Visiting Seattle and looking for the best things to do in Pike Place Market? This huge insider’s guide has all the deets – the best food at Pike Place Market (pastries! coffee! restaurants!), where to get your shopping done, and even some unique experiences you can’t miss! Plus some secret hidden gems mostly only locals know about.
Flying fish, fresh flowers, bazaar-style shopping, and bacon donuts. I mean, what could be better?!
I’m sure you’ve heard of Pike Place Market – it’s a true icon of Seattle, established way back when in 1907! And get this – it’s one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the United States!
Stepping into Pike Place Market in Seattle is like entering a world where history, culture, and all things culinary converge. Nestled in the heart of the city, this iconic marketplace has been luring visitors and locals alike for over a century.
I mean, think about it – there’s tantalizing aromas of freshly baked pastries, vibrant colors of bouquets bursting with blooms, and even bustling alleys and secret gardens. So much to see (and more importantly — eat)!
I first visited Seattle in 2015 (my first-ever solo trip actually!), and stayed in a hostel literally 3 steps from The Market. Because of that, I found myself wandering Pike Place nearly every day of my 5 day stay, indulging in donuts, taking silly pics at the Gum Wall, and watching the fishmongers throw around their catch of the day. Overstimulating in the best way possible.
Since then, I’ve visited Seattle half a dozen times, and STILL find myself at the market numerous times every visit. There’s just so much to see and do, and eating my way through the market is my favorite way to spend a few hours in Seattle!
I encourage every first-time visitor to the city to block out half a day for all the things to do in Pike Place Market. Yes, even if you only have 3 days in Seattle. I promise you’ll leave more than satisfied, just wear your stretchy pants, haha.
Pike Place Market Logistics
Where is Pike Place Market?
Y’all, Pike Place is not your average market. It stretches almost 4 city blocks, from 1st Avenue to Western Avenue (east to west) and from Virginia Street to just past Pike Street (north to south).
That being said, it’s right in downtown Seattle (close to so many other popular attractions), and deserves a spot on any weekend trip to Seattle.
When is Pike Place Market open?
Pike Place Market is generally open every day, 7 days a week (closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas). Most of Pike Place Market is active from 10am to 5pm, although hours vary depending on vendors and shops.
In general, breakfast spots tend to open up around 7am, as do the produce and seafood markets. The farm tables don’t open until around 9am or so, while the crafts market and weekend-only artisanal food stands don’t open until around 11am.
When’s the best time to visit? Definitely early morning, but not too early before the shops/stalls are open. You’ll wanna plan your visit right, checking out the most popular foodie spots early in the day before it gets too crowded.
Wanna avoid the crowds? Stay away from the weekend (especially in sunny summer months), and visit early in the morning or on weekdays.
If you don’t have much flexibility and are visiting on a weekend, I HIGHLY encourage you to book a Pike Place Market guided food tour as you’ll get to skip the line at the most popular spots.
In terms of time of year, since most of the action takes place indoors, it’s a great place to visit year-round. A perfect rainy day activity!
How to Get to Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is smack dab in the center of the city. And no matter where you’re coming from, it’s not terribly difficult to reach. Meaning it’s never too far from wherever you’re staying for your Seattle itinerary!
Psst – I recommend staying near the market itself, but I recognize not everyone will follow my advice, haha.
Thankfully, Seattle has a pretty great public bus system and there’s also the Sound Transit Light Rail. Many bus routes (King County Metro Transit) have a stop right near the Market on 3rd Avenue and Pine Street, while the Westlake Sound Transit Link Light Rail station is just a few blocks away on 4th and Pine.
From the Space Needle:
- Walk: Walking directly from the Space Needle to Pike Place Market will take about 25 minutes or so. In nice weather, this mile walk ain’t bad at all! Plus, you can get in some steps before absolutely indulging… I recommend walking south on Alaskan Way, or on 1st or 2nd Street. Avoid 3rd Avenue as it’s where the bus is, and there tends to be more homeless.
