Many outdoor attractions are open along with gardens and parks, but some are currently closed to public access. Due to the changing nature of ongoing restrictions, be sure to check the website links before you plan to visit a particular location or be prepared to remain flexible with your plans.
While events and indoor attractions remain closed, many offer virtual content. Visit our page of free local livestream, virtual tours, and online classes.
The following free things to do in Seattle and around the Puget Sound region include tours and attractions, museum, parks and gardens, free music, outdoor activities and more. There are many different types of events for young and old, when you have kids in tow, want to stay indoors, or need to get outside. Whether you want to have fun or learn something new, we’ve got dozens of ways to entertain yourself without opening your wallet. Many of these free things to do in Seattle-Tacoma metro area (and beyond) are open to the public every day. So you can find fun, free things to do every day of the year.
Scroll down, or use the following links to jump to the activities that appeal to you most.
- Free Outdoor Attractions
- Free Indoor Attractions
- Free Museums
- Free Tours
- Free Art & Music Events
- Parks & Gardens
- Hiking and Outdoor Activities
- Volunteer Opportunities
- Free Seasonal Things To do
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Free outdoor attractions in the Puget Sound region
(Listed alphabetically by city.)
Arlington. Walking labyrinth at Lebanon Park. Located next to the Centennial Trail. Use a labyrinth walk for contemplation, stress reduction, spiritual development, or simply to enjoy the day. Open daily.
Coupeville. Admiralty Head Lighthouse in Fort Casey State Park (55 miles NW of Seattle via Mukilteo Ferry or 65 miles driving through Mt. Vernon.) Historic lighthouse perched on an 80-foot bluff overlooking the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. Deactivated in 1922 but open to the public. Requires Washington State Discover Pass. Open daily June-August, weekends Mar-May and Sep-Dec.
Everett. Walking labyrinth at Wiggums Hollow Park. Use a labyrinth walk for contemplation, stress reduction, spiritual development, or simply to enjoy the day. Open daily.
Hansville (Kitsap). Point No Point Lighthouse (35 miles NW of Seattle via Bainbridge Ferry). On the northern tip of Kitsap Peninsula, this functioning, fully automated lighthouse inside a 3-acre park is the oldest Puget Sound lighthouse operating since 1879. Listed in the National Register of Historical Places.
Kirkland. Walking labyrinth in Edith Moulton Park. The labyrinth is in a clearing just inside the woods, to the northeast. Use a labyrinth walk for contemplation, stress reduction, spiritual development, or simply to enjoy the day. Open daily.
Lakewood. Walking labyrinth in Fort Steilacoom Park. The labyrinth is located north of and up the hill from Lake Waughop. Use a labyrinth walk for contemplation, stress reduction, spiritual development, or simply to enjoy the day. Open daily.
Mukilteo. Mukilteo Lighthouse (30 miles N of Seattle) is a functioning lighthouse. Photos and displays chronicle the 100-year history. Displays open Saturdays and Sundays, April-September. Grounds open daily.
Closed to the public until further notice. Seattle. Ballard Locks, officially named Hiram M. Chittenden Locks are the Nation’s busiest, handling over 40,000 commercial and recreational vessels as they transverse the city. The entire complex includes two locks, a spillway, and a fish ladder for migration of salmon. In addition, there are beautiful gardens around the facility. Open daily.
Seattle. Center for Wooden Boats on South Lake Union next to the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) has free activities include browsing dock exhibits, exploring boats, and Sunday sail boat rides. Dock open daily; museum closed Monday-Tuesday.
Events and indoor spaces closed; outdoor spaces open to the public. Seattle. Seattle Center is a art, recreational, cultural, and civic center, originally constructed for the 1962 World’s Fair (known as Century 21). Many of the city’s best (and pricey) attractions are here: Space Needle, Seattle Opera, Chihuly Garden, MoPOP, Seattle Rep, and many more. But there are also many free things to see and do, including strolling the 74-acre, more than half open space. Open daily; Armory open 362 days a year, closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Seattle. Seattle Waterfront from Pioneer Square to Belltown is undergoing a multi-year transformation from 2017-2024. Eexperience the progress with a stroll along the west side of Alaskan Way from Pier 66 to Pier 50 featuring a variety of interesting shops, eateries, and public spaces along the way. Open daily; shops and eateries hours vary.
