By: Tom Butts
Seattle’s summers start when school is out, even if the rain doesn’t stop until after the 4th of July, which is optimistic at best. Fortunately, Seattle has plenty of free indoor and outdoor summer activities for the whole family.
When I think Seattle, I think about the amazing restaurants, fun bars,and fantastic shopping (be prepared, the sales tax is 9.5%). Most people like to do the typical visits like the Space Needle -which hoisted its first GLBT flag for Pride this year -and walk in Pike Place Market. Besides the typical visit there are lots of things to do and no matter how long your visit, you won’t be bored in the Emerald City.
Seafair has been Seattle’s annual summer festival since 1950. With festivities starting in late June and ending in early August, you can easily find free events for the whole family to enjoy. www.seafair.com
The Seafair Pirates land at Alki Beach to start the summer season with their rantings and ravings. Swords spark, canons boom, and captives are taken as the pirates rally the crowds for Seafair celebrations.
The Torchlight Parade, the Northwest’s largest lighted parade, is also a must-see, and admittedly PG-13. Lit floats, marching drill teams, towering helium balloons, and blustering pirates and clowns start at the Seattle Center and travel down Fourth Avenue to Second Avenue and King Street.
The Blue Angels wrap up the festival in August with their crowd-pleasing aerial acrobatics at the Seafair Air Show. Military and civilian planes also join the show, crossing over south Lake Washington. You view the air show from a number of area parks or purchase tickets for a closer view.
Free Pass To Seattle Area Museums
Nearly all of Seattle’s museums open their doors for free on the first Thursday of the month. Some museums are only free for part of that day.
At the Museum of Flight you can check out Boeing’s beginnings, walk the Air Park where retired Air Force One and Concorde jets wait, or learn about aviation history.
The Experience Music Project is also open to the public on Thursday night. Here you can admire rare Jimi Hendrix artifacts, mix music in the sound lab, or read about the local area’s music history.
Swim Free At The Beach
Seattle’s Parks have nine lifeguarded beaches (yes, beaches in Seattle) for summertime swimming. With no aquatic weeds or boat traffic, these beaches are made for safe swimming.
Not Free, But Fab
Rent a kayak and cruise along the boathouses on Lake Union, very inexpensive and a great way to do some sightseeing.
If you aren’t that adventurous, contact Argosy Cruises; they’ll take you through the ballard locks, into the lakes and Elliott Bay (part of the Puget Sound).
With sunsets just before 10pm, summer days in Seattle are long and enjoyable. It’s a great spot to vacation and let’s face it, it’s in the liberal Northwest; who can beat that?
Tom Butts is a freelance writer in Seattle and has his own site www.tombutts.com
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[Photo Credit Space Needle: Flickr Member Mattgarber]
[Photo Credit Blue Angeles: Flickr Member C4Chaos]
[Photo Credit Music Experience: Flickr Member SueEllis]
[Photo Credit: Kayak Seattle: Flickr Member Seaturtle]