Seattle just might be the most underrated family travel destination. With great museums, gorgeous outdoors, and restaurants and breweries to rival any major city, Seattle has it all. And while you might think Seattle’s high cost of living translates to expensive travel, there’s actually a ton to do in Seattle on a budget! Presented by Encore Life Health, here’s what you need to know to plan your own budget-friendly Seattle vacation.
3 Tips for Saving Money While Visiting Seattle
Stay in a vacation rental
You’ll pay 23 percent less per night on average if you book a vacation rental in Seattle instead of a hotel, per Quartz. While staying in a vacation rental means missing out on free continental breakfasts, you’ll spend less (and eat better!) by cooking in your rental rather than eating out constantly.
When choosing a Seattle vacation rental, booking through a vacation rental site allows you to look for properties close to transit lines and attractions. According to Turnkey, Ballard is a popular choice for visitors because it’s full of restaurants and breweries and close to Gas Works Park and Woodland Park Zoo. If you prefer to stay near downtown Seattle, the Space Needle, and Pike’s Place Market, the charming Queen Anne neighborhood is a great pick.
Take public transit
Speaking of public transit: between the Seattle Center Monorail, buses, streetcars, and ferries, K5 News notes visitors can get around Seattle fairly efficiently using only public transit. Rides are cheap too (especially compared to paying for parking!) and kids under 5 ride free. I recommend getting an ORCA card so you don’t have to worry about fumbling for change.
Get a Seattle CityPASS
If you plan on hitting major Seattle sights like the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, and Pacific Science Center, save money on admission by picking up a Seattle CityPASS. The CityPASS provides access for up to five attractions and since it’s valid for nine days, you’ll have plenty of time to see everything on your list
What to Do in Seattle on a Budget
Getting a CityPASS is a great way to save on Seattle’s top sights, but there’s also a ton to do in Seattle without paying any admission at all! These free attractions are perfect for families on a budget:
Visit The Center for Wooden Boats
If your little ones love all things planes, trains, and automobiles, you can’t miss The Center for Wooden Boats. Not only is this living museum free, but if you show up on a Sunday morning, you could even get a free ride on a historic vessel! Or, if you prefer, rent your own boat starting at $40 an hour.
Check out the Ballard Locks
For more waterfront fun, head to the Ballard Locks. Here, you can watch ships pass between Lake Union and the Puget sound, get a close-up view of salmon and steelhead swimming the fish ladder, or explore the surrounding Carl S. English, Jr. Botanical Garden — all for free!
Get lost at Pike’s Place Market
Don’t let the crowds scare you from visiting Pike’s Place Market. This market is a Seattle icon for a reason, and if you head on a weekday morning, you can avoid the worst of the crowds. However, you will want to have a game plan before you go — there is an abundance of kid-friendly places to hit.
Enjoy hands-on art at the Artists at Play playground
The Artists at Play playground is a place where kids can truly immerse themselves in art. With a 35-foot tall climbing structure, musical swings, a kids’ labyrinth, and more, this is a perfect place to blow off steam after visiting the Space Needle and nearby museums.
Explore the tidepools at Golden Gardens Park
When you need to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, head just a few steps away to Golden Gardens Park. Located in Ballard, Golden Gardens Park offers great views and tidepools where families can get up close with crabs, starfish, and other marine life at low tide.
The best part about Seattle? You don’t have to choose between the stuff you want to do and the stuff your kids want to do. With so many cheap and free activities that appeal to kids and parents alike, Seattle is truly a crowd pleaser when it comes to family vacations!
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