Seattle. Walking labyrinth at Denny Park. Located next to the children’s play area. Use a labyrinth walk for contemplation, stress reduction, spiritual development, or simply to enjoy the day. Open daily.
Seattle. Walking labyrinth at Seattle Center. Located behind the Space Needle on the blacktop in front of the MoPOP. Use a labyrinth walk for contemplation, stress reduction, spiritual development, or simply to enjoy the day. Open daily.
Seattle. West Point Lighthouse within 534-acre Discovery Park. This functioning, fully automated lighthouse at the base of Magnolia Bluff marks a hazardous shoal at the northern entrance to Elliott Bay. Stop at the Discovery Park Visitor Center for information about trails to the beach and lighthouse. Note: it’s a 2-mile walk to the lighthouse down (and back up). Visitor Center open Tue-Sun. Park open daily.
Snoqualmie. Snoqualmie Falls (30 miles E of Seattle) at 268-feet is one of Washington state’s most popular scenic attractions, especially fall through spring after abundant rain and/or snow melt. There’s a two-acre park and short trail to the lower observation deck. Open daily. Check their website for weather conditions.
Stanwood. Walking labyrinth at Stanwood City Hall Park. Use a labyrinth walk for contemplation, stress reduction, spiritual development, or simply to enjoy the day. Open daily.
Tacoma. Browns Point Lighthouse. Historic lighthouse with a visitor center, boathouse, original bell, and lightkeeper’s cottage, located in a beautiful, dog-friendly waterfront public park. Open Saturdays, May-September.
Tacoma. Chihuly Glass Walking Tour in Tacoma. This free audio tour and map from Tacoma Art Museum allows users to learn more about Dale Chihuly’s artwork throughout the Museum District. Open daily.
Tacoma. Tacoma Link Light Rail. Getting around Tacoma is easy on the Tacoma Link Light Rail with free service from one end of downtown to the other. Catch a ride every 12 minutes during the day at six stops. Open 365 days a year.
Tacoma. Tacoma’s Ruston Way Waterfront offers a stunning two-mile path along the saltwater banks of Puget Sound. It’s a great place in any weather for walking, jogging, rollerblading, and fishing. Open daily.
Tukwila. Walking labyrinth at Crestview Park and Duwamish Park. Use a labyrinth walk for contemplation, stress reduction, spiritual development, or simply to enjoy the day. Open daily.
University Place. Walking labyrinth at Chambers Creek Regional Park. Located on the grounds around the Environmental Services Building. Use a labyrinth walk for contemplation, stress reduction, spiritual development, or simply to enjoy the day. Open daily.
Free indoor attractions in the Puget Sound region
Puget Sound libraries. Free fun things to do at the library. We’ve got the lowdown on libraries in the region and all the free, fun things you can do that go way beyond checking out books to read. You’ll find music, movies, crafts, games, museum passes, activity kits, and much, much more. Hours vary.
Pike Place Market businesses are open with restrictions. Seattle. Beecher’s Cheese at Pike Place Market offers visitors a view through the glass-walled Beecher’s cheesemaking kitchen. Grab a beverage or a nosh, then watch the cheesemakers in this centuries-old craftsmanship using today’s technology. Open daily except holidays and cheesemaking hours vary.
Closed to the public until further notice. Seattle. Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center within Discovery Park is a center Native American services and events. The permanent and rotating art exhibits include works by and about Native Americans, including traditional works as well as local and internationally recognized contemporary artists. Free admission, donations accepted. Open weekdays.
Closed to the public until further notice. Seattle. Georgetown Steam Plant. Before you go, read the safety, photography, parking, and other information on their website. A National Historic Landmark, the Georgetown Steam Plant represents an important development in the early history of electrical engineering in the United State. Drop-in tours are available. Open 2nd Saturday.
Pike Place Market is open with restrictions. Seattle. Pike Place Market has many retail shops, nook, and crannies to explore. A lot of guides recommend highlights such as the Gum Wall, Rachel the Pig, and the “first” Starbucks. Our list points out a few of the more obscure places at Pike Place Market to while away time. Open 363 days a year, closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Closed to the public until further notice; open for curbside pickup and online services. Seattle. Seattle Public Central Library glass and steel structure was designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. Inside, the library features underground parking and a collection capacity of 1.45 million books on 11 floors, and a four-level “Books Spiral” with most of the nonfiction collection in a continuous loop. The library offers a range of services, a large computer lab, interesting community events in the 275-seat auditorium, and open spaces for reading and study. Free self-guided tours detailing the architecture and services are available in print, audio, or by cell phone. Open daily except major holidays.
