The Frugal Traveler: Seattle On A Shoestring

If scenes of the Space Needle and Seattle Aquarium have you dreaming of a getaway to this seaside destination, I'm happy to report you'll be able to vacation there affordably. Here's the inside scoop from two Seattle experts.

Food: Wise Bread writer and Seattle resident Andrea Karim knows where to go for good grub. Her top picks include the food stands of Pike Place Market and several restaurants in the International District. For example, the Tamarind Tree offers a lunch order of prawn satay for less than $5, and a shitake mushroom version for less than $4. Another favorite of Karim's is a restaurant called Sichuanese Cuisine, where the majority of entrees will cost you $8 max. Additionally, the Seattle Deli offers Vietnamese takeout for bargain prices. Grab two banhmi sandwiches for roughly $4, and add on two 50-cent egg rolls for a bargain lunch date price of five bucks.

Fun: Karim points to the city's more than 400 parks and open spaces as the top places to have frugal fun. Of note is the Warren G. Magnuson Park on the shores of Lake Washington. It offers one of the largest off-leash dog parks in the city, as well as a free outdoor climbing wall and bouldering pit. Golden Gardens Park on the other hand, has a beachfront location, barbecue pits and plenty of kite-flying space for families. Washington Park Arboretum is another city gem boasting a 230-acre botanical garden with hiking trails and a rhododendron forest.

Culture: Shelley Seale, author of the Insider's Guide to Seattle is a firm believer in celebrating Seattle's cultural scene. Budget options abound says Seale, including the lunchtime concerts held throughout the year at Seattle City Hall Plaza. On the first and third Thursdays of every month, free live music performances take place at noon. If free theater fits your definition of thrift, then Seale recommends the no-cost presentations offered by the Seattle Shakespeare Company every July and August at various parks throughout the city.

Transportation: In the majority of downtown Seattle, bus fare is completely free between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. You can hop on and off as many times as you like says Seale, and the transportation in the free-ride zone will still cost you nothing. According to the city's Metro Transit web site, the zone extends from Battery Street to South Jackson Street, and from Sixth Avenue to the waterfront.