Fun and frugal things to see and do in the Seattle/Tacoma area

Pike Place Market in Seattle

As I finished up my previous posts about sightseeing in the Seattle area, I wanted to get some reader input on more fun and frugal things to do in the Seattle/Tacoma area!

Peggy asked:

I was wondering if you could make some recommendations on things to do and sites to see while in Seattle. Can you recommend places to shop as well? I enjoy flea markets and farmers markets. We all enjoy Living History museums so we will probably go to Ft. Nisqually.

I loved Pike Place Market in Seattle, which is somewhat like a farmer's market, live musicians, and lots of little shops (used bookstores, tea, musical instruments, spices, and probably a hundred more things we didn't have time to see!). After paying for parking, you can basically explore all over. :) I've bought bananas and some wonderful huge apples for snacking while there... and if you love tea be sure to check out the Vital Leaf tea shop there! :) (Read more here)

The Columbia Center in Seattle was another favorite, with a beautiful view (plus the fun of being transported to the top of a skyscraper!).

The Farmer's Market in Ballard (a north Seattle neighborhood) is well-loved by many but we haven't been there yet.

I've also heard that the Museum of Flight (on the south side of Seattle) is a great one!

We enjoy riding on a ferry (since it's something we have only done a couple times!) and after touring the battleship in Bremerton, we took the Bremerton ferry across to Seattle. (The ferry is cheaper that direction.) You can find all the ferry schedules and fares here. :)

There are lots of nice parks and hiking trails, though we've only explored ones north of Seattle for the most part. :)

So, dear local readers, what do you recommend for the Seattle area? :)