- Monorail: Headed to Pike Place from the Seattle Center (where the Space Needle is located) and don’t wanna walk the mile? You can take the monorail, which was actually built for the 1962 World’s Fair! It only runs between two stations: the Westlake Center Station in downtown Seattle (a few blocks from Pike Place Market) and the Seattle Center Station (near the Space Needle) but it’s a quick 2 minutes! Can’t get more convenient than that!
From Capitol Hill:
- Walk: If you’re staying in Capitol Hill, you can take a pleasant and easy walk to Pike Place Market. You’ll primarily be walking downhill, which is great until you realize you eventually gotta come back up, haha. The walk takes anywhere between 20 – 35 minutes, depending exactly where in Capitol Hill you’re coming from (the neighborhood’s pretty large).
- Public Transit: Weather not cooperating? This is Seattle afterall! Plan to catch the bus – routes 10, 11, 43, or 49 take you right to the market area.
From Other Neighborhoods:
From Queen Anne: I recommend taking public transit from Queen Anne to Pike Place Market – UNLESS it’s not raining AND you’re in the mood for a (very) long walk (2 miles, taking almost an hour or so). You can either walk to the monorail, or take the bus.
From Ballard: Take Metro bus routes 40 or 44, and get off at a stop near Westlake Center. It’s only a short walk from there!
Guided Food Tours of Pike Place Market
There’s so much to see and do here, and of course eat! You can either do a DIY food tour or guided tour at Pike Place (highly recommended – just look at those raving reviews). But whatever you do, wear your stretchy pants – the market’s got so much good stuff. And skip breakfast today; you’ll be eating your way through the market for breakfast and lunch!
And if all this info sounds a tad overwhelming (hey, I get it – the market is huge with tons of alleyways), sign up for a guided food tour of Pike Place Market! Also a great idea if you’re solo and have no one to share things with… it’d be a shame to miss out on the best foods at the market because you’re too full!
The tour (led by a local chef!) makes 9 different stops (with about 15 small bites) and you even get to skip the line at most (great for those pressed for time). You’ll also check out a secret garden (that grows food), learn about bean-to-bar chocolate, and all about the history of the market. Read reviews and book your Pike Place Market food tour here!
Psst – there’s even a guided tour for all you plant-based folks!
Other FAQs about Pike Place Market
- How long will a visit take? That’s entirely up to you, and kinda depends on how much eating and exploring you wanna do! You can easily spend 3 hours or so here, and you still won’t see everything.
- What’re your favorite foods at Pike Place Market? I especially love a fresh potato and cheese pastry from Piroshky Piroshky, vanilla passion fruit tea from Rachel’s Ginger Beer, chicken and shrimp buns from Mee Sum, and chicken mole tacos from Maiz. But really, you can’t go wrong with anything!
- Is there an entrance fee to Pike Place Market? Nope, entrance to Pike Place Market is entirely free, and you don’t even need to spend a dime to explore and enjoy! If you’d like to try the food (obviously highly recommended), plan to spend some money.
- Are there restaurants in Pike Place Market? Yes, tons! With a huge range of cuisines! Although I admittedly feel like it’s more fun to stop at all the stalls and try smaller things from each!
- Are dogs allowed in Pike Place Market? Seattle is super dog friendly, so you’ll see tons of furry friends wandering the streets around the market. However, pets are not allowed in any of the Market buildings, including the Main Arcade.
- Where to park at Pike Place Market? Thankfully, there’s a garage connected right to the market – aptly named the Pike Place Market Parking Garage. It’s fairly large with 800 parking spots and 3 entrances/exits. And at around $4 per hour, they’ve got some of the lowest rates downtown.
Insider tip: If you’re planning to visit other attractions within walking distance to Pike Place Market, make sure you get in by 9am for the Early Bird Rate! 12 hours for under $15!
- Do you need to take a guided food tour? Nope, you definitely don’t need to… BUT there’s a reason they’re so popular. Pike Place food tours bring you to all the best spots, and give you way more than just measly samples. Guides also tell you about all the interesting history and even give out discounts to popular stores at the market (like that deliciously smelling truffle spot).
- Are there public bathrooms at The Market? Yes, thankfully – there’s actually 4 public restrooms! One in the Main Arcade under the Public Market Center Clock Sign, one down the ramp from City Fish, one in the Sanitary Market behind Jack’s Fish Spot (next to Kitchen Basics), and finally one in the Soames Dunn Building (the same building as the Starbucks).
