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Discover how to spend your day exploring the best things to do at Pike Place Market!
Located in the heart of downtown Seattle, Washington, Pike Place Market is one of the top tourist attractions in the city and is an absolute must-do when visiting there.
In this article, we’ll explain exactly what to do at Pike Place Market whether you’re looking to browse, shop, eat, or see the most iconic spots!
We’ll also share the tips that we learned while visiting the market as well as our step-by-step itinerary and Pike Place Market map.
Here’s what to see and how to plan your day when visiting the historic Pike Place Market!
Intro to Pike Place Market
Established in 1907 in response to public outcry over the high cost of food, Seattle’s City Council started a public market, called Pike Place Market, as a way to help lower food costs.
The market quickly grew in popularity and size and developed into the 10-level massive shopping and entertainment hub that it is today.
Now known as the “Soul of Seattle”, Pike Place Market covers a 9-acre area and welcomes over 10 million people each year.
It remains one of the oldest continuously operated public markets in the United States and is home to more than 300 commercial businesses, 200 craftspeople, and 120 farmers.
The market’s busy corridors are filled with produce and goods that continue to be sold directly from farmers, fishermen, bakers, and artists to the consumer.
Free to visit and open 7 days a week, year-round (except for Christmas and Thanksgiving), the market is open from 9 AM – 5 PM and is busiest on weekends.
Things to buy at Pike Place Market include:
- Farm-grown fruits and vegetables
- Fresh-caught fish and seafood
- Fresh flowers
- Donuts, bread, and bakery items
- Spices, jellies, and locally brewed coffee and beer
- Handmade jewelry and apparel
- Paintings, glass creations, soaps, and leather goods
- Collectibles and antiques
- And much, much more!
Beyond shopping, the market is home to dozens of exciting restaurants, and oddities such as the Giant Shoe Museum, Rachel the Piggy Back, and the infamous Gum Wall.
Overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront on Puget Sound, let’s take a look at all of the fun things to do at Pike Place Market!
Pike Place Market is a must-do if you’re visiting Seattle before a cruise!
Check out our entire article and other ideas for spending 1-day in Seattle!
Best Things to Do at Pike Place Market
At Pike Place Market, enticing aromas, flying fish, and a lively atmosphere combine to create an unforgettable experience!
“Not your average farmers’ market”…here are the best things to do at Pike Place Market in Seattle.
1. Grab a sip at the original Starbucks
You may know that Seattle is home to the very first Starbucks.
But did you know that it is still fully operational in Pike Place Market?
You can visit the first-ever Starbucks, complete with its original decor and a full menu of your favorite Starbucks beverages.
Do note that this is a busy tourist attraction, drawing a ton of people and long lines.
If you don’t feel like waiting an hour for a cup of coffee, the visit is still worth it!
Take in the atmosphere and pose for a fun photo in front of the iconic Starbucks sign.
2. Shop for fresh food and flowers
As mentioned above, Pike Place Market is still an active marketplace selling dozens of varieties of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, seafood, and flowers.
All farm-grown and locally caught, prices tend to be quite affordable due to market competition and the seasonality of the fresh products.
In terms of flowers, most bouquet prices start around $10, making them a great deal.
When it comes to choosing from the fruits and vegetables, most locals have an established favorite, while you’re welcome to ask for a sample as well.
If you’re visiting from out of town, the majority of the fish and seafood vendors will ship their seafood anywhere in the U.S. – some of them for free.
3. Watch for flying fish
One of the most popular attractions at the market is Pike Place Fish Market and their “flying fish throw”.
Founded in 1930, Pike Place Fish Market is known for its tradition of their workers throwing the fish purchased by customers prior to wrapping it.
In other words, instead of walking back and forth to take orders, they simply toss the fish so it can get wrapped more quickly.
Many people wonder when fish throwing takes place, but it all depends.
The workers will toss your order when you pick out the fish you want and will also toss fish for people who are celebrating a special occasion like a birthday, bachelorette party, etc.
Either way, you’ll see crowds of people waiting and hoping to see a fish thrown.
Once in motion, it happens quickly – so have your camera out and ready.
There are several other great fish and seafood vendors at Pike Place Market, but Pike Place Fish Market is the only one that ‘throws’ fish.
The shop can be found on the corner of Pike Place and Pike Street and is the first vendor located after passing under the giant Public Market sign.
4. Shop unique, handcrafted items
There’s just something about locally-made goods that makes shopping so exciting.
Every day, market vendors sell their goods from individual stalls, selling just about anything you could imagine.
Search through jewelry, artwork, reworked vintage clothing, handmade beauty products, and more.
