Seattle on a Shoestring: Free & Affordable Activities, Rich With Delight

Footloose and fancy free: Sometimes you just want to experience a city's indulgent riches without emptying your bank account. Thankfully, Seattle is a city where doing that is a feasible goal. Here, natural beauty abounds, so sometimes soaking up the city's finest points means simply heading up the region's steep hills (or toward the water....or into thick patches of forest...). Choosing from alfresco excursions can prove a challenge, since there's such an abundance of options, but urban sites like Discovery and Gas Works parks are pretty much a guarantee. If you happen to have a bit more time to spare (and a car at your disposal), consider road tripping to Olympic National Park or Mt. Rainier, where the sites and hues prepared by Mother Nature will steal away your breath.

But Seattle also offers up culture for free, too, at spots like downtown's recently expanded Pike Place Market, the new home of beloved radio station KEXP and the lounge at Hotel Sorrento Hotel. Certain venues typically come with a fee (like MOHAI), but if you stay on the ball and do your research, you can find special days and times when free events are on offer, too. (Side note: if your'e determined to see the city's most popular tourist site as well, like the Space Needle for example, find deep discounts available through purchasing a CityPASS, which this years celebrates its 20th anniversary.)



Originally built in 1911, these locks offer a fascinating lesson in technology from days gone by. Observe ships and sailing vessels as they enter the locks and " following a series of mechanical adjustments " depart into either the sound or...  Read More

Pike Place Market
Photo courtesy of Magic in the Market/Richmond Public Relations


Sights, smells and sounds have always made Pike Place a head-spinning whirlwind for first-time visitors. Newest bonus: Last summer revealed the results of the site's $74 million MarketFront expansion project. Fishmongers near the main entrance...  Read More

Gas Works Park


On the north end of Lake Union, you'll find what may be the most unique park in the area. The 21-acre industrial area, formerly the site of a gas plant, was transformed in the 1975 into a recreational complex (a worldwide first). You'll find...  Read More



Situated on Magnolia Bluff overlooking Puget Sound, this expansive urban park--the largest in Seattle --offers two miles of beach trails and nine miles of winding footpaths. Ostensibly a bluff-top reserve, Discovery Park protects a remarkable...  Read More

Outside the city
Olympic National Park
Photo courtesy of Lana_aka_BADGRL


Olympic National Park provides Seattle visitors with a huge range of recreation options in a compact area. About an hour to an hour-and-a-half southwest of Seattle on Washington State's Olympic Peninsula, the nature preserve centers around the...  Read More



This slumbering volcano is the second-tallest mountain in the continental United States. Because of its northern locale and more extreme weather, Washington state's prime peak is used by many mountaineering groups to train for ascents of the...  Read More

Olympic Sculpture Park


Stroll through the grounds, and admire the fascinating large-scale works on display at this nine-acre green space. Extensive landscaping enhances the park's beauty, and a walkway, extending from the beach to Belltown, provides views of the Puget...  Read More

Museum of History and Industry
Photo courtesy of Loren Javier


Although an entry fee is typically charged, guests can look into special days/times and events that offer free activities. The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) is the largest private heritage organization in Washington State, devoted to...  Read More

Fireside Room (Hotel Sorrento)
Photo courtesy of Andrew Giammarco


Inside Hotel Sorrento, a grand social room awaits. "Swathed in ochre mahogany paneling, furnished in eclectic midcentury-modern, outfitted with a baby grand piano and encircling a wide, octagonal central column, the Fireside Room is a throwback...  Read More

KEXP 90.3 SEATTLE venue
Photo courtesy of Melissa Wax/KEXP


To build the vision for its "New Home" venue in Seattle Center, KEXP reached out to peers like musicians, teachers, business leaders, politicians and heads of arts organizations. The beloved radio station says, "They encouraged us to remain...  Read More


Meet Corinne Whiting

Corinne hails from the other Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's...  More About Corinne