- What is The Pike Place Market Foundation? I just learned about this too! This foundation supports social services, low-income housing, and the arts in the area. So yes, by shopping at the market, you’re contributing to these important causes!
Brief History of Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market has tons and tons of history, and it’s actually quite interesting! It was established over 100 years ago in 1907 (!!!), and its roots are deeply intertwined with the city’s growth and transformation over the decades.
The market was created in the early 1900s because Seattleites were concerned about the rising cost of food. To fix this problem, the city decided to create a public market where farmers and shoppers could meet directly, without any middlemen. Kinda smart, right? Think of it as the first farmers market! Farmers sold their produce on long wooden tables directly to the consumer — a win, win for everyone.
As the years went by, Pike Place Market became a super bustling place. More stalls and shops were added, and it started selling not just fruits and veggies but also fish, flowers, crafts, and so much more.
During the Great Depression in the 1930s, the market provided jobs to so many and affordable food to even more. And in the 1960s, it was almost completely demolished to pave way for high-rises and a parking garage. Thankfully local residents and historic preservationists rejected that plan right away.
From super humble beginnings and nearly being destroyed, to now one of the most iconic and beloved landmarks in all of Seattle!
Insider Local Tips for Visiting Pike Place Market
I always recommend Pike Place Market on any Seattle itinerary, but to really make the most of it and have the best time, here’s some insider tips!
Psst – there’s no S in Pike Place. Call it Pikes Place and everyone will know you’re a tourist, haha. It’s either “Pike Place” or simply “The Market”.
- Take a market food tour: I can’t stress this enough. A food tour of Pike Place Market is easily one of the best things to do in all of Seattle, especially if you’re a foodie and wanna try all the things! Plus, by taking this chef-led Pike Place Market food tour you’ll get to skip all the (usually very-long) lines!
- Come early: Pike Place is one of the most popular places in all of Seattle. It gets beyond crowded, especially in the late morning/early afternoon. Come early, shortly after opening (around 8am), to beat the crowds! It’s always fun to see the vendors setting up shop too!
- Have a plan: The market is huge with TONS to see and eat. I recommend having a few key spots in mind so you don’t miss out on anything you desperately wanna try.
- Bring cash: While most vendors accept credit cards, I always recommend having a bit of cash on you for small purchases.
- Wear layers: The weather in Seattle can change quickly (common in the PNW!), so bring layers and make sure to stay hydrated! I’d also wear comfy shoes if I were you – the market is larger than most people realize!
- Visit a few times: If you’ve got time in your Seattle itinerary, head over to The Market twice – once in the morning, and once later in the day for a late lunch or dinner. There’s just too much to try in a few hours (another reason I always recommend a food tour).
- Don’t miss the hidden shops: The Market has some tucked-away shops and stalls that are easy to miss if you stick to the main pathways. I love exploring the maze of stalls and alleys and no matter how many times I’ve visited, I always find something new.
- Try all the free samples: Don’t forget to ask about samples (my favorite)! Plenty of vendors offer samples of their products; I can never say no to a few cheese curds at Beechers!
Food and Restaurants in Pike Place Market
Okay – we all know you come to Pike Place Market for the food, so that’s what we’re gonna start with. We’ll get to all the other things to do in Pike Place Market later. Gotta plan out your breakfast and lunch first! And possibly dinner, haha.
Bakeries in Pike Place Market
Ohhh — my favorite! Buttery croissants, savory pastries, French macarons, and even fluffy mini donuts. Like I said – bring your stretchy pants!
Le Panier: There’s a reason the line’s always out the door (even later in the day). Le Panier’s a French bakery known for their chewy macarons, freshly baked French bread, and rich chocolate eclairs. The croissants are oh so buttery and flaky… mmm I want one right now, haha. Next time I wanna try the cute little lemon tart and a raspberry brioche.
Everything is tres bien (French for “very good”), so you really can’t go wrong no matter what you choose. Worth the wait, I promise (and the line moves pretty quick).
