Essential Tips > The Complete Guide to Pike Place Market

The Complete Guide to Pike Place Market

It’s open year-round, it’s one of Seattle’s most iconic attractions and it’s filled with tasty treats. What’s not to love about Pike Place Market? Aisles of gleaming fruits and vegetables, tables overflowing with fresh floral bouquets, and booth after booth selling all manner of locally made jewelry, clothing and gifts.
 
Pike Place’s nine acres have been a staple in Seattle for more than a century. It’s been called “the soul of Seattle,” and for good reason. When it opened on Aug. 17, 1907, eight farmers sold their wares to more than 10,000 people who came out on a crazy first day. It hasn’t slowed since. The market is now home to more than 200 businesses, 190 crafts people and about 100 farmers. Now more than 10 million visitors come to it annually.
 
It’s easy to love the market for its fabulous selection of gourmet ingredients and staples, but it’s also a great place to enjoy many fantastic eateries serving prepared dishes. It’s the kind of place that caters to any hunger pang. And yes, they do throw fish here. So you can see that, too.
 
Key Attractions:
The original Starbucks is located right on the cobblestone Pike Place. Sure, there are endless Starbucks in the city, but this is the first and just feels different. Java addicts crowd it daily.
 
If you want quintessential Pike Place, check out the guys at Pike Place Fish. Throughout the day, they lob massive fish over the counter to the joy of spectators. The fish is pretty darn tasty too, and like all the fishmongers in the market, Pike Place Fish will wrap purchases in airplane-safe containers.
 
Just to the northeast of the main arcade are rows of artisan vendors selling everything imaginable, from knickknacks to gorgeous works of local art. Downstairs are dozens of small shops selling every type of antique and souvenir imaginable, too.
 
The market gets its reputation from fresh food and produce, but the flower selection is one of the finest anywhere. With vibrant tulips and colorful orchids — all for ridiculously low prices — it’s worth getting a bouquet for the hotel room.
 
When the market has taken its toll and swiped the energy of shoppers or put a foodie into a culinary coma, Victor Steinbrueck Park is there, offering comfortable grassy patches overlooking the market and Elliott Bay.
 
Post Alley is a unique enclave of shops, restaurants and a wall plastered in gum. The gum wall, as it’s called, has more bubble gum than a collective of the underside of desks from a few dozen elementary schools. Also stop by The Tasting Room, a cooperative of seven state wineries.
 
Rachel the Pig, a bronzed piggy bank that weighs more than 550 pounds, is the unofficial mascot of the market. Located just underneath the “Public Market Center” sign, this piggy bank serves as a perfect picture spot and a place to let loose with some change. Rachel helps collect more than $6,000 annual to help the Market Foundation, a nonprofit that funds market social services.
 
Take a Tour:
Blend history and shopping tips with quirky anecdotes on a Public Market Tour. Ten percent of all proceeds benefit the Market Foundation, which supports Pike Place Senior Center, Pike Market Food Bank, Pike Market Childcare & Preschool and the Pike Market Medical Clinic. Tours begin on the corner of Virginia St. and Western Avenue.
 
Commercial operations such as Savor Seattle Food Tours, Seattle Food Tours and Seattle Bites Food Tours aim to turn visitors into market insiders through a behind-the-scenes experience that focuses on the sights, sounds and flavors of the historic culinary landmark. By the end of a two-hour-plus tour, attendees will have typically sampled clam chowder, smoked salmon, cheese, crab cakes, doughnuts and much more. 
 
Entertainment and Dining:
Pike Place Market is a draw for buskers of all kinds, be it a harmonious rhythm and blues quartet or a guy who trains cats like he’s a whisperer or some sort. Bring plenty of change and singles to fill the buckets, hats and other assorted tip jars.
 
There are more than 60 places to eat in the market, including several sit-down restaurants in the lower parts of the market, some with expansive views of the Waterfront.
 
Getting There:
Driving: Pike Place (the cobblestone street running north and south through the market) is indeed a thoroughfare open to vehicle traffic, as well as pedestrians, making it a tricky business to navigate via car.  Because of this, consider using the Public Market Parking Garage, 1531 Western Ave., located behind the west side of Pike Place Market.
 
Public Transportation: Take Metro or Sound Transit Link Light Rail to the market. Many Metro bus routes will drop you off near the market, and the Westlake Sound Transit Link Light Rail station is located four blocks away. Call Metro Rider Information for more at (206)553-3000 or visit metro.kingcounty.gov
 
Lodging:
The Inn at the Market is a boutique hotel with tasteful rooms and a roof deck that is the perfect place to start the day with a cup of coffee or end it with a glass of wine.
 
Pension Nichols is a bed and breakfast located right in the heart of the market. A European inn, it has remarkable views of both the mountains and the ocean.
 
Hours and Information:
Between Virginia and Pike streets, and 1st Avenue and Pike Place
Open daily from 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
 
Visit the Market Information Center
1st Avenue and Pike Place
Open daily from 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

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