This post covers various locations in Seattle and vicinity that you can visit for free. I may eventually cover places that are only free at certain times of the month. My previous post on aerial views covered three additional attractions: Kerry Park Viewpoint, Volunteer Park Observation Tower, and the downtown bridges.
The International Fountain
LOCATION: 305 Harrison St, Seattle Center
APPEAL: This half dome with water jets shoots water of various intensity and various directions while catchy music plays. People can play in the fountain without drowning due to the drainage, so it’s particularly popular with kids. Some of the water jets give the illusion of shooting higher than the Space Needle, and sometimes it even creates its own rainbow.Plant Dinosaurs
LOCATION: N 34th and Phinney, Fremont
APPEAL: Wire mesh shaped like dinosaurs with plants growing inside
VI Lenin Statue
LOCATION: 600 N 36th St, Fremont
APPEAL: Larger than life statue of the Russian revolutionary in front of a fast food restaurant (formerly Taco del Mar). Also if you have a couple hundred thousand dollars, it’s for sale. Not sure if the price includes shipping. Sometimes this statue gets decorated, but not as frequently as Waiting for the Interurban (see below)
LOCATION: 601 N 35th S, Fremont
APPEAL: Replica of a rocket on the side of a building
Center of the Universe
LOCATION: N 36th St at Fremont Ave N, Fremont
APPEAL: Sign post with distance in kilometres to various real and fictional places. Some real places are a few blocks away; some are half a world away
LOCATION: Fremont Bridge, near the Fremont Side
APPEAL: An “Easter Egg” for people crossing the bridge. One of the towers of the bridge has Rapunzel’s hair painted on it.
Waiting for the Interurban
LOCATION: N 34th and Fremont Ave N, Fremont
APPEAL: Statue of people waiting for a non-existent bus. Seattle’s most frequently dressed up statue
JP Patches & Gertrude: Late for the Interurban
LOCATION: N 34th, further away from Fremont Ave N than Waiting, Fremont
APPEAL: Statue devoted to the popular children’s TV show that aired on KCTS-9. [August 2012 update: it's too soon to tell how permanent this will be, but for now it's become a bit of a memorial for Chris Wedes, who played JP and who passed away July 22, 2012.]
LOCATION: N 36th & Troll Ave N (under Aurora Ave), Fremont
APPEAL: This statue of a troll under a bridge (Aurora) is made of concrete over an old Volkswagen
Hiram M. Chittenden Locks
LOCATION: 3015 NW 54th St, Ballard
APPEAL: The locks let ships travel from freshwater to seawater and vice versa, with the water level being raised and lowered as needed for the ship passage. The best part of the locks is the fish ladder where you can watch salmon return to Lake Union.
Olympic Sculpture Park
LOCATION: 2901 Western Ave, Waterfront/Queen Anne
APPEAL: Oddball sculptures including a controversial naked father-son statue and an ampersand that rotates on a pole.
LOCATION: 3801 W Government Way, Magnolia
Appeal: This is a huge park with lots of windy paths, beach access with lighthouse, and an Indian Cultural Center
Warren G. Magnusson Park
LOCATION: 7400 Sand Point Way E, Sand Point
APPEAL: Nice beaches, large off-leash area for dogs. Also, on the north end you can peer through the bushes and see the Sound Garden, pipes that make sounds when the wind blows (you can get closer to the Sound Garden if you get mission from the government agency right beside Magnusson.
LOCATION: 5902 Lake Washington Blvd S, Seward Park
APPEAL: Nice beach, decent hiking, nice views of Mercer Island
LOCATION: 10201 NE 4th St, Bellevue West
APPEAL: Has a nice large fountain. If you’re in Bellevue, gets you away from the business of the city proper.
Alki Beach Park
LOCATION: 1702 Alki Ave SW, West Seattle
APPEAL: Very popular beach with nice view of Seattle proper. It has a “bath house” (used for arts and crafts, not bathing), the Birthplace of Seattle marker, and a mini Statue of Liberty.
Washington State Convention Center
LOCATION: 800-701 Pike St, downtown
APPEAL: It has lots of nice art on various floors. Note that while the common areas are free, events held at the center may have a charge.
LOCATION: 700 Seneca St, downtown
APPEAL: This is a park built over a freeway, with various fountains
LOCATION: Occidental Ave. S and S Main St., Pioneer Square
APPEAL: Despite the lack of greenery and being skid row, there are some nice art pieces here including a firemen memorial. Art shows are sometimes held here.
Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park
LOCATION: 319 2nd Ave S, Pioneer Square
APPEAL: This is actually a free museum, not a park; it has nice displays of history
Waterfall Garden Park
LOCATION: 219 2nd Ave S, Pioneer Square
APPEAL: This is a nice enclosed, well, waterfall garden park.
Gas Works Park
LOCATION: 2101 N Northlake Way, Wallingford
APPEAL: This is a bizarre full-size park overlooking Lake Union. What makes it unusual is that it very obviously was once an industrial complex, with lots of the structures still present.