Last Updated on February 5, 2024 by Kelly
Pike Place Market is one of my favorite places in Seattle. There are over 500 vendors at Pike Place Market, so I’m always discovering something new!
Pike Place Market (or “the market” as locals say) is the place to go for Pacific Northwest classics like clam chowder served in sourdough bread bowls and raw oysters on the half shell. There is also a significant international presence. You can find French pastries, Russian piroshkis, Persian kebobs, Thai curries, Taiwanese hombows, Turkish baklava, Japanese bento, English crumpets, and much, much more. (And if you want to see our picks for some of the best restaurants in Seattle, click here!)
Not only is the food amazing, but so is the energy at the market. The sidewalks are often so crowded that people overflow into the cobblestone streets. You’ll hear musicians on the corners and vendors shouting to each other as they unload their products. The market is definitely one of my favorite spots to visit in Seattle, and today I’m sharing my complete guide to Pike Place Market.
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About Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market has been the cornerstone of Seattle’s food scene since 1907. That makes it the oldest continuously-running public farmer’s market in the United States.
TIP: Don’t forget to book a tour of the market. It’s the best way to learn about the market and sample some of the best dishes!
Pike Place Market receives over 10 million visitors a year! (In comparison, the Space Needle receives 1.3 million visitors each year.) Pike Place Market is the most popular tourist attraction in the city of Seattle, and it’s the 33rd most visited tourist attraction in the world. (As a local I knew the market was pretty cool, but I had no idea that it was in the top 50 worldwide attractions!)
Tips for Visiting
- Arrive hungry. Seriously, make sure you don’t eat a big meal before you go to the market. As soon as you get there, you’ll want to start tasting all of the different foods you see.
- Have a plan. Don’t settle for the first food item you see. (Don’t waste your stomach space on something you can get somewhere else!) We share some of our favorite food spots later in this post to help guide you.
- But also be a little spontaneous. One of our favorite things about the market is leaving some room for spontaneity and trying something new. Leave a little room in your stomach for something unique you just have to try. It’s easy to get full fast. There’s so much to see around the market, you can always walk around until you’re hungry again!
- Pronounce it right. It’s called Pike Place Market. (Not Pike’s Place Market.) Don’t worry if you call it Pike’s Place, though, because even locals do it!
- You probably don’t need an umbrella. Even if it rains, most of the market is covered. (And most Seattleites don’t use umbrellas anyways.) The rain is either too light or it’s too windy to make using an umbrella practical. Or it’s just too crowded to use one. Instead, bring a good raincoat.
Where to Eat at Pike Place Market
Here’s our list of recommendations of where to eat at the market!
- Moore Coffee Shop: Get the churro Belgian waffles! Just a short walk from the market.
- Crepe de France: Their sweet crepes are perfect for breakfast. The crepes aux peches (peaches and cream) look amazing.
- Honest Biscuits: This spot was made for breakfast. Get a homemade biscuit breakfast sandwich or the Southern-style biscuits and gravy.
- Athenian Seafood Restaurant and Bar: Get the Dungeness Crab Benedict or the Smoked Salmon Benedict. They also sell hot cakes for breakfast!
- Sound View Cafe: Currently they are serving breakfast all day long. Try the salmon hash and eggs.
- Bacco Cafe: Try the french toast!
- Cafe Campagne: I used to have lunch with my aunt here all the time when I worked downtown. It’s a classic Parisian Brasserie. Try pommes frites with aioli and a les croques sandwich. You’ll feel as if you’re grabbing lunch in Paris! Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
- Mariscos Mexico: This counter serves up some amazing fish tacos.
- Pasta Casalinga: Handmade pastas that will fill you up on a cold day. The menu changes weekly. This week I would order the ziti con patate, pancetta e scamorza.
- Piroshky Piroshky: I don’t think I’ve ever visited here without seeing a line out the door! They sell sweet and savory piroshkis. My favorite is the beef and onion.
- Pike Place Chowder: Did you even go to Seattle if you didn’t have clam chowder? They have a chowder sampler where you can choose between 4 or 8 of their chowders.
