Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Pike Place Market, Seattle

  • Published 2023/03/13

Pike Place Market has become synonymous with Seattle.

It’s been the defining icon of the city for over a century, with many people calling it the ‘Soul of Seattle.’

The market covers nine acres in the city’s downtown, enticing hundreds of residents and visitors alike to eat, talk, and shop.

Up to 10 million people come here to grab its freshest produce and visit its shops and restaurants.

The country’s longest operating farmer’s market opened in 1907 with eight local farmers.

These farmers wanted to cut out the middleman and sell their products directly to the public.

Within only three months, the market grew to 76 stalls.

By 1922, the market had 11 buildings.

One of the most popular draws of this market is seeing fishmongers with salmon slung over their shoulders and the street buskers performing for the passersby.

Pike Place Market isn’t solely about fresh produce and vendors selling their goods.

Pike Place Market will surprise you with its vibrant atmosphere, food offerings, quaint shops and restaurants, and fun activities.

Here are the best things to do in Pike Place Market, Seattle:

Grab Fresh Produce at the Pike Place Market

Exterior of Pike Place Market center

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The Pike Place Market is a market that sells fresh produce.

Grab freshly-caught salmon, crisp vegetables, and juicy fruits here.

Fresh fruits at Pike Place Market

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Shop from stall to stall and find the most common pantry essentials up to the most unique ones.

You’ll also find stuff you haven’t seen before.

The vendors can help you choose your purchase or pick out the best and freshest items for your basket.

Fresh seafood at Pike Place Market

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Grab Mac ‘n’ Cheese at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese

People lined up at Beecher's Handmade Cheese

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If you are a food-focused traveler, you’ll have a great time going around Pike Place Market.

This area comprises over 500 stalls, restaurants, bars, and vendors.

Take time going around the market.

Go from one stall to another, taste the fruit slices they offer, and take a bite of their Washington apples.

A bowl of mac and cheese at Beecher's Handmade Cheese

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Buy fruits and enjoy charcuterie and specialty cheeses from DeLaurenti for your lunch.

If you love mac ‘n’ cheese, stop at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, a popular Seattle staple.

While walking, enjoy some delicious homemade Greek yogurt from Elleno’s.

Stop by Old Stove Brewing Co. or at Rachel’s Ginger Beer in Post Alley for a Moscow mule.

Cheese making process at Beecher's Handmade Cheese

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Indulge Your Sweet Tooth at Lopez Island Creamery

Pike Place Market is where you can find endless ways to satisfy your dessert cravings.

Enjoy fried mini doughnuts with your favorite cinnamon powder, powdered sugar, or sprinkles.

Grab some ice cream or chug down a bottle of soda from the Lopez Island Creamery.

Grab a piece of heaven at Indi Chocolate, with a cafe and a retail area for its products.

You can also watch them make their chocolates.

Take Photos at Rachel the Piggy Bank

Evening view of Rachel the Piggy Bank

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Go to the entrance on First and Pike and find the red Public Market sign.

You’ll find a crowd of giggling visitors posing next to Rachel the Piggy Bank‘s 550-pound bronze frame.

If you can’t snap a photo alone with Rachel, you can also pose next to her cousin, Billie the Pig.

Rachel the Piggy Bank surrounded by shoppers

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Otherwise, take a photo of yourself under the red Public Market sign, an iconic landmark.

Behind Rachel, you’ll see the everyday scene of the market, composed of vendors shouting and tossing freshly-caught fish across the stand.

Take a photo of this activity and show it to your friends back home.

Grab Unique Items at Pike Place Market

Flower vendor at Pike Place Market

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You might want to allot a whole day shopping at Pike Place Market.

You’ll need all the energy and time to explore all 200 artisans selling their work.

Find a wide array of products, from homemade soaps to ceramics.

Colorful tulips at Pike Place Market

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Pike Place Market is famous for its endless rows of flower stands, offering arrangements for a fair price.

Offbeat shops sell magazines, vintage posters, magic tricks, retro pop culture paraphernalia, rare comics, and lightsabers on the lower arcade levels.

Flower bouquets at Pike Place Market

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Grab a Drink at Radiator Whiskey

What should you do when the sun sets at Pike Place Market?

When the sun goes down, the lights and bottles go up.

Visit Radiator Whiskey to try their impressive range of bourbon, rye, scotch, whiskey, and cocktails.