This is the perfect spot to purchase souvenirs, with a range of unique pieces you won’t find anywhere else.
Plus, this is a great chance to chat with the locals!
5. Take a photo at The Gum Wall
When visiting Pike Place, you need to stop by their stickiest installation – The Gum Wall.
It began as a grassroots art installation in the ’90s and has since become a must-do when visiting Pike Place Market.
If you’re feeling brave, add a sticky piece of chewing gum to the already thousands of colorful pieces placed on what has become an alleyway covered in gum – or, just take a photo like we did.
To visit the gum wall, go down the stairs located to the left of the market center clock sign (next to the flying fish market), or simply ask and follow the crowd.
Once down the stairs, you can’t miss it.
6. Check out the Giant Shoe Museum
The Giant Shoe Museum is a short but rewarding stop in Pike Place Market, resembling more of a circus sideshow than a museum.
Here, you can view the world’s largest collection of giant shoes.
This includes a size 37 shoe once worn by the world’s tallest man!
Additional planning tip: This wacky exhibit costs a quarter per viewing, so remember to bring your change.
While this spectacle isn’t exactly a true museum, the Seattle Art Museum is located just a block away from Pike Place if you want to go there to get your museum fix!
7. Meet Rachel the Pig
Rachel the Pig is an iconic figure at Pike Place Market and has been raising money for the Pike Place Market Foundation since 1986.
This giant gold-colored piggy bank can be found under the market center clock and is an actual piggy bank that collects funds for the downtown foodbank, medical clinic, and child and senior care center.
Take a picture with this charitable piggy and consider giving her your loose change.
There is another, less talked about giant piggy bank at Pike Place Market called Billie the Pig. Billie the Pig made his first appearance in 2011 and is located just outside the pavilion on the MarketFront Sundeck.
8. Browse the specialty shops
Beyond marketplace stalls, there are several specialty shops with storefronts in Pike Place Market.
These shops range from fun collectibles to magic shop wonders!
Be sure to stop in a few of these stores to discover their creative products.
Some must-stop specialty shops in Pike Place include:
- Market Magic Shop – magic trick supplies and magician memorabilia
- Rummage Hall Vintage – vintage and thrift finds
- Market Spice – teas, spices, tea sets, and more
- Indi Chocolate – small batch, artisan-made chocolate
- Golden Age Collectibles – comic books, action figures, collectibles, and games
- Chukar Cherries – dried fruits, chocolates, and nuts
9. Enjoy the buskers
At Pike Place Market, you’ll enjoy seeing and hearing street performers, otherwise known as buskers, that are welcome (and allowed) there.
All Market performers are required to first purchase a performer’s permit. Their acts include musical performances, miming, balloon art, magic, and more.
The spots where they perform are marked by a red musical note painted onto the sidewalk.
Every hour, the buskers rotate, providing constant entertainment throughout the market.
Don’t forget to tip to show your appreciation.
10. Eat your way around Pike Place Market
In our opinion, food is the best part of Pike Place Market!
From delicious restaurants to locally-sourced coffee, craft breweries, and gourmet desserts, Pike Place Market has it all.
With so many vendors selling food, your options are endless.
Here’s what we recommend you try:
The best coffee at Pike Place Market
Seattle has a major coffee culture and Pike Place Market is a great place to discover it all!
If you’re not up to waiting in line at the Pike Place Market Starbucks, we suggest that you try something different.
Coffee shops in Pike Place Market include:
- Ghost Alley Espresso – artisanal espresso with some spooky vibes! They’re even rumored to have a resident ghost.
- Storyville Coffee Pike Place – highly-rated coffee and baked goods at your convenience.
- Bacco Cafe – coffee and brunch with a focus on locally-sourced ingredients.
Fresh seafood at Pike Place Market
Take advantage of the market’s seaside location by trying some fresh Pacific seafood.
You can find yummy seafood dishes at:
- Pike Place Chowder – selling their famous clam chowder to crowds every day.
- Athenian Seafood Restaurant – bay & market views, serving fresh seafood.
- Market Grill – counter-serve grilled seafood from today’s catch.
Pike Place Market breweries (and cocktails!)
Pike place market food wouldn’t be complete without something refreshing to water it all down.
That’s where a flight of craft beer could really come in handy!
Some of the top craft beer and cocktail bars include:
- Old Stove Brewing – taproom and onsite brewery that is kid-friendly.
- Pike Brewing Company – locally-sourced eats, seasonal beer, and a beer museum!
- Rachel’s Ginger Beer – their flagship location serving up delicious Moscow mules.
