One of the most beautiful cities on the west coast of the United States, Seattle is renowned for its sprawling parks and spectacular forests. Known as the Emerald City due to its lush green surrounds, it is bordered by the dramatic Cascade Mountains to the east and the snow-capped Olympic Mountains to the west.
Offering outdoor adventures and cultural attractions aplenty, Seattle entertains without you having to pay a cent. Here are my top five free things to do in the Emerald City.
Olympic Sculpture Park
A former industrial site, the new waterfront Olympic Sculpture Park (2901 Western Avenue) occupies nine acres of green space dotted with fascinating, eye-catching art. Featuring contemporary works by artists such as Richard Serra and Alexander Calder, the park revels in its spectacular backdrop – Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. With free admission, it is a great way to experience outdoor sculptures surrounded by breathtaking landscapes.
Pike Place Market
Although often overrun with tourists, the 100-year-old Pike Place Market has a great Seattle feel. Grab a famous Hom Bow from Mee Sum Pastry (1526 Pike Pl), shop from local fruit and vegetable stalls, taste creamy cheeses and browse for local fashion. A visit to the market is perfect for soaking up the Seattle vibe and entry is completely free. I do, however, like to pop a few coins in the market’s iconic brass pig Rachel as I pass by.
The Center for Wooden Boats
The Center for Wooden Boats is a museum dedicated to preserving and documenting the maritime history of the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Located on South Lake Union it showcases a fantastic collection of wooden boat designs. I like to watch carvers working on the boats and learn about the history of their designs. Every Sunday afternoon the centre offers free boat rides in some of their classic wooden boats; a great way to experience the beauty of the lake.
Located in lively Capitol Hill, Volunteer Park is home to the Volunteer Park Conservatory and the Seattle Asian Art Museum. I love the park for its fantastic views and beautiful parklands; both provide a great escape from the city. I recommend climbing the popular water tower for some of the best free views in town or having a picnic at one of the numerous grassy spaces.
Museum hop for free
On the first Thursday of every month, most of Seattle’s museums offer free admission for part or all of the day. My pick would be the Seattle Art Museum (1300 1st Ave) for its collection of contemporary and modern works as well as Native American, African and Asian indigenous art.
I also love the Seattle Asian Art Museum on Capitol Hill. Its collections include paintings, pottery, sculptures and textiles from China, Japan, India, Korea and more. Visit at the end of the day for its stunning sunset view over Puget Sound. Admission is also free here on the first Saturday of each month for families.