Looking for free things to do in Seattle? We got you (and your budget).
If you’re visiting or living in Seattle while on a budget, you’ll want to routinely check out our continuously-growing list of free things to do in Seattle. The best part is that many of these free things can be enjoyed year-round. A few activities are seasonal—such as free summer concerts, outdoor movies, and Christmas light displays—but Seattle’s mild year-round climate allows for lots of free outdoor fun all year long. And on those particularly rainy days, you can opt for one of the many cozy indoor activities on the list.
Read on for our top free things to do in Seattle!
1. Visit the stunning Seattle Public Library
The Seattle Public Library system is spread throughout the city with charming libraries situated in every neighborhood, but you can’t miss the Seattle Central Library located downtown. The building itself is an awe-inspiring attraction worth visiting. You can use the computers and free Wi-Fi, try the free Short Story Dispenser, search for hidden murals, and check out the epic Red Floor.
In addition to spending time in the gorgeous library, here are 10 free things you can do with a Seattle library card—including free museum access!
2. Take advantage of free museum admissions
There are a few museums in Seattle that are free to the public every day. These include Frye Art Museum, Klondike Gold Rush Museum, and Olympic Sculpture Park.
You can also gain free admission to museums on free admission days every month—typically the first Thursday of every month. These include Seattle Art Museum, Museum of History and Industry, Museum of Flight, and the National Nordic Museum.
See our full guide to free admission days at Seattle museums.
3. Visit the Washington Park Arboretum
The Washington Park Arboretum is open daily and free to visit year-round. This botanical garden on the shores of Lake Washington has 230 acres full of an incredible variety of plant species. Make sure to visit in the spring to see blooms such as cherry blossoms and in the fall to see some of Seattle’s most vibrant fall foliage.
4. See the fish fly at Pike Place Market (and contribute to the Gum Wall)
You can spend hours strolling through the various levels of Pike Place Market without spending any money, since there’s so much to see. The fish throwing is classic Seattle entertainment, and it’s free! Be sure to stop by the Gum Wall as well and leave your mark.
5. Cool off on hot days with a swim
When Seattle gets toasty (rare, but it does happen!) there are many places where you can cool off with a refreshing swim for free. Golden Gardens in Ballard and West Seattle’s Alki Beach are popular as the two sandy beaches in Seattle. Just brace yourself for the year-round frigid water of Puget Sound. Seattleites also enjoy swimming in Lake Washington and even Green Lake.
6. Go for a hike in or outside Seattle
There are endless options for hiking around the Seattle area if you don’t mind a little driving. See our guide to waterfall hikes near Seattle. Also be sure to check out the free state parks days as well as free national parks days.
No car? No problem! On summer weekends, you can take the Trailhead Direct bus service to get to your hike. It’s not free (unless you’re 18 or younger), but at $2.75 each way it’s a low-cost option for getting out to trailheads at Mount Si, Mount Teneriffe, and Little Si.
And if you prefer not to leave the city at all, there are several mellow hiking trails in Seattle.
7. Ride your bike through the city
For a zero-cost day full of beautiful scenery and physical activity, take your bike out onto Seattle’s famous Burke-Gilman trail. You’ll see so much of the city that way.
8. Watch free outdoor movies under the Space Needle
Every summer, Movies at the Mural presents a lineup of free outdoor movies under the Space Needle. Bring your own blanket and snacks!
9. Take free yoga and dance classes in the park
Another fun summer activity is getting active in the park. You can take free yoga classes at Gas Works Park and free Zumba dance classes in Freeway Park.
10. Run through the fountain at Seattle Center
In the summer, Seattleites of all ages love to gather at Seattle Center and run through the fountain while music plays. Even when it’s too chilly to get splashed, Seattle Center is a beautiful place to walk around and the fountain provides a serene place to sit and people watch. In November, the fountain gets lit up for the holiday season!
11. Visit the Woodland Park Rose Garden
Adjacent to the Woodland Park Zoo, the rose garden is one of Seattle’s best-kept secrets. It’s open daily and completely free to visit. The best time to go is June through July when the roses are in full bloom, but even in the depth of winter it’s a beautiful and peaceful place to visit.
12. Enjoy a picnic with a view in the park
There are so many Seattle parks to choose from for a picnic. Your options range from large, popular parks like Gas Works Park to tiny neighborhood pocket parks like Fremont Peak Park. If you’re hankering for a view, however, you should check out our guide to the Seattle parks with the best views.
