May 6, 2024

Top 10 Must-See Attractions at Pike Place Market

Welcome to Pike Place Market USA, the beating heart of Seattle’s eclectic community and a bastion of rich culture and diverse offerings.

Established in 1907, this historic marketplace spans multiple levels and winds through various buildings and stalls that embody the soul of the city.

As both a community cornerstone and a bustling tourist attraction, Pike Place Market offers a unique blend of vibrant shopping experiences, from fresh local produce to artisanal crafts, all set against a backdrop of lively street performances and scenic waterfront views.

In this Pike Place guide, we’ll navigate the top 10 must-see attractions that capture the essence of the market’s rich history, vibrant atmosphere, and integral role in Seattle’s cultural tapestry.

Join me as we uncover the enduring charm and dynamic spirit of Pike Place Market.

1. Pike Place Fish Market

Start your Pike Place adventure with a visit to the Pike Place Fish Market.

Here, the energetic tradition of fish throwing isn’t just a method of handing over purchases—it’s a beloved spectacle. Watch as skilled fishmongers hurl massive fish across the air with precision, engaging the crowd with their chants and antics.

This iconic show not only captures the vibrant essence of the market but also highlights the unique blend of commerce and performance art that makes it a must-see Pike Place Seattle destination.

2. Rachel the Piggy Bank

Rachel The Pig: The Original Pike Place Market Mascot

Right in front of Pike Place Fish Market, you’ll find the heart of Pike Place Market, Rachel the Piggy Bank, a life-size bronze sculpture that’s more than just a whimsical landmark.

This piggy bank is raising money for the social service agencies in the Market as part of the Pike Place Market Foundation’s mission to nurture a thriving Market community. If you have an extra dollar or two to add to the piggy bank, know that it’s going to a great cause.

Rachel serves as the unofficial greeter of the market, and her presence offers a unique opportunity for visitors to contribute to the community. Coins and bills dropped into Rachel help fund the Pike Place Market Foundation, which provides vital services such as healthcare, housing, and food security to the local community.

This charming mascot not only captures the playful spirit of the market but also symbolizes the community’s commitment to supporting each other. A photo with Rachel is a must-do, serving as a fun reminder of your visit and your small but impactful contribution to the well-being of Pike Place Market’s vibrant community.

You’ll also see her steps in the ground leading up to her—when you see them you know you’re getting close!

Pike Place Market steps

3. Original Starbucks Store

A short stroll from the main entrance of Pike Place Market brings you to a cornerstone of coffee culture—the original Starbucks store at 1912 Pike Place, established in 1971.

You can read the pros and cons of visiting this location here, but it’s a fun stop if you’re into history and coffee.

This iconic location serves as a pilgrimage site for coffee lovers worldwide, offering a glimpse into the humble beginnings of what has become a global phenomenon.

The heritage storefront, adorned with vintage signage and rustic decor, preserves the nostalgic feel of the 1970s. Inside, you can find exclusive merchandise not available elsewhere else, making it a must-visit for anyone wanting to experience the true Starbucks legacy. This store is not just a coffee shop but a vital piece of Seattle’s rich history, attracting tourists and locals who want to connect with the city’s entrepreneurial spirit.

4. The Gum Wall

What began in the early 90s as a quirky tradition by patrons waiting for shows at the nearby Market Theater has evolved into a vibrant mosaic made entirely of chewing gum.

Just a turn off Pike Street, tucked away in an unexpected nook of the market, you’ll find the Gum Wall, Seattle’s most colorful and unconventional landmark.

Yes, I find chewed gum kinda gross. But this is an interesting and unique place inside the market.

The market has actually tried multiple times to remove it, only to have counter-culture and local enthusiasts quickly re-establish it.

Layers upon layers of gum, each piece representing a visitor’s fleeting moment at the market, coat the walls in a rainbow of colors. This ever-growing collage adds to the market’s eclectic charm and serves as a bizarre canvas showcasing the creativity and spontaneity of people from around the world.

