15 Best Free Things to Do in Seattle

07/28/2023 | by Andy | Local Area Guide

Seattle, often referred to as the Emerald City, is a vibrant and captivating getaway destination nestled in the Pacific Northwest. While this part of Washington State is known for its iconic landmarks like the Space Needle and Pike Place Market, you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy this thriving metropolis. In fact, some of the top entertainment in Seattle is free.

Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or art aficionado, this guide will unveil an array of cost-free experiences that will make your visit to a Seattle Vacation Home unforgettable. Get ready to explore the city without spending a dime!

1. Stroll through the Seattle Public Library

Photo Credit: Eug Png

Immerse yourself in the architectural marvel that is the Central Library in the Seattle Public Library system. Designed by renowned architect Rem Koolhaas, this library boasts a striking exterior and a breathtaking interior.

Take a self-guided tour and marvel at the stunning book spiral, expansive reading areas, and innovative design elements. With free Wi-Fi and numerous seating options, it’s an ideal spot to relax, read, and plan the next phase of your Seattle adventure.

2. Explore the Olympic Sculpture Park

Photo Credit: The Image Party

Stop by one of Seattle’s many famed coffee shops (the first ever Starbucks is here!)and stroll one of the city’s cultural treasures. Nestled along the waterfront, the Olympic Sculpture Park is a stunning outdoor art gallery that seamlessly blends art, nature, and breathtaking views.

This nine-acre park, managed by the Seattle Art Museum, showcases contemporary sculptures by renowned artists combined with Seattle waterfront views. Take a leisurely stroll and admire the impressive artworks, including Alexander Calder’s “Eagle” and Richard Serra’s “Wake.” Enjoy the tranquility of the park, unwind on the expansive lawns, and capture the perfect photo against the backdrop of the Seattle skyline.

3. Wander through Pike Place Market

Photo Credit: EQRoy
  • Website: pikeplacemarket.org
  • Address: 85 Pike St, Seattle, WA
  • Opening Hours: Market hours vary by shop, generally open from 9 AM to 6 PM.

No visit to Seattle is complete without experiencing the vibrant energy of Pike Place Market. Although there are plenty of quirky shops and tantalizing food stands at this popular tourist attraction, it is essentially a modern farmer’s market.

This historic market, established in 1907, offers a feast for the senses. Stroll through the bustling aisles, marvel at the colorful flower stalls, and savor the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. This is one of the best places to do some local shopping!

Take a free walking tour and watch the world-famous fishmongers tossing fish, explore local artisans’ shops, and sample delectable treats. Don’t forget to visit the iconic bronze sculpture, Rachel the Piggy Bank, and take a photo to commemorate your visit. The market also offers some of the best views of the city. Step outside, and you’ll also have stunning year-round views of the Puget Sound and Mount Rainier.

Pro Tip: Once you’ve had your fill of the eclectic market shops, head down the stairs to the waterfront and check out the Seattle Aquarium, which features floor to ceiling aquariums and touch tanks.

4. Leave Your Mark on the Gum Wall

Photo Credit: f11photo

Seattle, known for its eclectic attractions, boasts a unique gem that leaves visitors both amused and bewildered: the famous Seattle Gum Wall. Tucked away in the vibrant and historic Pike Place Market, this offbeat tourist spot has gained international fame for its colorful and sticky display.

The wall, covered from top to bottom with countless wads of chewed gum, is a testament to the city’s artistic spirit and playful nature. Started in the 1990s by a local group of performers, the wall has since spread down Post Alley and is a fascinating example of community art, with people from all walks of life leaving their mark on the sticky canvas. This is your unique chance to witness Seattle’s history and become a part of it!

5. Discover the beauty of Discovery Park

Photo Credit: Edmund Lowe Photography

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in nature at Discovery Park. Spanning over 500 acres, this urban oasis offers breathtaking views of Puget Sound, rugged trails, and diverse wildlife.

Explore the park’s numerous hiking trails, visit the historic West Point Lighthouse, and soak up views of the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. With its picturesque landscapes and peaceful ambiance, Discovery Park is the perfect place to recharge and reconnect with nature.

6. Visit the Seattle Art Museum

Photo Credit: Sergii Figurnyi
  • Website: seattleartmuseum.org
  • Address: 1300 1st Ave, Seattle, WA
  • Opening Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10 AM to 5 PM, Thursday, 10 AM to 9 PM

Indulge your artistic side at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). While there is an admission fee for most exhibitions, the museum offers free entry to its permanent collection on the first Thursday of each month. 

Take an art walk through a diverse range of artwork, from ancient to contemporary, including renowned pieces by artists like Georgia O’Keeffe and Jacob Lawrence. The museum’s thought-provoking exhibits and stunning installations are sure to inspire and captivate art enthusiasts of all ages.

7. Stretch Your Legs in Seattle’s Volunteer Park

Photo Credit: cdrin

Nestled in the vibrant city of Seattle, Volunteer Park offers a serene escape from the urban hustle and bustle. This 48-acre park is a favorite among locals and visitors alike, thanks to its picturesque landscapes, vibrant flower displays, and historic charm. Volunteer Park is home to the iconic Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Volunteer Park Conservatory, a stunning Victorian-style greenhouse filled with exotic plant species.

