When you’re living on a budget, it seems like everything to do, see and have seems to come with a price tag. That’s why we love finding those fun and free things to do in our area.

Fun and Free Things to Do Around Washington State This Summer

This summer vacation season, get the kids in the car (or on bikes) and begin exploring all the free and low-cost things to do in and around the Bellevue and greater Washington State area. You’ll make memories that last a lifetime without any financial pressure whatsoever.

Get Outside and See a Movie

Who doesn’t love summer outdoor movies? Kids and adults enjoy snuggling in blankets (or chairs) under the stars and watching a free movie outside. Bellevue Summer Outdoor Movies are a little different this year, since Bellevue Downtown Park will be in the midst of construction. You can still catch an outdoor flick in July and August via outdoor movies in Crossroads and Carillon Point parks in Bellevue and Kirkland, respectively.

Make the Bellevue Farmer’s Market a Habit

The Bellevue Farmer’s Market takes place every Thursday, from March through October. You can have a great time exploring the market, people watching or soaking up the live music offered by local musicians without spending a single penny. We recommend skipping the grocery store this week and bringing your “would buy anyway” grocery list to the Bellevue Farmer’s Market instead, taking advantage of delicious, seasonal and locally-grown items.

Bike Across the Columbia River

The biking opportunities throughout the Columbia River Gorge range from super easy to incredibly challenging. All of the trails are free. To start, we recommend visiting the Portland to the Colombia River Gorge Bike Map to choose your family’s ideal route.

Visit the Washington Park ArboretumFAMILY FUN IN BELLEVUE

This hidden and underappreciated gem is part of the University of Washington’s Botanical Gardens. The Washington Park Arboretum is open year-round and the diversity of plant life means there’s something beautiful to discover in all seasons – with summer and early fall being the best of them all. Your family can walk and picnic in more than 230 acres of the arboretum’s living collection of plants from around the world.

Bring Fido to the Marymoor Off Leash Dog Park

Dogs are a great excuse to make exercise a regular part of your daily routine because they need exercise too. If you’re tired of the same walks around the blocks near your home, load the family and dog(s) into the car and head to Marymoor Off Leash Dog Park. The dog park is has been called the Disneyland of dog parks due to its 40-acre, off leash area. The site was formerly a family farm and there’s even a pond for dogs to swim in.

Head to a Museum

Almost every museum in Washington has a free day. Look them up online or give your museums of interest a call to find out when their free day is offered. From historical artifacts to incredibly art from around the world, free museum entrance fees makes it possible to learn more about your areas of interests. For example, the Seattle Art Museum offers free admission the first Friday of every month; the Seattle Asian Art Museum is free first Thursdays of every month, and families get free admission on first Saturdays; the Frye Art Museum is always free, and they offer complimentary tours at 1:00 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, and Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday at 11:30 a.m.; and of course, there’s our own Bellevue Arts Museum, where children under 6-years are always free and everyone is free on the first Fridays of the month.

Enjoy Live Music via One of Many Local Summer Concert Series

Finally, we make it a point to enjoy live music each week (if we can) via one of the area’s many free, live summer concert series. It’s a great way to expose children and yourselves to a wide variety of music, performed by (mostly) local musicians and few nationally famous ones. While food and drinks are available, we always pack our own picnics to cut down expenses and make sure it’s nutritious.

Feeling a little strapped for cash this year? Working to save for something special? Keep the above list handy and you’ll be able to enjoy rich, summer adventures and experiences without spending a single dollar. Do you have favorite free and fun things to do in our area? Share them with Overlake’s patients and followers in the comment box below.