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7 Unique Things to Do in Seattle for Free

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As a big city in the heart of rural Washington, Seattle has always been a little out-of-the-ordinary. Although downtown Seattle is certainly vibrant and sophisticated, you don’t have to go far to find yourself in the depths of natural beauty and outdoor adventure-land; including mountain ranges, waterways, national parks, and the only temperate rainforest in the continental U.S. In Seattle, you’ll see the most high-tech companies like Microsoft, Adobe, and Amazon thriving without impeding on the quality of life experienced by Seattle residents (and tourists!). There are so many interesting things to do in Seattle—you’ll find art, culture, diversity, and nature intertwining to form the city that is the best of both worlds. So, while you’re traveling in Seattle, go beyond just the biggest tourist attractions. Get a real feel for the culture by trying a bit of everything. Or just enhance a carefully-planned vacation by adding on a few of these things to do in Seattle for free. Visit one or all seven of these diverse attractions for a unique twist to your Seattle trip. Did I mention they’re free?

  1. Olypmic Sculpture Park

    Image of City, Urban, Metropolis, Road, Street, Cityscape, Water, Waterfront, Downtown, Condo, Housing, Freeway, Outdoors, Take a walk through Olympic Sculpture Park at the intersection of the city and the sound to experience an incredible variety of sculpture in an urban park setting with a backdrop of the stunning Olympic Mountains and the Puget Sound. You’ll see several celebrated works of art, and some of them are even functional, like the Eye Benches I, II, and III. It’s a great place to take photographs, both of the sculptures and the views—it’s perhaps the best spot to snap pictures of downtown landmarks like The Space Needle. If you’re not into art or photos, it’s also a great place to walk, run, or bring your dog!
  2. Washington Park Arboretum

    Image of Nature, Outdoors, Pond, Water, Garden, Scenery, Grass, Park, Escape into a haven of lush vegetation at the Arboretum at the University of Washington. This 230-acre park features a dynamic variety of trees and plants that can’t be found everywhere else. The different species are labeled, so if you’re interested, you can learn a lot while you’re there. In the Arboretum, you’ll also find an information center and a gift shop. One of the most unique features is the Japanese Garden, but we warned that this area of the park does have a $6 entrance fee. This Seattle gem is a great place for a picnic or a nap on the grass.
  3. Fremont Troll

    Image of Art, Road, Pay a visit to the Fremont Troll, sometimes just called “The Troll Under theBridge.” The 18-foot tall troll took up residence under the bridge on Halloween in 1990 and he’s been there ever since. The enormous mixed media statue under the north end of the Aurora Bridge was sculpted by four local Seattle artists: Steve Badanes, Will Martin, Donna Walter, and Ross Whitehead. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the car-crushing troll (you’ll find an old-style Volkswagen Beetle mashed in his left hand)—so feel free to clamor over his shaggy-haired concrete body, and definitely snap a few pictures with him.
  4. Liberty Orchards

    Image of Food, Lunch, Meal, Plate, Fruit, Produce, Bread, Take a tour of Washington’s Liberty Orchards, famous for their delicious Aplets & Cotlets (Apple-Walnut and &Apricot Walnut Candies). The unique factory still does most of their production by hand, so on your free tour you’ll see how the candies are made, from hand-sorted nuts to hand-packed boxes. Possibly the best part: you’ll get free samples from the factory as you are guided through the production center. It’s worth the drive from Seattle if you combine your trip with some outdoor adventures in the rural Washington area.
  5. Center for Wooden Boats

    Image of Water, Waterfront, Boat, Sailboat, Vehicle, Gas Pump, Countryside, Hut, Nature, Outdoors, Rural, Housing, Watch all the on-the-water action at the Center for Wooden Boats on Seattle’s Lake Union. Check out the boathouse, watch as youth and adults alike are taught the craft of sailing on antique boats, or observe the pros out on the water as you sit on the docks. If you’re interested in sailing history, there’s a large library with public access in the Boathouse. The CWB often hosts events, like the floating farmers market and the annual Wooden Boat Festival, so plan ahead to make your trip coincide with one of these special occasions. If you want to get out on the water yourself, the Center for Wooden Boats gives free boat rides on Sundays!
  6. Ye Old Curiosity Shop

    Image of Adult, Female, Person, Woman, Male, Man, Doll, Toy, Baby, Browse Ye Old Curiosity Shop, a licensed museum and gift store that is home of the weird, freaky, interesting, and curious. (Just don’t buy anything—that won’t be free). This matchless attraction has been in business since 1899, and their collection has continued growing ever since. In the museum, you’ll find genuine mummies, shrunken heads, a two-headed lamb, a four-legged chicken, and a miniature collection which includes paintings on heads of pins and the Lord’s Prayer written on a grain of rice. Look around the shop to find rare gifts like jewelry made with real insects, carved totem polls, and fair trade products from Africa and Asia.
  7. Pioneer Square

    Image of City, Road, Street, Urban, Path, Neighborhood, Sidewalk, Alley, Car, Peruse around “old Seattle” at Pioneer Square, in the south end of the city. This area is where the city flourished in the late 1800’s, making it Seattle’s original downtown. It features 19th century brick and stone buildings and one of the nation’s greatest surviving collections of Romanesque Revival style urban architecture. Wander among wide tree-lined streets filled with art galleries, cafes, antique shops, bookstores, old theatres, and restaurants. You’ll also find small parks to enjoy when the weather is nice. Pick up a brochure at any of a number of shops in the area to take your own self-guided walking tour.
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