Look No Further Than Seattle Neighborhoods For Penny Pinching Summer Fun This Year!

Some people don’t know this, but….

Gorgeous globe light at Hiram M. Chittenden locks in Ballard

Gorgeous globe light at Hiram M. Chittenden locks in Ballard

I was a single mother for years until I met and fell in love with my next door neighbor in the Sunset Hill neighborhood of Ballard. Single parents develop a real knack for making every dollar stretch, and I am thankful that things have been easier (most of the time) with a husband! As we all look for ways to save money and make sure that our families are provided for, I find myself revisiting some of those older ideas.

Seattle is really a phenomenal place to live for great free entertainment, but out of town visitors will love these, too! Make sure and check out the Seattle Parks Foundation website if you have a minute, too. They have wonderful resources for all the latest and greatest in parks! This is only the first ten of these because I really don’t want to hog the whole page. Happy Seattle summer 2009!

1. Go visit the Hiram M. Chittenden locks (aka Ballard Locks) in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. OK, I will be honest. I am starting with my one of my very favorite places.dsc_0299 This was built in 1911 and serves as a passageway between the Puget Sound and the Ship Canal so that boats can travel to and from Lake Washington and Lake Union despite the huge difference in water levels. Visitors can watch as the water is raised and lowered to let boats come in and out on either side. But that is not all! The grounds are beautiful and feature extensive mature gardens and plantings. There is also a cool fish ladder on site as well as a museum/learning center. Even after any trips here, we always have fun going again!  Need more free here? In 2009 from June 6th to September 7th (Labor Day) there will over 30 FREE and open to the public concerts at the Ballard Locks!

Just one section of this amazing place! 

2. Museum of Flight This is one of the Seattle museums that offers first Thursdays free (after 5PM only) and is a great place to see some of the world’s amazing historic planes including one of the Air Force One planes that Kennedy flew in! This is another of my favorite places in Seattle. This museum is located in one of the early Boeing facilities and the history is just rich. There is something for everyone here and it is kid friendly. I would suggest visiting item #6 (Hat n Boots) after wards because of the close proximity. There is a good restaurant on site at the museum, but a picnic at the park is much more fun!

Beautiful entry at the Conservatory in Volunteer Park3. Conservatory at Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill is so much fun! The park itself is also amazing and has great paths and spaces, but I am in awe of the Conservatory building itself – 6200 square feet of plantings and displays by people that obviously know what they are doing. There are 3426 glass panes on the building. It was assembled in 1912 and has two plants in it that are over 75 years old – one of which is a giant Jade Tree. This is not your ordinary Jade plant! The Conservatory is completely FREE, though I do encourage you to throw a few dollars in their donation bin.

4.Carkeek ParkOver six miles of trails and an Education Center, large open spaces for playing, picnic facilities, a stage, wonderful dsc_0450playgrounds including a fish slide where children can slide through a salmon, plus the beach!!!! Carkeek Park overlooks the Puget Sound and is one of my favorite parks in Seattle! Carkeek Park is just North of the Blue Ridge neighborhood in Seattle and well worth the trip from anywhere in the Puget Sound.

5.Pike Place Market – You do not need a dime to go have fun here, but support these locals if you can. I love it here and could spend all day watching the hustle and bustle!

6. Hat 'N' Boots in GerogetownThe Hat N Boots in Georgetown – I love these!  How cool is it to visit some old giant boots that used to be his and hers restrooms at a gas station. According to one source when the hat and boots gas station was up and running in its previous location even Elvis stopped in once ( I am sure there are lots of Elvis sighting stories – true and untrue, but I love the idea that Elvis may have peed in that boy boot!).  The good people of Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood played a huge part in getting the Hat n Boots moved to their current location at Oxbow Park (6400 S Corson Ave.). The boots are newly refurbished, but the hat is looking sad while waiting for funds. There is a great neighborhood p-patch there with some of the most amazing plantings I have had the privilege of seeing and the playground keeps my kids entertained for quite some time, but don’t expect to be able to use the boots as a restroom today – they are for display only.

7. Green Lake – Go explore Green Lake Park – This park has it all – a 3+ mile path around the lake itselfdsc_0036 which is perfect for biking, hiking, running, skating, and more, play space, ball fields, pool, tennis courts, and my favorite: the wading pool on the North side of the lake which is filled when it is warm. There are docks for kayak launching or you can fish off the side of the banks of the lake. There is golf here and basketball, plus bathrooms. Swimming is allowed and there is a life guarded swimming beach. Green Lake is a great neighborhood to live in anyway, but really gets busy when the nice weather hits. Green Lake is a great place to take the dog for a walk, too.

8. Fremont Troll. This is a giant troll made of concrete holding an actual VW in its hand! It is located in Fremont under the Aurora Bridge and WORTH THE STOP! The Fremont Troll is also a great photo opportunity! While you are in Fremont, take a stroll along the ship canal waterfront and visit all the great little vintage shops. There is almost always something fun going on in Fremont.

