The holidays are over, and now you’re trying to save some money after buying gifts for everyone. Read on to discover some free and fun things to do in the Seattle area this winter!

Number 1: Take out a free peapod rowboat on Lake Union – The Center for Wooden Boats

Don some layers and a hooded raincoat and then head to the Center for Wooden Boats on Lake Union.  They offer free, one-hour rowboat rentals every day. No experience necessary as the staff and voluneers will help you when you arrive. The beautifully maintained rowboats hold up to four adults and one child, but you do need to reserve your rowboat in advance. Online reservations open every Sunday night for the next 2–3 weeks of available slots.

Number 2: Visit a Washington State Park on these Discover Pass Free Days

Jan. 1 — First Day Hikes; New Year’s Day

Jan. 15 — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

March 9 — Billy Frank Junior’s Birthday

March 19 — State Parks’ 111th Birthday

April 22  — Earth Day

June 8 — National Get Outdoors Day

June 9 — Free Fishing Day

June 19 — Juneteenth

Sept. 28 — National Public Lands Day

Oct. 10 — World Mental Health Day

Nov. 11 — Veterans Day

Nov. 29 — Autumn Day

 

Number 3: Get free museum and park passes from your public library

You can do more than check out a book at the library. Use your King County library card to reserve free museum or park passes each month. The passes are released each day at 2 p.m. for the day two weeks into the future. Each library cardholder can reserve passes twice each month for these venues:

Bellevue Arts Museum

KidsQuest Children’s Museum

Museum of Flight

Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI)

Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop)

Northwest Railway Museum

Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Art Museum

Washington State History Museum

Woodland Park Zoo

To find out more about these free passes, visit this page. Also, be sure to take advantage of Free First Thursday Museums that offer free admission on the first Thursday of every month. Special exhibits are typically not included, but the free hours usually run in the evening from 5 p.m. to close. First Thursday museums include:

Burke Museum

Museum of Flight

Museum of History and Industry

National Nordic Museum

Seattle Art Museum

Number 4: Go to a Seattle Center Festál

The Seattle Center will hold 24 free cultural festivals in 2024. Upcoming festivals include Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year; the Irish Festival; and the Cherry Blossom and Japanese Cultural Festival.

Number 5: Visit the Frye Art Museum

Open Wednesdays–Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is always free. The Frye Salon features more than 100 paintings originally displayed in Charles and Emma Frye’s Seattle home. The collection features an international roster of artists from Europe and the United States, with a particular focus on German artists.

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Zelda Tiemann | photo by Lynn Anselmi
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