Pioneer Square is the oldest area of Seattle and offers dozens of interesting free and low cost options for spending ones time. I attempted on a brisk spring day to take some time and see what the area has to offer.
1. Window Shopping: 624 1st Avenue South: Check out the interesting shops that are all around the area. Remember you do not need to buy. The picture above is a boutique shop called Diva Dollz. It offers clothing of the old days. You can picture what people might have wore in this very area 100 years ago. Next door is Utilikilts. I do not really understand how a kilt store can stay in business in Seattle but somehow they have managed.
2. Pioneer Square Park: Spend some time in this wonderful park soaking up the history, architecture and urban environment. You can see a replica totem pole meant to imitate the original one that was destroyed years ago. Legend has it that the first one was actually stolen from a native tribe and given to the city as a gift. That is a hell of a gift. You can see the old promenade that used to provide cover for those waiting for the street can in the former times. Take a seat in the square and soak in the older buildings that were some of the first built in Seattle. You can go inside of Doc Maynard's home which is now a saloon. If you need some cheap eats, try the $7 flat-bread pizza.
3. E. Smith Mercantile: 208 1st Ave South: I know i already mentioned window shopping but this is a pretty cool spot. You can buy all kinds of interesting goods here. What is also cool is it is a good spot to grab a cold adult beverage or a coffee. if you want to sit outside and have a caffeinated beverage or drink, this might be the spot to do it. On a warm spring or summer day, you can watch the pedestrians pass while soaking back some suds. If you don't want to spend the money, that is fine too. Go ahead and take a gander anyways. The owners are friendly and welcome all.
4. Grand Central Arcade: I packed some cheese, crackers, apples and chocolate to nibble on as the day went on. We found the perfect venue to eat our snack. Go to 214 1st Avenue South and enjoy the wonderful shops and atmosphere. There is a nice bakery where you can find some deals but that is not necessary. Take a seat and enjoy your lunch or snack. When you are finished, go downstairs and visit the small businesses selling arts, crafts, herbs and other interesting items. I really enjoyed the historical pictures of Seattle hung up all around the downstairs area. Do not miss this spot, you will regret it.
5. Occidental Park and Games: Occidental Park offers several different games to play on a nice day. For example you can play table tennis, boccie ball, corn-hole and a few others. Just ask the people at the stands nearby and you can usually score the materials for free with some type of deposit.
6. UPS Waterfall Garden: 219 2nd Avenue South- Need a little respite from the loud urban environment? Find this tiny little urban oasis smack in the middle of Pioneer Square. You can do a little meditating, snack eating or book reading with the peaceful sounds of trickling water behind you. I was quite surprised to find this place as I did not know it existed.
7. ZeitGeist Coffee: 171 S. Jackson- There is nothing free about Zeitgeist Coffee but a small drip for under $2 is not bad. I typically bring my food for my day excursions around Seattle but allow a coffee break. We really liked this art themed coffee shop and the outside cafe made it even better. We saw some young people there enjoying the day reading books and watching the craziness of streets unfold.
8. King Street Station: 303 S. Jackson This train station was built in 1904 and recently renovated. It is worth visiting if only for a quick view inside. While it lacks the size and dynamic environment of larger stations in the USA, it is a cool spot to check out. A plaque on the outside of the building gives a history of the building and the railroad in Seattle.
9. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Museum Park-319 S. Avenue South- This is a wonderful free museum located in Pioneer Square. This museum covers Seattle's role in the Klondike Gold Rush. There are multiple exhibits and opportunities to learn about one of Seattle's most interesting eras.
Conclusion: We spent the entire day in Pioneer Square and barely scratched the surface. We made it to the museum but by the time we got there, we were tired and ready to head home. With that said, you could easily spend two days exploring the nooks and crannies of this district and do so without spending a cent. You can spend as much as you want but I do not think it is necessary.. Whether you are visiting Seattle or you live here, I challenge you to spend a day in Pioneer Square and see if you can do it under $5. I bet you can! What have I missed? What other low cost or free opportunities exist in this area?
I am a government employee who recently discovered the idea of financial independence. Feel free to join or not join me on my journey of trying to become more frugal and save more than 50% of my income towards early retirement.