Piroshky Piroshky: Known for its Russian-inspired pastries, Piroshky Piroshky has both sweet and savory options. I come here EVERY SINGLE TIME I’m in Seattle, even if I’m just visiting for a day. The line is always long, but don’t worry, it goes super fast. And there’s signs showing the menu, so you can pick out what you want before you even get into the bakery (another reason why the line moves so fast).
My favorites are the potato and cheese piroshky, chocolate cream hazelnut roll, cinnamon cardamom braid, and the cheddar garlic roll. But honestly – everything’s pretty damn good, and yup, I’ve tried quite a few over the years.
We missed these pastries so much we once bought a box of $50 worth and kept them in our freezer for months, haha. Were they as good as fresh? Nope, but still quite satisfying!
Three Girls Bakery: Ohh – one of my favorite spots in all of Pike Place Market! Established in 1912 and serving customers since 1971, with tons of variety of bread, pastries, and sandwiches, with an emphasis on their Sephardic family recipes (like rugelach and hamantaschen).
And get this – Three Girls was the first business licensed to women in the city of Seattle! AND the oldest continuously operating business in Pike Place Market. Pretty cool if you ask me!
The line is always wildly long, but the staff is so cute and helpful and I promise it goes pretty fast.
Definitely try the peanut butter Double OH cookie – they’re legendary (and have a full peanut butter cup in the middle of each one). Let’s just say it’s a good thing I don’t live in Seattle, haha. The sourdough bread, raspberry bars, and lavender cookies are a great choice as well.
Cinnamon Works: As the name suggests, this spot specializes in their sticky buns (coated with a delicious blend of caramel and pecans) and their classic fan-favorite cinnamon rolls with maple frosting!
And the whole area just smells so heavenly! They’ve also got massive cookies (and I mean massive, larger than your hand), and lots of gluten-free and vegan options!
Freya Bakery & Cafe: This spot’s got a huge selection of Danish pastries, all made fresh daily in-house. Now that’s what I like to hear! I tried one of their famous Kouign Amann, but I’ve got my eye on the churro cruffin (it’s enormous!) and the blueberry tart.
Come here if you don’t wanna brave the (usually very-long) line at Le Panier.
Mee Sum Pastry: Everything is delicious, but the BBQ pork humbows (best in the city!), red bean sesame balls, and truffle shumai are the most popular.
I especially loved the chicken shrimp chive dumpling on my last visit – way more filling than I thought it’d be, and a nice change from all the sweet stuff! Come early and everything will be super fresh and steamy.
Daily Dozen Doughnut Company: This spot specializes in – you guessed it – mini, freshly made donuts. So good and fluffy and light and airy. The perfect sugary snack, and hey, they’re mini, so you can have a few extra! Kinda expensive at about $1 per mini donut, but they’re fresh and perfect if you just want a little taste.
And there’s quite a few flavors considering how small the donuts are – cinnamon sugar, powdered, chocolate covered, maple, and maple bacon. Just beware that the powdered sugar gets everywhere, trust me.
Popular Foodie Spots to Try (Quick and Casual)
Beecher’s Homemade Cheese: Kinda an institution around here – definitely get a cup of mac and cheese and/or a grilled cheese to share.
And make sure to ask for samples – they happily give them out (the cheese curds are my favorite)! Watch the huge vats of cheese spinning around, it’s wild!
Pike Place Chowder: Come here if you’re looking for some of the creamiest, flavorful clam chowder you’ve ever had. Not sure it beats the chowder in San Francisco or Monterey, but it’s pretty damn close.
Definitely opt for the sourdough bread bowl if you’re sharing – the bread soaks up all the soup and it’s delicious!
indi Chocolate: The ONLY chocolate factory in Pike Place Market! They work directly with cacao farmers in countries around the world to source and create their delicious 72% dark chocolate.
Whatever you do, try the sipping chocolate (especially perfect on a chilly, rainy Seattle day). You’ll also find truffles, salted chocolate chip cookies, hot chocolates, and cortados.
Ellenos Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt infused with modern flavors & toppings?! Yes please! Even if you don’t think you like Greek yogurt you gotta try it. Think marionberry pie, passionfruit, and even lemon curd. One of my favorites at the market.
