10 free things to do in Seattle

Seattle can be expensive! Looking for something interesting to do in the city, without spending too much money?

Here’s a list of 10 of the many things this city has to offer.

Gas Works Park


Photo Credit: Scooter Lowrimore via Flickr, Used unmodified under CC BY 2.0 license

Gas Works Park is a park converted from an old industrial plant that was used to convert coal to gas. It has many interesting indoor and outdoor structures, picnic areas, and a great view of Lake Union. This is an especially popular spot during fireworks shows.

Fremont Troll

The Fremont Troll, Seattle

Photo Credit: Sue via Flickr, Used unmodified under CC BY 2.0 license

Clutching a real Volkswagen Beetle, the Troll monitors the activity under the bridge with his never-blinking metal hubcap eye. It’s acceptable to climb on and around the sculpture.

Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (aka Ballard Locks)

Boats in the lock

Photo Credit: jc.winkler via Flickr, Used unmodified under CC BY 2.0 license

This is a great place to watch boats come and go from the higher elevation fresh water lake to the lower elevation salt water of the Puget Sound. There is also a fish ladder with a viewing area to watch fish like salmon go upstream, visitor center, and the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden to wander through.

Burke-Gilman Trail

Burke Gilman Trail

Photo Credit: Gene Bisbee via Flickr, Used unmodified under CC BY 2.0 license

This 18.8 mile trail from Seattle to Bothell takes you through several Seattle neighborhoods and close to many parks and waterfronts, the University of Washington, and other connecting trails. It is used by many cyclists, runners, and walkers for exercise, commuting, and fun.

University of Washington campus

White pink Cherry Tree and Collegiate Gothic Art Tower, University of Washington, Seattle, USA

Photo Credit: Wonderlane via Flickr, Used unmodified under CC BY 2.0 license

The UW (say it like a local: “U-Dub”) is known for picturesque cherry blossom trees at least 80 years old. They usually bloom in mid- to late March, but that is dependent on the weather, as is the amount of time the petals stay on the trees. Even if you miss these blooming beauties, there are other landmarks to see on campus (like the Drumheller Fountain), or you can take a free walking tour led by students.

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

Photo Credit: Travis Wise via Flickr, Used unmodified under CC BY 2.0 license

A classic tourist destination featured on movies, but still popular with locals, the Market has attractions from the weird to the historic. The gum wall in Post Alley is a favorite, as is visiting the original Starbucks, watching fish being thrown, and watching buskers perform. You can also take self-guided tours or explore your own path. (Say it like a local: “The Market” or “Pike Place,” after the name of the street it’s on, never “Pike’s”)

Frye Art Museum

Frye Museum Entry Pool

Photo Credit: Joe Wolf via Flickr, Used unmodified under CC BY-ND 2.0 license

Other Seattle museums have free days but this one is always free – admission, parking, and hour-long tour included. The Frye Founding Collection alone has 232 paintings, which are joined by additional artwork in the Museum Collection and a variety of changing exhibitions.

Seattle Center


Photo Credit: Hourann Bosci via Flickr, Used unmodified under CC BY-SA 2.0 license

The Seattle Center is home to many festivals, events, and landmarks like the Experience Music Project (EMP) and the Space Needle. Neither of these are free, but there are plenty of free activities and opportunities year-round, like running (or dancing) through the water of the International Fountain (be sure to watch one of its five water programs synchronized to music), watching outdoor movies, or taking a self-guided tour of the many things the Center has to offer.

Klondike Gold Rush – Seattle Unit, National Historic Park

Klondike Gold Rush NHP

Photo Credit: Bart E via Flickr, Used unmodified under CC BY 2.0 license

This completely indoor park is free, consisting essentially of only a visitor center/museum, but is well worth a visit. The self-guided exhibits are highly interactive, and engage visitors of any age. The park also offers showings of educational videos, walking tours of the Pioneer Square Historical District, and demonstrations of mining techniques used during the gold rush (program schedule and offerings may vary throughout the year).

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

Mummy II

Photo Credit: Michael Scheltgen via Flickr, Used unmodified under CC BY 2.0 license

In existence for more than 100 years, this shop (which is more like a museum) contains collections of shrunken heads, fleas in dresses (plugas vestidas), two mummies, taxidermy specimens of creatures with extra limbs or heads, dollar bill origami, and many more oddities.

Have you been to any of these places? Do you have other free or must-see attractions in Seattle?

Additional reading:
Read about Taylor’s experience (and see her amazing pictures) from her Seattle visit when we went to Gas Works Park, the UW campus, the Fremont Troll, and Woodland Park Zoo.

Want more posts like this? Leave a comment and let me know which places you would like to see featured, and be sure to sign up to stay updated on all the latest posts!

