The secret of an affordable city vacation or day trip is taking advantage of fun attractions that don’t cost a dime. We asked Keryn Means of Walking On Travels to recommend five of her favorite free things to do with kids in Seattle.
1. Take a trip to Japan: For beautiful Japanese-inspired landscape design and a place to let your kids run freely, head to Seattle’s Rainier Beach neighborhood and the 20-acre Kubota Garden. Stone paths cross over babbling brooks, and red bridges pop through the foliage. Your children will love exploring the trails, hiding inside massive maples, and climbing rocks to get a better view of what lies ahead. Remind your children to be respectful of the foliage and other park visitors, but don’t stress out too much. This is a place for kids to explore and have fun without fear of being reprimanded by caretakers.
2. Admire fine art: On the first Thursday of every month, the Seattle Art Museum offers free admission. Dive inside this impressive art collection by sending your kids on a scavenger hunt for colors, textures, patterns, animals, shoes, daggers and more. Even the smallest aspiring artist will show a preference for, say, a Degas or perhaps a Japanese ink drawing. If you can’t make it to First Thursday, you can visit the larger-than-life sculptures at the Olympic Sculpture Park for free every day of the year.
3. Snag a free sample: You’ve heard of the guys throwing fish at one another in Pike Place Market, but did you know that there is free food to sample as you stroll through this historic public market? Check out the in-season produce. Grab a slice of apple, peach, a few berries, or maybe something you have never tasted before. Ask to sample a little chocolate pasta, or a taste of local honey or jam. The vendors want to entice you to linger, but you are not obligated to buy.
4. Run, jump, shimmy: The playground at verdant Volunteer Park (entrance at 1247 15th Ave. E) got a fantastic facelift not too long ago, and your children will love jumping, sliding, climbing, shimmying their way through this play space. Use any leftover energy to climb the 107 steps to the water tower observation deck, which rewards with gorgeous views of the city.
5. Picnic among cherry blossoms: When spring comes a callin’ there is no better place to picnic than among the cherry blossoms in the quad at University of Washington. Your kids can run around, try to climb the trees (it’s not easy!) and then collapse on a picnic blanket for a snack. Even when the blossoms aren’t out, you can wander the campus grounds or check out the ducks at the fountain. On the first Thursday of the month, you can visit university’s Burke Museum for free and take in some of Washington’s natural and cultural heritage.