.
Things you can do for free or super cheap at Pike Place Market:
Beecher’s! watch them making cheese!
Everyone loves a good slice of cheese, everyone! if you dont like cheese….. well Idk what to tell you but Beecher’s does have some amazing cheeses! Don’t even get us started on the sandwiches and macaroni cheese they sell. It is absolutely godly! You can actually buy their macaroni and cheese from Costco or most groceries stores, sorry we really love it.
Okay, enough about Macaroni and cheese. Beecher’s Orginal location is located in Pike Place and they have these huge glass windows that allow all the tourists passing by to see them make cheese! Sounds boring buts it’s actually a cool process to see them do their thing. When you’re done watching the cheese-making process, head on inside to grab some of the delicious food they offered featuring their delicious fresh cheeses.
Visit the OG Starbucks!
After you’re done visiting Beecher’s head on over to the OG Starbucks. This is where it happened yall, The original Starbucks that started an empire of coffee on the go with its infamous mermaid… or Siren? A logo that has plagued the world street by street (literaly, there’s like a Starbucks on every street in Seattle lol). Starbucks took the world by storm when it came to being back in 1971 and opened the doors to its first official coffee shop.
This iconic place holds a special place in all of our Seattelite hearts ❤️. Keep in mind that because this location is popular that there will definitely be a line out to Wisconsin (Okay maybe that’s an exaggeration, or maybe we’re telling the truth, and the line really does stretch for miles ?.) Whatever the case, be prepared and try to show up on a weekday when it’s less busy, or if you do decide to go o the busier weekends or holiday times then aim for the earlier the better!
Watch The Fish Guys Throw Fish!
Are you a fan of seafood? How about flying fish? (no pun intended ??) Well if you want a free show, then headed on over to the actual Pike Place Market, right at the entrance of the market you’ll smell that familiar fish smell and see usually a crowd gathered around. Next thing you know a flying fish will rip through the crowd to a pair of hands where it then gets tossed again. This famous fish tossing show is also home to some great fresh seafood, so if you like cooking then make sure to stop here and get some fish!
Gum Wall, gross but cool!
While you’re in the area of Pike Place, make sure to stop and go down the stairs near the main front entrance to grab a few photos of the icky but super cool gum wall that has thousands of pieces of gum stuck on it and some bandaids ?. Just make sure to not touch the wall.
Take a free walking tour
While not abundant there are a few free tours that you can take when exploring Seattle. They can be found on trip advisors or by googling Seattle free walking tours. Keep in mind while they are free, they do recommend tipping o donating a small amount to help keep the free tours functioning.
Cheap Things To Do in Seattle
Explore The Waterfront- Underrated free thing to do in Seattle
Explore the waterfront in Seattle! this lowkey best free thing to do in Seattle is a must-do when you already exploring the city. The waterfront boasts a giant wheel although it’s expensive, an aquarium, food shops, souvenir shopping, and great views of the Puget Sound.
Go Window Shopping In The Westlake Shopping Area
Seattle is on the smaller side when you compare it to big cities such as Los Angeles and New York City, however just because it’s smaller doesnt mean you’ll have nothing to do or nowhere to shop. in fact, Seattle has multiple shopping areas in its city and one of the most popular is the Westlake shopping area.
The shopping area consists of stores spread out throughout the nearby streets, but all within a few blocks of each other. You’ll find stores such as Sephora, The North Face, Forever 21, Old Navy, and more. If shopping in a mall is more your style then you can hop on to the nearby Pioneer Place.
Explore The Seattle Public Library – Favorite local free thing to do in Seattle
This stunning library is free for anyone to visit and offers magnificent views of architecture that look like it was created centuries into the future. The endless glass windows also bring in tons of natural light for the best reading scenery.
Seattle Center – Cheap Stuff to do in Seattle
After you’re done visiting Pike Place Market, head on over to Seattle Center and get some tasty snacks and drinks while visiting the Seattle Center Armory. Next head on down to the space needle, the good news is you can view the space needle from outside, and it’s free.
If you would like to take an elevator up to the top of the space needle there is a fee for that. Now if you are visiting when it’s hot, you can cool off at the international fountain where families and people of all ages love to come chill at.
Are any skateboarders reading this? Well if you are then you’ll be happy to know that there is a skateboard park called the Seattle center skate plaza. This park was built in 2021 and is a favorite amongst the locals, there are various ramps and rails for different tricks.
Visit The University Of Washington In Seattle WA
Ahh, the beautiful campus of the University of Washington is definitely a must-have for everyone to add to their list of things to do in Seattle. This gorgeous campus has been around since the 1800s and has had regular maintenance, makeovers, and additions over time to make it into the large and breathtaking campus that it is today.
If you’re planning on visiting Seattle during the spring, then it is especially crucial to visit the campus because of the beautiful cherry blossoms that bloom and bring thousands of tourists, wedding photos, photographers, locals, and others to gaze upon their beauty.
Are any Harry Potter fans out there? Then you’ll be super excited to hear or actually you probably already know since all of us harry potter stans are super nerdy and look up Harry Potter quizzes for fun ?.
Anyways, for those who have no clue what we are talking about, the University of Washington has a historic library based in Suzzalo. The reading room is often called the Harry Potter Room because it looks insanely like the one featured in the movies. Plus, a lot of the buildings at UW look and feel like Hogwarts ❤️.
Visiting Seattle? Make sure to read our other post for Washington!
Go Canoeing At Lake Washington
The University of Washington offers super cheap canoe rentals that allow you to explore Lake Washington! We recommend this as one of our best budget-friendly things to do in Seattle =). The wildlife that calls this area home is abundant and make sure you mind them when exploring the lake. Keep in mind you can’t explore the area near the Lake Washington ship canal.
