Open all year round, Pike Place Market is one of Seattle’s top attractions, a commercial hub of the city, and a place where you can get to know the Emerald City’s real soul.
Pike Place Market History
Stretching on 9 acres of land, Pike Place Market has been a staple in Seattle since it first opened to the public on August 17th 1907. One of this Seattle landmark’s prides refers to being the oldest continuously operating market in the US.
In 1907, Pike Place Market was established as a place for local farmers to sell their wares without going through middlemen. While the bustling never stopped, the market went through rough times and faced bulldozing threats. In the 1930s, the place was buzzing with activity, but by the 1960s, the area had become squalid, with peep shows and prostitution activities.
In the wake of Century 21 Exposition held in Seattle in 1962, the municipal authorities drew up plans of bulldozing the market. New office buildings and premium residences were supposed to be erected on this piece of land, but the plans were changed because of the Seattlites’ protests. Instead, the area was cleaned up and the market regained its livelihood.
Pike Place Market Tours
|Early-Access Food Tour of Pike Place Market||Food and Cultural Walking Tour of Pike Place Market||Pike Place Market: Walking Food Tour||Behind-the-Scenes Tour: Pike Place Market|
Explore Pike Place Market visiting nine different food and beverage vendors and tasting local cheeses, salmon, pastries, sipping the worldwide famous Seattle coffee.
Eat your way through Pike Place Market and go behind the scenes to take the pulse of the place, while exploring its attractions and delighting your palate with amazing food.
Follow a local guide and immerse yourself into the fascinating chaos that the Pike Place Market is. Let the smells, noises and sights assault your senses and enjoy your tour.
Venture into the labyrinth of alleys and explore Pike’s Place Market – one of the most interesting fish markets in the entire world. When you are hungry, grab a bite!
|Book Tour||Book Tour||Book Tour||Book Tour|
Strolling around Pike Place Market is one of the best ways to feel Seattle’s heartbeat and take its pulse. A fascinating experience, a visit of this top Seattle attraction will appeal to all your senses. Its exuberant theatricality will certainly charm you. Admire historical buildings, stroll along the colorful stalls showcasing the local artisans’ craft, watch the passers-by, and the notorious famous fish mongers flinging fish in the air to imprint on your retina some unforgettable visual memories of Seattle.
Embrace the mix of fish and other foods’ odors, sample some of the best coffee in the world and treat yourself to fresh bakeries to know the smell and the taste of the city. Listen to the sounds of the merchants and shoppers, and ear-drop on Seattleites gossiping over a cup of coffee.Explore Pike Place Market on your own or take a guided tour, but it’s best you don’t eat before you go. This is where you will find some of the city’s best eateries. A food tour of Pike Place Market will make you understand the old saying claiming that love goes through the stomach. While sampling the local vendors’ produce and sipping some coffee you will simply fall in love with the city.
Pike Place Market is the place to shop for souvenirs, and also the best place in town to grab a bite, but its significance goes much beyond being a mere farmers’ market. Pike Place Market is an entire urban ecosystem, where craftsmen, small entrepreneurs, businessmen, office workers, fishermen, farmers, buskers and tourists mingle.
Pike Place Market Hours
Operating 363 days a year and 20 hours a day, Pike Place Market is undoubtedly a bustling heart of the city. The best time of the day to visit it depends on your goal.
– Breakfast starts at 6 AM, but in most places you can enjoy it until noontime.
– You can visit the market for fresh produce and fish in the morning, starting 7 AM.
– The crafts market is opened daily (except Christmas and Thanksgiving Day) from 10 AM to 4 PM, but the other merchants are there until 6 PM.
– Restaurants close after 1 AM, most of them having a last call at 1.30.
Pike Place Market Attractions
An attraction in itself, Pike Place Market is dotted with a variety of landmarks of different types, ranging from the funny bronze statue known as Rachel to emblematic coffee shops, restaurants and merchants.
|Rachel the Piggy Bank||Main & North Arcades||Buskers|
|The Market Sign & Clock||The Original Starbucks||The Gum Wall|
Rachel the Piggy Bank
Standing right under the “Public Market Center” sign since 1986, Rachel the Piggy Bank is the market’s unofficial mascot, a meeting point for locals and tourists, one of Pike Place Market’s top attractions as well as a revenue source for the Market Foundation. The local artist Georgia Gerber’s creation is a large scape piggy bank in which the locals and tourists equally are encouraged to insert coins and banknotes. The currency is not important. All the funds raised this way are used for social services.
