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5 Cheap Things to do in the Emerald City

While the rest of the country is sweltering under late-summer heat and stifling humidity, locals are taking advantage of Seattle's mild temperatures and clear, sunny days with countless free (or very inexpensive) activities.

Here are few highlights:

  • Admire the Raw Northwest: Any local will tell you, residents put up with Seattle weather because it’s what makes the area so beautiful. Walk or bike through the Washington Park Arboretum, on the 27-mile Burke-Gilman Trail or along Lake Washington Boulevard on Sundays (through Sept. 18). Stop by for vistas of Snoqualmie Falls on your way to hiking in the Cascades -- the 8-mile Mount Si trail is a popular route offering views of the Snoqualmie Valley, Rattlesnake Ledge, Mount Rainer and on a clear day, the Olympic Mountains to the West.
  • By Sea: Seattle geography is divided naturally by the many bodies of water in the area. Take a dip in Lake Washington, currently a refreshing 68 degrees, on one of the city’s public beaches, or rent a kayak and explore wetlands like the Mercer Slough Nature Park near Bellevue. Or, feel the salty sea breeze while taking in views of the cityscape on a ferry ride across Puget Sound to scenic Bainbridge Island. Boats depart every hour and a roundtrip passenger ticket is only $7.10.
  • Nature’s Bounty: If you’re wondering what’s up with the salmon obsession in Seattle (smoked, cured and in your cream cheese), take a free tour at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. Learn about the life cycle of this important resource -- a primary food source in the Northwest for thousands for years -- and watch as Chinook, Coho and Sockeye jump the fish ladder on their way to spawn.
  • Sculptures by the Sound: Most people head near the waterfront to check out the public market, but head just North of Pike Place and walk through the Olympic Sculpture Park for spectacular free art set against the sound and Olympic Mountains. Wander the nine acres of sculptures and green space and see works like the "Neukom Vivarium," part greenhouse, part art; or a glass bridge adornment, "Seattle Cloud Cover," depicting the city’s signature gray-with-bursts-of-color sky. Weary travelers can take a seat on one of the "Eye Benches."
  • Book Nerd: Of course, you might hit Seattle on a rainy weekend -- likely anytime of year -- so cozy up with a book in one of the city’s most unique buildings, the Seattle Central Library downtown on 5th Avenue. The 11-story glass and steel building holds a spiral bookcase, “living room” and a fluorescent yellow illuminated escalator. Spend the afternoon searching the stacks, or simply admiring the architecture.

For savings of as much as $100 and to learn more about this Pacific Northwest gem, visit the Seattle Destination of the Week page.

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Tips by

Deal Expert, Chicago
Monday, August 15, 2011
See more Tips from
Kelsey Mesher