A Seattle institution since 1907, Pike Place Market is the city’s first, and largest, farmers market. At a time when produce prices were soaring, farmers weren’t able to recoup their costs and the market was a way to connect producers directly with the public, cutting out the middlemen and creating a community that has skyrocketed in popularity.
Located on the iconic Seattle waterfront, Pike Place is open 363 days a year and encompasses a nine-acre Market Historic District overlooking Elliott Bay. A popular spot for tourists and locals alike, while there are plenty of fresh produce stalls, including permanent stands filled with local fruits and vegetables year-round, the market is also home to a number of fish markets, butchers, flower shops, bakeries, dairy and specialty vendors, and a wide range of restaurants.
But what really what makes the market so special? It’s not the fruit and vegetables…
You may have heard of the market’s famous flying fish before, but you have to see it to believe it. Pike Place Fish Market, located at the main entrance of the covered market area, is famous for its crowd-pleasing antics with fish mongers flinging the daily catch through the air to be caught and wrapped behind the counter.
Since the late-60s a thriving craft market has been open daily and features 225 local and regional craftspeople. Goods range from handcrafted fashion and jewelry, to toys and sculptures.
The first Starbucks
That’s right, the world’s first Starbucks coffee shop opened at Pike Place Market in 1971 and can still be found with its original look and feel in the same location. You could easily miss the small shop with all the hustle and bustle going on around you, but chances are there will be a line of loyal java enthusiasts out the door causing you to stop and take notice!
A foodie heaven
With more than 30 restaurants ranging from grab and go delis to fine dining, there’s something to satisfy everybody’s taste buds in Pike Place. One of the market’s oldest restaurants, you may remember the Athenian Seafood Restaurant and Bar from 1993’s Sleepless in Seattle. Located right on the waterfront, it’s hard to go wrong with any type of fresh fish.
Rachel the Piggy Bank
The large bronze piggy bank (next to the flying fish) isn’t just the market’s mascot and popular photo spot, but a really great opportunity to pay-it-forward. Change collected goes toward the Pike Place Market Foundation, which serves the downtown Seattle community with a senior center, food bank and clinic.
The lower arcade
First time visitors may think the market is just what they see of the street, but below the street-level stalls is a whole other world of curious shops specializing in vintage finds, collectibles and even magic tricks. If you have a couple hours to spare, it’s a great place to get creatively lost.
A special community
From the market’s opening in 1907 to present day, Pike Place Market has been a central gathering point for everyone from Seattle locals to worldwide travelers. Today, more than 10 million visitors have come to support the community and its producers. The market is also home to 350 permanent inhabitants who live above the storefront who are supported by the Pike Place Market Foundation.
Pike Place Market is open everyday of the year except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Opening hours vary by shop or stall – breakfast can be found as early as 6:00 a.m. while bars may shutter at 1:30 a.m. – but the official market bell rings at 9:00 a.m. with most vendors closing for the day around 4:00 p.m. The entrance is located in downtown Seattle above the waterfront at 1st Ave and Pike Street.