Rachel took its name after a real pig from Whidbey Island, which had won the Island County Fair competition of 1977, weighing 750 pounds. The market’s mascot weighs only 550 pounds, and represented the inspiration behind a fundraising event, the “Pigs on Parade” held in Seattle for the first time in 2001. The second edition was organized in 2007 to celebrate a century since the founding of Pike Place Market.
The Main & North Arcades
Rachel the Piggy Bank guards the entrance to Pike Place Market’s heart and its busiest sector – the Main & North Arcades. Erected back in 1907, the Main Arcade was the first market building designed by Frank Goodwin. While its architecture is far from being robust, this part of Pike Place Market has its historical value, besides being a good venue to get to know the local lifestyle.
Here you will find, artfully displayed, all sorts of fresh produce, including cheese, meat, fruits and veggies. The most emblematic stalls here are those selling fresh fish and sea fruits. Be prepared for a cavalcade of loud noises and strong smells as well as to a real time market show as fishmongers toss the salmons back and forth as if they were joggling balls. At the end of the North Arcade, you will find the local artisans showcasing the results of their craft. Only handmade products can be put on sale here.
They say the best way to explore Pike Place Market is to put aside any map and just stroll through the maze of paths, letting your senses and your curiosity guide you. Once you are done with the ground level, get in the underground. Below the Main Arcade, you will find another labyrinthine stretching on three levels. Known as the Down Under, this is the place where you will find an eclectic mix of tiny shops, selling about anything, from Indian spice to military buttons.
A top tourist attraction in Seattle, Pike Place Market has been the buskers’ favorite spot in town since its beginnings. You will find street performers of many talents here, from musicians to illusionists and many others.
The buskers are an integral part of Pike Place Market’s ambiance, and an attraction for the tourists visiting Seattle. If you have some spare time, it’s worth spending a few hours in the market just strolling around, soaking in the atmosphere.
The list of those who made a name for themselves as buskers at Pike Place Market includes the famous Artis the Spoonman who seduced everyone with his “playing the spoons” skills, the klezmer accordionist Evan Evanovitch, and the blind harpist Jeanne Towne.
Pike Place Market Sign & Clock
Probably the most emblematic image of Pike Place Market, this neon sign has a historical value, counting among the West Coast’s oldest items of outdoor neon.
The Pike Place Market Sign has been guarding the entrance to Pike Place Fish since 1927, when it was set in place. The clock has been keeping the time in Seattle’s soul that is the market for the same number of years.
If you visit Pike Place Market, don’t hesitate to take some snapshots of it at different times of the day, and even at night, when the neon light illuminates the darkness.
The Original Starbucks
Although no chains are allowed to open at Pike Place Market, one of the landmarks of the area is a Starbucks coffee shop. Yes, but not any Starbucks, but the original one.
Indeed, Pike Place Market is the place where this coffee success saga started. Actually, the three founding partners (Jerry Baldwin – an English teacher, Zev Siegl – a history teacher, and Gordon Bowker – a writer) opened their first outlet one block north of the current location, on Virginia Street. In 1975, after only 4 years of activity, they had to move because the building was being demolished. Since then, Pike Place Market has been their home.
In the beginning, they were only selling beans bought from the California based Peet’s Coffee & Tea, but later on, they developed from a store to a cafe. Howard Schultz was the one who introduced the idea of selling espresso drinks when he took over the business in 1987.
The Gum Wall
If you are into quirky things, then you must visit one of Pike Place Market’s attractions – the Gum Wall. Colorful and weird looking, this Gum Wall has a story: it all started when those entering the Market Theater had to leave their gum outside.
The Market decided to keep the wall in place, and passers-by certainly feel an itch to contribute, but the local authorities try to keep the gum away from windows and doors. Removing the gum from these places as well as from the neighboring building is painstaking as it has to be done manually.
Pike Place Market Restaurants
Tucked into different corners, Pike Place Market restaurants offer a number of unique and flavorful ways to enjoy this top Seattle attraction. No matter what you are in the mood for, you are spoiled with choice. From a mac & cheese at Beecher’s to fine dining at Le Pichet, going through Uli’s and its famous sausages, you are bound to have unforgettable culinary experiences at Pike Place Market.