Come explore Seattle’s Heart & Soul

With more than a century of history, Pike Place Market is the oldest continuously operating farmers market in the country and one of Seattle’s most popular draws. The market lures visitors and locals alike (we’re talking 10 million people per year) with its farm-fresh produce, butcher-paper clad bouquets, abundance of shops, restaurants, and bars—not to mention some of the best people-watching in the city. From wader-clad fishmongers slinging salmon to street buskers playing for passersby, there’s always something going on here.

Quick History

Spearheaded by eight local farmers looking to cut out the middleman, Pike Place Market began selling produce to the public in August 1907. Within three months, the market had grown to 76 stalls, and by 1922, had expanded to 11 buildings along nine acres near the Seattle waterfront.

The market was nearly demolished in the 1960s, never having fully recovered from the effects of World War II (Executive Order 9066 during the war forced two-thirds of the market’s vendors, all of Japanese descent, into internment camps). Thankfully, architect and activist Victor Steinbrueck (co-designer of the Space Needle) and his group, Friends of the Market, successfully campaigned to establish a seven-acre historic district around the area, saving the market from being replaced by offices and a giant parking garage.

Today, the multilevel space is home to more than 500 shops, vendors, restaurants, and bars. In 2017, the MarketFront expansion just south of Victor Steinbrueck Park brought additional open-air space for vendors and new restaurants, as well as a renovated public plaza with views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Building on the market’s philanthropic roots, the expansion also included a neighborhood center and low-income housing (on that note, drop your spare change in market mascot Rachel the Piggy Bank—all donations are funneled through the Pike Place Market Foundation to benefit the market’s social services).

Photo Ops

Pike Place Fish Market Courtesy of Chris Bachmann

While there are a few must-snap spots, Pike Place Market is pretty photogenic, wherever you happen to be pointing the camera.

One of the most notable is the aforementioned Rachel the Piggy Bank. Find her under the red Public Market Center sign at the entrance on First and Pike (she’s seldom seen without a few giggling riders or groups posed alongside her 550-pound bronze frame). Rachel’s lesser-known but equally sizeable cousin, Billie the Pig, is also available for photos at the MarketFront.

The towering sign itself is a local landmark. Dating back to 1927, it is one of the oldest outdoor neon signs on the West Coast. For a less crowded shot, try posing a block east on Pike Street, complete with a stunning background of Puget Sound and maybe even a ferry sailing in from Bainbridge Island.

Just behind Rachel, follow the sound of good-natured shouts from Pike Place Fish Market and take a few live-action shots of fresh catch being tossed across the stand. North on Pike Place is the first Starbucks—well, almost the first, the store opened a block north in 1971, but moved to the Pike Place location in 1975. Snap a picture of the original mermaid logo and pick up Starbucks swag only found at the Pike Place location.

Market Eats (and Sips)

Beecher’s Cheese Courtesy of Beecher’s Cheese

Food-focused travelers will want to wander produce stalls and taste the fruit slices on offer, from crisp Washington apples to peaches, depending on the season. If you’re looking to eat alfresco, pair the fresh fruit with specialty cheeses and charcuterie from DeLaurenti for a picnic lunch. Stop between tastes at Ellenos, a homegrown Greek yogurt stand with a cult following, or Seattle staple Beecher’s Handmade Cheese for a bowl of its signature mac and cheese. Don’t be deterred by the line outside Piroshky Piroshky—the Russian pastries (beef and cheese is a crowd favorite) are worth the wait. Michou Deli and Le Panier a few doors down are both good spots to grab a pre-piroshky bite.

Once done, wash it down with one of the 16 beers on tap at Old Stove Brewing Co. in the MarketFront expansion, or try one of the most beloved Moscow mules in town at Rachel’s Ginger Beer in Post Alley (there are also plenty of ginger beer drinks sans booze).

For sit-down dining, Lowell’s is a classic market experience with prime waterfront views and plenty of local seafood on the menu. Make a night of it with a reservation at Matt’s in the Market (revered for its elevated fare and eye-to-eye view of the glowing market sign) or The Pink Door, where you’ll find Italian dishes and cirque-cabaret performances Sunday and Monday nights (look for the nondescript salmon pink entrance in Post Alley).

