I recently read a popular list of things to do in Pike Place market that left me, a local of the neighborhood, thinking that anyone working their way down the list would miss some of the best parts of Pike Place! Since I moved to downtown Seattle in 2015, I’ve made it part of my routine to walk through Pike Place 1-2 times a week, each time trying to see, taste, or try something new. After about a hundred or so of these adventures, I’m starting to be an expert navigator of the streets, food, and culture of Pike Place, and with that experience, I want to offer my Local’s List of 15 Things to Do at Pike Place Market:
1. Take a crosswalk shot
• Pike Place’s iconic signs are at the bottom of a hill, the best spot for pictures is the center of the 1st & Pine Street crosswalk.
• You have 25 seconds every 3 minutes to get the perfect shot!
2. Adventure out to the Secret Rooftop Garden for pictures.
• It’s tricky to find, but I’ve posted directions to this well-kept secret
3. Take a photo with Rachel the Pig & Drop Some change in her belly
• Pike place is actually a low-income neighborhood, and donations support health care for locals, a senior center, and support for farmers and vendors.
4. Get Chowder at the Market Grill
• Claims to the “best chowder” are all over, but take the advice of this local who has tried them all and head to Market Grill.
5. Explore the depths.
• 80% of tourists only see the main thoroughfare, but there is lots going on if you adventure down stairs and halls leading off the main markets.
6. Chew gum and be a part of the weird communal art that is the Gum Wall (Don’t forget the selfie!)
• Just take the stairs down located directly under the giant neon clock
7. Check out the food counter at Oriental Market.
• If you’ve never tried Filipino food, the time is now. Owner Laila’s well-known snark just adds charm to this local favorite.
8. Buy Cheap Flowers
• Flower sellers will make custom bouquets if you ask- just tell them what colors/flowers & what you want to pay
• If travel plans demand no bouquets, you can still have the experience: ask for $1 worth of filler flowers and press them in your travel journal.
9. DON’T go to Starbucks (locals know it’s not the original!)
• Snap a picture if you must, then beat the crowd by climbing the stairs to local favorite Storyville Coffee, overlooking the market.
10. Catch a mini-show by hanging out at the Pastry Pet booth.
• Each plush cat-donut (yes, cat-donut) that is sold gets a dramatic send-off that’s worth waiting around for.
11. Try to see how many food counters you can hit with a budget of $10.
• Work your way through the market one small bite at a time. Don’t forget fruit vendors!
12. Sample what’s in season.
• Offerings vary by season, but if you make it during Ranier Cherry season in June you will be ruined for life (in a good way)
• Don’t miss winter’s offering of Apple Cider.
13. Try an almond croissant and latte at Le Panier, Pike Place’s famous french bakery
14. Find the Secret Hotspot
• Find the unmarked pink door in Post Ally to reveal a moderately priced local favorite restaurant featuring cabaret & trapeze artists on weekends
15. Ride an iconic Washinton State Ferry
• If you have daylight left, head a few blocks to the ferry dock. You can’t beat the $8 roundtrip ticket for a sunset cruise across the Puget Sound.
1 Tip: Start early if you want to visit the biggest tourist spots. Starbucks & Piroshky Piroshky won’t have long lines till 10am or so.
2 Tip: Whatever you do, DON’T drive and park. Parking in this neighborhood can be up to $20 per hour. Using a ride sharing app can get you free rides if you use promos to sign up. Use this link for $50 in ride from Lyft and This link for $20 credit from Uber.