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10+ Places to Play on a Cold or Rainy Day for $10 (Or Less)

Tons of fun doesn’t require tons of cash

Published on: February 21, 2024

Little girl reading a book at the library cheap things to do in Seattle
Your local library is a great place to hang on a cold or rainy day

While there are a plethora of kid-friendly activities across Seattle and the Eastside, finding exciting things to do for less than $10 can be challenging. If you’re like me and you have sticker shock trying to keep kids entertained without breaking the bank, this list is for you. We searched for engaging, entertaining and frugal options for families and came up with more than a few wins. So, duck out of the rain, take a break from the chilly weather and feel good about saving money without compromising on the fun factor.

(And pardon the math on some of these — fuel costs don’t count when you’re having fun.)

Play games at a local game store

Mox Boarding House is a gamer’s paradise. Get ready to put your best hand forward or roll dice to unlock fun. Mox has games for everyone! Purchase a game to play, put together a puzzle or explore their extensive board game library and play for free during your visit.

Mox has two locations in Ballard and Bellevue. Both locations host events and offer a huge selection of games for all ages, abilities and interests. If you like Pokémon, this is the place for you! Catch them all and join other enthusiasts to become a champion Pokémon trainer. Entry for the league is $5. Mox also has food and beverages for purchase.

Many local game stores such as Meeples Games in West Seattle, Uncle’s Games in Redmond and Blue Highway Games on Queen Anne have game libraries to take advantage of. Blue Highway even has two free drop-in game sessions designed for families: Family Game Day on the second Sunday of every month and Preschool Game Hour, also on second Sundays, from 10:30–11:30 a.m.

"Mox boarding house cheap things to do in Seattle"
The game selection at Mox will keep them busy for hours. Photo credit: Kathryn Mueller

Head to Cartoon Happy Hour

Sit back and relax — and get ready to laugh. Head over to Central Cinema for two hours of cartoon fun every Thursday from 5–7 p.m. Admission is free, and it’s guaranteed to be an entertaining evening for the whole family. Snacks and drinks are also available for purchase. Please note Cartoon Happy Hour is currently scheduled through May 30, 2024.

Spring into fun

Bounce, hop, flip and climb to your heart’s content. Seattle Gymnastics Academy offers an indoor playground for kids ages 2–5 at locations across Seattle, including Lake City, Ballard, Burien and Columbia City. Caregivers can pre-register online or drop in to play. Cost per child is $10 for non-members and $5 for members. Or get a frequent play punch card and spend even less.

"Little girl jumping in a gymnastics room cheap things to do in Seattle"
Get those wiggles out in a safe, soft play space. 

Go roller skating

For just $6 a person you can go roller skating as a family at the Bitter Lake Community Center on Friday nights. The cost includes roller skate rental. It’s two hours of fun on wheels. Families can also head to the Marysville Skate Center for open skate and family skate sessions. They run between $6 and $7 per person, including quad skate rentals (in-line skates will cost you $3 more per person).

Tee up a good time

Fore for fun! Bring your little golfer to the range and hit some balls. There are some wonderful, heated ranges throughout the area, and a small bucket of balls is under $10. Granted, you’ll have to pack your clubs, but after an initial investment in gear, practice is relatively inexpensive. My kids love coming to the range with me, and I think of it as an investment in future rounds together as a family. Places such as Interbay Golf Center also have a putting and chipping area, so you can work on your short game for free. There are also a few mini golf courses in the area where families can play for under $10 a person.

When you’re ready to hit the course, greens fees for youth are $10.

"Hitting golf balls at Interbay cheaop thing to do in Seattle "
The covered driving range at Interbay Golf Center is tons of fun, rain or shine. Photo credit: Kari Hanson

Play for free — always

From Ballard to Rainier Beach and beyond, Seattle community centers offer toddler gyms and play rooms for little ones. And best of all — they are free! These drop-in play times are great for families of tiny tots, especially if you’re looking for things to do on rainy or cold days. Toddler gyms and play rooms are offered at community centers all around Seattle during the fall, winter and spring, with dates and time varying based on location. It’s the perfect place to meet up with friends or a great excuse to go and explore a new-to-you neighborhood after you’re done playing.

“Moo, baa, la la la” at a farm

There are a few urban farms in the area where kids can pass the time with local farm animals. Start at Kelsey Creek Community Park where horsing around is encouraged. Saddle up and get ready for family-friendly farm fun. Located minutes from downtown Bellevue, Kelsey Creek Community Park feels far removed from the bustling city. The 150-acre park is home to hiking trails, a farm-themed playground and a quiet, historic farm full of animals, available for viewing from 9 a.m.–3 p.m. daily. Admission and parking are free.