Edit: Unfortunately this spot recently closed – fingers crossed they find another location pronto!
Maiz: A relatively new savory spot, and easily one of the best tacos in town. Coming from California (and visiting Mexico every year), I have really high standards for Mexican food. And Maiz didn’t disappoint one bit.
They have different proteins every day (I tried their chicken mole, and wow, so much flavor!), and make their own tortillas right in front of you from their special house-ground masa. Super authentic Mexican drinks as well (like horchata, atole, and Mexican mocha). I’ll most definitely be back.
Hellenika: Phew, thankfully The Market’s got a new Greek yogurt spot in town! Hellenika is known for its rich frozen yogurt gelato – kinda a mix of a delicious tangy flavor with the sweetness of typical gelato.
There’s really fun flavors here, like lemon curd (the founder’s famous recipe), marionberry, and ube coconut. The shop is created by the same family as Ellenos, which is sadly not at the market anymore.
Rachel’s Ginger Beer: The best place in the city for ginger beer – they’ve got a ton of different flavors (white peach, mango, and passionfruit vanilla are my faves), and you can even add booze and/or pineapple Dole Whip soft serve to them!
Super refreshing on a hot day (yes, Seattle does have some of those!). Another stop I make every time I visit the city.
Shug’s Soda Fountain: A vintage-style ice cream parlor with super generous scoops and rootbeer floats and brownie sundaes? What can be better?! I’ve got a thing for airy interiors and of course ice cream.
Definitely try the Shugsicle – made with fresh in-house orange soda and creamy vanilla ice cream! My dream! Psst – they’re open late so perfect for an after-dinner dessert.
Shy Giant: Here you’ll find frozen yogurt and Snoqualmie ice cream, available for smoothies and shakes or scooped into a freshly made waffle cone.
There’s lots of vegan ice cream plus frozen yogurt, with unique flavors like lavender, sweet potato, and popcorn. Still kinda a hidden gem in the market.
Coffee Shops in/near Pike Place Market
This is Seattle afterall – you bet there’s at least a few spots around the market to grab some caffeine!
However, there are arguably way better beans in the city – Espresso Vivace, Cafe Allegro, Victrola Coffee Roasters, Anchorhead Coffee, and Caffe Ladro are all classic and solid choices. The Starbucks Reserve Roastery is pretty cool, too!
Storyville Coffee: Great coffee with an even better ambiance, and super friendly staff (they even bring you water with your coffee). Kinda hidden on the third floor, but worth the short trek up. While it doesn’t have the best coffee in all of Seattle, it’s an experience for sure. Sit by the fireplace, sip your latte, and do some people watching. Great on a cozy, rainy day!
Local tip: Buy a bag of beans and you’ll get a free drink (yes, even that wildly overpriced $10 mocha)! Plus a free mug for first time visitors! Get a cinnamon roll to go with your coffee – and ask for it to be warmed; absolutely divine!
Ghost Alley Espresso: Come here for artisanal espresso drinks, all from small, Northwest roasters. There’s some fun drinks on the menu, like the Salty Nut (a sea salt, caramel, and hazelnut latte – OMG yum) and a turmeric mocha.
If you’re up for anything, order the Mystery Mocha – the barista chooses your drink (and they’re usually very inventive)! It’s a small little shop (honestly more like a hole in the wall), so look out for it, just steps from the famous Gum Wall.
Seattle Coffee Works: While not in the market itself, it’s only a block or so away, known for their artisanal coffee and unpretentious vibe. They’re popular for their matcha lattes and white chocolate raspberry muffins, plus have a really solid single-origin cortado!
I spent a few hours here to escape the rain once, and totally appreciated all the open space and tons of seating.
Moore Coffee Shop: Another coffee shop near the market, with 2 locations; 2nd Ave is more of a sit-down (with their famous breakfast waffles), and the location on Stewart more of a grab and go.
Moore is known for their AMAZING speciality coffees, like horchata lattes, Mexican mochas, and chai lattes and their really impressive latte art. They put so much attention to the aesthetics and decor of the shop – I just love it!
