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.
Arrival at Pike Place Market
Enter on 1stand 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 1stand 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.
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’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 1stand 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 1stbetween Pike and Pine, upstairs.
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 1stbetween 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.
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”.