Just Desserts

There’s no shortage of ways to satisfy a sweet tooth at Pike Place Market. Stop at Daily Dozen Doughnuts at the south end of the market for its hallmark paper lunch bag of mini fried doughnuts covered in your pick of powdered sugar, cinnamon, or sprinkles. Shug’s Soda Fountain & Ice Cream on First Avenue is chock-full of charm, with its vintage soda fountain and scoops from local ice cream purveyor Lopez Island Creamery. And for chocolate lovers, look no further than indi chocolate—the bean-to-bar producer’s new home in the MarketFront includes a cafe, a retail area for its cocoa-based products, and windows offering a behind-the-scenes look at chocolates in the making.

Shopping

Metsker Maps Courtesy of Metsker Maps

Exploring the shops at the market can take a full day on its own. Pike Place is home to more than 200 artisan craftspeople selling everything from homemade soap to hand-thrown ceramics, all happy to chat about their work. The market is also known for its seemingly endless rows of flower stands, where arrangements can run for as little as $10 (it’s one of the best deals in town).

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After browsing on the street level, follow the illuminated sign pointing down to the lower arcade levels to find an array of offbeat shops housing magic tricks, vintage posters and magazines, and retro pop culture paraphernalia, from lightsabers to rare comics at Golden Age Collectables.

The original Sur La Table at the heart of the market on Pike and Pine is a must-visit for culinary aficionados, while Made in Washington offers Pacific Northwest–centric souvenirs (think smoked salmon, glass art, or a Sasquatch kitchen towel). Just around the corner, Metsker Maps of Seattle is in the business of all things travel and geography—look here for an area map or a book on local topography. Nearby, find whimsical prints and t-shirts at Robot vs Sloth and a knitter’s haven So Much Yarn—a one-stop shop for yarn and knitting supplies.

Along Western Avenue, pop into boutiques Ugly Baby and The Paper Feather for quirky gifts and handmade paper products, respectively.

After Hours

While the farmer stalls close up during the evening, there’s still plenty to do after the sun goes down if you know where to look. Sibling bar to restaurant Matt’s in the Market, Radiator Whiskey serves its impressive store of whiskey, bourbon, scotch, and rye from barrel taps, along with signature cocktails (have you ever tried a bourbon margarita?). For a late-night beer, Pike Brewing Company is open until midnight with a rotating tap list—visit earlier in the day for a guided tour and tasting.

Tucked behind a staircase on the Pike Place Hill Climb, Zig Zag Cafe is a local stalwart known for its mood lighting and expertly crafted drinks. Steps away, shoebox-size JarrBar is a Mediterranean-inspired watering hole serving craft cocktails and small plates until 2am.

Secret Garden

Even locals are sometimes surprised to stumble upon the Pike Place Urban Garden in its under-the-radar location on the rooftop of the LaSalle Building. Produce grown here is donated to the Pike Market Senior Center and Food Bank. Snag a spot on a bench between winding tomato plants and raised garden beds to take in views of the water and the towering Seattle Great Wheel.

Top Tours

Savor Seattle Courtesy of Jackie Donnelly Ink Spice Photography

For the uninitiated, a tour can be the perfect intro to all things Pike Place Market. Seattle Free Walking Tours gives a broad overview of the market, blending anecdotes and plenty of stops to taste samples. The Friends of the Market tour takes you to lesser-known spots, with an emphasis on the market’s history, while the nighttime Market Ghost Tour leads visitors through the empty market while telling ghost stories and true tales of the market’s sometimes-spooky past.

To taste your way through Pike Place, take your pick between a host of food-centric tours, offered by outlets like Savor Seattle and Eat Seattle, taking foodies through the culinary highlights of the market. Or try a private tour with Diane’s Market Kitchen, followed by a cooking class using market-fresh ingredients.

Everything to Know When Visiting Pike Place Market

pike place market restaurants

After living in Seattle for over a year, I now consider myself a Seattle local. I love all the activities that Seattle has to offer (even in the rain) and can direct you to just about any restaurant in the city depending on what you’re craving. I say all of this to tell you that the most tourist activity in Seattle is visiting Pike Place Market. Locals roll their eyes and avoid the market at all costs. Instead of venturing to smaller, less crowded markets scattered throughout Seattle. But not me. I adore Pikes Market. If I lived closer, I’d visit every day. I love watching the fish being thrown from one man to the next. I love walking through and trying samples of the food. I love that every time I visit Pike Place I notice something different and unique that I’ve never noticed before. And don’t get me started on the food. The Pike Place Market restaurants are every bit delicious as any other restaurant in Seattle.