Seattle. Uwajimaya Grocery Store in Seattle’s Chinatown is a unique shopping experience with a focus on Asian food, gifts, and a Pacific Rim food court. Take a self-guided stroll through the aisles to explore products from every corner of the globe. Call for holiday hours.
Tacoma. Griot’s Garage & Retail Store in Tacoma features leading-edge car care products and a rotating display of vintage autos and cool cars. Every 1st Saturday they host a Cruise-In Car Show with coffee, donuts, and cool cars. Open daily.
Free museums in the Puget Sound region
Museums are re-opening on a rolling basis. Find an updated list here: https://www.greaterseattleonthecheap.com/seattle-tacoma-museums-reopening-2020/
(Listed alphabetically by city.)
Bainbridge. Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (BIMA) just a few steps from the Seattle/Bainbridge ferry terminal features a permanent collection and rotating exhibits of contemporary art & craft from the Puget Sound Region. Check their website, admission may apply for special events. Open daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Bremerton Bug & Reptile Museum is a kid-friendly museum that lets you explore LIVE, bizarre and interesting bugs under the microscope, with glasses that let you see like a bug, and observing the 8-foot-long Ant Farm. Open daily.
Bremerton. Puget Sound Navy Museum portrays shipboard life and chronicles naval heritage in the Pacific Northwest, including exhibits about the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, the USS John C. Stennis, Special Operations Submarines, and more. Closed Tuesdays and some holidays.
Bremerton. Valentinetti Puppet Museum. Highly rated collection showcases the variety and craftsmanship of puppet artists from around the world. Free to visit; donations accepted. Open Wednesday-Saturday.
Keyport (Kitsap). Naval Undersea Museum between the cities of Poulsbo and Bremerton provides a comprehensive introduction to the Navy’s undersea history and operations. Open daily in summer, closed Tuesday in winter. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Easter.
Seattle. Coast Guard Museum Northwest at Pier 36. Ask for directions at the Main Gate. See thousands of Coast Guard related items, including large models, photographs, and artifacts. Staffed entirely by volunteers. Open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Seattle. Free 1s Thursday museum admission is offered at many popular Seattle museums, including Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, Living Computers: Museum + Labs, Museum of Flight, Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), Nordic Heritage Museum, Northwest African American Museum (NAAM), Seattle Art Museum (SAM), and Wing Luke Asian Museum. First Thursdays.
Seattle. Frye Art Museum on First Hill hosts a permanent collection of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century European paintings as well as temporary exhibitions of works by internationally renowned and emerging artists. Closed Mondays.
Seattle. Klondike Gold Rush Museum in Pioneer Square is a National Park Historical Site that preserves the story of the stampede to the Yukon gold fields and Seattle’s crucial role in this event. Experience the lure of Yukon gold fields in Canada as thousands did 1897-1898. Open daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Seattle. Microbrewery Museum inside the Pike Pub in the Pike Place Market neighborhood features one of the world’s most extensive collections of beer art and memorabilia spanning the globe and thousands of years of beer history from ancient Sumer to present day. Open daily until midnight.
Seattle. Northwest Nikkei Museum in the Chinatown International District is dedicated to preserving the heritage and history of the Pacific Northwest’s Nikkei community. Their permanent exhibition sheds light on the incarceration of Japanese in prison camps because of Executive Order 9066, one of the most unjust and unconstitutional acts of government in American history. Open Monday through Friday.
Snoqualmie. Northwest Railway Museum consists of several locations, the 1890 Snoqualmie Depot, the Centennial Trail Exhibit, and a Railway History Center. The Depot is restored to turn of the century grandeur. The Centennial Trail Exhibit is on a public walkway. Bot are free and open daily. The Railway History Center is available for a nominal fee by guided tour on Saturdays, April-October.
Tacoma. Free 3rd Thursday museum admission is offered at several Tacoma museums, including Tacoma Art Museum (TAM), Tacoma Museum of Glass, and Washington State History Museum. Third Thursdays.
