Pike Place Market is second only to the Space Needle as the most famous spot in Seattle.
While the gum wall and Rachel the pig are favorite photo ops for visitors to the Emerald City, the bustling market is still a major draw for residents.
Every day, thousands of Seattleites come by to pick up birthday flowers, shop for fresh produce or meet friends for a drink after work.
In and around the market
Sarah Anne Lloyd, the editor of Curbed Seattle and a native Seattleite, is one of the many locals who loves spending time at Pike Place Market.
She advises making a visit to to Il Bistro: “In a weird twist, this Italian restaurant has the best Spanish coffee in Seattle.” [Note: the Spanish coffee is a cocktail, not just a morning cup of java.]
Lloyd also loves many of the quirky shops inside the market, which may not get as much foot traffic as the ground-floor fishmongers but are part of what makes Seattle special. In particular, there are two magic shops: Tenzing Momo and Market Magic Shop.
About the latter, she says “This is a pretty mandatory part of the Pike Place Market experience, with all the classics of a Houdini-style magic store – illusion supplies, sleight-of-hand tricks, pranks, that kind of thing.”
One longtime Market staple is Three Girls Bakery, which Lloyd reports has been open since 1912 and has the distinction of being the first woman-owned company to get a business license in the city of Seattle.
One minute away
Pike Place’s location makes it a great starting point for exploring the city.
CNN Travel recommends beginning at the birthplace of one of Seattle’s most iconic brands.
While not technically inside the market, several places across the street are big attractions that fall under the domain of the market, namely the first Starbucks.
Although the offerings there are no different than any other Starbucks in the city, people are still willing to queue up for bragging rights – not to mention photo ops and the chance to see what the Starbucks mermaid looked like before she got a makeover for the brand’s logo.
One of the coolest new addresses in Seattle is across the street from the market. Palihotel, a West Coast indie hotel brand, opened its Seattle doors in fall 2018.
The sleek, green-hued color palette comes straight from the Emerald City surroundings, and the design touches (artfully mismatched hardbacks in the downstairs library, glossy white minifridges and kettles) feel chic instead of forced.
Request a room with a view of the market, but be careful about opening your curtains – there are apartments above the market, and your neighbors will be able to look right in.
Starbucks, 1912 Pike Pl, Seattle, WA 98101
Palihotel, 107 Pine St, Seattle, WA 98101
Five minutes away
Hungry? Two of Seattle’s best restaurants are a short walk away from the market.
Il Corvo, Italian for “The Crow,” is a renowned pasta spot that regularly sees lines around the street, and they don’t take reservations.
The premise is simple but stunning: Il Corvo is open only for lunch and serves only three pasta dishes per day (plus salads and a few sides).
With such a minimalist approach, there’s nowhere to hide, so consider visiting with friends, ordering the whole menu and going for broke. You won’t regret it, especially when you’ve waited 45 minutes to eat.
Tom Douglas has been one of Seattle’s star chefs for years, and Serious Pie, his downtown pizza spot, is a great example of why he’s such a local icon.
All the pizza dough is made in-house, and combinations change seasonally to feature ingredients such as Pacific Northwest potatoes and mushrooms.
Post-meal, head to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), which is easy to spot thanks to the “Hammering Man” – yes, it looks like a giant guy hammering away – sculpture by Jonathan Borofsky out front.
SAM’s collection focuses heavily on regions around the Pacific Rim, including paintings from Aboriginal Australian artists and wood-block prints from Japan.
The Seattle Public Library’s central branch is more like a modernist temple to books. Designed by prize-winning Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, its silver exterior changes constantly based on the light and time of day.
Inside, take the poison-green elevator to the top floor for views of downtown, and stop by the first-floor cafe for a cup of coffee if you need to get out of the rain.
Il Corvo, 217 James St, Seattle, WA 98104
Serious Pie, 316 Virginia St, Seattle, WA 98121
Seattle Art Museum, 1300 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98101
Seattle Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Seattle, WA 98104
10 minutes away
Formerly considered the grittiest part of Seattle, the Pioneer Square neighborhood is an interesting mix of office buildings, small businesses and funky boutiques.
When it comes to shopping, make your first stop Peter Miller Architecture And Design Books, which is semihidden on a side street called Post Alley.
In addition to the titular books, this is the kind of store where you buy a gift for your most impossibly cool friend – think perfectly weighted pens that feel like they’re not even in your hand when you’re writing and Scandi-chic gold housewares such as candleholders and travel-size alarm clocks.
At Fresh Tangerine, look for handmade pieces that err on the side of delicate, such as stackable rings (what, you thought you only needed one per finger?) and grown-up friendship bracelets.
At The London Plane, you can shop – for tea, flower arrangements and kitchenware – but you should also book a table for brunch. The airy, two-floor space is like a cozy museum you can eat in, and all the bread is made fresh. (That also includes the croissants, so go ahead and indulge.)
For a snack, General Porpoise makes the best doughnuts in town. The shop is full of whimsical balloons, but the doughnuts – which are only offered in four flavors a day and are of the round, cream-filled bombolino variety – are no joke. If lemon curd is available that day, get it.
To end the day, the Seattle Great Wheel, part of the Pier 57 entertainment complex, is a great way to see the city from above.
If you feel like springing $150 for VIP tickets, you’ll get to ride in a special car with Champagne, ports for your phone so you can play your own personal soundtrack and a clear floor so that you can also see Elliott Bay beneath your feet. You can spot it from a distance, as it’s the only black one.
Peter Miller Architecture And Design Books, 304 Alaskan Way S, Seattle, WA 98104
Fresh Tangerine, 89 Yesler Way, Seattle, WA 98104
The London Plane, 300 Occidental Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104
General Porpoise, 401 1st Avenue South, Seattle WA 98104
Seattle Great Wheel, 1301 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98101