Over the next few months, TuGo and Money We Have are bringing you the “Cities on a Budget” series. Despite the falling dollar, the US is still the #1 travel destination for Canadians. We’re going to highlight some budget travel tips and things to do in each city including food you must try and any quirky tips you need to know.

This month we’re starting off with Seattle. Located just 3 hours away from Vancouver, Seattle is a popular destination for day trips as well as a hotspot for flights. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is a major international airport which means cheap flights can be found out of here, but those who decide to stick around a bit longer, won’t be disappointed.

Top things to do in Seattle on a Budget

If you really want to enjoy all that Seattle has to offer, then you’re going need to spend some money. Fortunately, the Seattle CityPass offers great value for visitors. For just $69 USD you’ll get access to some of Seattle’s most popular attractions including the Space Needle and EMP Museum.

For those looking to keep costs low, Seattle has many attractions that are free.

Pike Place Market – The most popular attraction in Seattle, Pike Place was opened in 1907 and is one of the oldest continuously-operated farmers markets in the US. The market itself of course is the popular draw, but you’ll also find street performers, shops, and restaurants. There is no charge to enter the market.

Seattle Pike Place public market sign
A classic Seattle landmark: The Public Market sign.

Art – The Seattle Art Museum is free each first Thursday of the month. Located downtown, the museum features collections of modern and contemporary works of Native American, African, Asian, and Australian origin. The Seattle Asian Art Museum is also free on the first Thursday of the month and free for families on the first Saturday of the month. Located in Volunteer Park on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, the museum features art from China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia.

Fremont – This neighbourhood dubs itself the “The Center of the Universe” and has quite a few quirky attractions. Enjoy the Sunday market, visit the Troll Under the Bridge, or salute the statue of Lenin; this area has plenty to keep you entertained.

For more budget things to do in Seattle, you can check out the Visit Seattle website.

Local things to eat

Jack’s Fish Spot – Seafood is a must in Seattle and Jack’s Fish Spot serves up some of the best. Located in Pike Place Market, Jack’s admittedly is a bit touristy, but it’s pretty hard to walk by without picking up an order of fish and chips. Seafood is also sold fresh here if you prefer to take it home with you.

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room – Parent company, Starbucks, spared no expense, spending a rumoured $20 million on their brand new coffee palace. This coffee shrine has quickly become a top thing to do in Seattle and features Starbucks’ Reserve line of high-end coffees. Even people not in love with coffee will enjoy the hit on the senses when visiting the roastery.

Tom Douglas restaurants – Local celebrity chef Tom Douglas owns quite a few restaurants of various cuisines in Seattle, so admittedly it may be hard to pick just one. Choose from seafood, northwest cuisine, Greek, pizza or even modern American Asian. Prices vary per restaurant, so you can enjoy at least one of his restaurants on any budget.

Budget accommodations in Seattle

Green Tortoise Hostel – It may not be the cheapest hostel but it’s definitely the best located since it’s right across the street from Pike Place Market. Co-ed dorms, female dorms, private rooms and family rooms are all available with semi-private bathrooms.

The Moore Hotel – This property is located just 2 blocks from Pike Place Market where private rooms start as low as $100 USD a night. If you’re willing to share a bathroom, rates drop as low as $74 USD a night.

Looking for ways to sleep cheap on the road? Check out Budget Accommodation Tips.


From the airport – For just $3 you can take the Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail from SeaTac airport to Westlake station in just 37 minutes.

Metro Transit – Most of the city is serviced by metro buses and can easily be navigated with Google’s trip planner. Adult fares are $2.50-2.75 within the city limits.

Seattle Center Monorail – Originally built in 1962 for the World’s Fair, the monorail is a quick link between the Seattle Center and the Westlake Center. The 2-minute journey costs just $2.25 but shouldn’t be considered a serious mode of transportation.

 The monorail is a quick link between the Seattle Center and the Westlake Center.
The Monorail provides a quick link between Seattle Center and Westlake Center.

Here are some more budget travel tips for you! Read 3 Ways to Travel on a Budget.

And remember, even if you’re just taking a quick trip to the US, you’ll need to get medical travel insurance. It will protect you if you have an accident or medical emergency.

Have your own budget travel tips for Seattle?

Share below!

Barry Choi is a budget travel and personal finance expert. You can visit his blog at moneywehave.com

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Cities on a Budget—Top Things to Do in Seattle

Oct 22 2015