Back to Outdoors

Top 10 outings under $50

Explore these local gems on a budget

Scenic Titlow Beach in Tacoma is a local favorite for tide pooling. Photo credit: Missy Bouchat

Recommend Article
Total Recommendations (0)
Clip Article Email Article Print Article Share Article

Nothing is more disheartening than arriving at a new duty station, seeing all the new things to do and explore, and realizing it will be months before you can afford to go anywhere because you're broke from the move. There certainly are plenty of worthwhile activities in the area that are costly (ahem, giant Ferris Wheel in Seattle), but there is even more to do that won't cost you an arm and a leg. Aside from the obvious, hiking and exploring national parks, here are the top 10 best outings for a family of four, that ring up under $50.

1. Seattle -- You actually can have an amazing day exploring the city without breaking the bank, but plan to use the $50 towards gas and parking. The key is packing a picnic and settling in on the grass at Seattle City Center. The kids will love playing in the International Fountain, and the Space Needle is only a short walk away. Other must-see attractions that are free or low-cost in the city include the Olympic Sculpture Park, the Fremont Troll, Oxbow Park in Georgetown and the Giant Shoe Museum and Gum Wall at Pike's Place Market.

2. The Funko Pop Museum in Everett -- If you love pop culture, then you will love this museum. Your family will be thrilled to look through the vast assortment of Funko Pop vinyl bobble heads as well as the larger-than-life displays for Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Marvel Comics. Let each family member create their own unique Funko Pop bobble head for only $10 a piece.

Snag a photo with this life-size Chewbacca and many other characters at the Funko Pop Museum. Photo credit: Missy Bouchat

3. Have some fun with MWR -- You can take classes, trips, and rent equipment through Outdoor Recreation. It can become spendy if you are planning something for the whole family, but for under $50 you can rent a small boat, kayak, or canoe, and even some fishing poles to enjoy out on American Lake.

4. Titlow Park -- Located at the base of Sixth Avenue in Tacoma, this Puget Sound park has a great big grassy area with sheltered picnic tables and a large playground. If you go during low tide you can see the clams spitting and the crabs scurrying about along the beach. Sitting perched above the beach is Steamers Seafood Café, and for $50, you can treat the family to their award-winning clam chowder, then ice cream for dessert.

5. Olympia Farmers Market -- For 45 years, this market has been supporting local businesses and agriculture, hosted year-round with their busiest times between April and September. They are currently open Thursdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Browse over 100 vendors selling local produce, handmade items and artisan food, and enjoy local music daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Spend your $50 on veggies, homemade soap, or artisanal chocolates.

6. Point Defiance Park and Gardens -- Located right next to the zoo is one of the most magical gardens you will find. Be sure to bring your camera. Within the park you can explore a Japanese garden with cherry trees, an oriental foot bridge and tea house, plus multiple gardens full of Dahlias, herbs, fuchsias, iris, rhododendron and more. Be sure to Instagram your visit to the arbors of climbing roses and a wishing well. For less than $50, your family can visit Fort Nisqually inside the park, a living history museum demonstrating what life was like in the region during the 1850s.

7. Tenino Quarry Park -- During the height of summer you'll want to cool off at what was once a working sandstone quarry during the late 1800s. The quarry is divided into shallow wading areas for the younger kids, and a deeper pool complete with two diving boards and a waterfall for more experienced swimmers. This season begins July 4 and you can expect lifeguards on duty at all times. Admission is $5 per person if you live outside Tenino School District, or $200 for a family season pass.

8. Capitol Tours -- Every day, free walking tours are offered at the Legislative Building at the Washington State Capitol Campus in Olympia. Tours last roughly 50 minutes and begin on the hour between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays, and 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekends. When the tour is over, you can explore the beautiful grounds of the Capitol, and venture out to the historical neighborhoods of Olympia. Splurge on some oysters at Chelsea Farms for lunch like a true Pacific Northwesterner.

9. Hop on a Ferry -- There are actually quite a few options for ferry rides, after all, this is how many people commute. The closest to JBLM is the ferry from Steilacoom to Anderson Island. This island is small compared to some, but there is plenty to explore including three fresh water lakes, nature trails, parks and beaches. The ferry departs about every hour, is about a 20-minute ride, and costs $23.85 per car (plus driver), $5.45 for adults, $3.25 for youth ages 6-18, and free for kids 6 and younger.

10. Third Thursday Artwalk in Tacoma -- Did you know that every third Thursday you can access Tacoma's beloved museums for free? Participating museums include the Tacoma Art Museum, Museum of Glass, Washington State History Museum, and Foss Waterway Seaport Museum. The Bridge of Glass is always free to access and features displays by the world-famous glass artist, Dale Chihuly. If you time it right you can enjoy happy hour at Pacific Grill before or after your museum visit.

There are so many ways to get out and explore without having to spend a lot of money, even for a family. Some tips to keep costs low are to always have snacks and drinks packed, research an area to see what types of free events are coming up, check out local military deals, and go during non-peak hours. By being cost-conscious, you can balance the expensive outings with ones that are budget-friendly, which will make for an adventurous summer that everyone will always remember.

Read next close


Tacoma Wayzgoose

comments powered by Disqus

Site Search