The leaves have turned, the skies are gray, and the air is crisp, but for budget-conscious families in Seattle, free activities abound, both indoors and out. Whether you’re looking to explore environmental landmarks or learn about local history and culture, there’s a free activity to delight every member of the family. Marvel at the greater Seattle area’s best bargains for learning, laughing, and loving the Emerald City. From the Burke Museum to Snoqualmie Falls and from Pike Place Market to the Olympic Sculpture Park, these are the best free fall activities for families in Seattle.
Burke Museum Of Natural History And Culture
University of Washington Campus
17 Ave. N.E. and N.E. 45 St.
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 543-5590

Budding artists, curious historians, and knowledge seekers of all ages have enjoyed the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture for 130 years. Founded in 1885, the Burke is Washington State’s oldest museum; thanks to a generous donation from Made In Washington, it features free first Thursdays year-round. Current seasonal museum exhibits include Why Study Evolution, Washington’s First Dinosaur, and Titanoba: Monster Snake. Ongoing exhibits include Pacific Voices, the Life and Times of Washington State, and the Erna Gunther Ethnobotanical Garden. Other museums that honor free first Thursdays include The Museum of Flight, the Seattle Art Museum and the Asian Art Museum.

Related: Best Family-Friendly Museum Exhibits In Seattle

Snoqualmie Falls
P.O. BOX 1093
Salish Lodge & Spa
Snoqualmie, WA 98065
(360) 421-5849

Bundle up the entire family to visit the scenic Snoqualmie Falls, located just east of Seattle in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Snoqualmie Falls is one of the state’s most popular attractions – and during the autumn and winter months, the 270-foot waterfall is magnificently full and thunderingly loud. As the mercury drops, snow, frost, and icicles adorn the rocks surrounding the falls. During particularly cold spells, the falls can become semi-frozen, creating a stunning but ephemeral natural sculpture. More than 1.5 million people visit the falls annually and the Snoqualmie Native Americans consider the site to be where the first man and first woman were created, and the rising mists are said to connect heaven and earth.

Pike Place Market 
1st Ave. and Pike St.
Seattle, WA 98101

You won’t have to spend a dime to enjoy Seattle’s storied Pike Place Market, located in the heart of downtown Seattle. First opened in 1907, Pike Place receives 10 million visitors annually and features local produce, arts, and crafts. Don’t miss the market’s famous “flying fish,” the Gum Wall in Post Alley, and the Market’s “mascot,” Rachel the Piggy Bank. Browse the market’s crafts, which includes handiwork from over 200 local craftspeople; peruse the highstalls, or permanent produce stands; or walk below the main arcade to explore three floors of one-of-a-kind shops featuring jewelry, comics, books, collectibles, magic tricks, and other unique items. Plan your visit by consulting the market’s map.

Related:  Best Places To Take Family Photos In Seattle

Chateau Ste. Michelle
14111 N.E. 145th St.
Woodinville, WA 98072
(425) 488-1133

Travel to the northeast of Seattle and descend into the Puget Sound’s wine country, where you can visit the storied grounds of Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washington State’s oldest winery. This child-friendly winery features 105 verdant acres, Craftsman-style architecture, and free tours (and tastings, for those aged 21 and older.) Learn about the ages-old art of winemaking, vineyard management, and why the Pacific Northwest’s volcanic-fed nutrient-rich soil yields such a vast array of vino. The tour lasts 35 minutes, and while appointments aren’t necessary, tour groups of ten or larger should call in advance.

Olympic Sculpture Park
2901 Western Ave.
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 654-3100

Juxtaposed against water and mountain views, the Olympic Sculpture Park is an oasis of green amid Seattle’s sprawling industrial area. The park, which is part of the Seattle Art Museum, is a nine-acre waterfront area freckled with artwork created by multiple artists, including Mark di Suvero, Alexander Calder, and Richard Serra. Visiting and touring the park are both free. While topics and tour times vary year-round, each tour discusses the site’s history, sculptures, native flora and landscape design.

Tracy Campion is a freelance writer covering all things Seattle. Her work can be found on