I am continuously in awe at the diversity and vastness of the market, yet frustrated at the same time. Pike Place has so much to offer but can be overwhelming if you go in unprepared. Its taken me multiple visits to feel comfortable walking through the market and I’m sharing with you everything that I’ve learned along the way.

Having been open since 1907, Pike Place Market is the oldest consistently run farmers market in the USA. This consequently translates to Pike Place being a major tourist attraction that hoards of people come to visit every day. So, after many times visiting, I have finally come up with a comprehensive list of “don’t miss” and “must miss” stops in Pike Place. Sit back, relax, and get ready to hit these must-see spots and eat at the best restaurants in Pike Place Market!

5 Practical Tips For Visiting Pike Place Market

1. Pike Place Market is open seven days/week from 9 am-6 pm. If you want pictures in and around the market, I highly recommend going early before the crowds arrive. Once the crowds pour in its difficult to move around, always feeling like you’re being shoved one way or another.

2. Pike Place Market does take credit cards, so don’t worry if you don’t have cash on hand.

3. If you take food to go there are many different areas with seating throughout the market. Feel free to sit anywhere you’d like!

4. If you want to be dropped off at Pike Place Market you can drive right up to the front. I wouldn’t recommend driving yourself because there is very limited parking around. If you’re coming from a different part of Seattle it might be worth it to take the Link Light Rail (the train) and getting off at Westlake. From the Westlake station to the market it’s only about a five-minute walk.

5. The market is covered so you don’t need an umbrella once inside. However, there are multiple side streets and alleyways worth checking out that won’t be covered so I do recommend coming prepared with a raincoat.

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Arrival at Pike Place Market

Enter on 1 st and Pike. This is the beginning of the market, unless you enter Virginia and Pike, making this the end of the market. Start your adventure down Lower Post Alley stopping at Ghost Alley Espresso for a cup of joe. You’ll see this small (but quaint) coffee shop right before hitting the…. bubblegum wall! The bubblegum wall is underneath Pike Place and has been collecting gum since the 1990s. The wall has been cleaned in the past but continues to lure people into sticking their chewed gum on the concrete walls.

Next head upstairs but before journeying into the market, first make it a priority to stop at Left Bank Books. This quaint bookstore can be found on 1 st and Pike and carries more than 10,000 books! Prepare to lose yourself for hours sifting through all the books Left Bank offers.

Once you’re done at Left Bank, you’re ready to head into the madness at the market with your first stop at Pike Place Fish Market. Besides the throwing of the fish, the Market gives out free food samples which I highly recommend trying! This is by far my favorite thing in the market and always draws quite the crowd. It’s here where you’ll see the fish flying, workers yelling, and more fish flying! Make sure to stick around even if fish aren’t being thrown for a chance to try the catch of the day.

Pike Place Fish Co.

As you continue to walk through the main arcade (if you’re looking at the Fish Market, turn right), you will pass by food stalls, restaurants, flower vendors, and even people selling trinkets. Take it all in and enjoy it! I marvel at the beauty of what people find their passion for and how creative they are.

While there is a downstairs portion of Pike Place, I wouldn’t recommend spending too much time there. I prefer to stay in the main arcade until I’m ready to venture out around the market for the best food and drink spots.

Pike Place Market Food

There is a lot of incredible food to be found at Pike Place. Some places are tucked away and hiding. Some places have lines so long you can’t miss it if you tried. Some places are quick, to go places; while some are sit down restaurants. Below you’ll find a list of my suggested Pike Place restaurants and food stands.

Beecher

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese – Famous for their “worlds best Mac & Cheese”, this is definitely a don’t miss. Located on Pike between Pine and Stewart, indulge in a dairy-filled meal and watch through a window as the works make cheese right in front of you.

Piroshky Piroshky – One bite of these flakey Russian handheld pies and you’ll feel as though you’re in heaven. Located on Steward and Pike, this is one of those places you won’t miss because of the line snaking throughout the market.

