I have wanted to visit Seattle ever since I first started watching Grey’s Anatomy. I haven’t made the trip yet, but I’m so excited that Michele from Adventures Abound offered to guest post about her current home city! She’ll tell you all about the best Seattle art tours that are completely free. If you need help planning your trip to Seattle check out How to Plan a Dream Vacation. But here’s Michele!
While Seattle may not have a catchphrase like “Keep Portland Weird,” it is certainly not a stranger to the PNW culture of oddities and moody art scene. If you have already checked out the main tourist attractions of Seattle or want to see a bit more of the local culture, use this guide to check out four free Seattle art tours that you can explore at your own pace.
Start your day with one of Seattle’s many amazing brunch spots, and then walk it off by combining some or all of these self-guided art walks in Seattle. If you’re up to see them all, we recommend starting with brunch in one of Seattle’s more northern neighborhoods like Ballard or Fremont, and then continue your day by neighborhood hopping and touring the various art scenes as you go. Make sure you wear decent layers and a raincoat if you are visiting anytime other than summer, and enjoy strolling through these Seattle neighborhoods, maybe even snapping photos to complete each collection as a scavenger hunt as you go.
While the collection of strange and interesting art pieces in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle were not curated to originally be displayed together, they are situated in perfect distance from each other that makes for a great self-guided art walk. You can start your tour anywhere, but we like to begin at the statue of Lenin located at 3526 Fremont Pl N, Seattle, WA 98103 and grab a map to find your way along to the rest of the art installations and “Histerical Markers” detailing the stories behind how they made their way to the Fremont neighborhood, and a few other facts about festivals, history, and local businesses in the area.
You can follow the map to each marker and art installation in any order that you like, stopping for coffee and lunch along the way. Some of the highlights of the tour are the well known Troll under the bridge, the Center of the Universe moniker and space ship, and the dinosaur hedges. Be sure to stop by the Fremont Saturday Market, Theo Chocolate Factory, and the Indoor Sun Shop while you are in the neighborhood.
If you want to see even more of the Fremont art scene, come back on the first Friday of the month for a full art walk that includes shops, art galleries, and local restaurants.
Olympic Sculpture Park
Stretch out those plane legs and head just North of the well known Pike Place Market to the Seattle Art Museum’s 9-acre Olympic Sculpture Park along the Puget Sound waterfront. Follow the sidewalk as it winds through the park, weaving through gardens and larger than life installations of artwork downhill towards the water. The path is over 2,000 ft long and is ADA-accessible. The park is free to visit and set on a beautiful view of the waterfront. On clear sunny days you can see across the Puget Sound to the snow-capped Olympic Mountains, and have a great view of the sunset.
Pick up a guide to read more about the sculptures as you view them, or check out the website for times that free tours are given, which are usually in the warmer months of the year.
Pike Place Market Mural Hunt
Spice up your next visit to the famous Pike Place Market by checking out a rotating set of murals located in various places around the 9-acres. I have stumbled onto this scavenger hunt around the market 3 times already this year in 2019, but if you would rather know for sure when and where to locate each mural, you can check this link to the Pike Market blog and follow the map to guide you around the market to each mural!
Make it a double themed tour by tasting your way through the market as you go. Be sure to stop by Mee Sum Pastry for their famous baked bbq pork hum bao, Beecher’s Cheese for a sample of their flagship cheddar and a cup of mac n cheese, step around the corner for delicious baked goods from Le Panier French Bakery, taste some infamous crumpets from The Crumpet Shop, sip coffee from Ghost Alley Espresso, and round it all out with a champagne float at Shug’s Soda Fountain as you pass through the shops and streets on your exciting scavenger hunt for murals. If you share them online, you can use the hashtags #MakeItAMarketDay and #PikePlaceMarket so the creators can see you enjoying their work!
Pioneer Square Art Walk
End your day of walking and art hunting where it all began on the Pioneer Square art walk, in one of Seattle’s oldest neighborhoods where the first art walk in the country was hosted in the 1980’s. This is still held on the first Thursday of the month, and is completely free of charge. You can also get validated parking after 5pm at these parking garages:
- Frye Garage (117 3rd Ave S)
- Butler Garage (114 James Street)
- 450 Alaskan (450 Alaskan Way – entrance on King Street)
Spend time perusing the local art galleries, and be sure to stop into Pioneer Square’s amazing restaurants such as Damn the Weather, London Plane, and Casco Antiguo for a drink and a bite to eat as you go. You can hardly go wrong with food and art in Seattle!
Hopefully you have a few ideas of fun new ways to see the city of Seattle and will soon hold some great memories as you have gotten to know the neighborhoods better. Seattle has a great knack for amazing art, and these free self-guided walking tours are just a small sample of what this pacific northwest city has to offer. Happy Hunting!
Michele is a South Carolinian currently living in Seattle, who is an adventure enthusiast sharing her tips for budget travel and adventure in the everyday on her blog Adventures Abound. You can catch her hiking the landscape, trying the local coffee shops, and snapping pics wherever she goes. Follow along on Instagram.