Pike Place Market is arguably the most iconic tourist attraction in Seattle. Whether you’re a tourist visiting the city, or a Seattleite looking to spend a day downtown, Pike Place Market is the place to go!
The best way to enjoy Pike Place Market is by arriving early in the day, grabbing a coffee at the OG Starbucks before taking your time strolling through the market. This will give you enough energy to make it through all nine acres of shops, eateries and farmer’s markets without feeling too tired!
After being able to call Pike Place Market our home for over 20 years, we have a few expert tips to share with you when it comes to visiting one of America’s most beloved public markets! Below are our 10 best tips on how to spend a day at Pike Place Market like a pro, so you can get the most out of your experience. Without further ado, let’s get right into it:
1) Most importantly, take it all in.
Pike Place Market is as close as it gets to embodying the “heart” of Seattle. It seems as if this space is alive, living and breathing at all times. When you visit Pike Place Market at its peak hours, you will be amazed by the energy that this place holds.
The smell of ocean water combined with the delicate scent of fresh tulips and peonies, loud and cheerful voices of the fish vendors, laughs and gasps of the tourists, and the upbeat sounds of street music – Pike Place Market is truly a sight to behold. So be present, take it all in and prepare for a day full of adventures and multi-sensory experiences right in the heart of Seattle.
2) Bring gum (just trust us)!
The Gum Wall is a rather unappetizing, but a must-have experience for anyone visiting Pike Place Market. Here, you get a chance to quite literally leave your mark in Seattle’s history (more or less). This 50-feet-long tourist attraction is hidden away in an alleyway under the market, and covered in thousands of chewed pieces of gum.
So much that it needs to be regularly cleaned, so that the wall doesn’t collapse under the weight of all the gum accumulated since 1993. Crazy, right?
3) Don’t forget to say “hi” to Rachel.
One of the most prominent Pike Place celebrities is Rachel the Pig, who has been a crucial part of the market’s ambiance since 1986. Created by the Northwest sculptor Georgia Gerber, Rachel is a sibling sculpture of the Husky that stands in front of the Husky Stadium in University District. This sculpture (actually, a piggy bank) immortalizes Gerber’s neighbour’s pet pig, who was also somewhat of a celebrity and won a prize at the Island County Fair in 1985.
In addition, Rachel is also a very talented fundraiser, and contributes thousands of dollars a year to the Market Foundation! Head to the market entrance for a chance to meet Rachel and make a donation to the foundation that benefits a wide variety of social services.
4) Have a picnic.
Although it is tempting to settle in one of countless little cafes and restaurants around Pike Place Market, we recommend you try something different – a picnic. This way, you get to experience a variety of delicacies offered by this legendary site, all while enjoying the Seattle sun. Grab a sandwich, a croissant, or a Piroshky (or, you know, all of the above) and pair it with a coffee or a ginger beer, then relax on a bench or a grass patch!
Bring a book, or a friend – and enjoy the full Pike Place Market experience, while tasting some of the best food the market has to offer! Around the market itself, there are quite a few spots to have a picnic, like Victor Steinbrueck Park, or if you’d like to enjoy the water view as well – head down to the Pier that is just minutes away.
5) Whatever you do, do NOT miss the flying fish!
When visiting Pike Place Market, this is the one thing you absolutely do not want to miss. Trust us, it is quite an experience that makes up for a fun memory and a great Instagram post.
Nothing screams “Seattle” more than a video of a giant fish being tossed around between fishmongers, accompanied by enthusiastic cheers from the crowd in the background. Even if it doesn’t sound too entertaining – trust us, you will find this experience to be rather amusing.
6) Seriously, do not worry about an umbrella.
If you’re new to Seattle, you might get a little discouraged by the overwhelming amount of precipitation we get. Give it a little time, true Seattleites have learned to love it and even look forward to the rainy season!
If you’re caught in the rain during your day of downtown Seattle exploration, do not worry – most of the market, as well as the sidewalks, are covered so you can continue your experience in warmth and comfort. The soothing sound of rain droplets hitting the ground will bring an extra touch of authenticity to your Pike Place Market visit.
7) Don’t forget to get a snack while you browse!
Pike Place Market is not only a go-to spot for the freshest groceries – the market also offers quite the selection of fruit, bread, cheese and cured meat. In other words, a perfect on-the-go snack while you’re browsing through the market’s offerings.
If you get a little hungry while you’re exploring the market, stop by another Pike Place veteran – DeLaurenti. First opened in 1946, this food & wine store has been serving visitors for over 70 years. For a quick, delicious and convenient snack to keep you full – try their charcuterie cones, packed with prosciutto, cheese, olives and breadsticks.
8) Treat yourself and your loved ones to some flowers.
Pike Place Market is perhaps the best place to get flowers – whether you have a special occasion to celebrate or not. Here, you will find an abundance of different plants in all kinds of arrangements. Best part? You can design a bouquet yourself! Just pick the flowers you like, and the flower vendors will take care of the rest for you.
With their genius stem wrapping method, you don’t have to worry about your flowers’ well-being while you explore the market! So feel free to cruise around the downtown area with a beautiful bouquet of daffodils, tulips, roses and peonies in your hands. The flower arrangements sold here are simply gorgeous, and will give your Pike Place visit an extra lovely touch.
9) There is more to Pike Place Market than just Pike Place Market!
Yes, you read that correctly. When planning a day out in the Pike Place area, the market is an obvious go-to. However, don’t forget about many other attention-worthy spots around. Not all of them are food-related, but that’s what’s fun about it!
After you have finished your market shopping spree, head down to the Lion Heart Bookstore or Market Magic & Novelty Shop. There are a variety of stores and local artist shops that will help you pass the time and offer wonderful, unique souvenirs for purchase.
10) And of course: grab a fresh-out-the-oven, deliciously crispy Piroshky 😉
No Pike Place Market visit is complete without stopping by the Piroshky Piroshky Bakery. Do not worry about trying to find us, just exit the marketplace and let the delightful smell of freshly baked Piroshky guide you towards our bakery. Here, you will find a large variety of this Eastern European staple – from flavorful meat Piroshky to sweet dessert Piroshky, and everything in between!
Do not get discouraged if you see a line – it is true that a lot of people are drawn to the smell and taste of our baked goodness, but the line moves fast and you will be enjoying our hand-held pies in no time! Trust us, it is worth the wait 😉