Pike Place Chowder – Known for being ranked as America’s #1 chowder, whether its a cold or warm day this is a dish you don’t want to miss. You’ll arrive here from 1 st and Pine, tucked away from the crowded market but still popular enough to have a line out the door.

If its a sunny day and you want to take food to go, grab an array of your favorite types of food from the food stalls and head out for a picnic. At Pike Place, you can find chocolate stands, cheese stands, meats, veggies, jelly spreads, and anything else you can dream up for a picnic. For suggestions on where to picnic to get the most scenic views of Seattle’s skyline read – Best Places to View Seattle’s Skyline.

The Athenian Seafood Restaurant and Bar – For those of you who have seen Sleepless in Seattle, then you already know. For those who haven’t, sit in the bar for fabulous happy hour prices. And don’t pass on the calamari! Located right in the main arcade, go for great views of Elliott Bay.

The Pink Door – Located in Post Alley (an alley up a few hundred feet from Pike Place), The Pink Door is a Seattle staple. Open since 1981 this Italian staple draws people in for its incredible food, intimate atmosphere, and nightly entertainment. While each night differs, at The Pink Door you can expect to walk into trapeze artists, cabaret, tarot readers, and more! It’s a popular restaurant so I highly recommend making a reservation before arriving.

Pike Place Market Drinks

Storyville Coffee Pike Place – If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed from the crowds and coffee is more up your alley, head here. Storyville overlooks the market so you’re able to people watch from afar, away from the crowds. A bit tricky to find, it is located on 1 st between Pike and Pine, upstairs.

Radiator Whiskey

Radiator Whiskey – If you’re looking for a lively bar scene, Radiator Whiskey is the place to go. Mainly serving whiskey and barbecue, I suggest Radiator if you’re looking for a drink or comfort food. Located on 1 st between Pike and Pine, upstairs.

Zig Zag Cafe – Located underneath Pike Place, you’ll find Zig Zag as a welcome surprise away from the crowds. Serving craft cocktails in an intimate atmosphere I prefer Zig Zag as a place to get dressed up and go out for a night on the town.

Rachel’s Ginger Beer – One of a few locations lies right outside of the market in Post Alley. Serving handcrafted ginger beers, drink alone or mix in liquor. The choice is yours, my friend!

The Nest – At the top of the Thompson Seattle, you’ll find this chic and modern bar overlooking Pike Place Market. The hotel is located 1st and Stewart, only a two-minute walk from the market.

Although touristy, Pike Place Market is iconic in Seattle. I continued to be amazed that after all of the time I’ve spent in and around the market, I keep learning new things. There is always something new to discover and always some form of entertainment happening in and around the market. Don’t be deterred by the crowds, I still think visiting Pike Place along with the Pike Place restaurants is well worth it. If you’re looking to spend more time in Seattle and want a more comprehensive guide to the city, don’t miss The Ultimate Guide to Seattle. Or if you’re planning a weekend trip to Seattle make sure to read How to Have a Perfect Weekend Trip to Seattle.

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For more ideas on Pike Place Market or Seattle, in general, make sure to check out my Instagram page/highlights for more tips. Search for the hashtag #ppinwashington or watch the highlights “Seattle Eats”, “Seattle Drinks”, “Seattle, WA”.

Top 10 Fun Things to Do at Pike Place Market in Seattle

Angela has been writing about life, travel, and recreation in the Northwest, where she grew up, since 2000.

Pike Place Market

TripSavvy / Noah Kreyenhagen

Pike Place Market is way more than a farmers market, offering a real variety of things to eat and fun things to do. The Market sprawls across several city blocks packed with a broad cross-section of urban life. A large chunk of Pike Place Market is officially designated as a National Historic District. It operates all year round and includes well-established businesses as well as stalls and crafts booths that change vendors on a daily basis.

Pike Place Market is a colorful and exciting place to hang out and explore. There is much more there than you could possibly see and do in a single visit. Each time of day and season of the year brings new experiences. Yet there are certain things that are a part of every visit to Seattle’s Pike Place Market, fun things to do and see that keep visitors and natives coming back time and time again. Here are the top 10 activities and attractions that are always part of a Pike Place Market experience. Many of them are free!