- Zig Zag Cafe – cocktails and snacks in a small, trendy location.
Yummy desserts at Pike Place Market
Finish off your market food tour with tasty desserts, from baked goods to ice cream:
- Three Girls Bakery – founded in 1912, serves old-school pastries, sandwiches, soups, and more.
- Piroshky Piroshky – Russian bakery serving homemade piroshki (both sweet and savory options – highly recommend this place!)
- The Confectional – cheesecakes and chocolate truffles galore!
- Le Panier – French bakery serving macarons, bread, and more.
- Shug’s Soda Fountain – ice cream, sundaes, housemade sodas, and sandwiches.
11. Take a food tour
If all of these food and drink options seem like too much to consider, going on a Pike Place Market food tour is one of the best things to do at Pike Place Market.
A food tour, done with a local guide, will give you a creative overview of the market, filled with knowledge and insider stories.
Best of all, you’ll sample the best eats the market has to offer along the way.
Pike Place Market Map & Itinerary
Here’s how we spent our day at Pike Place Market.
Feel free to use this Pike Place map and itinerary as a start to customizing your day at the market!
Our Pike Place Market Itinerary
Enter through the Main Entrance at 1st Ave. and Pike Street.
Main Arcade and Pike Place Street
1. Rachel the Pig (corner of Pike Place and Pike Street – 550lb piggy bank, bronze statue – make a donation and rub its nose leads to good luck – there’s a 2nd pig named Billie on the backside of the main corridor)
2. Pike Place Fish Market – watch flying fish! (located right behind the pig – will sometimes give out fish jerky samples)
3. Then, move to the right down the Main Arcade – a long indoor corridor of farmers, flower shops, fish dealers, handmade goods, etc.
4. To the left, halfway down the hall, there’s a free observation deck for views of the harbor. Here you’ll go to the Market Front for views of Elliott Bay (Western Ave., cross over a bridge)
5. The corridor ends at Steinbrook Park (2 totem poles, grassy area)
6. Then turn around and go back up Pike Place Street and see these 4 famous spots: The Original Starbucks, Piroshky Piroshky pastries, Beechers Handmade Cheese (famous for their mac-n-cheese) & Three Girls Bakery.
7. Across the road at the end of Pike Place Street is the Donut Company.
Lower Post Alley
8. Back towards the Fish Company, look for a stairway marked with signs for the Gum Wall (downstairs – Lower Post Alley)
9. Further down the alley is the Seattle Selfie Museum (cool place but spendy)
10. After the alley, re-enter the building and explore the lower levels (knick-knack and oddity shops)
- Giant Shoe Museum (4th level of the Market, middle of the hallway)
- Market Magic Shop (across from the Giant Shoe Museum)
- Golden Age Collectibles (4th level in the Down Under of the Main Arcade)
11. Back in the main building, sit down to eat at: Sound View Cafe, Lowell’s, or Athenia
12. Go to Rachel’s Ginger Beer (corner of Post Alley and Pine Street)
13. Check out Sur La Table (the best store for home cooks!)
Other popular shops in Pike Place Market include:
- Chukar Cherries (high stall under the Main Arcade)
- Pike Brewing Co. (between 1st Ave and Post Alley)
- Shug’s Soda Fountain & Ice Cream (along First Ave in the market, try the prosecco/sorbet)
- The North Arcade (vendors)
- Franks’s Quality Produce (a local favorite!)
Tips for Visiting Pike Place Market
Our additional tips for visiting Pike Place Market include:
- The market is VERY busy. Determine how you’ll stick together as a group and have a meeting spot if anyone gets lost.
- Most of the walkways and shopping areas of the market are covered or indoors, however, bring along a light rain jacket and travel umbrella if you’re visiting Pike Place Market when it’s raining.
- Guided tours of the market are available and booking info can be found here.
- Pike Place Market vendors take both cash and credit cards.
- Here’s a list of public seating areas at the market, which can be hard to find. Your best bet is to try to get a picnic table on the MarketFront Sundeck overlooking the waterfront.
- Parking is extremely limited at and around the market. Try to either walk there or take the Link Light Rail and get off at Westlake if coming from a different part of the city.
- There are 4 public restroom areas at Pike Place Market. Visit the FAQ page to find out where.
- There are no paper maps of the entire Pike Place Market, only an interactive map on their website. Have a general idea about the layout of the market before visiting.
Best Things to Do at Pike Place Market: Conclusion
That covers our top recommendations on the best things to do at Pike Place Market.
Whether you’re stopping by for a quick lunch or have an entire afternoon to explore, your visit to the market is sure to be memorable.