Friday, 5 May 2017

With its cerulean skies, pristine coastlines and hip artisanal culture, it's no wonder Seattle makes nearly every “most livable city" list each year.

Whether you're wandering on foot, taking advantage of the bike-friendly streets, or navigating what's become heavy L.A.-style traffic congestion, here are 25 ways to enjoy the city without spending a fortune.

1. West Seattle Water Taxi Avoid traffic and explore the way residents here have for hundreds of years—on the water. A ticket gets you over to the funky West Seattle neighborhood or nearly-rural Vashon Island. Tickets up to $6.25.

 2. Westland Distillery Get a crash course in whiskey on the tour (Wednesdays through Saturdays), or simply stop by for a taste of Seattle's new superstar single malt spirit. $10 (refundable with whiskey purchase)

3. Pinball Museum Nostalgia reigns supreme here, where you can play your favorite old games all for one flat price. Buy a single ($12 kids/$15 adult) or multi-entry ($17-$20) pass; kids must be 7 or older to play.

4. Bill Speidel's Underground Tour See relics of Seattle's first incarnation — a buried town — and learn of its history before it was destroyed by fire and built over to the gleaming city you see now. Tickets $9-$25. (For a little extra, you can take the Paranormal ghost tour!)

5. Sunday Ice Cream Cruise Leave South Lake Union Park for a 30-45 minute cruise that passes by glass artist Dale Chihuly's studio, Gas Works Park, and the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat. Tickets $3-$12; ice cream treats, coffee and hot chocolate $2-$4.

6. Bellevue Botanical Garden A 53-acre award-winning nature refuge showcases glorious native flora, Contently 1 restored woodlands and wetlands. Free.

7. Seattle Great Wheel Get the lay of the land from way up in the air on this waterfront Ferris wheel. Buy tickets in advance to ensure a spot $8-$13.

8. Agua Verde Paddle Club Party with turtles, get your sunset on and see Seattle's skyline from a kayak or paddleboard, and then get busy with a Mexican meal afterward. Rentals $18-$24/hour (Chimichangas and margaritas are extra).

9. Sky View Observatory Get a better-than-bird's eye view. See Seattle's beloved mountains, bays and the sparkling city from 900 feet up on the 73 rd floor of the sleek Columbia Center. Free-$14.75.

10. Space Needle Get your retro on at Seattle's most iconic landmark, 605 feet tall. It was built in for the 1962 World's Fair and has been a central attraction ever since. And who doesn't love a rotating restaurant? Tickets $14-$22.

11. Theo Chocolate Tour Seattle's become a mecca for craft chocolate lovers. Visit one of the most beloved suppliers of sustainable and fair-trade chocolate with a tour and tasting. If you leave empty-handed, you're weird. $10.

12. Dick's Drive-In See what the cultish fanaticism is all about when you bite into Seattle's favorite “life changing" burger—but don't ask for a special order. It just doesn't work that way. Burgers range from $1.40-$3.10.

13. Pike Place Market more than a farmer's market, it's a 9-acre lifestyle that wends its way through arcane alleys and secretive stalls. Not only can you find vegetable and in season fruit, but there's also an array of fish, music, antiques and errata, prepared foods, crafts, flowers … pretty much anything you need, you'll find. Free entry and free samples galore.

14. Olympic Sculpture Park Experience art al fresco, courtesy of the Seattle Art Museum, every day of the year. Free.

15. Luau Bingo Karaoke Check out this crazy good fun: A senior center hosts the hottest ticket in town, where you can play bingo AND do karaoke. Reservations required. $20.

16. Alki Lighthouse Tours Experience the romance of a lighthouse close up and in person with a tour that offers spectacular views on clear days. Free.

17. Living Computer Museum Of course, one of the nation's geekiest cities hosts this tribute to the computer and its evolutions. Look for special events such as film screenings. Free-$6.

18. Bowling or Pool at the Garage Games, beer and no kids allowed? Bring it on. Pool from $6-$15 per hour table rental; bowling $12-$30 per hour for unlimited games and players.

19. Starbucks Roastery Tour Gourmet coffee's ground zero offers a flight of elite coffees and a tour where you can learn all about your morning brew, and then some. $15 for a sampling of several varieties.

20. Washington Park Arboretum If you're up for a hike (dogs are welcome too!), make it along one of the many trails that wind throughout the 230 acres of gardens and wetlands. Even if you only have Contently 2 15 minutes or a half hour, the Visitors Center has great ideas for bird watching and nature gazing. Free

21. Pocket Theater Seattle's bustling theater scene is accessible to everyone with different shows each week. $10 online, $14 at the door.

22. The Sound Garden Before the band, there was the sculpture made from pipes and vanes that played music with the wind. Because it's located on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grounds, it's free but only open during the week and you need ID to get in.

23. KEXP Concerts Do some dancing in the streets as Seattle's coolest radio station offers free concerts (and some you pay for). Jonesing for Seattle-style tunes right now? Stream music live.

24. Cinerama The only downside to experiencing films on Seattle's restored iconic 70mm screen while sipping a local wine or beer is that regular movies just might not cut it anymore. Advanced-seating tickets $15 + service charge.

25. Center for Wooden Boats Every Sunday, sailors share their love of the water with anyone who signs up in time for a 45-minute to hourlong cruise sail around Lake Union. Free, but donations accepted.

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