- Beechers Mac and Cheese: Watch the cheesemakers while you wait in line! We recommend that you try their “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese or their toasted grilled cheese sandwich.
- Oriental Mart: Try homestyle Filipino cooking that was awarded a James Beard Classics Award.
- Pink Door: This is one of Seattle’s most popular restaurants. They specialize in Italian-American cuisine and often have life entertainment, such as cabaret, trapeze, or tarot reading.
- Can Can Culinary Cabaret: For a fun evening out, enjoy a fancy dinner while you watch the cabaret. I’ve been here several times and it is always a good time!
- Kastoori Grill: This restaurant specializes in Indian and Tibetan cuisine. Try the tandoori salmon.
- Il Bistro: For a classic Italian dinner from the antipasti to the dolci, visit Il Bistro.
- Matt’s in the Market: Seared scallops, oysters on the half shell, roasted halibut, and more. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
- Daily Dozen Doughnut Company: Get your mini doughnuts hot off the cart! One time we got a free bag full of them because they liked my husband’s cribbage t-shirt. (No promises if you wear a cribbage shirt you will get the same!)
- Pike Place Nuts: Try cinnamon almonds or caramel cashews. All products are vegan!
- Shugs Soda Fountain & Ice Cream: Get a s’mores sundae or an affogato. (Or anything else, you can’t go wrong!)
- Mee Sum Pastry: Delicious savory and sweet steamed buns.
- Le Panier: The place to go for French pastries. Eclaires, macarons, tartelettes, and more.
- Three Girls Bakery: This is the oldest vendor at the market. (Since 1912!) You’ll find danishes, strudels, croissants, cookies, scones, and lots more here.
- Indi Chocolate: Their counter has tons of beautiful chocolates.
- Chukar Cherries: Enjoy Washington cherries covered in chocolate! These are a classic bite of Seattle. I even brought them to Brazil to give to my sister-in-law’s family.
Coffee, Beverages, and More!
Seattle is known for its coffee, so you can’t leave this city without trying a cup of joe. But instead of visiting the Starbucks (which serves the same stuff you can find anywhere), try one of these gems:
- Storyville Coffee: Their Pike Place location is beautifully decorated with wood paneling. They focus on quality by using only the top 2% of coffee beans. (They also make Italian sodas with fresh fruit from the market if that’s more your thing.)
- Ghost Alley Coffee: This coffee shop is located in what used to be the attendant’s room at the market. If you go there, you might even see its resident ghost.
- Seattle Coffee Works: Located a quick two-minute walk from the main market, Seattle Coffee Works is a mainstay. This location is temporarily closed, but will re-open in the winter of 2021.
- Le Panier: This one is probably most well-known as a bakery, but they make an amazing latte. Feel free to pair your coffee with an eclair.
- Moore Coffee Shop: This place is known for their latte art. Want an instagrammable coffee shot? This is the place to go. It’s just a short walk from Pike Place Market. Closed Monday through Wednesday.
|Seattle is known for coffee. See our post on the best coffee shops in Seattle!
- The Crumpet Shop: The Crumpet Shop only brews whole leaf teas, so this is the place to go for tea. A major perk of going here is that they offer free refills in which you can try any type of tea. And while you’re there, grab a crumpet to pair with your tea. If you haven’t had a crumpet before, you have to try one of these English griddle cakes. Currently open Thursday through Sunday.
- Perrenial Tea Room: The Perrenial Tea Room has over 100 different types of teas to try. And in the summer, be sure to grab one of their beautiful iced teas to take with you while you explore the market.
- MarketSpice: When you enter this store, you will see walls completely filled with teas and spices. Try a new flavor of tea! The cinnamon orange tea is a local favorite and often included for tour groups.
- The Pike Brewing Company | Beer: You can tour the on-site brewery and view their microbeer museum. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
- Old Stove Brewing Company | Beer: The taproom has beautiful views of the water. The beer is made on-site, and it’s also kid-friendly!
