Greetings From Seattle

by Katy on July 2, 2009 · 18 comments

Because I’m up in Seattle for a few days, here’s a reprint of a previously published post from last Summer. Enjoy!

P.S. Please feel free to suggest fun Non-Consumer-y things to do in Seattle in the comments section below.

Experience Music Project Building

Experience Music Project Building

Okay, maybe Seattle on $0 per day was a tad unrealistic.

Seattle is traffic-ey and expensive. Did I mention the traffic?

I walked Maggie the dog through the arboretum in the morning with my 10-year-old. The highlight was not the oasis of nature amidst the city. No, no, no — the highlight was the cleanly cut-in-half rat. Only part of which was squished. I got to teach my son the word, “bisected.”

“You know honey, Like Darth Maul in ‘Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.’ “

These are the memories a child brings into adulthood.

The dog duly walked, we drove off to The Experience Music Project, which we have a membership to. Street parking was easily found, which saved us $2.

really liked the Science Fiction Museum area. (I am an enormous Sci-Fi geek!) However, I’m not a huge rock music fan, so the main part of the museum was lost on me. I explained to my husband that it would be like him going to a quilting museum, (not that I quilt). I think he understood.

Luckily, I’d brought a library book from home, so I found a comfy bench and made myself at home. There was one other person doing the same thing — he looked to be in his 80’s. We bonded.

My 12-year-old bought a Nirvana stretchy wrist band, and my 10-year old made one of those flattened souvenir pennies. I’ve decided the smooshed penny thing is the ideal Non-Consumer keepsake. There is no packaging, shipping, or environmental impact from the process. It’s hand-cranked, and doesn’t even require electricity! And at 51 cents, it’s steal!

We were now hungry and on the bad side of cranky at this point, and decided to find a nice locally owned restaurant. The boys declined the granola bars I’d stashed in my purse.

So we drove, and drove, and drove. We somehow ended up on I-5 South, which sent my husband into fits. The language used has no place in my family-friendly blog, so I’ll let you just use your imagination.

When we did see places that looked good, there was not even a slight chance of a parking spot. We probably drove for an hour-and-a-half (no exaggerating here) before settling on a somewhat corporate yuppy pizza place.

hate spending a bunch of money eating out unless it’s something special. This place was not special. Expensive, yes.

I had my husband drop me and the 12-year-old at the Montlake library on the way back. We stocked up on graphic novels, (for him) and chick-lit (for me, I am on vacation after all!). Plus we pulled a few decent DVD’s from the shelf.

Tomorrow will be better. I really want to go to Goodwill, I’m crossing my fingers that we can score some Mariner’s T-shirts there for the boys.

Whatever we do, I see that the only way to have this vacation under fiscal control is to plan ahead.

The rat was free though. It will probably be what my son remembers most from this trip.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

P.S. I found $2.02 in change the evening before, but none today. Coin-Girl was not happy.

P.P.S. Have any frugal Seattle tips? Please let me know in the comments section below.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Angela July 2, 2009 at 10:32 pm

I think you can watch the salmon do their thing down by the docks at this time of year. When I was there in April, it wasn’t the right season but I think it would be now.


Jen July 2, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Ooh, here’s one I can answer!

1) Watch the boats locking through at the Ballard locks.
2) Kubota Gardens in south Seattle–a hidden treasure and totally free.
3) Walk on the Bainbridge Island ferry or try the water taxi to Alki (a small cost, but very Seattle). 4) Visit the troll under the bridge in Fremont.
5) Library programs–free gaming for teens, performers for little kids, adult storytimes at noon Downtown–or take a free tour Downtown.
6) Free lunchtime concerts at the old First Methodist Church
7) Cool off in the Seattle Center International Fountain
8) Walk around downtown and look up at the architecture that we don’t notice from street level. Check out the gorgeous Art Deco lobbies in the Exchange Building and Seattle Tower (only weekdays).
9) Visit the Starbucks on the 40th floor of the Columbia Tower for a great view–still cheaper than the Space Needle, even if you succumb to a drink (also weekdays only).
10) The Frye Museum on Capitol Hill…always free (with kids check the website first, some of their exhibitions have mature content).
11) The Seattle National Park Service visitor center for Klondike National Park–down in Pioneer Square.

I feel your pain on the food–I hate to waste money on bad food. Full Tilt Ice Cream in White Center (West Seattle) is worth it–good artisan ice cream and vintage video and pinball games for 25-cents a round. The 10-yo nephew loves it! (Warning, the neighborhood is a little funky, and not in the fancy Fremont way).


Elizabeth B July 3, 2009 at 10:05 am

Katy, your story had me laughing out loud at several points. “We bonded.” Hee! (And the Darth Maul comment was hilarious.)


Rebecca July 3, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Fireworks at Gasworks Park on the 4th of July! It’s a beautiful park with a fantastic view of Lake Union, and the fireworks are lovely. Get there early to get a good spot, though. Maybe pack a picnic and some frisbees for some Non-Consumer-y fun as you’re waiting for the show to start!