13. Explore the tide pools at low tide
Every once in a while, Seattle beaches experience an ultra-low tide that allows you to get up and close with all sorts of fascinating creatures in tide pools. This is a fun, educational activity for all ages. Check out our guide to the best spots in Seattle for tide pool exploring.
14. Get a new book at a Little Free Library
Every Seattle neighborhood is sprinkled with Little Free Libraries. You can check out a map or just keep your eyes peeled while exploring a neighborhood. Chances are you’ll head home with at least one new-to-you book, free of charge. And if you can drop off a book in return, all the better.
15. Acquire new artwork at a Little Free Art Gallery
You’ve heard of Little Free Libraries, but have you ever seen a Little Free Art Gallery? There is a Little Free Art Gallery in Queen Anne as well as one in Fremont near Rock Creek, and there very well may be more throughout Seattle as the idea catches on. These little stands look like Little Free Libraries except inside, instead of books, you’ll find miniature pieces of original artwork. You can take any artwork home with you for free, and even leave one of your own creations if you feel inspired.
16. Partake in free Summer at SAM activities
Speaking of art, Seattle Art Museum (SAM) hosts a series of free events every summer called Summer at SAM. Every week you can enjoy yoga classes, live music, art lessons, and more in Olympic Sculpture Park—and it’s all free!
17. Learn salsa dancing with a group
There is a group in Seattle called La Clave Cubana and they sometimes host dance social nights, some of which are free. Swing by with a partner and have a good time brushing up on your salsa moves in a friendly, welcoming environment.
18. Embark on a guided meditation in the park
You can visit Freeway Park downtown and embark on a guided meditation walk. All you need is your phone and headphones.
19. Take in some free summer concerts
Between Summer at SAM, Downtown Summer Sounds, and Party in the Parks, Seattle offers a variety of free concert options for people who’d like to enjoy live music without spending any money.
20. Visit all of Fremont’s quirky sculptures
Take yourself on a public art tour through Fremont, Seattle’s quirkiest neighborhood. You can start with the lit-up neon Rapunzel in the Fremont Bridge tower (best viewed at night), followed by the J.P. Patches statue, then the Waiting for the Interurban just across the street, the massive Statue of Lenin a little further into town, and of course the famous Fremont Troll under the bridge. You can also check out the dinosaur hedges next to the Fremont Cut and the piece of the Berlin Wall that is just down the bridge from the Troll.
Also: If you visit the Fremont Arts Council website, you’ll find a list of free annual events that you can enjoy in Fremont.
21. Feel like Harry Potter at the University of Washington’s library
Seattle’s University of Washington is well-known for its beautiful campus, especially in the spring when the cherry blossoms bloom. You can also visit the stunning Suzzallo Library, which is open to the public. When you walk inside the library, you’ll feel like you just stepped into a Harry Potter film.
22. See the best view of the city at Kerry Park
Kerry Park in Queen Anne is tiny but often crowded—and for good reason. It overlooks downtown Seattle, giving viewers a classic Seattle tableau of the Space Needle, Mount Rainier, and Elliott Bay. It’s a fantastic spot for a date if you don’t mind a crowd.
23. See the Ballard Locks in action
The Hiram M. Chittenden (or the Ballard Locks as they’re commonly known) are a popular free attraction in Seattle. You can go year-round to see the locks open to move boats between saltwater and fresh water, and if you go during the summer you’ll be able to see the salmon spawning. You can also walk through the beautiful Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden while you’re there.
24. Visit the lighthouse and historic houses at Discovery Park
Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest public park. You can easily spend the majority of a day there. There’s lots of trails for easy hiking and a beach where you can look for tide pools. The West Point Lighthouse and the Fort Lawton houses in the park are steeped in history. Make sure to bring a picnic and watch the sunset from atop the bluff.
25. Join a neighborhood art walk
Various Seattle neighborhoods offer free art walks on a monthly basis. It’s a great way to experience the art in your own city and neighborhood without spending any money. Some happen year-round while others are seasonal. See our list of Seattle art walks that you can join for free every month.
26. Watch the sunset at Gas Works Park
Gas Works Park is another great picnic spot in Seattle. If you get there around sunset, you can watch the city lights come to life across Lake Union.
27. Go to a free open mic
Hugo House hosts open mics very month. It’s free to participate, and you get the chance to share your writing with a friendly, supportive audience while getting to enjoy free readings in return. Hugo House also holds free writing circles at Seattle libraries.
28. Tour the Olympic Sculpture Park
This downtown sculpture museum is free and entirely outdoors. It’s right on the waterfront, making it our favorite place to view some art in a stunning natural setting.