8. Visit the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park

Photo Credit: Brian Logan Photography
  • Website: nps.gov/klse
  • Address: 319 Second Ave S, Seattle, WA
  • Opening Hours: The visitor center is open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the fascinating history of the Klondike Gold Rush at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park.

This park commemorates the frenzy that engulfed Seattle in the late 19th century as prospectors flocked to the region in search of fortune. Located in the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood, the park features informative exhibits, interactive displays, and guided tours that shed light on the hardships and adventures of the gold rush era.

9. Relax in Kerry Park

Photo Credit: ARTYOORAN

Kerry Park is the place to be for breathtaking panoramic views of the Seattle skyline. Perched on Queen Anne Hill, this small yet stunning park offers a picture-perfect vantage point, capturing the iconic Space Needle, downtown skyscrapers, and the glistening waters of Elliott Bay. Whether you visit during the day or at sunset when the city lights up, Kerry Park never fails to awe its visitors with its majestic beauty.

 10. Go Zen at Waterfall Park

Photo Credit: Matthew McNeil

Nestled in the heart of Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square, Waterfall Park provides a serene retreat and green space amid the city’s bustling streets. As its name suggests, the park features a beautiful urban waterfall, providing a soothing ambiance that invites visitors to relax and unwind. With its lush greenery, inviting benches, and captivating art installations, Waterfall Park is the perfect spot to enjoy a quiet moment or a leisurely stroll amidst nature.

 11. Watch the Ballard Locks and Fish Ladder at Work

Photo Credit: Ritu Manoj Jethani

Located in the vibrant Ballard neighborhood, the Ballard Locks and Fish Ladder are a unique attraction. Also known as the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, this impressive engineering feat connects the saltwater of Puget Sound with the Ship Canal’s freshwater, facilitating boats’ movement between the two. The fish ladder, an ingenious structure, allows migrating salmon to navigate the locks and continue their journey upstream.

12. Take Selfies with the Quirky Fremont Public Sculptures

Photo Credit: Brian Logan Photography

Fremont, often referred to as Seattle’s “Center of the Universe,” is renowned for its vibrant art scene and eclectic atmosphere. One of the highlights of this neighborhood is its collection of public sculptures that grace its streets and parks. From the famous Fremont Troll to the whimsical Waiting for the Interurban statue, these unique and often humorous sculptures add charm and character to the neighborhood, making it a delight for art enthusiasts and curious explorers.

13. Tour the Frye Art Museum

Photo Credit: Curtis Cronn via Flickr CC 2.0
  • Website: fryemuseum.org
  • Address: 704 Terry Ave, Seattle, WA
  • Opening Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 11 AM to 5 PM.

The Frye Art Museum in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood is a must-visit for art lovers and always offers free admission. It houses a permanent 19th-century art collection donated by Charles and Emma Frye and rotating exhibits of contemporary art by both local and global artists. This small museum on First Hill is dedicated to preserving the collection of Charles and Emma Frye, who amassed over 1000 paintings, primarily from 19th- and early-20th-century Europe and America, along with some Alaskan and Russian artworks.

The Frye Museum’s permanent collection may be a bit cramped in a small gallery, but don’t let that fool you! The show’s real star at the Frye is their brilliantly curated temporary exhibits, which bring a fresh and modern twist to the art scene.

14. Go Green in the Amazon Spheres

Photo Credit: SeaRick1
  • Website: seattlespheres.com
  • Address: 2111 7th Ave, Seattle, WA
  • Opening Hours: 10 AM to 6 PM, first and third Saturday of the month.

An iconic downtown Seattle attraction, visit the Amazon Spheres and be amazed by an indoor garden filled with exotic plants. These unique buildings were designed as a workspace for Amazon employees, inspired by conservatories from around the world.

The Spheres aim to reconnect people with nature through biophilic design, providing a space to experience the positive effects of being surrounded by nature. Get ready to become refreshed and banish mental fatigue as you explore the carefully curated Amazon Plant Collection and botanical gardens, lovingly cared for by the experts at Amazon Horticulture.

You can visit the spheres for free on the first and third Saturday of each month, but you must register beforehand.

15. Blow Your Mind with Glassblowing

Photo Credit: ApinBen4289
  • Website: seattleglassblowing.com
  • Address: 2227 5th Ave, Seattle, WA
  • Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 10 AM to 6 PM.

Seattle is known for its glass art, with attractions like the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. The Seattle Glassblowing Studio in Belltown offers glassblowing classes and free live demonstrations every second Friday.

Registration can be done online for those interested in watching a skilled glassblower create beautiful pieces. Don’t miss your chance to witness this unique jewel of Seattle!

Pick Your Own Adventure in Seattle

Seattle is a treasure trove of free attractions that cater to a wide range of interests. From architectural wonders and outdoor art galleries to bustling markets and serene parks, this vibrant city offers abundant cost-free experiences when you stay at a Seattle Vacation Homes rental.

Whether you’re a local resident looking for budget-friendly entertainment or a visitor on a tight budget, these free activities will allow you to explore Seattle without breaking the bank. So, pack your walking shoes, grab your camera, and embark on an unforgettable journey through the Emerald City while staying within your budget. Happy exploring!