Families can also spend an afternoon of animal fun at Farrel-McWhirter Farm Park in Redmond. Open daily from 9 a.m.–4 p.m., it’s another free spot where kids and parents can see animals on display. The covered picnic shelter means you can bring lunch and stay out of the elements too. Finally, families can schedule a visit to the Sammamish Animal Sanctuary in Renton. Although the farm is free to visit, donations are greatly appreciated.

"Kelsey creek farm cheap things to do in Seattle"
Watching the animals at Kelsey Creek Farm. Photo credit: Kathryn Mueller

Take in a show (no, really)

It’s not often that families can enjoy a show together without spending an arm and leg (and don’t even get me started on paying for parking). That’s where the newly resurrected Evan’s Family Variety Show comes in. This popular show is back; it ran from January 2013 until early 2020 when it (like everything else) was shut down for the pandemic. The show’s concept is a simple one: Creator Evan Reynolds wanted to bring the impressive performances he enjoyed in 21-and-over venues to a family-friendly space so kids could enjoy them too. Now families can marvel at magicians, jugglers, dancers, hula hoop artists, circus performers and more during the 90-minute show that features something different every time. Pay-as-you-can admission ensures accessibility for all families.

Shows run on the last Sunday of the month at University Heights. Upcoming shows are scheduled for March 31 and April 28 at 1:30 p.m.

Visit a garden store full of unexpected joy

Swansons Nursery is so much more than a garden store, it’s an attraction for all ages. Our family loves checking out their wide array of plants, planters and garden trinkets, but more than their huge selection of garden delights, are the wonders sprinkled throughout the nursery. Visit the koi fish, play in the purple playhouse and enjoy gelato or a cup of joe to go from the café.

Swansons offers a Kids’ Club where little gardeners can get involved in activities to help creativity bloom. Drop in between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 24, 2024, to plant a flower in a colorful boot. The activity fee is $10.

"Swansons nursery cheap things to do in Seattle"
The koi pond at Swansons Nursery. Photo credit: Kathryn Mueller

Build something at Home Depot

Home Depot offers free workshops for kids the first Saturday of the month between 9 a.m. and noon. Register online for workshops such as building a butterfly house or miniature planter. It’s a fun and free way to get kids building. All you need is a store near you.

Hop aboard a ferry

Come sail away on an economically-sound adventure aboard Washington State Ferries. Children 18 and younger travel free as passengers, so walk on and take a trip across the Puget Sound. Our family loves taking the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston. It’s a quick jaunt across the waterway with gorgeous, sweeping views. Once you arrive, take a stroll through Kingston’s quaint downtown, or head to the beach and enjoy the sand between your toes and be engulfed by the refreshing salt air.

Another “trip” to consider? Take the ferry from Seattle to Bremerton. It’s an hour passing and people leave puzzles out for passengers to enjoy. Once you disembark, explore the Puget Sound Navy Museum where admission is always free — it’s within walking distance of the ferry.

"Ferry in front of the Seattle skyline cheap things to do in Seattle"
See you later Seattle! Head out on an inexpensive adventure on a ferry. 

Reserve free museum passes

Did you know you can score free museum passes with your library card? You read that correctly – free! All families can reserve museum passes to select museums and attractions across the Puget Sound through all of our local library systems including King County Libraries, Seattle Public Libraries and Piece County Library System. And the places you can visit include many of our favorite spots such as The Museum of Flight, Seattle Aquarium, Woodland Park Zoo, Museum of Glass, KidsQuest Children’s Museum and more. You can even secure a park pass to check out Washington state parks.

Note: New passes through King County Library System are released at 2 p.m. Families can request a pass within a two-week time frame.

Explore a magical garden

Rain or shine, Bellevue Botanical Garden is a magical place to wander with your kids. Explore the meandering trails that weave through the 53-acre gardens and wetlands, take in the horticultural sights and don’t miss out on the Ravine Experience (our favorite feature). A 150-foot suspension bridge spans across the ravine, and it will leave your little adventurers in awe. The garden is open from dusk till dawn daily. Admission is free.

"Bellevue Botanical garden cheap things to do in Seattle"
Bellevue Botanical Garden. Photo credit: Kathryn Mueller

Hit up your local library

Libraries always make our lists because they offer kids and families an interactive experience completely free of charge. Let your kids peruse the children’s book section, play computer games or be enthralled by story time. There are lots of other kid-friendly activities and events offered at libraries throughout the region — if you ask me, King County libraries have some of the best around.

We love preschool story time at Richmond Beach Library, from 11–11:30 a.m. on Thursdays. After my kids grab a few books, we head to Richmond Beach Coffee Shop for hot chocolate with a big dallop of whipped cream and colorful sprinkles.

More budget friendly fun 

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