If you haven’t already tried it, order their bourbon margarita.

There are even bars and restaurants that open until 2:00 a.m.

Explore the Pike Place Urban Garden

Daytime view of Pike Place Urban Garden

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Considered a secret garden, the Pike Place Urban Garden is a place that surprises even the area’s residents.

It’s an excellent place to see grown produce donated to the Pike Place Market Senior Center and Food Bank.

The colorful plants and vegetables will surely soothe your senses.

If you have the time, sit on one of the benches between raised garden beds and winding tomato plants to enjoy the fantastic views of the Seattle Great Wheel and the water.

It’s on the rooftop of the LaSalle Building; enjoy the incredible rooftop views.

Join the Seattle Free Walking Tours

Established in 2012, the Seattle Free Walking Tours started from its co-founders’ travels and adventures.

They hoped to bring the concept of free tours in Europe here to Seattle.

Market Experience free tours are among their flagship tours, educating visitors about the culture and history of the city.

Unlike other walking tours in Seattle, this tour does not charge anything.

They rely on voluntary contributions.

Of course, the market tour brings you to the beautiful and vibrant Pike Place Market.

Enjoy Superb Seattle Coffee at the Storyville Coffee

Exterior of Storyville Coffee

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Do you want to taste Seattle’s favorite coffee?

Go to the top floor of the Corner Market Building at First and Pike.

If you stand on the red cobblestone and look towards the Public Market clock sign, you’ll see their building on the right side.

Storyville Coffee has explored the world for the most delicious beans, sourcing only from two top suppliers.

Their toastmasters roast each bean variety to create the smoothest blend just for you.

Pair your coffee with some delectable pastries for the perfect afternoon delight.

Indulge in Tea at the Crumpet Shop

Signage of the Crumpet Shop

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Coffee is not the only popular drink in Pike Place Market.

You can also enjoy an afternoon tea at the Crumpet Shop, Seattle’s first and original crumpet shop.

Gary Lasater started this shop in 1976 at Pike Place Market.

He had perfected his crumpet recipe with his wife.

Today, their son, Rob, runs the company.

He also bakes scones and crumpets.

The shop prepares loose-leaf teas, available in-shop and for takeaway.

They only source their tea from regions known to produce the best teas, including China, India, Taiwan, and Sri Lanka.

You can try any tea when you ask for a refill.

Check Out the Giant Shoe Museum

Mural of the Giant Shoe Museum

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Climb Pike Place Market’s fourth level and walk along the hallway to find the Giant Shoe Museum.

The museum’s designs will remind you of a circus sideshow.

Though it’s only a single exhibit wall, the museum occupies a large area, featuring part of Danny Eskenazi’s collection.

He is known for his obsession with large shoes.

His obsession began when he learned that his grandfather owned a wingtip worn by the world’s tallest man.

Though Danny never found those shoes again, his search led to discovering many other large shoes.

You can find these shoes in the museum.

Drop a quarter in the coin-operated stereoscope-style viewing slots to check out the collection.

Surrender to Your Cherry Cravings at Chukar Cherries

Store of Chukar Cherries

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Visit Chukar Cherries, a family-owned company that has operated for more than three decades.

They turn local tarts and sweet cherries into delicious chocolate cherries, cherry gift baskets, and zero-sugar dried cherries.

Packs of Chukar Cherries ready for purchase

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The taste is impeccable because they only use the freshest ingredients without preservatives.

The kids will surely love this place, and so will you!

Discover Beer History at the Microbrewery Museum

Do you want to see Seattle’s most extensive beer memorabilia and art collection?

Head out to First Avenue and find the Pike Brewing Company.

Inside the pub is the Microbrewery Museum, which provides ample information about the history of beer.

Thanks to Charles Finkel, founder and owner of the company, you can see thousands of authentic beer memorabilia.

Find mugs and figurines, English tap handles, advertisements, and Prohibition posters.

You can also find artifacts such as hometown breweries and favorites, renewing your appreciation for beer.

See the Fish Fly at Pike Place Fish

A vendor tossing a fish at Pike Place Fish

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See men hauling fish back and forth from the counter to the display at Pike Place Fish.

Tossing the fish makes them look like they’re flying.

To make sales more efficient, they toss the fish once someone makes an order.

The store of Pike Place Fish

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However, they can also do a ‘test throw’ if you want to watch them toss fish.

They do this only when no one is ordering.