Interview with Daniel and Karissa at Bucket

Photo of Daniel Pino and Karissa Jobman, founders of Bucket (www.bucketpass.com) - Provided by Daniel and used with permission

Photo of Daniel Pino and Karissa Jobman, founders of Bucket – Provided by Daniel and used with permission

Today’s interview is with Daniel Pino and Karissa Jobman founders of Bucket, a company that “works to increase the access to tourism in developing cities, so you can simply explore.” They plan to offer a bundled Bucket Pass that includes tickets “to the top five attractions your destination has to offer,” and the first city to be included will be Quito, Ecuador.

In a blog post, Karissa explains that she and Daniel met during an internship with Southwest Airlines, during which they worked to check things off their bucket list. Their discussions about travel led them to ask the question: “How can we expand access to tourism in these less traveled countries?” They created Bucket Pass to increase convenience of traveling to these cities, in order to “unleash adventurers to make a few checks off their bucket list by providing savings that can make the unreachable – reachable” (read Karissa’s post: “To the List Makers and Risk Takers“).

In the interview below, Karissa and Daniel share what they think leads to success as entrepreneurs (while holding other jobs!), how they spend their free time, and the best advice they’ve ever received.

Names and company:
Daniel Pino and Karissa Jobman at Bucket

Fun fact about you:
Daniel: I’ve lived in 6 different cities in the past 6 years.
Karissa: My goal is to finish my 50 states tour within the next 2 years; I have 15 more to go.

Funner fact:
Daniel: I always leave the last piece for the end. Therefore, when I eat something, I always eat it from the outside in.
Karissa: I grew up in Nebraska, but not in a cornfield.

Funnest fact:
Daniel: I can’t brush my teeth and look at myself in the mirror. If I do, I can’t resist closing my eyes.
Karissa: I started Bucket my first year teaching in inner city Dayton, Ohio through Teach For America. People think I’m crazy, but I find when I am passionate about life and learning new things, my students are too.

What do you think has been essential to your success as travel-related entrepreneurs?
Daniel: I don’t think we can consider ourselves successful just yet. However, I do think that launching Bucket in Quito, while none of us are physically there, while working full time for other organizations, is a success. The way we’ve achieved it is discipline. Both Karissa and I are very disciplined when it comes to getting work done when it needs to be done. An example of that is how every Tuesday night Karissa and I talk and discuss everything that happened last week and what needs to get accomplished next week. We never miss this call and it helps us move fast.

Karissa: A strong partnership has been essential to our success. It’s hard to find someone that compliments your strengths in a work environment and you also can share a great friendship with. Daniel and I started as good friends and then moved to doing business together. We encourage each other when we lack energy, we challenge each other’s ideas, and we make time to share our lives with one another. So many companies fail due to interpersonal challenges, but we are able to maintain a balance of partners and companions.

What was something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
Daniel: Partnerships. It’s REALLY hard to find a good partner. Someone that you can rely on, someone that you trust, someone that inspires you, and someone that you have a good communication with. It’s really better to be alone that someone who is not the right fit. However, once you find that person, it’s the best thing that can happen to your business. I compare it to getting married. I am really thankful that I am in “the same boat” as Karissa.

Karissa: I was and am constantly surprised about how many hats I have to wear as an entrepreneur. I have a diverse background in design, advertising, statistics, and communications, and with entrepreneurship I get to use them all, plus more. Some nights I find myself as an accountant or researching business law. I love how it constantly pushes me to learn more, but I also have to accept that some of the more tedious tasks I won’t be able to escape.

If you had to describe Bucket in 6 words or less, what would you say?
Daniel: Tickets to TOP attractions in developing cities.
Karissa: Enhancing tourism access in developing cities.

Who or what inspires you?
Daniel: Many entrepreneurs inspire me: Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Daniel Ek, and Bill Gates. I hope one day I can have the same impact in the world as they’ve had it.

Karissa: Creators fighting for social justice inspire me. For example, Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg, the founders of KIPP public charter schools, started their own school while in Teach For America when they were still in their early twenties. They could have taken the easy route of high paying careers with their Ivy League degrees, but they decided to dedicate their lives to promoting educational equity across America. They took risks, now students all across America reap the reward of their perseverance and heart.

What is your all-time favorite bucket list item (of yours or someone else’s)?
Daniel: Live in a foreign country. Preferably live there for more than a year. Preferably that country is “really foreign” (different language, different religion, etc.) I think everyone should have that experience at some point in life. It really opens your eyes, it makes you more accepting of others, you get to know yourself better.

Karissa: To foster or adopt a child

If you aren’t working on Bucket, what are you doing in your free time?
Daniel: It’s easy to become obsessed with your business to the point where you always want to be working on it. However, I try to balance my time and still spend time with my friends, travel, go to the movies, and work out. Especially this last one, working out, I think is VERY important to maintain your mental health and become more creative. Some of the best ideas I’ve had for Bucket have come up when I went for a run.