9. Alki Beach Park While I was a single mother, the tradition was to go every Sunday morning and find beach glass at Alki Beach in West Seattle and then drive up into the hills and look at the dreamy houses. Alki has some of the best views of the Downtown area of Seattle anyway and the beach glass is abundant! There is also a rough boat launch for hand carried kayaks, etc. and restrooms. Alki Beach is a 2.5 mile strip of beach and one of the closest to a California Beach atmosphere I can think of right here in Seattle complete with rollerblading and jogging patrons.

10. Take a bike ride on the Burke Gilman TrailGo basically from Ballard all the way up to Kenmore2008-1661 along some of the prettiest trails and areas in Seattle. The Burke Gilman is virtually uninterrupted for the most part from Fremont to Kenmore and skirts the Western side of Lake Washington plus there are restrooms along the way.

Okay, well that is it for now with my penny pinching ideas for fun around Seattle! Even if you aren’t in the market for saving money, go and explore your city! Seattle is a great place to live and play.

Green Lake = Cheap Date

[photopress:date.jpg,thumb,alignright]A young couple on a “cheap date” wandered into my Open House yesterday. I can certainly empathize with guys who need to find a way to entertain women on a date, without spending a lot of money. But when the cheap date escalates to cheap ways to look like a bigger man by trying to cut someone else down to size, I have to draw the line.

Any woman who has ever been on a “first date”, knows when a guy is sending back the wine just to look important. I liked the time the waiter said, “You are quite right sir, that is a bad wine. Maybe if you tried one that costs more than $5.99 a bottle, you would find one more to your liking.” Some guys aren’t satisfied with the cheap date scenario, unless they can find a way to go on a cheap date, and look like a big important guy, all at the same time. So what does sending back the wine, and an Open House “date”, have to do with one another?

It starts out innocently enough. The guy follows one of the suggestions for a cheap date noted in the links above, and ends up “walking around Green Lake”. It’s a great first date scenario. It’s free. You can test out if the girl has the stamina to make it around the 2.8 miles a few times, without huffing and puffing or whining that her feet hurt. But after three times around the lake, it gets a little boring. He’s out of ideas on what to talk about. He’s decided he likes this girl, and wants to impress her, but how do you impress a girl when you have no money to stop for dinner at Duke’s?

More than once, both he and she have small talked about how much they like Green Lake, to fill the dead spaces in conversation. So he gets this brilliant idea to pretend he can afford to buy a house nearby. What better way to “pretend” to spend a lot of money, without having to spend a dime? He passes that OPEN SUNDAY sandwich board on the third time around and says, “Do you mind checking out this house with me? I’ve been thinking about buying a house here. Oh, she’s impressed! Mr. couldn’t buy her a snack at World Wraps, is all of a sudden thinking about buying a house, within walking distance to Green Lake. She doesn’t believe a word of it, but she’s bored by this time too, and says sure, let’s go to ALL of the Open Houses.

The big sign out front says, “Open 1-4” and it is only 12:15. They see the door open, as I’m busily doing some last minute sprucing up. Opening the windows and doors to air out the vacant house, making sure there are no dead spiders on the carpet, etc… He pops his head in and says, “I know we are early, but do you mind if we take a peek around?” I can pretty much tell this is a cheap date scenario, and have no trouble playing along, until the guy starts his I’m smarter than you routine, to impress the girl.

I go through the house to turn all of the lights on, and check out the areas I haven’t been to yet. I’m listening to their conversation, and can tell they are not really people looking to buy a house, and in fact hardly know each other. But like I said, that’s fine with me, I have lots to do before one o’clock. They have no “real” questions about square footage of lot or house. No questions about how old the roof or hot water tank are. None of the obvious, we are checking out this house to maybe buy it questions. Everything’s going fine and I’m even playing along with him by answering a few of his questions. I tell him he’s right about a few things, to help him impress the girl. Until he starts hitting me with off the wall questions, one after the other in a non ending stream, to make sure he can impress his girlfriend without being “found out”.

Where does this wire go? I tried to head him off at the pass and show him the brand new electrical box showing that all of the wiring had been up dated, yada yada yada. But he was on a roll of obscure nonsensical questions. “Is this a hot water pipe or a cold water pipe?” Where does this vent go? Why does this pipe turn left instead of right? What year did they install this door? It looks newer. Since the house was built in 1905, and everything was changed at some time or another, I’m quickly figuring out this this could go on all day.

In between his onslaught of off the wall questions, he is turning to the girl and saying, “Now this pipe is a really good pipe, see you can tell by this blah, blah. She’s impressed. She’s so impressed her eyes are glazing over, and she wants to get out of that basement so badly, she’s almost ready to cough up the thirty bucks to go to Duke’s. When the questions just would not stop and I had to get back to the business at hand, I tried to gracefully break away, but no, he had to play the “send back the wine” game with me.

I almost feel badly about spinning him around three times, and making him look like the fool that he was, by the end of “the show”. But some guys just don’t know when to quit while they’re ahead 🙂