You can even try catching a tossed fish during a Pike Place Market tour.

This is undoubtedly going to entertain you and everyone else.

A man tossing a fish at Pike Place Fish

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Fall in Love with the Sunset at the Pike Place Market Front

The Market Front is a 330,000-square foot facility established in 2017, offering fabulous views of West Seattle and Elliot Bay.

Cross Pike Place Market’s new section bridge to reach the Market Front.

Its entrance is at the cross-section of Pike Place and Stewart Street.

As you walk along the bridge, you will see vendors and artisans setting up.

You can see Mt. Rainier and the Olympic Mountain Range on a clear day from the Market Front.

Just sit down, admire the sights, eat a burger, and sip your favorite soda while letting time pass by.

Have a Special Chowder at Pike Place Chowder

Signage of Pike Place Chowder

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Fix your chowder cravings through Pike Place Chowder, which specializes in specialty chowders with a focus on seafood.

The restaurant serves award-winning varieties of chowder, including the New England clam, scallops, smoked salmon, oyster chowder, and many more.

Also, its best-selling seafood bisque in a lobster roll or bread bowl is not to be messed with.

A bowl of seafood chowder in Pike Place Chowder

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All these are served in a counter-style setting with lots of warm and friendly smiles.

And if you can get great timing for a Happy Hour at Pike Place Chowder, enjoy discounted mouthwatering chowder and premium drinks!

Chowder bowl and chips in Pike Place Chowder

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Admire the Unique Sight of The Gum Wall

Heart made out of gum at The Gum Wall

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Intentionally created by the Market Theater patrons in 1991, The Gum Wall has become one of the popular tourist attractions located just below the Pike Place Market.

It’s on the walls of Post Alley, a short street in downtown Seattle.

Guests would stick their used gums on the wall and would push pennies into them, which were later removed as mandated by the authorities.

Close details of The Gum Wall

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But the gums just won’t go away despite the cleaning efforts, and the authorities decided to allow them there.

Today, The Gum Wall is among the most-visited spots in downtown Seattle.

Daytime view of The Gum Wall

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See the Entire Seattle and Nearby Places at the Historic Space Needle

Exterior of the Historic Space Needle

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Towering about 605 feet above the ground, the historic Space Needle is an observation deck built in 1962 in the Seattle Center for the World’s Fair.

The tower provides picturesque views of the downtown Seattle skyline, several Puget Sound islands, the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, and many more.

It can be accessed through the elevators, which only take 41 seconds to go to the top.

Close view of the Historic Space Needle

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The tower also features a rotating restaurant.

It used to be the tallest structure in Seattle and in the State of Washington from 1962 to 1969.

The Space Needle has been designated a historic landmark in Seattle.

Top part of the Historic Space Needle

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Ride the Seattle Great Wheel

Daytime view of the Seattle Great Wheel

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Another landmark to enjoy in the city is the Seattle Great Wheel; a 175 feet tall Ferris wheel that offers amazing views of Seattle and a beautiful presentation of LED-colored lights.

It was built in 2012 with 42 climate-controlled gondolas that can seat up to 8 passengers.

The Ferris wheel features a three-revolution ride, which takes 12 minutes and extends 40 feet over Elliott Bay.

Gondolas of the Seattle Great Wheel

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Beautiful waterfront views are among the top reasons why you should ride the Seattle Great Wheel.

It’s also kid-friendly, so you can take the little ones up there!

Close view of the Seattle Great Wheel's gondola

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Satisfy Your Pirozhki Cravings at Piroshky Piroshky

If you’ve tried Pirozhki or Piroshki before, Piroshky Piroshky in Pike Place Market can satisfy your cravings!

Founded in 1992 by Olga Sagan in Seattle, the bakery is famous for baking more than 20 varieties of Piroshki, which is popular in Europe, particularly in Russia.

Customers rave about its sweet and savory flavors, including smoked salmon pate, rhubarb, cream cheese vatrushka, and more.

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, try its delicious Veggie Chipotle Piroshky, Impossible Beef & Onion Piroshky, Borscht, and Potato & Mushroom Piroshky.

All other Piroshky Piroshky varieties are perfect for anyone with no diet restrictions.

Final Thoughts

Pike Place Market is everything but the usual market.

It’s exciting, alive, upbeat, and enjoyable.

Its numerous offerings draw many visitors from all over.

Many of them have come back again and again.

Start planning your Pike Place Market today!

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