Discover the Best Free Things to Do in and around Seattle
As we make progress on the road to 'back to normal' during the COVID recovery, there seems to be no end to the line of people who are asking, "What's there to do for free near me?" in the greater Seattle area.
Seattle has been doing a great job by wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands often, and taking other precautions for the health and safety of ourselves and others.
We've updated our curated list of the best free things to do in Seattle right now, with notations next to the places that are paused until Seattle enters Phase 3 of the Safe Start recovery or paused until next year in the case of seasonal activities and venues.
So you see, there are plenty of activities and attractions to choose from for things you can do for free in Seattle.
However, we do recommend that you visit each of the links below for the most up-to-date information before beginning any adventure.
Summer is in full swing around the Puget Sound and if you haven’t started already, it’s time to make the most of it. Did you know there are tons of free activities in Seattle? We have compiled a list of museums, arts & entertainment, parks and farmer’s markets. This week we’ll be sharing our tips for a day at the museum…
- Enjoy the annual Seafair Fleet Week when Seattle plays host to ships and sailors from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Navy on the Seattle Waterfront. The fleet parade sets sail into Elliot Bay and ship tours are offered August 4th through the 7th.
- Visit the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) on the first Thursday of the month for free – make sure to take your picture with the giant “Hammering Man” sculpture out front.
- In Volunteer Park, visit the Seattle Asian Art Museum free of charge the first Saturday and second Thursday of the month – its collection features paintings, pottery, sculptures and textiles from the Pacific Rim countries of China, Japan, Korea, India and many more.
- Learn more about 20th Century German, French and American art at the Frye Art Museum – admission is always free and complimentary tours are available Wednesday through Sunday at 1:30 p.m. (Update: Preparing to re-open October 2020)
- Ever wanted to see what the inside of Air Force One looks like? You can at the Museum of Flight, which houses the first ever Air Force One and a Blackbird spy plane – it’s free from 5-9 p.m. the first Thursday of every month.
- Chronicling more than 150 years of Pacific Northwest history, the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) offers free admission the first Thursday of the month all day long with extended hours from 10 a.m.- 8 p.m.
- Head to the University of Washington’s campus to the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture and see a Northwest Coast totem pole and many more Pacific Rim cultural artifacts – it’s free the first Thursday of the month with extended hours from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
- Did you know there are numerous Coast Guard bases in Washington? Visit the Coast Guard Museum on Pier 36 for free to learn about the Coast Guard’s history and view the Coast Guard flag used on the first shuttle flight.
- Take out a rowboat for an hour for free at the Center for Wooden Boats offered Wednesday - Sunday 11 a.m - 7 p.m. When you are done, visit the center for a free hands-on museum that explains maritime traditions and aims to preserve the art of handcrafted wooden boats. Check back later to see when the FREE Sunday Public Sail Program might resume in 2021.
We're sharing our tips for the best of free arts and entertainment options in and around Seattle…
- Enjoy outdoor music every week at the Des Moines Beach Park Summer Concert Series – bring your lawn chairs and a picnic dinner every Wednesday from 7-8:30 p.m. (NOTE: Suspended for 2020, check back for 2021)
- Kent Summer Concert Series: Enjoy free concerts at Kent Station twice a week in August at Lake Meridian Park. (NOTE: Suspended for 2020, check back for 2021)
- Join in the fun at the South Lake Union Block Party in August 12th from Noon to 11 p.m. Enjoy food from neighborhood eateries, a beer garden, wine tasting, live music, an outdoor movie and much more! (NOTE: Suspended for 2020, check back for 2021)
- Take in music at SeaTac Music in the Park every Sunday at 5 p.m. at Angle Lake Park. (NOTE: Suspended for 2020, check back for 2021)
- The Tukwila Peanut Butter & Jam Concert Series at the Tukwila Community Center is for kids and families alike. Pack the picnic baskets and blankets and watch your kids dance and sing to the tunes of their favorite performers. Concerts take place Fridays at Noon from July through August. (NOTE: Suspended for 2020, check back for 2021)
- Experience modern takes on Shakespeare classics during Wooden O Theatre Productions Free Shakespeare in the Parks.
- Take in Seattle’s trendy Pioneer Square neighborhood at the Pioneer Square First Thursday Art Walk! Every month, First Thursday usually takes place from Noon-8 p.m. depending on the gallery and venue, when galleries throw open their doors to introduce their new exhibitions and artists.
(NOTE: Suspended in 2020 until Phase 3 of Washington State's Safe Start plan begins.)