Ogle the Bounty of Land and Sea

Pike Place Market

TripSavvy / Noah Kreyenhagen

No matter where you’re from or what your background, there’s something beautiful and satisfying about the sight of abundant fresh foodstuffs. Baskets spilling over with fresh berries. Ice bins filled with salmon, crab, and shrimp. Tables stacked high with plump tomatoes and blushing peaches. Strings of bright chili peppers. You’ll see plenty of that at Pike Place Market, particularly in the Main Arcade and the Corner Market and Sanitary Market buildings.

Sample Foods from the Northwest & Around the World

Pike Place Market in Seattle

TripSavvy / Noah Kreyenhagen

Fresh food, food products, and dining options at Pike Place Market come from the Northwest and around the world. Food producers, particularly those along the Main Arcade, offer sample tastes of local cheeses, preserves, candies, and more. Fresh nectarines or cherries can be so enticing you’ll buy and eat them right there. Throughout Seattle’s Market area you’ll find food counters serving cuisine from Russia, Greece, Italy, Vietnam and more, as well as bakeries and delis. Your sit-down eating options range from casual counter service to fine dining. Good food is definitely among the top things to do at Pike Place Market.

Marvel at the Fresh Flower Bouquets

Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington State, USA

As you stroll Pike Place Market’s Main Arcade you’ll see long stretches of gorgeous flower bouquets. Most are locally grown, brought fresh to the Market each day in colorful masses carried in five-gallon buckets. The abundance and variety of flowers lead to beautiful scenes and are a favorite photo opportunity. You can pick up a beautiful mix, wrapped in paper, for as little as five dollars.

Browse the Pike Place Market Crafts Booths

Craft maker forging steel

Pike Place Market

Clustered at the north end of the Main Arcade you’ll find the Market’s day stalls, rented out to craftspeople on a daily basis. The rule here is that all the vendor’s offerings must be handmade. You’ll find handcrafted goods of all kinds, from fine woodwork and musical instruments to colorful jewelry and art prints. Soap and lotions, pet toys, leather goods, and pottery are among the other handcrafted items typically found at Pike Place Market.

Take a Photo with Rachel the Pig

Rachel the famous Pike Place Pig

The large bronze piggy bank located under the big “Public Market Center” sign and clock is known as Rachel, named after the real pig that served as the model. Rachel has become the Seattle Market’s mascot. Coins and bills placed in Rachel’s slot fund the Market Foundation. Taking a photograph with the big bronze pig is among the most popular things to do for first-time visitors. Not only does Rachel make a great spot for a photo, with the colorful Pike Place Fish Market in the background, but she’s a convenient landmark to meet up with friends.

Explore the Market’s Nooks and Crannies

Red, glowing neon shop sign. Seattle, Washington, USA.

The shops and businesses facing Pike Place, which include the first floor of the Main Arcade, the Corner Market, and the Sanitary Market buildings, are in the heart of the Pike Place Market district and are part of most visits. But there’s a lot more to see and do at Seattle’s public market. There are many shops and service providers located “Down Under”, the floors below the Main Arcade. ​Post Alley, home to many great restaurants and specialty shops, cuts through the neighborhood. Take the time to explore and you’ll be delighted by new discoveries.

Purchase a Souvenir of Your Seattle Visit

Woman shopping for a purse at Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

Whether you’re looking for the conventional T-shirt, a tasty treat, or something truly unique, you’ll find that Pike Place Market stalls and shops are packed with Seattle souvenirs of all kinds. Smoked salmon, Market Spice Tea, or a jar of cherry preserves make a thoughtful thank-you gift for the neighbor watering your lawn while you’re away. Matted photos, Northwest Coast art or a watercolor of the Seattle Market are all wonderful mementos of your own Seattle adventure. Whatever you have in mind, you’ll find it at Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

Enjoy the Talents of Pike Place Market Buskers

Busker balancing guitar on his chin at Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

What’s a busker? A busker is a street performer. You’ll find buskers of many talents throughout the market. These street performers are permitted and regulated by the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority. Acts range from guitar soloists to entire bands. There are pianists, fiddlers, magic shows, and jugglers. Many have been entertaining Pike Place Market visitors for years. Buskers play for tips, so be sure to show your appreciation.

Source https://visitseattle.org/things-to-do/sightseeing/pike-place-market/

Source https://www.passportsandpreemies.com/know-before-you-go-pike-place-market/

Source https://www.tripsavvy.com/pike-place-market-fun-in-seattle-1608524

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