Leave the cash at home and enjoy these free things to do in Seattle

When the budget’s low but the FOMO’s high, we’ve got your back: Try these free activities around town.

An aerial view of the circular labyrinth at the National Nordic Museum

On the first Thursday of each month, locals can visit various museums across the city for free — including the National Nordic Museum.

Photo via Sarah Miller for National Nordic Museum

Seattle is many things — scenic, exciting, diverse — but one thing it isn’t? Cheap. That doesn’t mean you can’t be thrifty, though; you just have to know where to look.

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite ways to enjoy the city without spending a dime, from free sailboat rides to local walking tours and more.

As a bonus, we’ve also included a few things to do that aren’t quite free, but won’t break the bank.

Outdoor activities

Exploring a park | Sure, it’s obvious, but it’s also one of the best ways to enjoy our city for free. Our parks guide breaks down the best parks around town for hiking, playing sports, walking the dog, running around with the kiddos, or taking a swim.

Sunday public sail | On the last Sunday of each month from April through October, Seattleites can enjoy a free boat ride on Lake Union. Service is first come, first served, with sign-ups beginning at 10 a.m. in front of the Wagner Education Center.

Enjoy a beach bonfire | Gather your s’mores ingredients and head to Golden Gardens Park or Alki Beach Park to take advantage of their first come, first served bonfire rings during the summer.

Discover Pass Free Days | On certain days throughout the year, get into Washington State Parks for free via the Discover Pass Free Days.

Arts and culture

Art walks | Explore a new part of town, support local artists, and take in beautiful pieces at an art walk. Each month, different neighborhoods across the city host community art walks that are free and open to the public.

Shakespeare in the park | This local organization takes “all the world’s a stage” quite literally. During the summer months, head to a free outdoor Shakespeare production in the park — donations are accepted.

Frye Art Museum | Admission to this local art museum — featuring contemporary, PNW, and late 19th and 20th century European and American art — is always free.

Free First Thursdays | On the first Thursday of each month, Seattleites can get into the following museums for free at certain times: Museum of History and Industry, Museum of Flight, Seattle Art Museum, Burke Museum, and National Nordic Museum.

Free outdoor concerts | Stay tuned for various free outdoor music series, like Downtown Summer Sounds and the free summer concert series at the Ballard Locks.

Seattle Public Library Shelves

The library is more than just books, but we still can’t deny the beauty of such a large collection.

Photo by @skippeedoodles

Specifically Seattle

Seattle Free Walking Tours | These pay-what-you-feel tours will take you on a stroll of the city. Choose from The Market Experience Tour or Seattle 101 Tour.

Ballard Locks | Head to the fish ladder viewing room at Ballard Locks for a completely free aquarium-like experience. Pro tip: Check peak salmon-viewing times before you go.

SEAtoday events calendar | OK, we have to brag a little. Check our events calendar for various free events happening in the city each week — just type “free” into the search bar.

Seattle Public Library | Did you know that you can learn a new language, go to the Woodland Park Zoo, and dive into your genealogy — all sans payment — with a library card? Of course, there are also the thousands of books available for free check-out, too.

Cheap, but not free

Thrift shops | Only got $20 in your pocket? Check out these thrift and consignment shops around town.

Grab a cheap lunch | On the hunt for some cheap eats? We dished out info on 20 spots around Seattle to find lunch for $15 or less.

Try a new commute | Rent a bicycle or e-scooter for a new way to explore the city, or take a ride on the Water Taxi for ~$5.

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