If you are not “into” the noise and bustle of Seafair, we have several suggestions for a cheap day that gets you out of town and away from the crowd.
Well, maybe to another crowd. But possibly a kinder, gentler, less noisy crowd.
Enjoy wine tasting out north. Nothing like a glass of wine (or two) to take the edge off. Try wine tasting in Woodinville (25 miles northeast of Seattle). Visit any of 100 wineries and tasting rooms, microbreweries, and distilleries along the Sammamish River Valley. All tasting rooms are open weekends and many are open daily. Most charge a $5-$15 tasting fee, which is deducted from any wine bottle purchases you may make.
Take in a free arts festival fun up north at the Anacortes Arts Festival (80 miles northwest of Seattle). The festival runs all day Friday-Sunday, showcasing art in all its forms. Anacortes, known for its warm, small-town hospitality, is located on breathtaking Fidalgo Island at the front of the San Juan Islands. There is a dynamic art community in this small town. The annual August Arts Festival is a free and includes three stages of free entertainment daily, two beer gardens, a wine bar, and a youth area which is dedicated space for kids and family activities.
Frolic at a water park down south. Grab some discounted Wild Wave single admission tickets and head south to Federal Way (25 miles south of Seattle) for a fun day in and out of the water. At 70 acres, it’s the largest water park in the Northwest with over 60 rides, slides, pools, attractions, and entertainment included with the price of admission.
Get a free tour at the free Bellevue Botanical Gardens (10 miles east of Seattle) featuring 53 acres of display gardens, woodlands, meadows and wetlands. ADMISSION to the Garden is free and parking is free. (Be aware of I-90 bridge closures mid-day for the Blue Angels air show.) In addition, each Saturday and Sunday at 2:00pm, April through October, there is a free docent-led walking tour of the gardens. Reservations are not required and there is no charge for these walking tours, but donations are encouraged. More information is available at: http://www.bellevuebotanical.org/tours.html.
Enjoy nature and take along a picnic. Find a Washington park or King county park or go watch some wildlife. Use our list of free resources to identify native plants during your outing. Make a day of it, and take along a picnic using our ideas (with recipes) for cheap picnic food.
Take in a free, guided hike. Go hiking with the Issaquah Alps Trails Club on one of their free guided hikes, suitable for different levels of experience. Be sure to read their Hike Prep page and take along the the “10 Essentials” you need for any hike, even a short day hike. Check their schedule here: http://issaquahalps.org/HikesEvents/Schedule.
Try orienteering–the sport of navigation. If you like being outside and exploring nature, then try orienteering. Cascade Orienteering Club is the largest and most active orienteering club in Washington. Based in Seattle, the club hosts orienteering events year-round throughout the Puget Sound region. They offer free orienteering instruction to beginners, in addition to events that charge a small fee. Don’t worry if you have no experience with navigation or a compass. You don’t need to know a thing. Most events feature a beginner and intermediate course, or are otherwise adjustable to your ability. Plus, every event is staffed with a newcomer instructor who hangs out near registration to get you started. You can also try orienteering on your own for FREE. While an orienteering event uses orange and white flags that are present just for a day, a permanent course features wooden posts or signs that remain on the course year-round. A permanent course is a beginner-level orienteering course that can be done anytime. Find a permanent orienteering course throughout Puget Sound, and try orienteering at your leisure. Follow the instructions and download a map. Unlike events, a compass is required to navigate the course successfully.
Ride your bike with a group or solo. Cascade Bicycle Club (CBC) offers Free Group Rides every day of the year, and more than 2,600 rides annually, with over 25,000 participants on these rides. Free Group Rides range from leisurely 10-mile jaunts to 100-mile endurance rides and begin all over the Puget Sound region, and travel through many types of terrain and conditions, from city streets to dirt trails. Cascade’s Free Group Ride Leaders have developed a “Ride SMART” safety briefing. So first, learn how to Ride SMART and then Find a Free Group Ride. Not into a group thing? Then use our list of Free Seattle or Washington State bike maps and plan to go it alone.
OK, we lied. That’s eight ways. Seven just sounded better.