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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Seattle, Washington - Can you really Visit on a Budget?

I love being able to have a great life without spending a lot of money. Though traveling isn't really in the budget for our family right now, I love reading about all the various frugal travel options out there... as a maybe, for the back of my mind. I especially loved this guest post about visiting Seattle on a budget, because Seattle is someplace that I have been to before a few times- my dad used to live there- and I've been to some of the places mentioned in this article... so it just brings a smile to my face, as it is nostalgia evoking.

The author of this piece, Linda Manning lives in trendy Newport, Rhode Island, with her husband, Paul, and young English springer spaniel Brooklynn.  She is a licensed boat captain and certified diver who loves to travel. She is a freelance writer for travel sites such as Hipmunk.com. At home, Linda loves gardening, cooking, entertaining, art, museums, and all Newport has to offer.

Doing your homework before traveling can save you a bit of money. Having your travel plans tied up beforehand is monumental. Yes, it's all about price for some people and finding an inexpensive hotel is easy when you use Hipmunk, a destination travel website for the tech savvy person. Let me guide you to a number of Seattle hotels that won't cost that much and the best time to catch a cheap flight. The latter is a bit tricky if you have to travel during a certain time frame. If you don't, I would travel on the fringe seasons for lower fares.


Getting To Seattle and Seasonal Pricing

Of course, finding a cheap flight into Seattle Tacoma International Airport where almost 32 million visitors land each year, depends on the time of year you travel. Flights from the east coast run cheapest in March and November. When the weather becomes drier and warmer like June, July, and August, prices tend to escalate. Keep in mind Seattle is rainy 50% of the time, from January to May and October to December, so try to travel during the off seasons. Whether you drive to Seattle, arrive by rail, or get there by sea, plan ahead so you can take advantage of cheaper prices.

Staying Near the Airport or Choose a Neighborhood

Seattle has many distinct neighborhoods, each with different character. If there for business, you may want to stay close to the airport in places like the Days Inn Sea-Tac Airport or choose a hotel near South Lake Union, home to the biotech community and Amazon's new campus. The Holiday Inn Express Hotel Suites SeaTac is easy on the pocket and just 15 minutes or so to the city center. In Pioneer Square, the original waterfront district built on tidal flats, you'll find the Best Western Plus Pioneer Square Hotel complete with a complimentary breakfast and free Internet.

Finding Frugal Fun in Seattle without a Car

Over 10 million people visit Seattle each year and spend thousands of dollars in tourism. If you have a few extra dollars, the best buy is the City Pass, currently $69 for adults and $44 for children. With this pass, you have free admission to the iconic Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Seattle Aquarium, the Seattle Hall of Fame, and a few more touristy locations. But if you're short on cash, there are many free to low-cost things to do too.

Image via Flickr.com by Les Williams

Getting to attractions is easy too, with the free Metro, running from downtown to the financial district to Pioneer Square. The Light Link rail is a 30-40 minute ride from the airport to downtown, stopping in several districts along the way. Lastly, take the Seattle Center Monorail, it's inexpensive and runs from downtown to Seattle Center. If you do have a car, keep in mind parking is expensive. I suggest the street parking in West Seattle, where it's free, then take the water taxi to town.

Wine Tastings for Under $5

Yes, it is possible. In fact, Bainbridge Island Vineyards and Winery is just $3 on the weekend and Chateau Ste. Michelle, the oldest award-winning winery, offers a free tour and wine tasting. Of course, if you sample by sniffing, swirling, and sipping, the Columbia Winery is more cultured and noted as the first premium winery. The Silver Lake Sparkling Cellars is the largest consumer owned winery and lastly, Redhook Brewery a short ride across Puget Sound is a large microbrewery offering both a tour and a tasting.

Free Farmer's Markets and Attractions in Seattle

During the nicer weather, Pike Place Market is the place to go. It's the oldest continuous farmers' market in the US, established in 1907. Have fun sampling local food and watching the street musicians. Another place to go is the Glass Arts Display found in various locations throughout the city. On Sundays, try the Freemont Sunday Market where they showcase fresh flowers, produce, crafts, and world imports.

Free Museums and Parks

If you want to listen to a free public concert, there are many in the parks and plazas downtown. Visit the Seattle Center, a 74 acre park once home to the 1962 World's Fair. Today, it's surrounded by museums, the Seattle Opera Theatre, and the Children's Museum. Take a look at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, dedicated to the 1897 Gold Rush or the Coast Guard Museum filled with memorabilia, guns, and uniforms. You might even see an Arctic Icebreaker moored nearby. Other places of interest are the Gates Foundation Visitors Center, Japanese Gardens, and Discovery Park. The Museum of Flight, is free on the first Thursday of each month.
Lastly, explore the Olympic Sculpture Park in Belltown. There, meander along the Z-shaped pedestrian path leading to the beach where you'll see spectacular views of Puget Sound and the skyline. Simply, just watch the cruise ships as they arrive and depart through the inlet.

Exploring Cheap Prices through an Award Winning Travel Site

As you can see, your days will be filled with free things to do and see. It's possible to visit Seattle on a fixed budget. So get ready to research, plan early, go on the fringe season to find cheap hotels and flights, and use mass transit. One way to insure finding the best deals is with a website that caters to travelers. Market Wired announced the 17th Annual Webby Awards to Hipmunk as the Best Travel Website and the fastest and easiest travel site to navigate.

Finally, if your business travel brings you to Seattle, the city is bursting with conventions, so make your hotel and flight reservations far in advance. There are many hotels nearby that host business meetings for large corporations.

See my disclaimer.

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