Like any city, Seattle can be expensive, especially if you’re looking for ways to get out of the house. Beyond going to a park—nature is always free and fortunately it’s pretty spectacular in and around Seattle—finding cheap things to do in Seattle can take a little bit of strategizing. But never fear! It’s far from impossible. In fact, the list of free and cheap activities and attractions is fairly vast, if you know where to look. To that end, here are 10 things to do in Seattle for under $10.
Love chocolate? Go on the Theo Chocolate Factory Tour. Theo Chocolate is local, creative and absolutely yummy. You can visit the shop for free and try a wide variety of Theo’s many bars and chocolatey delights, but there’s nothing like going on the tour and seeing how the magic is made first hand (and getting more chocolate samples along the way).
The West Seattle Water Taxi is one of a couple cheap ways to get out on the water, and getting out on the water is one of the most Seattle things you can do. With the water taxi, you don’t even have to worry about knowing how to drive a boat. Instead, board the water taxi at Pier 50 at 801 Alaskan Way. Unlike the local ferries, the water taxi is pedestrian only. As the name implies, the West Seattle Water Taxi whisks you over to West Seattle’s Seacrest Park, and Alki Beach Park, shops and restaurants are all nearby.
Alternately, take the Bremerton ferry from Pier 52, which will take you to the heart of Bremerton where you can get an up-close look at the USS Turner Joy or enjoy the waterfront area. Both the ferry and water taxi also offer the best views of the Seattle skyline you’ll ever see.
Woodland Park Zoo
While a visit to the Woodland Park Zoo is usually just over $10, there are a number of discounts that can bring the cost down both for adults and kids. These include AAA discounts and fairly significant military discounts for active and retired military and up to six family members (with ID). Zoo admission is also cheaper off season, so combining a discount with off-season rates will get you your best possible price.
Wine Tasting at Chateau Ste Michelle
Just a half hour from downtown is Seattle’s very own wine country in Woodinville. While there are dozens of wineries, many of which have wine tastings available for under $10, there’s a clear choice for the ultimate wine tasting and tour combo—Chateau Ste Michelle. Chateau Ste Michelle is one of the largest wineries and offers free tours of the wine-making process. Along the way, you get to try the wine. Not a fan of wine? Cross the street to Red Hook Brewery and you can take a tour of the beer-making process with Red Hook beer tastes included for under $10.
Hop On, Hop Off Link Adventure
The Link light rail runs from the University of Washington campus to SeaTac International Airport. Along the way, the trains travel at street level, through underground tunnels and even along raised tracks high in the air. For less than $10, you can buy an all-day pass and hop on and off the trains to your heart’s content. Stations are located in Capitol Hill, Westlake, Chinatown-International District, near the stadiums and other spots south of Seattle—meaning that along the way, there’s much to explore without having to worry about parking or traffic.
In the warmer months, outdoor movies are fun for families, singles and couples alike. Bonus, there are several outdoor movie series that take place in different neighborhoods, including South Lake Union, Fremont, Magnusson Park and West Seattle. Some are free, but all are under $10. The South Lake Union series even offers a season pass that brings the cost down even more, as well as 21+ movies where you can enjoy beer, wine and other drinks (although, drinks will bring the cost back up).
If you’re a local, a senior or have a military ID, going to the top of Smith Tower is just $10. While the Space Needle gets all the buzz, and Columbia Tower is the highest viewpoint in town, Smith Tower offers historical appeal as the building is Seattle’s very first skyscraper.
UW’s Washington Activities Center
Just behind Husky Stadium on the UW campus, the Washington Activities Center—or the WAC—has both rowboats and canoes for $10 per hour on week days (slightly more on weekends). Paddle around Lake Washington for a relaxing and unique morning or afternoon.
If you’re visiting or if you simply don’t own a bike, Pronto bike rental stations are easy to use and located throughout Seattle. Stations stand out with their banks of lime green bikes. You do business with a kiosk and then take your bike, and then you can return your bike to any Pronto station. At $8 for a day pass, take a ride through a park or through the city on Seattle’s many bike paths. You can even rent a helmet from the stations, too, if you don’t have one of your own.
Go to a Festal Festival
There are tons of free festivals in Seattle all year round, but the Festal series goes throughout the year, ensuring year-round entertainment, affordable food, displays and more. Festal focuses on cultures from around the world, so one month you might find a Polish festival and the next an African festival. Each festival brings in food, entertainment and performances from the country of focus. Entrance is always free, but trying out food costs—but it’s worth it and there are always plates or bites for less than $10.