Artly Coffee: Robotic baristas?! Yup, only here in Seattle do they use AI technology to make coffee! Yes, it’s kinda gimicky, but when else have you had your caffeine made entirely by a robot?!
My husband loves this place and goes every time. Plus — they’ll never spell your name wrong, haha!
Starbucks: Okay, time to talk about the elephant in the room — the ever-so-popular Starbucks. Here’s the truth about the “original” Starbucks at Pike Place Market. This Seattle-based coffee shop always has a line out the door, because it’s known as the first Starbucks in the city.
But what most visitors don’t realize is that the famous Starbucks at Pike Place Market that everyone thinks is the first location in the world, actually isn’t! Unfortunately the first one burned down, so the location at Pike Place is technically the second opening.
Should you visit?! That’s completely up to you of course. In my opinion, if you’ve only got 3 days in Seattle, I’d skip it. The line is always horrendously long and no, it doesn’t move too quickly (you’ll easily wait over an hour if you don’t get there super early). And, like we just learned, it’s not even the original Starbucks anyways!
Plus, the menu is the same as every other Starbucks around the country (they don’t sell anything wildly different or unique here). They do have some cool Starbucks memorabilia and branded merch, and it’s a fun piece of Seattle history to experience – if you’ve got the time.
I’d visit the Starbucks Reserve Roastery later on during your weekend trip to Seattle instead – it’s way larger and there’s lots to see there (plus, who can say no to espresso martinis!).
Sit-Down Restaurants in Pike Place Market
While I always recommend either a guided food tour of Pike Place Market or a DIY foodie stroll, you can always grab an actual meal at the market too! Better yet – do a food tour in the morning, and then come back later for an early dinner!
The Market’s actually got quite a few restaurants (not everyone realizes this!), with all kinds of cuisine. Here’s just a few spots (it’s nearly impossible to list them all!):
Matts in the Market: Known for its Pacific Northwest-inspired cuisine (and extensive wine list!), this restaurant offers stunning views of the market and Elliott Bay. It’s kinda hidden, located upstairs near Storyville Coffee. Sit by the window for great views of the market from above, and promise me you’ll finish your meal with their bread pudding with vanilla ice cream – heavenly!
Market Grill: Looking for something a bit more casual? Try the famous blackened salmon sandwich (seen on the Travel Channel) and some clam chowder! They do sell out so make sure to come on the earlier side!
Sushi Kashiba: High-end sushi & table-side omakase in a chic room with water views?! Sign me up! A great spot for a date. Yes, it’s pricey but the sushi and sashimi is all fresh and authentically delicious. Wait for the chef’s counter and if you get Kashiba himself as the chef, you’re in for a real treat.
The Pink Door: Love Italian food? You NEED to make a reservation at The Pink Door! There’s a reason it’s so popular – the rooftop patio, live entertainment (think burlesque shows and even trapeze artists), and of course the food!
Don’t miss the classic Pink Door lasagna – it’s an absolute must have and considered their signature dish which is consistently delicious over the years.
The location is pretty inconspicuous and hidden, which makes it even more fun – you’ll find it by looking for the unmarked, pink door entrance in Post Alley. Most people probably don’t even realize they’ve walked right past it!
Pink Door is probably the most sought-after reservation in all of Pike Place. Meaning – yes, you’ll have a hard time strolling on in without a reservation. Thankfully they do accept a limited number of walk-ins, but don’t count on it. As soon as you know when you’re visiting Seattle, make a reservation on their website. Unfortunately I haven’t made it here myself (I can never seem to snag a res) but I’m dying to try the truffle pasta and famous lasagna.
Shama: A new-ish restaurant in Pike Place, and easily some of the best Moroccan food you can find in Seattle. Order the lamb shank – you won’t be disappointed.
Pasta Casalinga: What can I say?! I’m a sucker for handmade pasta – and Pasta Casalinga delivers. The pasta counter is kinda hidden-away above the market atrium, serving just 4 daily types each day. Meaning a different menu every time you visit!
Lowell’s Restaurant: A classic diner with a view, Lowell’s is famous for its seafood and traditional American breakfasts. Make sure to sit by the window (there’s three floors worth!) for beautiful views of the waterfront! A touristy spot for sure but deserves a mention in this Pike Place Market guide!