Visit The Washington Park Arboretum At UW – Best Free things to do in Seattle
The Washington park arboretum is massive! This is a must-have for the best free things to do in Seattle because the park is beautiful and it’s free! This beautiful expansive park is jointly run by the University of Washington, and you’ll often see classes for plant physiology or identification while strolling through the flowers and various trees that call this park home.
If you have time, planning a picnic at this park would be a great idea so you can take a break from the city and enjoy nature at its finest. If you love parks, make sure to stop at the neighboring Seattle Japanese Garden.
Visit Capitol Hill For Nightlife
Not many people know this but Seattle has insanely fun nightlife! The two spots for the best nightlife vibes are capitol hill and bell town. We think Capitol Hill is overall funner and has younger crowds, and the best part is as long as you go to clubs early the cover charge is usually very small or free!
The Seattle community is very LGBTQ friendly so dont feel like you’ll be in a weird area, as the community is very open and loving of everyone! It’s one of the reasons why we love Seattle so much! Some of the best bars to hit up are Unicorn, Rhino room, Hillside, Foundation, and Neighbors.
Plus, if you love great fast food, there are a ton of cool hole-in-the-wall restaurants that serve pizza, tacos, ice cream, and hot dog burgers. A personal favorite of ours is t either hit up the hot dog vendor next to the gas station (you’ll know when you get to the capital hill are walking around since there will be a huge line).
Grabbing burgers at Dicks is also something we recommend for you to do if you’re eating on a budget since they are super cheap and the burgers and shakes taste phenomenal!
Explore The Amazing Blick Art Studio Store
For fellow artists and dreamers, if you love to look around art stores and admire the art supplies. Then you should defiantly go visit the blick art studio that is located on Capitol Hill. The sheer range of the number of art supplies is mind-boggling and can make anyone want to start up a new hobby and get creative.
Visit The Famous Bruce Lee Grave and Pay Respect
Bruce Lee was and still is an icon for martial arts and this can be seen today by the numerous tourist that comes to pay their respect at his grave site which is located at Lake view Cementary. The Lake view cemetery is situated on a capitol hill so while youre out exploring the city, make sure to stop here and take a moment. You’ll also see Brandon Lee, who passed away at the young age of 28, is also right next to his father.
Mariners Game – Cheap Things to do in Seattle
Okay, so the Mariners may not be the best major league baseball team! But!! That also means the tickets are usually super cheap! Plus, maybe it’s just a Seattle thing but most people who go to see the Mariners game usually go there for the beer garden and to have fun with friends. You can buy tickets online so it’s really easy to book last-minute ☺️.
Explore International District
The international district is a must-have for things to do in Seattle for free. One of the top things to do is to visit Uwajimaya and explore the cool cookware, food, snacks, and drinks. Uwajimaya also features an awesome food court that boasts different types of foods and desserts.
You definitely have to try the Taiyaki Japanese dessert! They make it right in front of you and have a ton of different flavors! We recommend the matcha or strawberry and Nutella ones.
Then you’ll want to go grab some boba from oasis a popular milk tea shop right across the street from Uwajimaya. After having your fill of food and drinks, head on over to the anime shop in Uwajimaya and browse the great collection they have of mangas, animes, figurines, stickers Funkos, plushies, art supplies, stationery, and more.
Alki Beach Park – Crowd Favorite For Free Things To Do In Seattle WA
Alki Beach located in West Seattle is a local favorite and one of the Best Seattle Beaches in the pacific northwest, this beach while artificially made is absolutely the best hang-out for tourists and locals during the warmer seasons. Make sure to arrive early or on a weekday because parking at the beach is tight and near impossible. At this Puget sound beach, you can have fun playing beach volleyball, go canoeing, bike riding, and renting electric scooters. After having your fair share of fun while at the beach, head on over to the Alki beach strip to try some burgers at the infamous Pepperdocks, pizza at Pegasus, or tacos and margaritas at El Chupacabra!
Golden Gates Beach
A favorite amongst college students at the University of Washington and locals for North Seattle. This sandy beach is very busy during the summer season so make sure you plan to get there early especially if you want a good spot on the beach. Be prepared to hear loud music and for it to be busy since this beach is usually full of college students.
Another popular West Seattle beach is the lowkey and underrated pebbly beach that locals love to take evening jogs through, watch the local seals and go bike riding. There also is much more to do in the entire park since you can hike through the forest that surrounds the large park, play baseball at the fields nearby, take the kids to play at the kid’s jungle gym, and do other outdoor activities.
Gas Works Park- Free Things To Do
Gas Works Park is this cute and quirky park that has old pieces of pipes that look like they are from a futuristic dystopian world. These rusty-looking pieces of metal may look like junk but during sunset and when you’re sitting there overlooking the beautiful Lake Union, it just adds more to that view and the overall vibe. Also, you get a killer view of the Seattle skyline so make sure to bring a good camera ☺️
Go Hiking At Nearby Trails
When you want to leave city limits and want a free and cheap activity, you can go on ahead and explore the great outdoor beauty of Washington state by visiting some of its national parks such as the Olympic National Park, and Mt. Rainier National Park. Either way, there is a surplus of hiking trails in Washington state, and many of them are within driving distance from Seattle WA.
Keep in mind if you’re visiting most parks such as the Olympic National Park or Mt. Rainier, then you’ll want to lack accordingly since it can rain randomly even during the summer months. Also, make sure to bring along a go pro so you can catch stunning views and videos of your hiking trails and the views of the Olympic mountain ranges.
Free Stuff To Do In Seattle
That wraps up our list of the best free things to do in Seattle! We hope you loved this guide and if you found it to be useful for your upcoming trip to Seattle, then please share this post as every share really helps us out ☺️