11 Low-Cost Activities for Young People to Try in Seattle

Traveling or finding affordable activities to do can be difficult for young people, especially broke college students. Here are a few suggestions to get the most out of Seattle without draining your bank account. 


Various locations around Seattle, WA: Golden Gardens Beach, Discovery Park, Pike Place Market, South Lake Union, Gas Works Park, Seattle Center, Ballard Farmers Market, Amazon Spheres, Columbia Center Skyview Observatory, Green Lake, Hot Tub Boats on Lake Union

Build a Bonfire at Golden Gardens Golden Gardens Beach Park is the perfect place for a summer bonfire. With beautiful views of the water and Olympic Mountain Range, and large fire pits, complete with fire rings for safety, this beach is great for relaxing with large groups of friends. Don’t want to cook your own food? Just grab a bite to eat and some soft serve ice cream at Little Coney beside the beach entrance.

West Point Lighthouse in Discovery Park Photo by Samantha Goldstein

West Point Lighthouse in Discovery Park Photo by Samantha Goldstein

Picnic at Discovery Park. Built on the grounds of the U.S. Army’s former outpost, Fort Lawton, Discovery Park is a gem within the Emerald city. Located in the residential Magnolia neighborhood, Discovery Park is popular among Seattle locals. In addition to being the largest public park in the city, Discovery Park is special because of its location along the shore of Puget Sound. Explore the park via the short hiking trails, and pack a picnic to eat by the water or beside the historic West Point Lighthouse!

Visit The Amazon Spheres. The spherical Amazon structures in downtown Seattle are open for tours 10:00 am – 6:00 pm on the first and third Saturdays of every month. Unlike any other office building, the walls of the spheres are completely clear, and the buildings are filled with 400 different species of cloud forest plants. Explore the urban forest, and grab a delicious doughnut from the General Porpoise Café within the spheres.

See the City From the Sky View Observatory. See the stunning Seattle skyline, Mt. Ranier, the Space Needle, and the Olympic and Cascade mountains from 900 feet above the ground. The Sky View Observatory is located on the 73rd floor of the tallest building in Seattle, the Columbia Center. Tickets are cheaper than visiting the Space Needle, plus the Columbia Center skyscraper is over 300 feet taller! They also host sunrise yoga and viewing of the Blue Angels during Seafair.

Visit the gum wall and eat lunch at Pike Place. Leave your mark on the city at the Gum Wall! Visit this iconic Seattle landmark for free, and then enjoy a delicious meal at the famous Pike Place Market. The market sells everything from seafood to pastries, so there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Swim and Paddle Board at South Lake Union. South Lake Union Park is a popular place to swim, particularly for high school and college students. Sunbathe in the grass beside the lake, and jump in the water to cool off! In addition, many locals enjoy paddle boarding here, where they have views of both the city and the water. Pack a picnic or grab a bite to eat at one of the food trucks.

Gas Works Park / Photo by Samantha Goldstein

Gas Works Park / Photo by Samantha Goldstein

Watch the sun set at Gas Works Park. What was once a Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant is now one of the most unique landmarks in the city. Sitting on the north shore of Lake Union, Gas Works Park is the perfect mix of urbanization and natural beauty. The large hill within the park directly overlooks the water, making it an ideal location to catch a stunning Seattle sunset. If you are with your parents, consider a meal at the nearby Westward or Ivar’s Salmon House restaurants.

Movies at the Mural in the Seattle Center. Free outdoor movies on a 40-foot big screen on the Mural amphitheater lawn is the perfect way to relax while still enjoying Seattle summer nights. Bring a lawn chair and some popcorn to enjoy the movie theater experience without having to spend a dollar! Catch the Princess Bride, Crazy Rich Asians, Bohemian Rhapsody, Dirty Dancing and Black Panther during summer 2019. 

Lunch at the Ballard Farmers market. Every Sunday from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM, the trendy and historic Ballard neighborhood hosts a Farmers Market on 22nd Avenue NW and NW Market Street. Find a food stand to grab lunch, and get some fresh produce to take back with you!

Bike Around Green Lake (and cool off in the water when you’re done). The Green Lake Trail is a 2.8-mile loop around the perimeter of the small lake in the Green Lake neighborhood of Seattle. The trail is a popular place for biking, running, and walking dogs for Seattle locals, and a great place to get some exercise on a sunny day. Rent a Lime-Bike, and if it gets too hot, just cool off in the lake!

Sail Around Lake Union in a Hot Tub Boat. Cool days are fairly common during the summer in Seattle, but Hot Tub Boats allow people to enjoy being on the water even on those cooler days. Relax in a hot tub while floating along the lake in a small, electric, motor-powered boat. The boat is controlled by a single joystick, so no prior boating experience is necessary. Boats fit up to six people, making this the perfect activity for a small group of friends. While the cost of rental is $350 for two hours, this cost split six ways is less than $60 per person, making it significantly more affordable. Though not the cheapest way to see the city, this unique experience is worth spending a little extra.


Samantha Goldstein is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but has lived in Seattle since 2014. Samantha graduated from Ballard High School in 2018, and is now an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she is double majoring in political science and journalism with a specialization in public relations. Samantha believes that the best part of living in the Pacific Northwest is the ability to easily travel to Canada whenever a little break from the United States is needed. In her free time, she loves to go for walks through her neighborhood, Queen Anne, and spend time at different parks around Seattle with her friends.