- Zig Zag Cafe | Cocktails: Just a few steps away from the market is the Zig Zag Cafe. This is a fun place to go for date night. It’s tucked away behind a staircase, so I’ve found it’s a spot that is more popular with locals. (You have to know to look for it!) Their craft cocktails are simply amazing.
- JarrBar | Cocktails: If you want to feel like you are in Spain, this is the place to go. Grab a craft cocktail and enjoy boquerones, marinated olives, and Spanish cheeses.
- Radiator Whiskey | Cocktails: Right now they have a smoked maple old fashioned – yum!
- Alibi Room | Cocktails: You will feel very hip when you enter this bar in Post Alley. It has a speakeasy vibe. Drinks pair well with their brick-oven pizza.
- Shug’s Soda Fountain & Ice Cream | Cocktails: Treat yourself to a dessert cocktail! Try a prosecco float with sorbet or an adult root beer float.
- Rachel’s Ginger Beer | Cocktails: Try a Moscow Mule with their signature ginger beer.
- Il Bistro | Wine: Enjoy a glass of wine with some classic Tuscan appetizers. This is the place to go for an authentic Italian experience.
- The Tasting Room | Wine: This tasting room is entirely focused on the wines of Washington. They offer over 60 different wines for tasting, and we recommend trying one of their tasting flights. They were also voted “Best Tasting Room in the West” by Sunset Magazine!
- White Heron Cellars at Northwest Tastings | Wine: Head to Northwest Tastings to enjoy a glass of wine from White Heron Cellars while snacking on local cured meats and crackers.
- Rachel’s Ginger Beer: A Seattle icon, Rachel’s Ginger Beer is a must-try beverage while visiting. With flavors such as blood orange, white peach, and pink guava ginger beer, you’ll be sure to try something new and interesting! They also ship nationwide if you want to send some back home.
- Shug’s Soda Fountain & Ice Cream: Floats, milkshakes, and more! The Shugsicle is one of their signature drinks (orange soda with a scoop of vanilla ice cream).
- Los Agaves: Try the horchata, a creamy Latin drink made from grains, ground nuts, and spices.
Travel Tip: If you’re planning a trip to Seattle, consider buying a Seattle CityPASS. You’ll be able to save money if you plan on visiting multiple attractions.
What to See at Pike Place Market
Fish Tossing at Pike Place
One of the things that Pike Place Market is most famous for is the fish tossing that happens daily at the fish market. To find the fish market, go to the corner of Pike Street and Pike Place. The fish market is located under the giant red “Public Market Center” sign. Occasionally when a customer orders a fish, the fishmonger will shout to the other staff and then throw the fish behind the counter to be wrapped up. Stick around long enough and you will definitely see a flying fish!
The Pike Place Fish Market made a commitment decades ago to become world-famous for selling only the highest-quality seafood. Today, they have over 20,000 daily visitors! If you can’t make it to see them in-person, they also have a live webcam set-up where you can watch the fish market from home.
The tradition of throwing fish at Pike Place Market began when the previous owner, John Yokoyama, realized that he did a lot of walking every day. He started counting exactly how many steps it took him to pick up the fish, weigh the fish, package the fish, and then deliver the fish. He realized that he was walking at least 100 steps for every customer transaction. He could save himself thousands of steps a day if he just threw the fish! Throwing the fish was not an easy task though, as there is some skill to it. Because the fish’s head weighs more than its tail, the fishmongers cradle the fish to keep it from spiraling.
Rachel the Pig (The Market Mascot)
Located right by the fish market is Rachel the Brass Pig. The brass pig has been at the market since 1986. On crowded days, the pig is hidden behind a crowd of tourists all trying to take pictures with it. Tourists deposit their spare change in this giant piggy bank, and the proceeds fund important social services in the area. After Rachel the Pig was hit by a taxi cab, an artist restored the pig and then added a second brass pig to the market: Billie. These brass pigs have collected over $350k in their lifetimes!
Don’t leave Pike Place Market without visiting the infamous gum wall! Upon seeing this famous Seattle landmark, you’re likely to feel a combination of disgust, amusement, and sheer amazement.
