Experience the Best of Seattle for Under $10 per Person!
Visiting Seattle with your family? Here's some insider information: for an average of less than ten bucks each, you can have a full day of family activities that will let you experience the best of what the city has to offer.
If you have a car, park in the Seattle Center Parking Garage at 5th Ave. N. and Harrison St. It's the most inexpensive all-day parking around - $10 for 12 hours. Cross the street, walk behind the EMP Museum to the Monorail entrance. Buy a round-trip ticket ($4.50 per adult, $2 per kid). The Monorail, built by Alweg for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair will whisk you to Westlake Center in downtown Seattle in about 2 minutes. The two Monorail trains, the Red Train and the Blue Train, each have traveled a million miles since they started operating, and inspired a visiting Walt Disney to install one at his original Disneyland theme park.
Disembark at Westlake Center. Why? Because it's the only stop. Walk one block south to Pike St., then 4 blocks east to the Public Market, possibly Seattle's greatest attraction. Over 200 vendors sell everything from salmon to slippers! There's lots of snack opportunities, from amazing fresh-baked bread to piroshky to humbow. There are street entertainers and beautiful fresh flowers, and there is never an entrance fee.
Behind the Market, facing the harbor, is a series of stairs and elevators called the Hillclimb. Follow it down, and you will arrive at Seattle's historic waterfront. Walk south along the harbor. There are lots of sights and shops, but the coolest spot is Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe, which opened in 1899. It contains tacky souvenir pencils and coffee cups, but also original local and Native American art and artifacts. Be sure to look up so you don't miss the stuff hanging from the ceiling! And the star attraction - a real mummy! His name is Sylvester, and he was apparently shot in a gunfight in Arizona 150 years ago. The desert conditions mummified his remains, and he now lives in a glass case in the back of the store.
Continue a block or two to Coleman Dock, home of the Washington State Ferry System. Hop on a ferry to either Bremerton (50 minutes) or Bainbridge Island (30 minutes). Fare is $7.70 round-trip for adults and $6.20 youth under 19 (seniors are $3.85). The views are spectacular, and it is without a doubt the country's least expensive cruise.
When you return, retrace your steps. If legs are starting to wear out, splurge on a taxi back to Westlake Center; shouldn't cost more than about $7.
Isn't it comforting that a day's worth of family activities don't have to break the bank? This particular itinerary is for Seattle, but you can use my system almost anywhere. A key is using public transportation - especially streetcars and trains, most kids love doing that. Research free days at museums.
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