When I first visited Seattle after Christmas last year, I actually felt a little bit of culture shock. It may have had something to do with the fact that I hopped on a bus that cost $18 from Vancouver and just 3.5 hours later I was in another country, another American state and a new city. Not something that will ever happen in Australia. I visited by myself for a few days and stayed in the best hostel (in my opinion). I enjoyed my brief time in the city and here is how you can also successfully see Seattle on a budget.
Pike Place Market
I don’t think you can visit Seattle without stopping by this Washington State institution. My hostel was across the road, and whenever I visited the place was bustling. The Pike Place Market offers everything from produce, seafood, meats, paintings, t-shirts, jewellery and other souvenirs. I purchased a couple of smaller prints for myself and my parents which I have on my desk. The market is a great place to start your day of exploring as it is close to the downtown area and Westlake Station. There are tourist signs to guide you in the right direction from here. Oh, and it’s totally free.
Seeing as I was working at Starbucks at the time, I was told I had to visit the first Starbucks store across the road from the market. I didn’t purchase a drink from this store as the line outside it was crazy. I’ve heard it is always busy, because people LOVE Starbucks, especially the one that began it all. Fortunately, my Canadian discount card worked in the city also so I went to a less busy stop. There is one on practically every corner so you never have to walk far for your Starbucks fix. Random fact #1: Seattle is America’s coffee capital. It has more coffee bean roasters per capita than anywhere else.
Check out the Historic Waterfront
Oh how I love to be by the seaside. Seattle’s Waterfront is the perfect place for an evening stroll where you may even be able to get a shot like this of the sun setting over the ocean and the West Seattle peninsula.at Pier 57 is a very popular waterfront stop. You won’t be able to miss the technicolour lights of the Great Wheel, but you will also find kitsch souvenir stores, restaurants and a gaming arcade here. The other big drawcard is the Aquarium and the ferries of course, which can take you to islands in Puget Sound and even to Victoria, British Columbia’s capital. Random fact #2: Washington has the largest ferry system in America, transporting over 26 million people every year.
Go for a Free Walk
The Green Tortoise Hostel works with Seattle Free Walking Tours as the tour guide comes by the hostel every morning to pick up interested people and takes them to meet the rest of the group at the starting point. The company runs a Market Experience tour or Seattle 101, my choice. It takes you from the marketplace to Pioneer Square and down to the Waterfront, where you even get to stop by Ivar’s Seafood Restaurant for free samples of fries and clam chowder and lots of seagulls accompanying you.
I enjoyed learning a little bit more about the city from a local. Seattle has a fascinating history as after the Great Fire wiped out the town in 1889 residents literally rebuilt the city on top of the remnants. Today you can take underground tours to see how Seattle used to be. At the end you just tip your guide whatever you thought the tour was worth!
Hop on a Bus
Seattle bus drivers are some of the friendliest I have ever met. With the effortlessness that is Google Maps today, head on a bus and get out of the city to the outer suburbs. Trophy Cupcakes for melt-in-your-mouth, close-your-eyes-and-don’t-moan-out-loud cupcakes. The snickerdoodle was amazing. I also love the name snickerdoodle.and Wallingford are both popular places to go for a stroll and see another side to Seattle. I loved the character of the buildings in Wallingford and you have to go to
Read More: Second Impressions in Seattle
Get Your Space Needle Selfie
The Seattle Center is a great open space for epic selfies. Or you can actually visit one of the many attractions, including the Space Needle, Experience Music Project and Children’s Museum. I decided to just wander and I even went inside the EMP to have a look at the gift shop and picked up a cool birthday present for my dad: guitar salad servers! I thought they were awesome and my dad plays guitar so they aptly fit.
See the Skyline
I can not confirm this, but my tour guide from the free walking tour mentioned that if you ascend the Columbia Center to the Starbucks, you can get a great view of the city. I attempted but it was closed by 5pm. Plus Kerry Park offers stellar city views, too.
This is how I spent my time in Seattle on a budget, plus shopping the sales (I heart Boxing Day) and seeing the Hunger Games: Catching Fire in cinema, which definitely didn’t leave a huge dent in my holiday fund. Another hint is looking up the iTunes Store or Google Play for Seattle apps. I found a couple of free guides that showcase the places to visit and give you background information on Fremont and the Seattle Center.