I asked some of my Instagram followers what they thought of the Gum Wall, and here was the breakdown:
- 47% thought it was disgusting
- 17% thought it was a local treasure
- 37% thought it was both disgusting and a local treasure
It’s easy to miss this attraction if you’re not looking for it. To find it, walk to the main entrance of the market and find Rachel the Brass Pig. (Located directly below the neon “Public Market Center” sign.) Go down the outdoor stairwell near the pig and around the corner to Post Alley. You’ll then see the gum wall in all its glory!
The tradition was started in the early 1990s when patrons would line up and stick their gum on the wall. (It’s no coincidence to me that this happened during the grunge era!) In 2015, workers pressure washed the wall to clean it. Over 2300 pounds of gum was removed! You wouldn’t know it, though, because there is plenty of gum that has collected since then.
If you go, be sure to bring your own bubble gum so you can add to this work of art. (And if you’re grossed out, bring plenty of hand sanitizer and try to wipe the memory from your mind!)
Did you know Seattle has its own secret garden? (And it’s actually called Secret Garden!). It’s an intergenerational garden cared for by volunteers, and all produce is donated to the food bank. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the market, the garden is a great place to steal away for awhile for some peace and quiet. Not many people know about its existence, so it tends to be quiet on even the most crowded days. You can find the garden by walking past the fish throwing stand and taking a left before Maximilien Restaurant.
One of my favorite things to do at the market is to look through all of the beautiful flower arrangements. Not only are they gorgeous, but they are also affordable! I always buy a bouquet when I visit the market. (Usually two bouquets actually… one for my mom too!)
Pike Place Market was recently expanded in 2017. There’s now an open-air space for vendors as well as a public plaza. If you’re ready for a little break from the market and want some room to breathe, it’s really nice to walk out to the plaza and admire the views of the Olympic Mountains and the Puget Sound. It’s also a great place to take pictures!
Thrift Shops, Unique Stores, and Collectibles
Pike Place Market has all sorts of collectables, oddities, antiques, and gently used items. Thrifting is part of the culture of Seattle. (Which Macklemore captured perfectly in his song Thrift Shop!) You can find a consignment shop at Rummage Around, comic books at Golden Age Collectibles, and rare coins at Market Coins and Collectibles.
The market even has its very own magic shop (Market Magic & Novelty Shop). It’s worth visiting just to see the vintage magic posters that line its entrance.
You might also enjoy browsing through vinyl records at Holy Cow Records. Or, you might prefer visiting Lamplight Books and looking through their collection of indie books.
You can also support local indigenous artists by stopping in at Eighth Generation. The shop is filled with native art pieces.
Have a couple extra quarters? Head to the Giant Shoe Museum and pay 50 cents for the curtains part to see some of the world’s largest shoes.
We don’t really recommend that you visit the “Original Starbucks” at 1912 Pike Place, only because it’s technically not the first Starbucks! The first Starbucks was located a few blocks away, but that location closed in the 1970s. There’s usually a big crowd at the Pike Place location, and the products are the same as any other Starbucks, so we usually take our friends and family to “see it once” and then keep it moving.
Shows and Entertainment at Pike Place Market
Unexpected Productions in an improv comedy theater located in the market. After a day full of sightseeing, sit back and be ready to laugh.
For dinner and live entertainment, check out the Can Can Culinary Cabaret. I’ve been there for a bachelorette party and several birthday parties. It’s always a lot of fun! (Their cocktails are also amazing!)
The Pink Door also often has evening entertainment during their dinner service. Check out their website for the latest offerings!
As you wander around the market, you will likely see street musicians on corners promoting their music as well. There’s always lots of music at the market!
Hours of Operation
Each of the vendors will have different hours, but in general, the market merchant building is open from 9am to 6pm. If you’re interested in a specific vendor, we recommend that you view their website for exact hours. Some of the restaurants and bars at the market are open later in the evening. Restaurant opening times vary between 7am and 2pm. The Secret Garden (discussed below) is open from 9:30am to 5pm.
Here’s a table of some opening and closing times of popular vendors as of this writing. (Note that times are subject to change based on season and at the vendors’ discretion.) Double-check their websites for current hours of operation.