Comments from this entry: Grandma wrote: There are two places you might like to visit that were not on your list of things to do. Tacoma has the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium that is always a fun place to see. There is the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. The children would have so much fun at these two places. You and Joshua would too. Hope to see you soon. Grandma Lee Noah wrote: Well, I'm not great on frugality in some ways. Since my husband works for Microsoft, we get a prime card which gives us discounted admission to a lot of places! So I'm not completely up to date on what the admissions costs are. The Museum of Flight is fabulous. And the best part is that parking is free. They don't charge for children 4 and under which is nice. There is also free admission the first Thursday of the month from 5-9pm. We also love the science center. They have a really great toddler/preschool play area, and since they don't charge for the under 3s, so if you just have a toddler you only have to pay the adult admission. My husband took our boys there a little over a week ago, and my 4yo especially loved the planetarium show that was geared for the 0-5 crowd. Several children's museums on the area will have free hours as well. If you check individual pages you can find out. Of course it's more crowded, but it's free! Kidsquest in Factoria is free every Friday from 5-8pm, for example. If you can get a group together, many places offer group rates as well. I have heard good things about Carkeek Park in Seattle, but haven't been there. My kids love Saint Edward's Park in Bothell (it has a fabulous play structure). I personally don't like to take them there without my husband, since it's too hard to keep track of both of them as they climb around. Visibility isn't great. We also love Farrell-McWhirter Park in Redmond and Kelsey Creek Park in Bellevue, as they both have farm animals. Last I was at FM was a month ago, but there was a whole litter of piglets, baby chicks, baby bunnies, and 3 baby goats. Common Ground Cupcakes in Renton is fabulous ( Really good cupcakes/desserts and espresso. They have a few toys for the kids and are very kid friendly. And you can spend what you want. They even have mini cupcakes, which is what I get for my kids while I usually enjoy a huge one! Snoqualmie Valley Railroad is fun as is Snoqualmie Falls (of course I forgot those two since they are 15 minutes from my house!). If you take the train to or from North Bend, we love George's Bakery right on North Bend Way for treats! It's less than a 5 minute walk down the road from the Depot. I've also heard good things about the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad, but haven't been on it since I was a kid! Kristin wrote: I love the Olympic Sculpture Park. It is free and right downtown on the waterfront. They have 9 acres of open space and cool sculptures to look at. (You do have to pay to park, as always in downtown Seattle). Also cool is the Seattle Art Museum. Children under 12 are free but adults are $15 (I think). However, the first Thursday of every month is free for everyone. The Seattle Public Library is fantastic (and free!). Just seeing the building is great (really cool architecture) but they also have a really fun children's's a good place to stop in if your kids need a break (if your kids are like mine and like books, that is). The Seattle Underground Tour is really fun (although, maybe it is more for slightly older kids...elementary age, at least). It's something like an hour and a half long but tells a lot about the history of Seattle (including some of the less savory aspects...but they keep it G-rated). I think it is $15 each so it's not cheap but it is fun. Em wrote: I miss Seattle! I wish we still lived there! Cheap or Free fun things to do... Rent a canoe at UW, climb on the climbing structure at UW, climb on the troll in Fremont, go to Gas Works Park, Burke Gillman trail, see the rose garden at the zoo, discovery park in Magnolia has beautiful views with a walking trail too. Snoqualmie falls trail, any Lake Washington or Lake Sammamish beach Anyways, I could sit here for an hour and write things down (o; Janelle wrote: Free: 1. King County Libraries. They have incredible free summer programs. They are different for each branch so check out their website. Honestly, from friends and family who have moved from the state, they say they didn't realize how awesome the King Co. Library was until they lost it. 2. Snoqualmie Falls. Free! You can walk to the bottom, sit on the rocks and have lunch. Or picnic in the park at the top. (plus I'm only 1 mile away if you want to visit. :) 3. Trails, hiking. There are SO MANY from Issaquah to Snoqualmie Pass. Check out the forest service sites. 4. City of....Bellevue, Issaquah, Snoqualmie, North Bend...all have great free summer concerts! Check out their city websites. (one to note: City of Snoqualmie is hosting the US Airforce band at Snoqualmie Pointe Park. GO! If you have never been to this park, you are missing a jewel. The view is incredible! The event is in August) 5. Beaches. Again check out the tides and beaches. We love the beach in Shoreline - can't remember its name. Great free fun! Low tide is great. That is just a few. The Science Center is cheap to buy a family pass. Good for a year, and they have a great water section for those hot days. Fun stuff! Amanda wrote: Forest Park in Everett is so much fun. They have an animal farm that's opens at 10am, nice big playground and a waterpark...all for FREE! Be sure to get there early as the place gets crowded around noon. The Childrens Museum on Wall ST. in Everett is free every third friday during the summer, and discounted on wednesdays. SilverLake Park in Everett has movie under the stars night during the summer, and it's free. They play family friendly g rated movies. Not sure what night, but you can check out the parks and recreation website. Make sure you bring blankets and pillows or chairs. That's all I can think of for now. Have fun! Anonymous wrote: In summer we have a lot of Seafair related events like parades and Blue angels. Most of the towns in the area have a parade. The paper has them listed. Sometimes there are fishing derbies for kids at local lakes and ponds. Target stores sponser free children'sperformances in the parks called Wonderstage. Most of the local movie theaters have a free or $1 showing of a G or PG movie on Wednesdays around 10am. We love to visit parks with a beach on Puget Sound. One of our favorites you get to by a free ferry. It's called Jetty Island and it's in North Everett off of Marine Park. A great place to build sandcastles and fly kites. All above have excellent suggestions. So I won't repeat them. However, there are a few that I don't see on the list so here it goes For shopping: Go to the international district and check out Uwajimaya. There is also a Japanese museum which is incredible and very educational. I didn't see where anyone listed the Seattle Aquarium either. At the Seattle Center there is the Science Center and kids just love it!!! Don't forget SAM (Seattle Art Museum) as well. Definitely the Flight Museum - we spent nearly all day there! (not free, but a GREAT value) You can take the bus there, too, from downtown, and it stops right in front of the museum. And across the street you can visit Air Force One, the Concord, and other cool planes. We also liked Pike Place Market a lot, and took a great boat ride through the locks, from the freshwater to the ocean saltwater. It was so fun to be in the water, see the city and the beautiful mountains. We were in seattle a couple years ago and went to the aquarium. It was amazing! Also the snoqualmie falls were great, too. :D I highly recommend Molly Moon ice cream shop. There is one on Capital Hill and one in Wallingford...both in Seattle. The ice cream is sooo good. Dicks is the local burger joint. Very yummy and cheap. Great Seattle establishment. The Fremont Sunday Market is fun too. It is every Sunday and is fun to walk through or grab a bite. Another great place to go on a nice day is Alki Beach. You get an awesome view of downtown Seattle from across the water. If you are in the Woodinville area...Redhook Brewery is a nice place to eat and they do outside summer movie nights that are cheap. I just turned 62 and discovered the greatest deal going anywhere. For a one-time cost of $10, we seniors get free admission to any National Parks facility for the rest of our lives! (I'm banking on another 32 years at least!) In addition, our camping rate is cut in half. Mt. Rainier, Olympic Mountains, North Cascades: here I come.

There is a free magazine for Seattle parents that gives a calender of events and lists lots of fun things to do. Also just had an article on fun things to do with the grandkids in several major cities. Might find ideas there. My best friend was a whiz when our kids were small on always knowing where there were fun things to do. There are frequently coupons in that parenting magazine too. There is a book for sale at many grocery stores that lists all the community fairs, open air markets and christmas bazaars for the year, for the entire Puget Sound area. Speaking of fairs don't miss the Victorian Christmas at the Puyallup fair grounds. Look it up online and plan to attend some of the musical events and shows along with your shopping.

Volunteer Park is one of my favorite places to visit in Seattle on the cheap. You can walk up the windy staircase to the top of the water tower and see views of downtown Seattle and Lake Washington that are more beautiful than the Space Needle. They also have a conservatory you can walk through for free with beautiful plants from all over the world.

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