- Take a 1-hour docent-led public tour of the home of the Seattle Symphony – Benaroya Hall. (NOTE: Suspended for 2020, check back for 2021)
- Take a break from your day at one of the Downtown Seattle Association’s 'Downtown Summer Sounds' Concert Series concerts – every Wednesday and Friday from noon to 1:30 p.m. (NOTE: Suspended for 2020, check back for 2021)
- Take in the beauty of the Paramount Theatre at one of its free tours hosted the first Saturday of each month at 1 p.m. You will get the opportunity to see the ornate décor, restored with painstaking attention to detail during this 90-minute tour. (NOTE: Suspended in 2020 until Phase 3 of Washington State's Safe Start plan begins.)
Is relaxing and walking around more your thing? Seattle has dozens of great urban parks for you to enjoy – a few even have great complimentary guided tours for you to learn more about the natural wildlife sharing the city.
- Explore the nine acre Olympic Sculpture Park on the waterfront – what used to be an industrial site is now a green space dotted with contemporary works by artists set against the Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains in the background.
- With 534 acres, Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest City Park overlooking the Puget Sound from Magnolia Bluff. The park is situated on Magnolia Bluff on what was the former Fort Lawton site – you can still see the 26 historic homes in the park, which used to house officers and their families stationed at Naval Station Everett and now are available to rent.
- There is no better place to see Seattle than the water tower at Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park – Seattle Weekly readers voted this part the “best free view in Seattle.”
- Explore the 230 acres of 10,000 native plants in the internationally recognized Washington Park Arboretum. You can learn more about this spectacular park and the tree and animal species that call it home during one of their free tours. Check the Arboretum's calendar of events for details.
- Did you know there are more than 280 varieties of roses and that the Pacific Northwest’s moderate climate is one of the best places to grow them? Stop to smell the roses at Woodland Park Zoo’s Rose Garden – it’s one of 24 All-American Rose Selections Test Gardens in the country! Open from 7:30 a.m. until dusk every day of the year, free of charge.
- See some of Seattle’s biggest private boats go from Lake Washington to Puget Sound at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. From the public viewing window, you can also see salmon as they climb the fish ladder. The Locks offers a free, guided tour March through November. (NOTE: Check the Locks website for updates on scheduled re-openings of the pedestrian gates)
Seattle is well-known for Pike Place Market, but did you know there are 13 other farmers markets in Seattle that local farmers and merchants sell their fresh produce and wares at? Plan your menu and take a look at the list below to plan your shopping for the week.
- Fremont Sunday Street Market (10 a.m. - 4 p.m.) is the perfect place to find antiques, collectibles, estate sale treasures and more – it’s an enormous garage sale! There are also street food vendors if you get hungry searching through treasures.
- Seattle’s oldest and largest “farmers-only” neighborhood market is the University District Farmers Market featuring more than 50 local vendors (Saturdays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., year-round) at the corner of University Way NE and NE 52nd Street.
- Since 1999, the West Seattle Farmers Market has featured more than 35 Washington State farmers and small food processors (Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., year-round) at the corner of California Avenue and SW Alaska Street.
- Just in front of Seattle Central Community College is the Capitol Hill Farmers Market – offering not only local in-season fruits and vegetables, but live entertainment and cooking demos (Sundays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Year-round at the corner of E. Broadway and E. Pine streets).
- With more than 40 vendors, the Columbia City Farmers Market has been operating since 1998 (Wednesdays, 3 - 7 p.m., April 27 – Oct 19 on S. Edmunds Street and 35th Street).
- One of the newest neighborhood farmers markets is the Phinney Farmers Market (Fridays, 3 p.m. - 7 p.m., June 3rd – October 7th in the upper parking lot at the Phinney Neighborhood Center at N. 67th and Phinney Ave N.) (NOTE: Suspended for 2020, check back for 2021)
- Each Thursday afternoon, shoppers select the best local produce at the Lake City Farmers Market (Thursdays, 3 p.m. - 7 p.m., June 2nd – Oct 6th next to the library at NE 125th and 28th Ave NE). (NOTE: Suspended for 2020, check back for 2021)
- Celebrating its inaugural year, the Magnolia Farmers Market offers fresh produce and herbs for every cook to enjoy (Saturdays, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., June 18th – Oct. 8th at the corner of 33rd Ave W and West McGraw Street). (NOTE: Suspended for 2020, check back for 2021)
- Continuously expanding its vendors, Ballard Sunday Farmers Market offers a selection of local farmers, culinary artists and craftsman designers (Sundays 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Year-round on Ballard Ave. NW between Vernon Place and 22nd Avenue Ballard AVE NW)
- Wallingford Farmers Market has been around for 12 years and features fun activities for the whole family including weekly cooking demonstrations (Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m. - 7 p.m., May through late September). (NOTE: Suspended for 2020, check back for 2021)
- Madrona Farmers Market (Fridays from 3-7 p.m., mid-May through mid-October) at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and E. Union Street.