The A to Z of Free or Low-Cost Family Activities Around Seattle

Summer is almost here, and Seattle offers an array of affordable family-friendly activities. Here’s a comprehensive guide to some of the best options: 

A: Artists at Play

Artists at Play, located at Seattle Center, is a creative and interactive playground designed by artists. This unique play area features innovative climbing structures, slides, and musical instruments, providing an engaging and imaginative outdoor experience for kids in the ages of 5-12.  

Cost: Free 

Kids playing at the Artist's Play in Seattle Center

B: Beaches and Lighthouses

Seattle’s beaches and lighthouses, such as Alki Beach and West Point Lighthouse, offer scenic spots for family outings. These locations are perfect for picnics, tide-pooling, and exploring the natural beauty of the waterfront with children. 

Cost: Free  

West Point Lighthouse at Discovery Park
Photo Credit: StantonChampion 

c: Community Center Activities

Seattle’s community centers host a variety of free drop-in activities, including sports, arts and crafts, and educational workshops. These centers provide a safe and engaging environment for toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age kids to participate in organized activities and make new friends. 

Cost: Free 

Yesler Community Center
Photo Credit: Seattle.Gov

D: Delridge Farmers Market

The Delridge Farmers Market offers fresh produce and handmade goods while supporting local vendors. It’s a family-friendly event where children can learn about healthy eating and enjoy cultural performances and activities. 

Cost: Varies based on your purchases.

Woman selling flowers at a farmer's market
Photo Credit: West Seattle Blog

E: Exploration for All

Exploration for All is a program that provides free sensory-friendly hours at Pacific Science Center for families with children who have sensory needs. This inclusive initiative allows all kids to enjoy hands-on science exhibits in a supportive environment. 

Cost: Free 

Man sitting in the Sensory Lounge

F: Festál in Seattle Center

Festál is a series of cultural festivals held at Seattle Center throughout the year, celebrating the city’s diverse communities. These events are family-friendly and include performances, food, and activities suitable for all ages, offering a rich cultural experience. 

Cost: Free 

Girl performing at Festal in Seattle Center
Photo Credit: Seattle Center

G: Gardens and P-Patches

Seattle’s community gardens and P-Patches provide opportunities for families to learn about gardening and sustainable living. Visiting these gardens is a great outdoor activity for kids to observe plants, insects, and community-driven green spaces. 

Cost: Free 

Seattle P-Patch
Photo Credit: The Mountaineers

H: Hiking

Seattle is surrounded by numerous kid-friendly hiking trails that offer beautiful views and manageable terrain for young adventurers. Trails like the Twin Falls, Myrtle Falls and Discovery Park Loop are perfect for families with toddlers and school-age children.  

Cost: Parking passes vary. Typically, Free – $15 per day 

Two kids using binoculars in nature

I: International Fountain

Located at Seattle Center, the International Fountain is a favorite spot for families, especially during warm weather. Kids can splash and play in the water, and parents can relax nearby, making it an ideal activity for toddlers and preschoolers. 

Did you know? All the water used by the fountain is recycled with three types of natural treatments before it reaches the public. 

Cost: Free 

International fountain at the Seattle Center

J: Jefferson Park’s Spraypark

Jefferson Park’s Spraypark is a fun and refreshing place for families to cool off during the summer. With water features designed for kids of all ages, it’s open from May 25th until Labor Day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day.  

Cost: Free 

Kids at Jefferson Park's Spraypark
Photo Credit: Seattle.Gov

K: Kubota Gardens

Kubota Gardens offers a serene escape with its beautifully landscaped Japanese garden. Families can enjoy leisurely walks, explore the diverse plant life, and find free programs throughout the summer months.  

Cost: Free 

Kubota Garden

L: Low-tide Tidepool Exploring

Exploring Seattle’s beaches during low tide reveals fascinating marine life in tide pools. Locations like Golden Gardens and South Alki Beach provide an educational adventure where kids can discover sea stars, crabs, and other creatures. Be sure to check out tide predictions before heading out the door!  

Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalist is a free opportunity to talk to the experts! This program runs on low-tide days throughout the summer. They attend multiple locations during each low-tide event and have field guides available for use in multiple languages.  

You can also explore PacSci’s Salt-Water Tide Pool and learn about the marine life that is present in the Puget Sound. 

Cost: Free 

Two star fish in a tide pool

M: Movies in the Park

During the summer, various Seattle locations host outdoor movie nights that are free and family friendly, including Movies at the Mural in Seattle Center! Families can bring blankets and snacks to enjoy classic films and new releases under the stars, perfect for all ages.  

