Photo: Nicholas Boos
Photo: David Newman
Photo: David Newman
Photo: Diesel Demon

Pioneer Square

A neighborhood defined by its colorful past

Seattle’s original downtown is getting its groove back, with shops popping up left and right along the historic sidewalks. Once thriving as the early city’s port and lumber hub, things went down in flames—literally—in 1889, when a fire destroyed the original buildings. Today the neighborhood is a hallmark of Seattle’s past and present, with gorgeous neoclassical buildings and some of the hottest restaurants around town.


Recent revitalization in Pioneer Square means an abundance of eateries, with a new one opening practically every other week. Start at Good Bar, located in a 115-year-old stunner and home to killer takes on classic cocktails and perhaps the best sloppy joe in the city. In the same building is Pizzeria Gabbiano, a Roman-style pizzeria where the pie is made in giant slabs and topped with the likes of braised lamb and black trumpet mushrooms, before being cut to order with bronze scissors and sold by the kilo.


In between all the restaurants, little shops have popped up like daisies. For an incredible selection of shoes, clothing, and jewelry—much of it made or designed locally, drop by Clementine in Occidental Square. Nearby, Fleurt is full of perfect gifting items, along with a hardy selection of plants and flowers. Drygoods Design sells adorable fabrics and a selection of sweet cards. And in the ivy-covered Grand Central Building, E. Smith Mercantile doles out frontier-inspired goods, from artisan beer soap to cashmere ponchos.


A bevy of historic museums, tours, galleries, and hidden gems abound in Pioneer Square for a full day of adventure. Head underground to wander the neighborhood’s original streets with tour operators Beneath the Streets and Underground Tour, or visit Milepost 31 to get a look at what’s on the horizon for the area. Delve into the region’s artistic past and present with the stunning Native art at Stonington Gallery, then relax amid the urban oasis of Waterfall Garden Park, where a 22-foot-tall waterfall roars to life in the middle of the city.

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