The Pike Place Market district is a must see when visiting Seattle! There are many farmers markets in the area, but if you ask me, the Pike Place Market is king of them all! Within this historic district you’ll find the freshest of produce, bakers, butchers, farmers, specialty food stores, a crafts market filled with local artisans and over 200 individual shops as well as many restaurants ranging from takeout to fine dining. And if that’s not enough it’s also a place where the fish fly through the air, you can sit on a pig (bronze that is), and sticking your gum on the wall is a favorite pastime!
Located just a few blocks from the center of Downtown the Market overlooks the beautiful Elliott Bay and Waterfront neighborhood and in fact there is a passage connecting them called the Market Hill Climb. Pike Place was established in 1907 as a way to connect the famers and the people and it’s still doing so to this day. With Farm-to-Table being all the rage these past few years I guess they were way ahead of the game!
The Market isn’t just for tourists, locals frequent the market regularly in fact my own family shops there often. The sounds, smells, sights and friendly people make a shopping expedition to the Market a real pleasure, no matter where you shop, but of course we have our favorites…
Pike Place Fish Co.
We’ve been visiting the Pike Place Fish Co. for as long as I can remember and not just because they offer a wide variety of fresh sustainable fish and shellfish, but because shopping there is a true experience! What’s so special about a fish market? This particular one is famous for throwing its fish. Yep! You read that right. They literally throw the fish through the air! Once you’ve placed your order, heads up, because whatever you ordered will be thrown across the counter and possibly back and forth a few more times before it’s finally wrapped up. In the mean time as your item is flying through the air all the employees yell out it’s name in unison! Imagine all this happening multiple times simultaneously and you’ve got quite a show! Whether you’re shopping for seafood or not stop by anyway, it’s always a good time at the Pike Place Fish Co. Which reminds me…
You might be thinking that as a tourist you’ll only be able to look at all the Market has to offer, unable to bring all these amazing food items on a plane, but you’ll be happy to know that most places will pack to ship including the Pike Place Fish Co. Recently my sister came to visit me in the Bay Area and she brought an entire fresh salmon on the plane with her!
There are many produce vendors in the market, but our favorite is Sosio’s. Again the reason isn’t just because they offer beautiful fresh produce, but it’s also very much about the shopping experience. The people working at Sosio’s are as nice as can be, answering questions, offering samples and in general just welcoming everyone who comes by. All of the above is done with a sense of humor as you can see from the sign in my photo of the Brussels Sprouts.
Interspersed between the fish, produce, and other food vendors you’ll find fresh cut flowers galore! Stall after stall of fresh cut blooms in every shade of the rainbow. Not only are the flowers lovely to look at the prices are more than fair, with bunches in the $10 – $12 range, why not pick up a bunch to brighten up your hotel room?
Though I have many favorite spots to eat in the Market District it’s rare that I take the time for a true sit down meal, preferring instead to grab something to go while I’m walking around. Translation: I’ve got shopping to do! Mee Sum Pastry is not only one of my favorites, but it fits this bill perfectly! They offer many authentic Chinese snacks, but my favorites are the BBQ Pork Stick and the Crab Rangoon. Simon loves the Bao and mom usually gets the Almond Cookie.
Rachel the Pig(gy Bank)
Rachel the Pig is the Market’s mascot and is located just below the famous Market clock and sign. Although Rachel has become a popular photo op she is actually a true piggy bank and has raised over $200,000 since she arrived in 1986. The money deposited into Rachel is used by the Market Foundation to help support the Market’s social services program, which includes a food bank, a senior service center, a neighborhood health clinic, a preschool/daycare and more. Just behind her to the left is a stairwell which leads down to the portion of Post Alley where the Gum Wall lives.
The Market After Dark
Though the food and flower stalls close up in the early evening there is still plenty to do in the Market after dark. Remember all those restaurants I didn’t have time for in the daytime? They’re all open and so are many fun bars and clubs! Il Bistro is an old favorite and located just below and to the left of the Market Sign, Tim and I used to go there when we were dating, and if after seeing all that seafood at the Market you’re craving fish then the brand new Sushi Kashiba might be a nice choice. I just love wandering through the Market at night, the deserted feeling in a place normaly filled with the hustle and bustle of everyday life and there is something so beautiful about the glow of all that neon on the wet cobblestones on a rainy Seattle night.
Other Fun Market Activities
Beyond all that I’ve mentioned there are many other interesting sights, fun places to explore, and yummy things to eat while visiting the Market. Here are a few:
- Visit America’s oldest comic book store, Golden Age Collectables one of many fun shops in the arcade below the market.
- Get a cup of coffee at The Original Starbucks.
- Try chocolate pasta at Pappardelles Pasta.
- Wander through Delaurentis specialty food market and buy something exotic you’ve never tried before.
- Get fresh warm doughnuts at the Daily Dozen Donut Shop.
Take Me With You!