Non-Foodie Things to Do at Pike Place Market
While you can spend all day eating and drinking at the market (that’s what I typically do!!!), there’s actually tons of other things to do at Pike Place Market. Perfect between bites when you need to digest before the next round of food, haha.
Buy some Bouquets at the Flower Market
Walking down the Main Arcade you’ll instantly see the gorgeous bouquets of fresh flowers. They’re kinda hard to miss! There’s quite a few different vendors (with both fresh and dried bouquets), and the blooms change depending on the season. Here’s what you can expect to find:
- Spring: lush peonies, yellow daffodils, and colorful tulips
- Summer: dahlia varieties and fragrant lavender
- Fall: marigolds and chrysanthemums
- Winter: Poinsettias and tons of gorgeous evergreen wreaths
The bouquets are huge and at such a great price! The flower farmers at Pike Place Market are able to keep prices low by keeping the middleman out. But psst – the bouquets at the Ballard Farmers Market are typically a bit cheaper (about $10 less), so wait until then to buy if you’re visiting both!
If I lived in Seattle I’d buy myself a new bouquet each and every week! Not a local? You can still buy some too – hotel rooms are great for pretty blooms, plus they make pretty great photo ops!
Insider tip: Wait until you’re done at the market to buy your bouquet. It’s kinda hard to hold a gigantic bouquet of flowers and eat everything at the same time, haha.
Note that there’s also a stand-alone florist at the gateway to the market on Pike and 1st, aptly named Pike Place Flowers. This is a full-fledged florist shop, and different from the vendors at the market itself. Vendors at the market and this shop are entirely different spots, but worth it to visit both!
See the Flying Fish at Pike Place Fish
One of the most popular things to do at Pike Place Market is to watch the flying fish at Pike Place Fish! Yes, you read that right! The fishmongers toss fish back and forth to each other, entertaining tourists and serving customers.
They say they don’t throw a fish until someone buys something – but… I know for a fact they have a “test-throw” fish to appease the tourists, haha. I admittedly have never bought anything here, and I honestly don’t think too many tourists do. It’s really interesting to see all the varieties of seafood on ice though – there’s octopi, squid, monk fish, and way more.
Photos with Public Market Center Sign
One of my favorite things to do at Pike Place Market? Take iconic tourist photos with the The Public Market Center Clock & Sign! Yes, it’ll be unbelievably busy (the market is one of the most popular areas in all of Seattle), but still worth it for that cute pic!
There’s two large signs at the market:
- The famous “Public Market Center” sign: Super easy to find and right above the popular fish market. There’s a few ways to capture this iconic sign, with tons of angles. Beware that it’s always terribly crowded over here, so just know they’ll always be people in the background.
And luckily for us, although it was first built in 1937, it was just recently restored in 2022 with a fresh paint job!
Note that large delivery trucks usually stop and park right under the sign around 9-10am or so (and seem to stay all day). Plan to get your photos earlier in the morning if that bothers you – the trucks are honestly kinda an eyesore, but they just add to the authenticity of the photo. Your call!
- The smaller “Public Market” sign: This lesser known one is just a block over on Pine Street. It’s not as grand, but it does have that cute fish on the roof which I love!
Say hello to Rachel & Billie, the Mascots of the Market
Say hello to the iconic large, bronze pigs around the market – affectionately known as Rachel and Billie. You’ll find Rachel right by the entrance, who has been gracing us with her presence since 1986. Billie joined the scene much more recently, in 2011, near the MarketFront deck.
You won’t realize this unless you get pretty close, but Rachel and Billy are actually piggy banks (raising $10-15k per year!). They play a key role in helping the Pike Place Market Foundation support vital social services, such as the food bank, child care, the medical clinic, and the senior center. Make a donation and rub their noses – you’ll have good luck!
Take sticky pics at the Gum Wall
One of Pike Place’s most iconic spots, and one of the city’s quirkiest attractions! Easily Seattle’s dirtiest, grimiest, and stickiest alley in all of the city. Kinda disgusting and gross, but a must during any weekend trip to Seattle. A great spot to take photos (just don’t get too close)!
