The “soul of Seattle” and its most popular tourist attraction with more than nine million annual visitors, Pike Place Market is a food lover’s dream, with a maze of shops, restaurants, and stalls located on a steep hillside overlooking Elliott Bay. Buskers sing for money, fish vendors toss their wares over shoppers’ heads, and local growers artfully present fresh flowers and produce. (To avoid crowds, visit on weekday mornings.)
Start at the (1) Information Booth (www.pikeplacemarket.org) at Pike Place and First Avenue, underneath the neon “Public Market” sign and clock. Pick up a map and directory of market shops. (The booth also sells half-price theater tickets.) Then drop a coin in the life-size bronze piggybank Rachel—proceeds benefit the Market Foundation. Enter the (2) Main Arcade building and duck the flying fish at (3) Pike Place Fish (www.pikeplacefish.com).
Turn right and walk through hundreds of fresh produce, fruit, and fish stands. Continue into the North Arcade and browse the handmade arts and crafts. Turn right and exit the building. Cross Pike and enter the oldest (4) Starbucks (1912 Pike Place; www.starbucks.com) in operation. While the original no longer exists, much of this shop’s decor was transferred from the first Pike Place Market beanery. Purchase a teddy bear or mug decorated with the company’s first logo, a bare-chested mermaid.
Exit the store and turn right on Pike. Make a left on Virginia Avenue to visit (5) Victor Steinbrueck Park, marked by two 50-foot-tall (15-meter-tall) cedar totem poles. Take a break from the crowds and watch ferries pass by on Elliott Bay.
Head uphill on Virginia, and turn right on Post Alley. Visit (6) The Tasting Room (1924 Post Alley; www.winesofwashington.com), a wine shop specializing in handcrafted wines from central and eastern Washington, and then walk across the street for a meal at (7) The Pink Door (1919 Post Alley; www.thepinkdoor.net), marked with no sign but easily found by its namesake metal entrance. In the summer, ask for a seat on the Italian-American restaurant’s popular outdoor deck.
Walk down Post Alley and turn right on Pine Street. At the Pike Place intersection, visit (8) Beecher’s Handmade Cheese (1600 Pike Place; www.beechershandmadecheese.com). Watch milk churn into cheese in an old-fashioned open vat, taste fresh cheese curds, or snack on gourmet mac and cheese, made with penne pasta and Beecher’s signature Flagship Reserve.
Cross the street and reenter the main market building. This time, walk down the stairs to (9) Down Under, five floors of quirky shops offering antiques, collectibles, and oddball finds from around the world. Exit the building at its base on Western Avenue. Cross the street to end your tour at the (10) Heritage Center (1531 Western Avenue), where you can learn about the market’s history.
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.