Tourist Trap or shopping mecca...it's all in your interpretation. At the end of the day you can get some great bargans on the flowers. There are shops for most anything. Since the stalls seem to change places almost daily, sometimes it difficult to get back to "just that right place" to find something.
Unique Suggestions Visit the fish market at the entrance on Pike. This is home to a managment success story. The owner is co-author of three successful management books on "doing the right thing" to become a success.
Fun Alternatives Across the street from the actual market is home of the origial Starbucks coffee shop. Seattle is home to a number of great coffee shops. Tully's, Seattle's Best, are also good meeting spots. Also about a half block down the street is the Pikes Place Brewing restaurant. Great brews and pretty good food.
If you visit the city of Seattle, and you plan to travel in the downtown area, I highly recommend taking advantage of the city's FREE Zone public transportation. There are approximately 20 different public buses that drop off within 1 block of the market. (No parking required!) At the top floor/ main portion of the market, you are welcomed by rows and rows of Fresh Produce and Beautiful Floral bouquets that offer some of the lowest prices around. In the five years I have been visiting the market, I've never had one panhandler approach me-- On the exterior of the market, You will see street musicians and sidewalk performers set up working, but while they welcome donations, they never ask for them.
Unique Suggestions Keep in mind the market has been in the heart of the city for more than 100yrs, its not meant to be a shiny Mall of America. Go there and enjoy some of the terrific bakery choices, fresh fish and gorgeous flowers, visit the Rummage Hall, take in the view of the waterfront in the North End park. Don't forget to check out the PikePlaceMarket.org website as well-- if you have any doubts about visiting, its packed with more information about ALL of the market offerings--
Fun Alternatives If you were expecting a more modern market, and don't like the age or character, there is a shiny new 3 level TARGET within 1 walking block distance of the Pike Place Market, located at 2nd and Pike
Not really that much of a tourist trap, but I couldn't in good conscience put it under "things to do" either.
For me, you hear about Pike Place, you go there and check it out once, and you can say:
"been there... done that" without being mean-spirited about it.
Unique Suggestions Some really good and fun places just off Pike Place Market if you walk Post Alley.
and you're nuts if you put up with all the touristy stuff @ Pike Place
and miss the amazingly good Piroshky Russian Bakery apple bakery roll.
Fun Alternatives Pink Door in itself is reason enough to check out Post Alley by Pike Place.
The famous Seattle Pike Place Market is a sacred cow in Seattle that should have been bulldozed decades ago. It consists of a crowded cobblestone street about one block long with an arcade full of brick-a-brack shops, a fish market, a couple of restaurants, and a few stalls selling vegetables and flowers. The veggies are all hand polished to a high luster. The big tourist thrill is to watch the fish dealers throw large fish across the aisle to each other. You will find a few locals that shop at the market, but I can't imagine why they put up with the crowds and noise and the panhandlers.
Unique Suggestions If you can't live without seeing someone toss a 15-pound fish to his fellow fish-monger, or you just have to have a buffed and shiny bell pepper, you should at least avoid driving down Pike Street through the market. The street is packed with people and you have to push them gently out of the way with your bumper. Average speed is about zero mph. There is no parking.
Fun Alternatives During the summer months, most Seattle neighborhoods have local street fairs on various weekends. Different weekend--different neighborhood. A lot of the stuff in the fairs is as hokey as the crap in the Pike Place Market, but at least the crowds are all locals and you can wander out into the neighborhoods and get a feel for the different residential areas of Seattle.
This is a place where nearly all tourists visit to take photographs, grab a cup at the original Starbucks and enjoy one of the rare areas that has hours of interesting walking and sightseeing.
Unique Suggestions Buy produce! Washington State farmers take pride in their growing and it is oh so apparent when you see the amazing size and color of the fruit. $5.00 floral bouquets - stunning and the cheapest in the city. Beecher's hand made cheese - always a hit at a dinner party. Flying fish by the bronze pig - they will vacuum pack a bag of local salmon so you can tuck it in your carry-on. Market Spice - don't leave without some Market Spice tea - delicious in the evening and with a brandy.
Fun Alternatives It's fun if you make it fun.
What's so special about a bunch of people throwing fish around? I honestly don't know, but Pike market is usually filled with tourists who don't intend to buy anything because they are just there to see the stall where the workers throw fish around. Still... as much as it is a tourist trap, it doesn't cost you anything, and its close to downtown Seattle. Go see it, but sometimes the workers can get annoyed by the tourists standing around waiting for the fish throwing and no one is buying anything.
Unique Suggestions Check out the other stores nearby and see if you can purchase any local goodies.
Pike Place Market is on my "must see" list, and their fish market is definitely colorful. But I have to say the whole "fish tossing" thing is over-rated. Even Travel Channel's "10 Best in Seattle" episode spends lots of time hyping it.
Because of the hype, I thought the whole Pike Place Market is a fish market until I visited Seattle myself. In fact there are only 3 fish shops here, and they are like the varsity of the Market. These loud and proud varsity boys are always surrounded by tourists waiting to click on their camera. But they don't toss fish for nothing. You have to pay to make they toss.
The reason they toss fish is that, the shops display their best seafood at store front for customers to choose. Once you make your pick, they toss it back to the store for cleaning, packing, and shipping if required. "You buy the fish, and I'll do the deed", as one varsity boy yelled. To me, they are not selling fish. They are selling the toss.
Pike Place Market
You should see it, but you can usually buy similar merchandise at a different location for less $. Don't spend a ton of $ here.
This picture is just north of the market, circa 1984. Notice the Kingdome in the background!
Its not exactly a tourist trap, but not a must wee or fondest memory? ... Pike Place Market is just behind the Green Tortoise Hostel. It was cool to walk around, the food stalls and trading is cool to watch, there are some street entertainers, and a big multi-small traders market has some interesting nooks and crannies.
Ohhh, it's bad!!
Unique Suggestions Leave immediately, before the man get's you for $35.00 in parking.
Fun Alternatives Throw fish in the backyard of your house, get people to watch, and charge them thousands for parking.
Pike's Place - used to be an old farmer's market, now its just a tourist gawking market. It is interesting to see the workers tossing fish, but be prepared to stand on your tippy-toes.