free things to do in seattle

Photo credit: Karin Sheets / Special Needs TravelingMom

Seattle might be known for rainy weather, but it’s the friendly people, diverse arts scene, and endless natural beauty that make Seattle a wonderful place to visit. These qualities create lots of opportunities for free things to do with children – from parks to museums to local landmarks. And if you’re visiting Seattle on a sunny day, you’ll wonder why anyone would live anywhere else.

22 Free Things to Do in Seattle with Children

  1. Take a free boat tour of Lake Union at The Center for Wooden Boats. You’ll get up close to many of the house boats on the lake, including the one used for “Sleepless in Seattle.”
  2. Get the best view and postcard-pictures of Seattle, Mt. Rainier, and the islands from Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill.
  3. Say hi to Sylvester the mummy at the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on the Seattle waterfront.
  4. Make some seagull friends at Pier 54. Hold out a French fry from Ivar’s and see how long it takes to become the center of attention.
  5. Watch the ferries load, unload up close and personal from Pier 54. See if you can spot a Coast Guard patrol boat that sometimes accompanies the ferries.
  6. Spend an afternoon playing in the park and walking around Green Lake.
  7. Explore Discovery Park, Seattle’s biggest park, featuring 11 miles of walking trails, beach area, wildlife and incredible views. While you’re there, stop by the Daybreak Star Indian Art Gallery.
  8. Find the Freemont Troll and take a picture with him.
  9. Get free admission to some of the best Seattle museums on the first Thursday of every month: MOHAI, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Museum of Flight, Wing Luke Museum and Burke Museum.
  10. Walk through Olympic Sculpture Park and explore 3D art with a view of Elliott Bay.
  11. Take a free tour of Benaroya Hall, home to the Seattle Symphony – Fridays at noon and 1 p.m. Tours also are offered in conjunction with Watjen Concert Organ Recital–Demonstrations.
  12. Explore the Seattle Public Library, featuring beautiful architecture, public art, fantastic views and, of course, great books.
  13. Take a walk in the sand on Alki beach for incredible views of the city. If the beach looks familiar, that’s because it where the beach scenes for “Sleepless in Seattle” were filmed. Bring some firewood and s’more makings end enjoy a fire on the beach after sunset.
  14. Spend the afternoon watching the boats pass through the Ballard Locks, otherwise known as the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. There are also beautiful gardens to stroll through.
  15. Enjoy the fragrant beauty of the Woodland Park Rose Garden, one of only two dozen certified American Rose Test Gardens in the United States.
  16. Catch story time at Capitol Hill’s Elliott Bay Book Company, one of Seattle’s oldest bookstores.
  17. Cool off on a hot day at Seattle Center’s International Fountain. It’s also a GREAT place to people watch.
  18. Walk through Sonic Bloom, the solar-powered art installation at the Seattle Center.
  19. Explore the 230-acre Washington Arboretum, located on the shores of Lake Washington near the University of Washington campus. Enjoy a free “Sunday Walk.”
  20. Take a self-guided Seattle walking tour of Ballard, Pike Place Market, Columbia City, Pioneer Square, or the International District.
  21. Take in the sights, sounds and tastes of the famous Pike Place Market. Watch out for flying fish and say make a donation to Rachel the Pig. Explore more on a self-guided walking tour.
  22. Add your contribution to the Gum Wall near Pike Place Market.