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Such a huge city and so many things to do and see that this post really needed to be trimmed down about 15 times I think to fit it in to something people could get through, but I think I wrangled up the best of the best frugal ideas and places to check out in the area!
People associate Seattle a lot with the monorail that twists and turns through the downtown area. It departs every 10 minutes from the station at Seattle Center, (across from the Space Needle) and from Westlake Center Mall, at Fifth and Pine Street. Each trip takes two minutes to cover the 1 mile route (See the map for the exact starts and stops) Each train can carry up to 200 passengers per trip. That all being said, the major piece is the “1 mile route”. It’s not much of a transportation monster, but a slick sightseeing stop when visiting.
It’s only $4 to ride for adults and $1.50 for kids; you get to see the downtown area and it starts and stops in good locations for shopping, so I’d still recommend it.
However a better way to get around is via bus. They’re cooked up pretty much all around the city heading as far north, south, east, and west as you’ll need to go and are very cost effective as well ($.75 for kids and $1.50 for adults one-way).
- The Space Needle ($16.00 for adults). It’s actually not as expensive as you’d think it was to get up to the top and see the city; it gets pricier if you’re looking to eat up there though (I’d recommend bringing a lunch).
- Pike Place Market (Free) is an open-air shopping haven and Seattle institution. It gets busy during the summer time as everyone and their mother stops in to see the fish being tossed and the fresh fruits, veggies, and flowers you’ll find here. This has been a favorite Seattle attraction for many years, and will likely continue to be as it is right in downtown and near a lot of the special places to go!
- Mount Rainier – ($15 per carload) – It’s a way to get out in the great Pacific Northwest and see what is happening! Learn about glaciers. Discover life in a rainforest. Hike the Wonderland Trail. Explore subalpine ecology. Watch clouds shroud the mountain and disappear. Visit a rustic historic building. Dream about climbing to the summit. Study geology. Experience a mountain meadow. Listen to a glacier crack.
Sports and Recreation
- Seahawks, Mariners, and Supersonics Stadiums – The first 2 are probably going to be around for a while. Football has caught on a lot more lately since the ‘hawks have been routine contenders in the past few years and even thought the M’s are struggling, people are still riding the wave of success they had eariler this decade! As for the Supersonics, you better hurry and catch them before they move to Oklahoma City!
Parks and Scenery
Seattle actually has a TON of parks with good views and kids toys all throughout the area. Being right on the water leads way to plenty of ocean views and lakes alike, all of which cost $0.00 to visit. Here are some of my favorites:
- Alki Beach – (Free)Best view of the city by far! It’s right on the other side of downtown Seattle and offers a pretty amazing view of the architecture (including the Space Needle) as well as a good place for kids to play in the water. Beach volleyball is another popular activity down on the white sand (yes, Seattle has some). And the food along the water is 2nd to none!
- Marymoor Park – ($1.00) It’s a huge place to take the dog for a walk. My kids have the best time there because it’s got so many dogs to pet and play with, they’re all very nice as mean dogs don’t get to have fun apparently.
- Matthew’s Beach Park (Free) – This is a big park with views of Lake Washington, kids toys, bike paths, you name it. It is conveniently hidden in a short entrance, so not many people know about this gem, but I recommend it!
Museums and Things
- The Children’s Museum ($7.50) – For $7.50 the kids really get a kick out of this place and will certainly get themselves tired out enough for a nap afterwards!
- Experience Music Project – (Free to get in) – an architectural unique building that is worth your time to see what’s Experience Music Project (EMP) is dedicated to the exploration of creativity and innovation in popular music.
- Seattle Art Museum – It’s not the MET, but it’s not a bad place to check out for a weekend jaunt! SAM is one museum in three locations: Seattle Art Museum downtown, Seattle Asian Art Museum at Volunteer Park, and the Olympic Sculpture Park on the downtown waterfront. SAM collects, preserves and exhibits objects from across time and across cultures, exploring the dynamic connections between past and present.
- Museum of Flight – The Museum of Flight exists to acquire, preserve and exhibit historically significant air and space artifacts that provide a foundation for scholarly research and lifelong learning programs inspiring an interest in and understanding of science, technology and the humanities.
- Woodland Park Zoo – We always hit up the zoo at least 2 or 3 times a year, the kids always get a kick out of it, but the price is getting steeper, but I still continue to pay it apparently…
- Tillicum Village – The Tillicum experience is a 4-hour excursion that features a spectacular combination of award-winning fire-roasted salmon, an intriguing cultural arts dance performance, magnificent scenery, and a relaxing cruise across Elliott Bay.
- Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park – This national park is really a free museum that documents Seattle history, from the fire that burned it down to the gold rush that helped build it up.
- Hiram M. Chittenden Locks – Even if you’ve been to a working lock before, this one is especially interesting because you get to see both boats and the salmon swimming upstream, plus the sea lions swimming around in the lock, waiting for whichever salmon try to bypass the ladders and swim right into their pampered little paws.
- Pioneer Square – Pioneer Square Park, topped by an ornate pergola, is the site of the city’s oldest settlement.
Seattle is a pretty good city to be in. There have been (and still are) a lot of rich money that make up a lot of the city, and therefore have a few places that certainly cater to the larger check book, but you can most certainly make it around the city in a week on a smaller budget if you watch where you’re spending it!
Seattle has been around for a while, and likely won’t be going anywhere soon! If you’re in the area, enjoy what is has to offer, and don’t believe what you hear about it raining all the time here, from May-September it’s amazing weather and the best time to visit!