Cost: Varies by location, free – $10 

Crowds at Mural Park for Movies at the Mural
Photo Credit: Seattle.Gov

N: Night Stargazing

Night sky observations around Seattle offer families a chance to explore the wonders of the universe. Local astronomy clubs and parks, such as Green Lake Park and the Seattle Astronomical Society, often host stargazing events where families can view stars, planets, and galaxies through telescopes.  

Cost: Free 

Man using a telescope to stargaze

O: Olympic Sculpture Park

The Olympic Sculpture Park is an outdoor museum that offers families a chance to enjoy art in a beautiful, natural setting. With large-scale sculptures and stunning views of Puget Sound, it’s an inspiring place for a family stroll. Seattle Art Museum also holds weekly summer events in the park, with something available for every age.  

Cost: Free 

Olympic Sculpture Park

P: Pier 62

Pier 62, managed by Friends of Waterfront Park, offers open spaces for families to enjoy various activities, including chess, soccer, connect 4 and more. The pier provides stunning views and a vibrant atmosphere for all ages. 

Cost: Free 

Pier 62 in Seattle
Photo Credit: Seattle.Gov

Q: Queen Anne Pool

Queen Anne Pool offers family swim sessions and swimming lessons in a safe, indoor environment. It’s a great place for kids to learn to swim and for families to enjoy water activities together. 

Cost: Varies, Free to $6.50 

Families swimming at the Queen Anne Pool
Photo Credit: Seattle.Gov

R: Rock Painting

Rock painting is a simple and creative activity that families can enjoy together. Painted rocks can be placed in community gardens, parks, or shared as gifts, allowing kids to express their creativity and spread joy. Is your learner curious about how rocks are formed? Try out our hands-on Rock Cycle activity for K-8th grade learners!  

Cost: Free 

Child holding a rock painted like a rainbow

S: Salmon Run at Ballard Locks

The Ballard Locks are a prime location to observe the salmon run, where families can watch salmon navigate the fish ladder. This natural spectacle is educational and exciting for children of all ages, providing a closer look at local wildlife. 

Cost: Free 

Child looking at salmon at the Ballard Locks
Photo Credit: The Seattle Times

T: Troll Hunting

Embark on an adventure to find the Northwest Trolls, a series of large, whimsical troll sculptures hidden throughout the Seattle area and beyond. Created by Danish artist Thomas Dambo, these eco-friendly sculptures are crafted from recycled materials and are in various parks and natural settings.  

And how could we forget to include the classic Fremont Troll!  

Cost: Free 

Thomas Dambo's Troll sculpture outside of the National Nordic Museum
Photo Credit: National Nordic Museum

U: Urban Horticulture Center at University of Washington

The Urban Horticulture Center features beautiful gardens and walking paths. Families can learn about sustainable gardening practices and enjoy a peaceful outing in a lush, educational setting. It is open to the public and free during daylight hours.  

Cost: Free 

University of Washington's Urban Horticulture Center

V: Volunteer Park

Volunteer Park offers a range of activities, including playgrounds, walking paths, and a conservatory, making it ideal for families. The Seattle Asian Art Museum, located within the park, provides a cultural experience and free family programs the 1st Saturday of each month.  

Cost: Varies, free to $15

Volunteer Park

W: White Center Bike Playground 

White Center Bike Playground at Dick Thurnau Memorial Park is a dedicated space for kids to learn and practice biking skills. The playground features various terrains and obstacles, making it a fun and safe environment for young cyclists to develop confidence and coordination. 

Cost: Free 

White Center bike playground
Photo Credit: Seattle Bike Blog

X: “X” Marks the Spot – Animal Signs Scavenger Hunt

Sometimes, it’s hard to see animals when we’re out walking in our neighborhoods or in a park! But there are ways we can tell we share this space with animals—we can look for clues that they’ve been here! Go on a scavenger hunt to look for different signs that animals have been nearby. 

Cost: Free 

Two children solving a scavenger hunt

Y: Youth Summer Reading Program

King County Library System offers engaging summer reading programs designed to encourage children and teens to develop a love for reading. These programs include reading challenges, interactive activities, and special events with storytellers and authors. 

Cost: Free 

A dad reading to his child

Z: Zen Garden

The Zen Garden at the Seattle Japanese Garden offers a tranquil retreat for families to enjoy nature and learn about Japanese culture. They offer free guided tours multiple days a week and host events throughout the summer.  

Cost: Varies, free to $10

Seattle Japanese Garden
Photo Credit: Seattle Japanese Garden

For a detailed map and more information on these activities, visit our partner, Visit Seattle. Happy exploring! 

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