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Free (and Fun) Things To Do in Seattle (part I)

So, you’ve paid for the MLA conference registration and CEs, the hotel for several nights, the flight to Seattle, and ground transportation from the airport to the hotel. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for other expenses. How can you enjoy being at the conference and see the sights of Seattle without breaking the bank?

Amazingly, free stuff does exist in Seattle. Besides people watching (which is always great entertainment) here are a few things you might consider:

256px-Seattle_Freeway_Park_06.jpgRight outside the Convention Center is the Freeway Park. This park meanders between three neighborhoods of Seattle: Downtown, Capitol Hill and First Hill. You’ll find fountains, plazas, unique structures, lots of trees and foliage, and occasional art installations. City parks are free and several are close by or an easy bus ride away. To learn more about the parks of Seattle, look through the Parks & Recreation website or stop by the hospitality booth.


Though most art museums have an admission fee, the Frye Art Museum does not. German immigrants, Charles and Emma Frye made their fortune in the meatpacking industry and left their large art collection to the city.  In the last few years the museum has been adding more modern art to its collection and exhibitions.  The Frye Art Museum is located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood- less than a mile walk from the Convention Center (though some of it is uphill).

Olympic Sculpture Park.jpg


More free art can be found at the Olympic Sculpture Park. It sits on nine acres near the waterfront and is a short walk (though at times a steep one) from the Space Needle and the Seattle Center. The indoor pavilion has limited hours but does have a nice restroom (which can be hard to find) and drinking fountain. The paths are easy to walk and are wheelchair accessible. A number of chairs are located by the Calder sculpture where you can sit and take in the view of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound and watch the ferries. Down at the waterfront, the park connects to Myrtle Edwards Beach. From there, you can gain access to the Elliott Bay Trail where you can walk or bike ride north, or turn south and head back to Pike Market and the aquarium on a path next to Alaska Way.


Did you know that Seattle is home to a national park? The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is located in the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood. And it’s free! Here you can learn all about the Klondike Gold Rush Fever and the role Seattle played. Visitors can follow famous and not so famous gold seekers through the interactive exhibits. After saving your money on admission you can go around the corner to Occidental Square and spend it at one of the fine restaurants or trendy shops.

This isn’t all that is free in Seattle. Stay tuned for part 2!


Contributed by Carolyn Martin, Local Assistance Committee

CC Images: Freeway Park and Olympic Sculpture Park

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