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Visiting Pike Place Market

Visiting Pike Place Market

Being the foodie that I am, naturally I had heard of Seattle’s most famous market (The Pike Place Market), but in my East Coast/uninitiated Pacific Northwest ignorance, I never realized the market actually refers to a whole area, not necessarily one confined space. When I hear the term “market,” places like Cleveland’s Westside Market and Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market come to mind. Both of these markets are massive buildings, but that’s just it, they’re one building.

If you go to Pike Place Market’s website (click here to access it), you’ll find it’s easy to get lost in a cyber context. So when I started perusing its various menus, I just thought, “wow, this place is huge to have so much.” Little did I know that the many different businesses found at the Market are in fact spread out over a couple of blocks…easily.

Visiting Pike Place Market

When I was initially looking at food tours in Seattle, most options were ones of the Market which I ruled out since I didn’t want a tour inside “just a building.” Little did I know that of course that’s not how they were at all.

Visiting Pike Place Market

I don’t want to bore you with a history lesson on the market (for that click here), but in a nutshell, its origins can be traced back to the history of every other food market in the world-it’s a place where farmers, craftspeople, and merchants sell their wares. Pike Place Market also has the distinction of being one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the United States (it opened in 1907).

Visiting Pike Place Market

Rachel the Piggy Bank-an often mobbed photo op.

After arriving at our hotel in downtown Seattle mid-afternoon, I had us immediately head back out, straight to the market since most businesses there are only open till 6 PM. It’s somewhat easy to find since its location is right at the Elliott Bay Waterfront (you see water, you made it). And of course there are  also the two iconic Public Market and Public Market Center signs that grace every Seattle image known to man.

Visiting Pike Place Market

I’ll say this, due to the insane crowds that frequent the market (more than 10 million people visit it each year), it’s best to visit with a semi-plan of attack. Not to say you can’t enjoy yourself simply by wandering. However, some stretches make it laborious to walk by (you’re fighting with storefronts, mobs of people, and traffic), and initially it’s not easy to find out where everything else (i.e. those businesses located on the Post Alley stretch), so knowing what you want to search out will reduce the amount of “wasted time.”

Visiting Pike Place Market

Although a couple of ethnic eateries had intrigued me, I ended up going with a hometown favorite for our first meal from the Market-Pike Place Chowder. We arrived there about 5 PM or so (they close at 6) and I was somewhat dismayed to see the longish line. Little did I know that the tiny line we waited in was a total walk in the park-we came by the next day in the mid-afternoon and that line was about quadruple the size. I ordered the Manhattan clam chowder and the server recommended against having it in a bread bowl. Almost two weeks later, I’m still disappointed by not having my chowder bread bowl.

Visiting Pike Place Market

The Main Arcade was the most crowded portion of the Market but that’s no surprise since it’s more enclosed.  But it’s here that my gardener’s heart was awakened by all of the beautiful flowers for sale. Never before had I seen so many utterly stunning peonies. My biggest regret is not having a vase to have put some of them in. A visit here will remind you how fertile a ground Washington state is for flower growing.

Visiting Pike Place Market

A visit to Pike Place Market will undoubtedly test your patience if you hate crowds and people who don’t seem to grasp that other people are still trying to pass by. And yet, it’s simply a requisite stop on a trip to Seattle.

Visiting Pike Place Market

The Red Headed Traveler’s Tips for Visiting

-Keep a firm hand on purses, bags, and other valuables (i.e. keep your wallet in your front pocket)

-Skip visiting “the original Starbucks” (the lines are insane and not worth the wait considering the sheer number of non-chain coffee houses found throughout the city)

-The line for Piroshky Piroshky IS worth it (these are delicious sweet and savory Russian-style doughnuts)

Visiting Pike Place Market Visiting Pike Place Market

-If you’re looking for postcard stamps, the newsstand kiosk on the corner of Pike Street and First Avenue sells them

-I didn’t make it to the Crumpet Shop so if you make it there, let me know how it is!

Visiting Pike Place Market

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Traveolani
    June 15, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    It is always SO crowded at Pike Place market. I have been these several times and I just by jam and leave immediately! I don’t even want to explore what you can buy there, it’s just so many people!

    • Reply
      Julie
      June 16, 2016 at 12:37 pm

      It was definitely a madhouse between the wares, people, and traffic! The early morning seemed like a decent time, but as the day went on, it’s definitely someplace where your patience is severely tested! It’s always good to come with a plan of attack and get out asap 🙂

  • Reply
    Bridget @ A Traveling B
    June 18, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Love Pike Place Market! The last time I was there I had the best salmon sandwich of my life and sat in Tom Hanks’ Sleepless in Seattle seat (one of my favorite movies!). That was 5 years ago though so I’m thinking a return trip is in order. Thanks for reminding me how great it is there!
    Bridget @ A Traveling B recently posted…Ireland in VideoMy Profile

    • Reply
      Julie
      June 20, 2016 at 8:21 am

      I finally saw Sleepless in Seattle a couple of years ago for the first time ever, but now that I’ve been there I will definitely need to watch it again! I definitely need to return for no other reason than to buy some of those beautiful peonies and try some of the smoked salmon I saw everywhere 🙂

  • Reply
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