Free tours in Seattle (and beyond)
All in-person tours are currently cancelled. For virtual tours and other online activities, check out: https://www.greaterseattleonthecheap.com/tag/virtual-event/
(Listed alphabetically by city.)
Ellensburg. The Wild Horse Wind/Solar Facility (130 miles E of Seattle) offers a first-hand look at how the wind and sun in Kittitas County are turned into electricity from the facility’s wind turbines. Enjoy 360-degree views of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, and the Columbia River Basin. Weather permitting, free guided 45-60 minute walking tour depart daily, April-October. No reservation needed. Dress for the weather. Closed-toed shoes are REQUIRED. Tours can be cancelled or modified at any time due to inclement weather, high winds, or any unsafe conditions.
Federal Way. Pacific Bonsai Museum connects people to nature through the living art of bonsai. The Museum boasts the most diverse public collection in North America. You can enjoy a 30-minute guided tour every Sunday. No reservations required. Donations are always gratefully accepted.
Issaquah. Boehm’s Candies offers free self-guided window tours anytime during business hours. Watch (and smell!) candy makers as they work on the day’s production. Information posted at every window describes each area’s purpose, as well as gives some history of Boehm’s. The best times to visit are usually Monday through Friday between 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.
Redmond. Microsoft Visitor Center offers self-guided, interactive tours during regular business hours. Experience some of the latest technology products, explore hands-on exhibits, and learn about the people whose ideas and creativity that make Microsoft a world leader in computer and software technology. Most people get through in 30 to 60 minutes, but you can take as much time as you like. No registration is required. However, be sure to check their schedule on the website or call before you head over; they may be closed if a private event is scheduled.
Seattle. Amazon Headquarters tour lasts about 90 minutes and takes visitors through a few buildings on Amazon’s Seattle urban campus, including The Spheres. Free, but requires advance registration.
Seattle. Amazon Spheres showcases an extensive collection of biodiversity that explores the value of conservation in an urban environment. More than 40,000 plants from tiny epiphytes that cling to a 50-foot living wall to Rubi, a 49-year-old ficus tree. Free Spheres tours are offered two Saturdays per month and require advance reservation.
Seattle. Amazon Understory is a free, self-guided, museum-style exhibit where guests can learn about Amazon and The Spheres. Please be aware that the Understory exhibit is separate from the indoor gardens of The Spheres. Open daily.
Seattle. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation near offers free public drop-in tours. Advance registration is not required. After your tour, be sure to visit the interactive gallery to see new ideas, suggestions, and inventions from other visitors. Tours available Tuesday-Saturday.
Seattle. Filson has manufactured outdoor clothes and accessories for more than 100 years using the best raw materials and construction techniques for garments, bags, and gear that last for generations. Filson factory tours are offered twice a week at their store located in the SODO district, near the sports stadiums. Visit the Filson tour page to sign up for a tour.
Seattle. Free chocolate tasting at Chocolopolis every Wednesday and Saturday during “happy hour”. Each week there is a different theme. It’s a great opportunity to sample different bars, find out what you like, and meet other chocolate lovers.
Seattle. Geocaching tour of Fremont. Print out a GeoTour passport and take a self-guided tour to find nine geocaches in the Fremont neighborhood. The entire walking GeoTour takes 2.5 to 3 hours to complete. On weekdays (excluding holidays), end your day at the Geocaching HQ visitor center and peruse the geocache museum.
Seattle. Hiram M. Chittenden (aka “Ballard”) Locks are situated in the Ballard neighborhood along the Lake Washington Ship Canal, which bisects the city of Seattle and connects Puget Sound to Lake Washington. Take a free self-guided tour using a brochure that you can pick up at the visitor center, open daily in summer, closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays in winter. Free guided tours are available March-November.
Seattle. Historic Seattle walking tour is a free self-guided Walking Tour of Seattle’s Pioneer Square Historic District. Pick up a Tour Map in the visitor center at the Klondike Gold Rush Museum, 319 2nd Ave South. In addition, free ranger-led tours are offered during summer, on a first come basis.
Seattle. KEXP is one of the most influential listener-supported radio stations in the world at 90.3-FM. Visit their home at Seattle Center. 45-minutes tours are offered daily at 2:00 pm (excluding most holidays), and additionally at 10:00 am during summer. Reservations are encouraged. Walk-ins are welcome, but subject to availability.