Karissa: What is free time? Just kidding. But I do find free time hard to come by; Bucket is my free time. I find it relaxing after a stressful day at school to post up at a coffee shop and work on designs for Bucket. But when I do have a free holiday, I travel any chance I get. I love domestic travel, exploring cities, and reuniting with friends I’ve made all over the country. I work hard to maintain these relationships even when I live hundreds of miles away.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Daniel: This is actually a famous quote, but it was shown to me by a professor: “Happiness means having something do, something to hope for, and someone to love.”

Karissa: “You can travel the whole world, see the seven wonders, and do everything in life you’ve ever dreamed, but life is best in company of the people you love.”
I’ve worked in many cities, lived abroad, and traveled a ton, but my most treasured moments are with my closest friends regardless of where I am. Travel is amazing, but at the end of the day, people are always greater than places. This is why the majority of my destinations involve reconnecting with people I have encountered in my life. (Although solo travel is great for making new friends.)

Thank you Daniel and Karissa for taking the time to do the interview and for sharing your stories and advice with us. If you want to learn more about Daniel, Kairssa, or Bucket, please check out their websiteFacebook, and Twitter.

Want more interviews like this? Leave a comment and let me know who you would like to see featured, and be sure to sign up to stay updated on all the latest posts!

Summer Bucket List 2015

Photo Credit: 9comeback via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yesterday I realized that there are 95 days in summer, which starts today (June 21) and ends on Sept 23. That’s plenty of time to get the majority of these things done (or even all of them), but last year I felt like I didn’t have time and actually only ended up doing 7 items. This year my plan is to do at least 20 of the 25 on this list.

Same with last year, I’ve picked some items from my existing list and added some new items just for the summer. I’m using the same key as the full list: bold = completed; linked = link to the post about it; * = in progress; (hidden) = well, you get it (read why I hide some).

Summer Bucket List 2015

  1. Eat rabbit
  2. Ride a motorcycle
  3. Ride in a convertible
  4. Participate in a flash mob
  5. Look out the window of a room in the top floor of a downtown skyscraper
  6. Make an animated video
  7. Enter a recipe contest
  8. (hidden)
  9. Learn to do a magic trick
  10. Learn to flip/twirl a pen
  11. Write a letter to a stranger
  12. Leave motivational sticky notes in random places*
  13. (hidden)
  14. Make a YouTube video
  15. Learn a new piano song*
  16. Go pedal boating
  17. Add 3 posts to each blog*
  18. (hidden)
  19. Get at least 1 list item sponsored (interested? Contact me)
  20. Have someone buy a piece of artwork of mine
  21. Help a local small business with a project
  22. (hidden)
  23. Finish my WSU scrapbook
  24. Go through all my clothes and give away what I don’t use
  25. Attend a neighborhood festival

What’s on your summer bucket list?
Leave a comment, and let me know if I can help in any way.

Resource: Atlas Obscura

Wondering where to go on the next road trip? Need something interesting and different for a weekend exploration in your own city? Are your out-of-town friends asking you where the quirky non-touristy places are in your hometown?

Atlas Obscura might be your answer. According to the website, it’s “the definitive guide to the world’s wondrous and curious places.” It’s based on the idea that there’s always something to discover, and is a collaborative effort (you can sign up and add interesting places, create maps, mark favorites, etc).

Even if you don’t have any trip planned or visitors at the moment, it’s worth checking out the site. Whenever I do, I always learn something new and interesting about various places around the world, ranging from the silly to the serious.

Here are three sites I read about lately, thanks to Atlas Obscura:

After you take a look at the site, please return here and share a link to a place you discovered by reading the Atlas. :)

Everyone Has a Story: Isabelle

This mini-interview is with my friend Isabelle, who says (on a social media site) that one of her favorite quotes is “The most wasted of days is one without laughter” (by E.E. Cummings). Today she shares a few thoughts, including one of her many bucket list goals.

(If you’re interested in being interviewed for this blog or have someone in mind for me to ask, please let me know or leave a note in the comments section.)

Photo provided by Isabelle – Used with permission

Photo provided by Isabelle – Used with permission

What is one of your dreams for your life?
I want to be able to genuinely help people and be a tangible example of love.

What is something on your bucket list?
I have so many things! One of which is write a book. I have no idea what it will be about yet but I really enjoy writing and I like giving myself the challenge of completing a work. :)

What is the best advice you ever received?
I’ve heard it many different ways, but I remember my dad telling me once that your greatest strengths can be your greatest weaknesses, and your greatest weaknesses can be your greatest strengths. That piece of advice has always reminded me to check my perspective and look at problems and situations from all sides.

Thanks for sharing your time and dreams with us, Isabelle!

Readers: Do you want to be interviewed, or do you know someone I should ask for an interview? Let me know.

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