All you "I don't want to see anything touristy" sorts will insist that this is exactly the type of place you'd hate. Fine. Don't go. Miss all the fun. Because you know what? That's just a little bit more room for the rest of us!
This is a tourist attraction that works. Yes, it's mobbed, noisy and a little stinky around the fish stalls but it's also 7 acres of eye candy: gorgeous flowers, bright pink seafood, beautiful textiles, pastel posters and paintings, jewel-toned preserves and more colors of fresh fruits and vegetables than hues in a crayon box. Yes, there are the usual vendors of tacky tchotchkes but they're nicely outnumbered by handmade offerings of jewelry, kitchenware, leather, clothing, baskets and toys. Yes, there are probably a few overpriced, so-so eateries but also cozy bistros, fabulous bakeries and drop-dead great chowder. All of this in open-air stalls and little shops serenaded by local buskers and festooned with masses of flower boxes and planters. And yes, the locals do shop here too.
The market has been around since 1907 and had 10,000 customers (none of them tourists, incidentally) on its very first day. Today, it attracts 10 million visitors a year and is open 7 days a week except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Each stall and shop is individually owned so hours vary but figure roughly 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM with a few not unlocking the door until 10:00 and others closing at 5:00. Some vendors are also only there on certain days of the week or weekends so if you see something you like, buy it 'cause it may not be there tomorrow.
See the excellent website for shopping guide, restaurants, festival and event calendar, tour information, directions, parking and other good stuff to know.
Pikes Market was fabulous! So much to see and do. It was spring break and the weather was sunny and beautiful so it was very crowded, but if you have patience it is very enjoyable. We bought some delicious cheeses, bread and crab for a meal one night in our hotel suite.
Pike Place Market is more than just one of Seattle's top attractions, it's that rare tourist magnet that manages to retain some local flair. This is a working market and in fact has been since its inception in 1907, making it one of the longest running farmer's markets in the US. Sure, there are vendors selling typical tourist junk but there are people selling produce at very competitive prices. Many people from Seattle still shop here especially on weekends when the place is a cultural meeting place as much as one of commerce. The biggest attraction in the market is the seafood section where sellers put on quite an animated show, enticing customers to participate and literally throwing fish amongst themselves when someone buys something. It's quite infectious, a bit like an auction. There are also numerous places to eat, ranging from sit down places of some notoriety like the one from Harry Met Sally to stand up stalls to grab something tasty and cheap on the run.
A trip to Seattle wouldn’t be complete without a walk around the famous Pike Place Market. Bustling with locals, fresh fruit, fish, cakes, cookies and coffee. Here is also where you will find the first ever Starbucks. Walk about 200 metres along the main stretch and you will find it on your right. Come on Sunday and find the main stretch of the market blocked to make space for outside BBQ grills and bars. For a hearty meal, head to Pike Place Brewery and try a micro ale when your there. The vintage cider is pretty good too. If it’s a sunny day (yes, they do occur!), head to the end of Pike Place Market to find a stretch of grass to relax on with an ice lolly. Tucked in just behind the market, one block up the hill you’ll find Pound Street. Also worth a look, for small cafes, restaurants and irish bars.
Pike's Place Market
1531 Western Ave * Seattle, WA 98101 * Pikes Place / 1st Ave
A fabulous street mall and interior mall complex of shops, gifts, food, produce, restaurants, cafes, bars, and entertainment. Home to many street performers, and just watching the fishermen sell their sole provides humongous entertainment as one visits this historic venue and tourist attraction of downtown Seattle. 9 acres long, and over a hundred years old, its home to unique and interesting stories from immigration, to internment, gentrification, and urban renewal. It is because of this that its often referred to as the "Soul of Seattle". Between 1906 and 1907, the cost of onions increased tenfold. Outraged citizens, fed up with paying price-gouging middlemen too much for their produce, found a hero in Seattle City Councilman Thomas Revelle. Revelle proposed a public street market that would connect farmers directly with consumers. Customers would "Meet the Producer" directly, a philosophy that is still the foundation of all Pike Place Market businesses. On August 17, 1907, Pike Place Market was born. Since that date this market is internationally recognized as America's premier farmer's markets and hosts over 200 year-round commercial businesses, 190 craftspeople, and 120 farmers who rent table space by the day. Over 240 street performers and musicians; and 300 apartment units, most of which house low-income elderly people. "The Market," as the locals affectionately say, attracts 10 million visitors a year, making it one of Washington's most frequently visited destinations. Every time i visit downtown I stroll through this wonderful venue. Its top rate. Rating : 5 stars out of 5.
You cannot miss and opportunity to walk around this great market with its shops and people. It is alive!!! A great opportunity to try different foods and watch as different people pass by here. Make sure you grab some chili at the little shop and do tty to catch a flying fish!!!
Washington has some great wines, some from big producers and others from smaller, harder to find wineries. At the tasting room in Pike Place Market you may discover some really good ones that you haven't heard of before. The selection here offers tasting and sales, along with some cheeses to enjoy. They have "flights" too, which are a good way to sample several wines of a similar type for comparison.
If you really like what you try here, they can ship it home for you.
Open from noon to 8pm.
We went there and loved the cultures, the setting on the water, the smells, the clowning men throwing fish, tasting samples and eating at a waterfront restaurant. We talked to people in shops, smelled flowers, ate cookies and generally were thrilled with our experience. Markets are the melting pots of cultures and tourists. Found a park nearby where we watched cruise ships on their way and back from Alaska, enjoyed seeing the people that make up the area and found the city vibrant, great weather, cosmopolitan with areas that seemed like Paris. Back alleys held cute shops and loved all the outside cafes and bars. Would definitely go again.