Seattle. Olympic Sculpture Park features enormous outdoor sculptures against the spectacular backdrop of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. The Park is always free and open 365 days a year for a self-guided stroll. Guided tours are offered weekends, spring through fall. No reservation needed but check the tour calendar on their website for schedule udpates.
Seattle. Self-guided Pike Place Market walking tour will give you a more intimate look at the city’s year-round farmers market and epicenter for fresh produce, specialty foods, independent businesses, crafts market, and owner-operated bakeries, fish markets, butcher shops, produce stands, and specialty groceries. Open 363 days a year, closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Seattle. STG theater free tours include three Seattle Historic Landmarks: The Paramount, The Moore, and The Neptune Theatres. Free guided tours are offered three Saturdays a month, each time at a different theatre. No reservation needed, just show up. Visit their website for schedule and location.
Art & Music free things to do
Free art walks from Everett to Tacoma. Art Galleries in Seattle-Tacoma and around the Puget Sound region hold art walks every month with participating merchants offering food, drinks, gifts, and other fun.
Free live music calendar. Many popular spots in Seattle-Tacoma and the Puget Sound region offer live music with free admission. We include 21+ bars and lounges with no cover charge. Our free music calendar is updated on a rolling basis throughout the year.
Free parks and gardens
(Listed alphabetically by city.)
Bellevue. Bellevue Botanical Garden is 53-acres of cultivated gardens, restored woodlands, and natural wetlands featuring plants that thrive in the Pacific Northwest marine climate and a delightful visit any time or the year. Open daily, including holidays.
Federal Way. Pacific Bonsai Museum is a grand outdoor setting with the elegance of a fine art museum, featuring 60 bonsai at a time from their collection of 150. Admission by donation. Open 6 days a week, closed Mondays.
Lakewood. Fort Steilacoom Park south of Tacoma offers 340-acres of trails, which you can navigate on foot or by bike. Open daily.
Seattle. Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop is a series of connected lakefront parks and open spaces, including Gasworks and Lake Union Parks, more than 35 pocket parks, plus other street ends and waterways that ring Lake Union. Open daily.
Seattle. Discovery Park Loop Trail at Discover Park is a designated National Recreation Trail, 2.8 miles long ans passes through both forest and open meadows, offers extensive views, good prospects for bird watchers, and can be enjoyed year-round. The Loop Trail begins near the Visitor Center. Find the trailhead next to a signboard at the north end of the parking lot. The sign has a park map and may have paper copies of the trail map available for the taking or can be downloaded before you go. Open daily.
Seattle. Kubota Garden in the Rainier Beach neighborhood features a stunning 20-acres of hills and valleys, the streams, waterfalls, ponds, rock outcroppings and an exceptionally rich and mature collection of plants. Guided Tours are offered on the 4th Saturday. Open daily.
Seattle. Neighborhood Tree Walks features a list of downloadable maps for every corner of the city. Each map is also featured on the TreeWalk app. Learn about the trees in your neighborhood. You can also volunteer to write a new walk.
Seattle. Online Google map of trees at Green Lake in Seattle helps you identify the significant trees along the 2.8 walking path around the Green Lake. For each tree, there is a popup with photos detailing the tree’s size, habitat, location, and leaf and flower forms. Your walk can start at any of several starting points on the paved path that circles the lake. Available daily.
Seattle. Seattle Chinese Garden and South Seattle College (SSC) Arboretum are hidden gems in the city. The 4.6-acre Chinese Garden is one of the largest Chinese gardens outside of China. The adjacent 5-acre SSC Arboretum for the school’s Landscape Horticulture Program, sits on the edge of a bluff with stunning views of downtown Seattle, Elliott Bay, and the West Duwamish Greenbelt. Open daily.
Seattle. Downloadable Walking Maps designed by the City of Seattle for both residents and visitors help anyone tailor walking routes to their interests and fitness level. Each route on the map has been labeled with the approximate amount of time (in minutes) it takes to walk the route.
Seattle. Washington Park Arboretum provides miles of trails for exploration and contemplation. Of special interest are three loop trails: Lookout Loop, Pinetum Loop, and the Arboretum Loop Trail. The trails are marked on the Arboretum map. Open daily.
