Pike Place Market is one of the more famous landmarks in Seattle. The iconic “Public Market Place” sign and clock mark the entrance off of Pike Street, it’s namesake. A popular tourist destination, the market is also one of the best places for locals to go and find that perfect filet of fish or ‘rare’ italian ingredient. (How truly rare are things in this globalized world?)
Pike Place Public Market is the first place I take any out-of-towners. With beautiful views of Elliot Bay, handfuls of places to grab unique and delicious street food, and Victor Steinbruek Park to sit and take it all in…it easily wows.
The tour I give is the same market habit I personally have. It begins with traveling by bus to Westlake station with a purse full of reusable grocery bags, a reusable (always stay green in the Emerald city!) water bottle, and an appetite. We walk down 4th Ave and make a right onto Pike Street. From there it’s just three blocks to the iconic entrance I mentioned earlier, and foodie overload.
The best way to see and enjoy the market? Walk walk walk! Walk towards the main entrance, but turn right before you cross the street. Admire all of the fruit and vegetables laid out with such precision. Take advantage of the vendors offering you a slice of the best Honey Crisp apples in the market; a slice of an “Oh-my-god” peach; a small cup of Market Creamery yogurt; a smidge of Beecher’s Handmade cheese; and a sample of coffee. Buy and slurp a raw oyster shooter.
Then plan your picnic. I insist on buying a few pieces of seasonable local fruit. Get a small hunk of your favorite cheese from Beecher’s (mine are the flagship or fresh curds) or maybe go all in and get a cup of their “World’s Best” Mac n’ Cheese. Pick out some vegetables if you like them raw. Buy a savory piroshky from Piroshky Piroshky (my favorite is the smoked salmon pate). Walk along Pike Place towards Pine Street until you get to Victor Steinbrueck Park. Grab a bench or sit in the grass, and enjoy your feast while overlooking the beautiful piers jutting out into the sound. On a sunny day you can see Bainbridge Island across the way and the Olympic Mountains to the North.
Is it raining? You should still do the picnic. But if you’re one of those rare people actually made of sugar, you could avoid melting by eating as you peruse the stalls. Grab a piroshky and eat it along the way. Then a piece of fruit. Perhaps have a drink at Lowell’s at a window booth in the bar – it’s the best view of the sound from indoors. Don’t worry about overeating, there’s a lot of walking to be done. Follow the whimsical signs to the infamous gum wall (second germiest place in the world, according to Trip Advisor), grab a beer at the Alibi Room to maybe kill some of those germs.
Then take the stairs down down down to the waterfront and walk up and down the piers. Check out the Seattle Great Wheel, and maybe take a ride. I’ll admit I’ve been in the wheel and not the needle, but it was pretty great, especially on a clear day.
Views from the Great Wheel
Head back up the stairs and walk through the market one more time. Pick up any treats that are MUST HAVES and groceries for a special dinner later. Don’t resist buying an amazing $5 bouquet from the flower section. They’re incredible.
Finally, walk down cobblestoned Pike Place and make a right up Pine Street. Stop in at Cupcake Royale and ask for a cone with two scoops: Stumptown Coffee & Burnt Caramel Sea Salt. If they have some, get a bacon crack sample. Don’t like coffee or caramel? Not to worry (or maybe worry a little because you straight loco) honey sinckerdoodle, fresh strawberry, all the flavors are delicious. Best ice cream in Seattle? Probably not, but it’s way better than any B&J’s, Haagen Dazs nonsense. It’s also the perfect ending to your afternoon (morning? evening?) at the market.
I’m on the very important mission of discovering the best ice cream. I have a long list, including goat milk gelato. This could get rough, so I expect your full support.