I crave Seattle! I love to go to La Panier, one of the many fruit stands, or just stand with my Cup of Starbucks from the original store and go all nostalgic. The smells, well they are varied at the very least! Some good and some bad. My favorite place to stand is by the flying fish stand as in ten minutes of standing there you feel like the whole world passed by. Don't talk to other people while undergoing this fulfilling experience. Soak it up! Once this is done be sure to meander through the main floor stalls admiring not only the amazing flowers but the eclectic people who bring life to the market, the shop workers. If I were a painter that is where I would spend my time. Very impressionalistic. Don't forget the underground levels. There are little nooks and crannies perfect for smelling the Puget Sound breeze mixed with tar from the docks...heavenly! It is much more quiet down there with an array of diverse shops. One of my favorites is a Polish Pottery shop. There are bead shops, novelty shops, bathrooms (dirty as they may be), and etc. Who knows...you might have an interesting experience as it is said to be haunted! Ghosts or no ghosts, Seattle is the best place to slow down, use your senses, and store up on culture! Enjoy!
A trip to Seattle is not complete without a stop at Pike's Place Market. Stops must include the brass pig at the entrance for a quick picture, dodge a fish in the air as you watch the action at Flying Fish, a walk down the vendors on the upper level (they will hand out samples of their wares) and then a trip downstairs. There are lots of little hideaway stores in the Market, everything from crystal shops (look for objects made from Mount St. Helens ash), magic stores and restaurants. If you are a seafood lover - ask the vendors, most are happy to ship fresh seafood home to you overnight in dry ice. We do this every trip so that we have one last meal to remember our trip by.
Pike Place Market claims to be the oldest operating public farm market in the country, and is definitely one of the liveliest places in downtown Seattle. The first time we visited in 2004, we didn't see half of it. Pike Place Market generates a unique energy all its own. The Market is a jumble of restaurants and eateries; a brew pub; fish, produce and flower stalls; and a variety of unique shops with clothing, gifts, antiques and more. The Market is a stone's throw from Elliot Bay. The Market has an "upstairs" as well as "downstairs" level so there is much to explore. One of the most popular attractions of the Market is seeing the fishmongers "throwing" the fish from man to man and the crowd is never disappointed when this show is put on. One of the restaurants here was the setting for a scene in the Tom Hanks' movie, "Sleepless in Seattle." (See my restaurant tips.) This has become quite an attraction in itself.
Pike Place reminds me somewhat of Reading Terminal in Philadelphia, although the setting is quite different! One thing that Pike Place many visitors invariably look for is Rachel, the life-size brass pig and she alone is worth the treck down to Pike Place. Give her a little rub for good luck!
While the Pike Place Market has become a great tourist attraction for visitors, it is also quite evident that it also plays a part in the lives of the local residents--where they shop & eat. I think this gives an added dimension to the Market and makes it the great attraction that it is and you shouldn't miss it.
The fish market directly inside the 'central entrance' is where they toss the fish. The sellers come out from behind the stands to show you the fish, describe the quality, oh and they tease and joke a lot. When we mentioned we were from the midwest, they went on about how there were no fish in that area, at least, not fish that tasted good.
When we made a selection, he called to the guy behind the counter, who prepared to receive the fish. With a slight chant, up when the fish, over the counter and into the arms of the guy behind it, who wrapped it, priced it, took the money and made change. This was going on everytime somebody picked something out. That included the prepackaged items also.
P.S. they use gloves, and wrapping paper to handle the fish. I never saw any hit the ground or anyone miss a catch.
For more pictures of the market, see my Pikes Place travelogue.
Everybody always ask me if I shop here all the time and my answer is "NO, it's touristy, crowded, overpriced and fish quality is not that great".
Go there once and get it over with just to say you went there.
Few things I recommend:
Marketspice - for spices, teas, coffees in bulk
Throwing Fish - ok, totally stupid, but attracts a HUGE crowd, so watch the fish thrown, take a pic and keep walking.
First Starbucks - just take a picture of this "historical" place, but get coffee somewhere else, Seattle has plenty to offer and Starbucks is not one of them.
Three Sisters - Great sandwiches
Yarmarka - as close to Russian food in Seattle you'll ever get, skip Piroshky it's nothing special.
De Laurentis - Sort of like Dean and Luca of Seattle
Bottega Italiana - Great Gelato
There is a park near by, i don't recommend going there, it's mainly a homeless hang out
My favorite place in the city, you will be able to spend a couple of hours wandering around the market. Of particular interest to me was to see the seafood vendors - including the folks who would toss the fish to each other. There are plenty of little trinket shops, as well as places to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and even complete meals. Unlike some markets that have a straight-away layout, there are several levels to Pike Place, and plenty of nooks and crannies, so be sure to pick up a map at the information kiosks.
Pike Place Market was established in 1907 and is considered America's oldest continually operated public market. The main market building is constructed into a steep hill near the water with the top floor consumed by the huge area of market stalls containing fresh fish, fruits and vegetables, meats, and flowers, and the lower levels contain specialty shops and restaurants. The entire Pike Market Historic Area is comprised of 9 acres and consists of numerous buildings containing 240 year-round businesses and 310 farmers and craftsmen. Interestingly, Starbucks Coffee was started in the area in 1971, and the first store was moved to Pike Market in 1976.
Our first trip through the market was at night, when the neon signs stand out for nice photos, and later we returned for lunch at a local chowder house. We enjoyed strolling through the area, and we used this as our main route to the waterfront area and the aquarium.
The market is open Monday through Saturday 10am to 6pm, and Sunday 10am to 5pm. Even after hours, many of the neighboring businesses are open, and you can walk through parts of the market area.