We’re three weeks into our cross-country adventure and have traversed 3,000 miles up the Pacific Coast, across Canada to Banff National Park and down to Glacier National Park. Of all the cities that we have explored, Seattle has been one of my very favorites. This conclusion might be influenced by all of the goodies that we splurged on in Pike Place market (I admit that I’m easily swayed by food), but I am convinced that Seattle is one of the best destinations for a summertime vacation.
Beyond the perfect summer weather and the abundance of water surrounding the city, there are so many areas and neighborhoods to explore in the Emerald City to suit a variety of tastes. Some days we splurged ($15 coffee at the original Starbucks Reserve and satisfying an insatiable desire for fried seafood at Pike’s Place), but we were also able to find plenty of free and cheap things to do in Seattle.
1. Fremont Troll and walk to the waterfront
,After settling into our home sweet home for the weekend (aka the KOA in Seattle - a story for another time), we headed straight to the Fremont neighborhood to check out the infamous bridge troll. Fun fact: the troll was designed as part of a program to rehab the area beneath the bridge, which had become a place where you wouldn’t want to find yourself after dark. Today, both locals and visitors can be found under the bridge climbing the troll, taking selfies and catching views of the Bay in the distance.
After visiting the Fremont Troll, we walked straight down under the Aurora bridge all the way to the waterfront for spectacular views (also nearby is Fremont Brewing Company if you're feeling thirsty).
2. Gas Works Park
After taking in the views of the bay under the Aurora Bridge, we headed to Gas Works Park (we had a car, but this would have been an easy walk along the water). Gas Works was easily one of my favorite experiences on our trip so far - what used to be Seattle Gas Light Company is now a playground of old gas works equipment. Though you’re not supposed to climb, the big kid in me couldn’t help myself.
Beyond the adult playground of machinery, Gas Works Park offers one of the best views of Seattle’s skyline. This is the perfect place to get your shot of the iconic Space Needle, have a picnic, and watch the sun sink over the best coast.
Fun fact: Heath Ledger fans, you’re in for a treat! Gas Works was the setting of the paintball scene in 10 Things I Hate About You. (My high school years consisted of regularly eating Heath Bar cake while watching Heath Ledger movies. Alex, Rachel and Kate - you know who you are.)
3. Happy Hour at Duke's on Lake Union
Anything involving happy hour, two for one, specials or discounts - you’re speaking my language. Duke’s Seafood and Chowder is a chain in the Seattle area and offers a late night happy hour (the best kind)! At the Lake Union location (just south of Gas Works Park), you can sit outside on the boardwalk and catch views of the boats on the marina and the Space Needle lighting up the night sky. And did I mention they have happy hour?
4. Olympic Sculpture Park
Part of the Seattle Art Museum, the Olympic Sculpture Park is an outdoor stretch of some of the most unique sculptures you’ve ever seen. And like everything else, the park is located on the waterfront at the northern end of the Seattle seawall. The park is FREE and open to the public every day of the year.