There’s also the Fremont Outdoor Movie Cinema ( Tonight they’re having a Zombie Walk before showing Shaun of the Dead.

The Washington Park Arboretum has some lovely gardens and trails, too, and it’s free (the Japanese Garden does have an admission of $5 for adults, but it’s well worth it).


Mandy July 3, 2009 at 3:21 pm

I second the salmon idea, I would love to see that if I could.

I think the Asian Art Museum is free on a certain day. I know when I was in Seattle we were sight seeing in the park, and we realized it was free that day. So we just swung by for the heck of it.


A Squirrel Most Frugal July 3, 2009 at 4:16 pm

What is that building? A restaurant table about to topple over and a half-unwrapped candy bar? I really don’t understand architecture like that. Sorry. But Seattle is a fun place.


Sarah Williamson July 3, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Seattle is FUN to do with kids.
IF you’re hungry, go to any of the food co-ops. PCC. For example. if you go to Green Lake (free), there’s a co-op nearby. Or Fremont. Or Edmonds. Any of these places are terrific, imaginative free days as well.
Go to Fremont and spend a day being amazed.
Tour the new downtown library- it’s incredible! Pick up a free self-guiding walking tour. Be impressed.
Gosh, I can’t believe you can’t find tons of things to do for free there. Use your imagination.
And back to the food: I am serious about the PCC’s. They’re just fantastic. Always a good meal.
When you’re at the library, look for a book about things to do with kids in the Puget Sound area. So many many many free things.
p.s. the Goodwill in south downtown Seattle is pretty darned good but don’t overlook some great local thrift shops. You may find better selection and better prices. Seattle has always had a great selection, from clothing to books to furniture.
Really, the only reason anyone anywhere may spend too much money is because they don’t take the time to think, look around, peruse the yellow pages for ideas if you’re really stumped. Thumb through local travel ideas books at the library.
Then write about your new perspective and what you found.
And there are plenty of better parks to go to than the one you chose. It’s an area known for “cruisers” of the distasteful kind.


Julia July 3, 2009 at 6:47 pm

This involves driving, so there’ s the cost of gas, but—Snoqualmie Falls, 29 miles east of downtown Seattle (exit 25 off of I-90) is spectacular. There is a 268 foot drop, higher than Niagara Falls. You can park for free, there is no charge for the observation deck, and you can hike down to the river below (and 300 vertical feet back up when you’re done). The Salish Lodge (the exterior of which was the hotel in the “Twin Peaks” TV show) is at the top of the falls.


biscottis_and_kangaroos July 4, 2009 at 1:50 am


I don’t know what part of town you’re in, but I’ll give you some of my ideas.

I really like fish n chips at Ivar’s. Ok, it costs money but the view is priceless. Bring your own pop if the kids are addicted.

See the Fremont Troll.

Check out the Ballard Sunday (Farmers) Market. Somehow get to 45th (the street stretches all the way from Laurelhurst/ UW to Ballard. Keep going west until you see a little downtown area (past 15th, a big street), then turn left and look for people. I think it’s cool.

Walk around Green Lake. It’s so beautiful. PCC is a good food source. If the dog is not too wild, walk the dog around Green Lake.

Bainbridge Ferry is good, if you can do it without a car. It’s the same view you get from cruise ships.

There’s a way to rent a bike for free at Marymoor Park. I’ve never done it (I had neck surgery last week), so let me know if it’s good. Marymoor has a rock climbing wall. You have to spend some moola on gas, but it’s one of the best parks around. It has an off-leash dog park…. sad for me, dog is gone. sniff. sniff. But it’s great. Here look at my blog, Cheap & Free. (Sorry, I’ve forgotten my html, you might cut and paste. Maybe I missed something.


biscottis_and_kangaroos July 4, 2009 at 1:53 am

Oh, here’s the free bike rental place. I live in Redmond, but there might be something similar in Seattle. I’m sorry I don’t know. And, sorry about the cut and paste link. It’s illegal to live in Redmond and not know how to make anchor text hotlinks. Don’t turn me in to the Geek police.


alunachic July 4, 2009 at 6:42 am

Hi Katy- I remembered Bank of America has an offer for free museum admission by showing your debit card. I’m not sure where you bank, but a quick check revealed several museums with free admission via Bof A debit card.
HAVE FUN in Seattle!


thenonconsumeradvocate July 6, 2009 at 12:23 am

We ended up going to the Wooden Boat Festival on Saturday and partaking of one of the free boats trips on Lake Washington. This was very fun and successfully exorcised the prior boating experiences.

I was thinking about the money spent on food, but then I remembered that we would (of course)have been eating had we been at home, so that can’t really be counted. We barbecued salmon and ribs for dinner last night which was the perfect meal.

We stopped into the Grocery Outlet store which was next to a farmer’s market. My step-mom has been telling me how great the Portland one is, so I will most definitely be checking it out in the next few days.

Thanks to everyone for all the great suggestions!

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


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