29. Join a cultural celebration at Seattle Center Festál
Seattle Center hosts regular cultural celebrations as part of its Festál series. It’s free to attend and you get to enjoy performances, music, educational demonstrations and more from a wide variety of cultures.
30. Tour the tropical interior of the Seattle Spheres
Did you know that it’s entirely free to visit the Spheres in Seattle? All you need is to make a prior reservation online; here’s how. Once you’re inside, you’ll be treated to a lush indoor botanical garden. It’s particularly nice in the middle of winter as a warm, green getaway.
31. Find the secret downtown waterfall
Pack up some refreshments and a book, then head to Pioneer Square to find the Waterfall Garden Park in the middle of the city. It’s a peaceful urban oasis to sit and relax with the sound of falling water.
32. Visit the Alki Point Lighthouse
If you head over to West Seattle, you can visit the active Alki Point Lighthouse. It’s only open for tours in the summer, but the views there are stunning year-round. While you’re at Alki Beach, be sure to look for Seattle’s Statue of Liberty.
33. Take a free rowboat rental out on Lake Union
The Center for Wooden Boats offers free rowboat rentals on Lake Union year-round! Reserve your free one-hour rental on their website.
34. Visit the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park
Visit the visitor center in Pioneer Square for free interactive exhibits, displays, and video presentations about the Klondike Gold Rush. Find the hours and more information here.
35. Pay homage at the grave of Bruce Lee
You can visit Lake View Cemetery in Capitol Hill to see the grave of Chinese-American film star and martial artist Bruce Lee. People come from far and wide to pay homage and leave their respects as well as flowers and trinkets at his grave. It’s an important historical site in Seattle that you can’t miss if you’re a fan of Bruce Lee.
36. Explore Kubota Garden
This 20-acre Japanese garden in Rainier Beach is free to visit. It’s a well-kept Seattle secret (more people know of the Japanese garden in the Washington Park Arboretum). It is open daily from dawn to dusk.
37. Visit the Kurt Cobain bench
Another iconic celebrity memorial site in Seattle is the bench that acts as an informal memorial for Kurt Cobain. You can find it in Viretta Park, near Cobain’s former house. The bench is covered in messages to Kurt, so you can feel free to add your own.
38. Go to free events on the Seattle waterfront
You can often find free events happening on the waterfront piers in Seattle. You can visit Pier 62 for free daily activities, Zumba classes, live music, cultural performances, and just enjoying the waterfront view.
39. Pay homage to Jimi Hendrix
If you’re a fan of Jimi Hendrix, Seattle is the place to be. First, visit Jimi Hendrix Park in the Central District. The park is free and open daily. You’ll be able to see a chronological timeline of his life and career as well as enjoy a butterfly garden. Then you can also stop by the Jimi Hendrix statue located in Capitol Hill. It’s right next to Cal Anderson Park, so it’s easy to plan a picnic in the park and pass by the statue to pay your respects.
40. Partake in a free wine tasting
Love wine? You can enjoy a free wine tasting at West Seattle Wine Cellars as well as at McCarthy and Schiering’s two locations in Queen Anne and Ravenna. Just make sure to visit their websites for the specific days and times offered.
41. Join a free art class at the museum
You can partake in a free drawing experience at Frye Art Museum once a month. Frye also offers free art-making / discussion classes and mindfulness meditation.
42. Walk through a holiday light display
There are several free holiday light displays in Seattle that you can enjoy during the months of November, December, and even January. These include the Westlake Park Tree Lighting Ceremony on November 25, Magic in the Market at Pike Place Market on November 26, and Winterfest in Seattle Center starting on November 25. For even more, see our full roundup of all the places where you can see holiday light displays in Seattle.
43. Visit the Seattle Chinese Garden
The Seattle Chinese Garden is a hidden gem in West Seattle. Admission is always free although donations are appreciated if you can afford to give. The gardens are open daily from dawn to dusk and the courtyard is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekends. Be sure to check out their upcoming events and classes as well.
44. Take your kids to Seattle’s most epic playground
Artists at Play is a free playground located on the grounds of Seattle Center, right outside the Museum of Pop Culture. This is a great free activity to do with kids of all ages in Seattle.
45. Go to a free dance party in Capitol Hill
Leave the kiddos at home for this one. Barboza has free dance nights in Capitol Hill every Friday and Saturday starting at 10:30 p.m. No cover charge! This is for ages 21 and up, of course. If you plan on drinking, you can get $5 well drinks until midnight and free champagne on your birthday!