Tacoma. Point Defiance Park is 760-acres and features a natural forest, saltwater beaches, and spectacular views. The Primary trails through the park are foot trails (no bicycles). Five Mile Drive outer loop is closed to vehicle traffic in the morning so that pedestrians, runners and cyclists can enjoy this forest experience free from motorized vehicles. The Visitors Center is open during summer. Guided walks are available throughout the year, several are free or have a nominal cost. Open daily.
Tacoma. W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory at Wright Park in Tacoma opened in 1908. It is only one of three public Victorian-style conservatories on the West Coast. Their permanent collection features ferns, palms, figs, bromeliads, orchids and many other rare, unusual and endangered plants. Free admission; suggested $3 donation. Open Tuesday-Sunday.
Tacoma. Wright Park Tree Map (PDF) details the parks collection of more than 600 trees in the 27-acre arboretum. Open daily.
Hiking and Outdoor Activities
Beachcombing is a favorite activity for many in any season. Dress for the weather, of course. It’s a great family activity even for young children or fun, casual date experience.
Day hikes can be as short as an hour or two or one that keeps you away from home all day. It can be a stroll on a flat urban path or into the hills and forests around the region. It can be a family activity that includes children and pets or a personal reverie.
Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunt to look for hidden caches. You find these “geocaches” using a smartphone app or GPS device. When you find a geocache, you sign the log, and share your experience with the geocache community. There are over 4,000 geocaches in the Seattle area and more than 3 million worldwide in over 190 countries. Geocaching HQ is located in the Fremont neighborhood and maintains the global list of geocaches, the primary geocaching mobile applications, and the Geocaching.com website to support the global game. To get started with geocaching, create a free account online or through the Geocaching® app from Groundspeak.
Identifying native plants. Bird and wildlife watching are great outdoor activities. Another type of “wildlife” that can make for a great past time is identifying native plants. Explore in parks such as Bellevue Botanical Garden, Daybreak Ethnobotanical Garden at Seattle’s Discovery Park, Kruckeberg Botanic Garden in Shoreline, Highline Community College campus in Des Moines, or farther out on Cougar Mountain, in Marymoor Park, at Snoqualmie Falls and many other locations.
King County Parks system covers 26,000 acres of public lands, one of the largest regional parks and trails systems in the country. It includes 200 parks, 175 miles of regional trails, and 180 miles of backcountry trails, plus ballfields, playgrounds and pools, as well as lush forests, quiet meadows, and many other Northwest ecosystems. Whatever your recreational interest, you’ll find a park for it: hike, bike, picnic, play, or explore. Find maps and other information on the and keep up to date on park activities at the King County Parks blog. Don’t know where to start? Here are seven of the best-known parks in King County: Burke-Gilman Trail, Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, Interurban Trail, Marymoor Park, Rattlesnake Mountain, Sammamish River Trail, and Soos Creek Trail.
Orienteering is the sport of navigation using a map and sometimes a compass. You can practice orienteering alone or with friends or family as a casual outing. It’s easy for anyone to learn. There are permanent orienteering (or “O”) courses that provide an introduction to the sport, using designated checkpoints set up within a park.
Stargazing is the practice of observing the night sky. It’s a hobby enjoyed by many outdoor enthusiasts and amateur astronomers. It can be done any time of the year (cloud cover permitting) and is equally enjoyable alone or as a group activity with friends or family. We offer a list of organizations in the Puget Sound region where you can participate and learn more about stargazing.
Trail Link lists dozens of Puget Sound trails (over 1,000 miles total), including urban and rural routes, and trails suitable for running, dog walking, biking, and other interests. View Trail Link maps online, or download the free Trail Link smartphone app for info on the go.
Washington Trails Association (WTA) offers the the most comprehensive database of hikes in Washington state. Use their Hike Finder map to find hikes and trails with various features, such as kid-friendly.
Watch wildlife in Washington State. Watching wildlife is a popular activity for residents, as well as visitors. Washington State has 33 designated Wildlife Areas. Binoculars can get you “up close and personal” without getting too close, but binoculars are not required to enjoy this pastime. You need only to dress for the weather and have some idea where to look for wildlife.
(Listed alphabetically by city.)
Bellevue Arts Museum (BAM) volunteer. Dedicated to art, craft, and design, volunteer opportunities at BAM include customer support, administrative tasks, special events, and day-to-day operations. Volunteer benefits include museum store discount and free admission passes.