The Gum Wall is a bit hidden, but wander the alley way of Lower Post Alley and you’ll find it no problem.
It has a surprisingly fascinating history – beginning in the early ’90s when people waiting in line to enter the nearby Market Theater started sticking their gum to the wall. Over the years, it’s evolved into a sprawling, colorful mosaic of chewed gum. That now stretches for over 50 feet! Kinda wild!
Psst – you’ll find another gum wall down in San Luis Obispo, California, although that one’s much, much smaller!
Stroll down Post Alley
Kinda adjacent to the market, you’ll find Post Alley – featuring a quirky set of attractions with lots of eclectic character. This is where you’ll find the Gum Wall, Pike Place Chowder, and Rachel’s Ginger Beer (3 of my favorites in the Market). Always fun to stroll down!
Find and Relax in the Secret Garden
Not many visitors know about the Secret Garden – and now you’re one of them! I didn’t even realize this place existed until my friend who lives in Seattle took me there! Super easy to miss if you don’t know about it.
What is the Secret Garden anyways?! A thriving community-led garden overlooking the Puget Sound, and the best spot to relax after a busy morning at the market.
I love that all the produce grown is actually donated to the Pike Market Food Bank that feeds the community, including over 500 herbs and vegetables each year! Pretty impressive if you ask me!
It’s pretty hard to find, but so is almost everything in the market, especially if it’s your first time. I guess I’ll give you guys directions, although don’t tell everyone, haha. Walk past the fish throwers, hang a left before Maximilien Restaurant, and bam – you’re there!
Shopping in/near Pike Place Market
There’s tons and tons of shopping in Pike Place Market – here’s just some of my favorites!
- Truffle Queen: An Italian grocery store that sells all things truffle! Truffle pesto, truffle salt, truffle cream, and more truffle samples. What could possibly be better?! The second you walk in you’ll smell the deliciously intoxifying scent of truffles – my favorite! Still kicking myself I didn’t pick up some truffle olive oil! Stop here for some wine tasting, too!
- World Spice: I swear, this place has almost every spice you’ll ever need for any recipe. There’s also tons of international cookbooks and lots of tea! Kinda expensive but exceptionally high quality.
- Fresh produce markets: Oh how I wish I lived within walking distance to these produce markets – they’ve got everything under the sun and it all looks oh so fresh. Even mangosteens, a fruit I LOVED during our time in Colombia but haven’t seen anywhere else in the US. My favorites are Choice Produce and Frank’s Quality Produce.
- DownUnder: Down under the bustle of the Main Arcade (get it, down under…) there’s over 100 new shops that have opened up in the lower floors! This is actually where the Seattle Public Library and U.S. Post Office had branches back in the day. Now, there’s books, art, antiques, jewelry, and way more. Most people miss this area – don’t be one of them!
- Craft Market: There’s a fairly large craft market right near the MarketFront Deck, where artisans set up their tables every day. You can find such unique stuff here (all local and handmade), including jewelry, pottery, art, apparel, home goods, and accessories. I bought a line-drawn postcard featuring the skyline of Seattle on my last visit. Some of these crafters have been selling at The Market for over 50 years – pretty wild!
- Metsker Maps of Seattle: Ok, so it’s not technically part of the market – but it’s literally just around the corner. So I couldn’t not include it on this list of things to do at Pike Place Market! It’s one of my favorite shops in all of Seattle afterall! You need to go here if you’re a travel lover like myself. They’ve got all kinds of travel-related items, like maps (of course!), globes, travel books, and travel journals, plus some fun gifts and such. I could spend hours and hours in there, just perusing all the books and maps (and sometimes I do just that!).
Have a picnic on the MarketFront Deck
Not sure where to bring your DIY picnic?! Head on over to the MarketFront! In summer, there’s picnic tables and umbrellas set up with probably the best views of Elliot Bay if I do say so myself! Plus the Seattle Great Wheel, and even Mt. Rainier and the Olympic Mountain Range on a clear day!
So there ya have it – all the best things to do at Pike Place Market! What foods are on your market bucket list?!