The parking garage at the market was recently expanded, so finding a parking spot is much easier than it used to be. The main garage can be reached at the following entrances (1531 Western Ave and 1901 Western Ave). If you park before 9am, you can purchase early bird parking for $13 for the full day. (Just be sure to exit before the garage closes its gates at 9pm.) Otherwise, it’s about $4 an hour. There are also electric vehicle charging stations. You can find up-to-date parking information on the parking website.
Looking for a hotel near Pike Place Market? Check out the Inn at the Market. It’s the only hotel within the actual market itself!
There are a variety of tours operating at Pike Place Market. Here are a few ideas if you’d like to have a more structured experience:
- Chef-Guided Tour of Pike Place Market: Experience the market from a chef’s perspective! This chef-guided tour is two hours long and will give you 10 different tastings.
- Early Access Food Tour: Beat the crowds and talk with the vendors before they get too busy when you book an Early Access Food Tour.
- Seattle Free Walking Tours: The Market Experience Tour is about an hour long and you will walk approximately half a mile. These tours are operated as “pay what you feel”. Payment is voluntary, but if you can, $20 per person plus a tip would be comparable to other tour companies. Your guide will take you to the oldest Starbucks, Rachel the Pig, Pike Place Fish Company, the Gum Wall, and Post Alley. You’ll also get some food samples.
We went on a food tour several years ago to celebrate my husband’s birthday and we had a great time. Even though we are locals, taking the tour taught us so much about the market. We got to see it from a completely different perspective. We also got to chat with many of the vendors because they would specifically make time to connect with tour groups. We highly recommend going on a food tour if you are able!
In addition to many of the food stall vendors, there are lots of great restaurants in Pike Place Market or very nearby. With all the walking you’ll be doing at the market, it can definitely be nice to sit down and have a full meal. Below is a table of some of the restaurants you might be interested in trying out!
|The Pink Door
|Breakfast & Lunch
|Matt’s in the Market
|Athenian Seafood Restaurant & Bar
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much time do you need at Pike Place Market?
We’d recommend at least two hours for your visit to Pike Place Market. It’ll take about that long to walk around, view the shops, and stop and try a few things to eat. You could easily, though, spend much longer at Pike Place Market. We have been dozens of times and still find something new with every visit!
How far is it to the Space Needle from Pike Place Market?
It’s approximately one mile from Pike Place Market to the Space Needle. It’s definitely possible to complete the walk in about 20 minutes. Public transportation and ride shares are a good option so you don’t have to spend time looking for parking.
How far is Pike Place Market from the airport?
Pike Place Market is about 15 miles from SeaTac airport. If you have a layover and are planning a trip, please be aware that Seattle often has heavy traffic going into the city. Although it’s just 15 miles, it could take between 30 minutes to an hour to drive that distance.
If you’re visiting the market, the following attractions are also within walking distance:
- Victor Steinbrueck Park (views of the waterfront and a nice place to picnic with your market purchases)
- Bell Street Pier Rooftop Deck (walk to Pier 66 for one of the best view’s of Seattle’s skyline)
- Seattle Art Museum (check out Seattle’s visual arts scene)
- Seattle Aquarium (this is such a beautiful aquarium)
- The Great Wheel (this giant ferris wheel was added to the city’s waterfront in 2012)
- Wings Over Washington (an immersive theater experience that uses 5K cameras)
- Space Needle (another iconic Seattle must-see with newly installed glass floors.)
- Chihuly Garden and Glass (a unique glass art exhibit)
- The Museum of Pop Culture | MoPOP (Learn more about Seattle’s music scene and more!)
We hope you enjoyed this post on Pike Place Market! Pike Place Market is one of our favorite places to visit in Seattle. I’ve lived in the Seattle area for many years, and I feel like I’m just barely scratching the surface of what the market has to offer. I hope you’re inspired to visit as well!
Disclaimer: We always strive for content accuracy. Since the time of publishing, travel-related information regarding pricing, schedules, and hours may have changed. Please look up such information directly from each vendor or institution for the most current information.