Everett Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum volunteer assist with events and flyovers at the 75,000 square-foot museum, which displays many warbirds that are the last of their kind.
King County Library System volunteer. Help maintain the libraries through outreach opportunities, helping with daily operations, tutoring, talks, and more.
Kitsap Peninsula Beach Naturalist volunteers lead beach walks in spring and summer to provide information to the public. Field trips, touch tanks, talks, and other educational opportunities are available as well.
Mukilteo Boeing Future of Flight volunteers get the chance to work at one of the most loved tourist attractions in the area. Volunteer greeters and ambassadors help make the tour a world-class experience for visitors.
Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival volunteer. Experience the largest wooden boat festival in North America behind the scenes. Hundreds of volunteers make this festival come together on the water and on the land with needs covering administration, education, set-up/tear-down, shops, and photography.
Seattle 5th Avenue Theatre volunteer. Help with tickets, calls, show talks, administrative duties, and much more at this 100-year-old historical theatre and musical production company.
Seattle Earshot Jazz volunteer opportunities include their signature event every fall with ushering, ticketing, merchandise sales, administrative, and other tasks.
Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) volunteers can work the annual film festival in May-June as well as year-round theaters on Lower Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, and Seattle Center. Volunteers help at the theaters, offices, and special events to earn vouchers redeemable for movie tickets or SIFF Membership.
Tacoma Arts Alive volunteers help at several theater venues with ushering, tour guides, and special events.
Tacoma Museum of Glass volunteer. You won’t find any other museum like this in the PNW, with unique artwork and make-your-own opportunities. Special events such as Family Day, general museum programming, and more provide opportunities for volunteers to get involved.
Tacoma Musical Playhouse volunteer. A prized icon for live performances, volunteers have the chance to build sets, staff shows, help with costumes, and much more.
Tahoma Audubon volunteers help with outreach, events, tours, field trips, environmental education, and the opportunity to connect with others who love birding and nature.
Find another volunteer opportunity. Our list of volunteer opportunities includes many cultural organizations, including many popular attractions, museums, music organizations, festival events, and live performance venues with a wide variety of experiences and opportunities.
Best seasonal free thing to do
January-December. Our big list of festivals, fairs, and parades is a month-by-month list of events around the Puget Sound region. Most are free. For those with an admission fee, we list ways to save money with discount tickets. You will find music and food festivals, art and craft fairs, flower shows, county and state fairs, specialty shows, and regional favorites such as the Skagit Tulip Festival, SIFF, Northwest Folklife, Seafair, and Bumbershoot.
January-November. Seattle Center Festál is a series of 24 free ethnic festivals held throughout the year. Each event features music, dance, art, crafts, history, and food to celebrate the immigrant, indigenous, and ethnic cultures living together in the Pacific Northwest.
March-April. Cherry blossom trees in the Seattle-Tacoma metro area burst into flower in early spring, heralding the arrival of longer days and warmer weather. Driving around the region to take in the view is a favorite pastime for many residents and visitors alike.
April. Skagit Valley tulip fields April 1-30 is one of the destination events for the Pacific Northwest. Hundreds of thousands of people from every state across the United States and from around the world visit the area to see millions of tulips burst into bloom. The festival is designed as a free self-guided driving tour to see hundreds of acres of blooming flowers scattered across farms throughout the valley.
April-October. John W. Keys III Pump-Generating Plant (230 miles NE of Seattle) offers a free 50-minute guided tour on a first-come, first-served basis. Highlights include a look at the large pumps used for transporting water from Lake Roosevelt to the Columbia Basin Project and conclude with a ride across the top of the dam. Tours operate daily from April – October but are subject to change without notice. For more information, visit the Grand Coulee Dam tour website.
June-December. Salmon during spawning season in Western Washington begins in mid-summer and lasts through fall. Pacific Northwest waterways welcome the return of spawning salmon. See them at fish ladders, hatcheries and streams around the region.
November-December. Christmas light displays are a favorite winter activity in the Pacific Northwest from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. We keep a long list of the displays you can see. Most are drive-bys and a few are paid attractions.
But wait, there’s more!
- Find the latest free and cheap things to do this weekend.
- Find many more free and cheap events each and every day on the Greater Seattle on the Cheap calendar.
- Visit the Greater Seattle on the Cheap home page and choose from a menu of free and cheap activities in the Puget Sound regoin.
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