A visit here offers a perfect (perfectly weird?!) photo opportunity and a chance to leave your own mark on this sticky, sweet piece of Seattle culture.

5. Theaters

The CanCan

The CanCan is an award-winning cabaret show located in the heart of Pike Place Market in Seattle.

It features talented performers, elaborate costumes, and a lively atmosphere that transports audiences to a world of glamour and spectacle.

With its roots tracing back to the 19th-century Parisian cabaret scene, the CanCan adds a modern twist while still capturing the essence of its historical inspiration. Whether you’re a local looking for a night of excitement or a visitor seeking a unique experience, the CanCan promises an unforgettable evening filled with music, dance, and enchantment.

Market Theater

Nestled in the heart of Pike Place Market’s historic district, the Market Theater located in Post Alley is a gem for those seeking cultural enrichment amidst their market explorations.

With its cozy seating and inviting ambiance, this intimate venue offers a diverse array of live performances that cater to all tastes.

From uproarious improv comedy that keeps you laughing on the edge of your seat to compelling dramatic plays that stir your emotions, the theater provides a dynamic showcase of local talent. Attending a performance here not only supports the arts within the community but also adds a memorable layer to your Pike Place Market experience.

Whether you’re a theater aficionado or just looking for a delightful way to unwind after a day of exploring, the Market Theater promises an evening brimming with entertainment.

6. Local Farmers’ Stalls

Pike Place Market Insider fresh produce

Wandering through the bustling rows of the local farmers’ stalls at Pike Place Market is like taking a tour through Washington’s agricultural heartland.

Each stall is brimming with the season’s best, from crisp apples and juicy berries to lush greens and root vegetables, all harvested at their peak.

Here are also individual food vendors. One example I love it Chuckar Cherries, which was born out of a farmer figuring out what to do with cherries that had fallen from the trees but not rotted (hint: they dry them, cover them in chocolate, and they are DELICIOUS!)

Chuckers Cherries Pike Place

These stalls not only allow you to taste and purchase fresh, sustainable produce directly from the growers but also provide a chance to engage with the farmers. They’re eager to share stories and tips about their crops, making your shopping experience both educational and enjoyable.

This direct farm-to-table connection supports local agriculture and ensures you’re buying the freshest ingredients for a perfect picnic along the scenic Elliott Bay, or to take back home as a flavorful reminder of your visit to Pike Place Market.

7. Crafts Market

Right next to the vibrant produce stands, the Crafts Market at Pike Place offers a treasure chest of creativity where local artisans showcase their talents.

Here, you can find a wide array of handcrafted items, from intricately designed jewelry and hand-thrown pottery to bespoke leather goods and stunning photographic prints of Seattle’s landscapes.

Each stall is a portal into the artisan’s world, offering unique items that embody the spirit and culture of the region. As you meander through the market, the stories behind the crafts come alive, told by the creators who take pride in their work.

Shopping at the Crafts Market not only gives you a chance to take home a piece of Seattle’s artistic heritage but also supports the local economy and keeps the tradition of craftsmanship alive in the heart of the city.

8. Pike Place Market’s Antique Stores

A visit to Pike Place Market isn’t complete without exploring its myriad antique stores, each a cavern of wonders filled with relics from bygone eras. These shops are treasure troves for collectors and history buffs alike, offering everything from vintage advertising signs and rustic kitchenware to classic vinyl records and antique jewelry.

As you wander through these stores, you’re taken on a nostalgic journey back in time, where each item tells its own story of the past. The friendly shop owners, often passionate historians themselves, are always ready to share the rich histories behind their collections. Whether you’re looking for a unique piece to add to your home decor or a memorable gift that carries a story, the antique stores at Pike Place Market provide a shopping experience that’s as enriching as it is delightful.

9. The Flower Market

Pike Place Market flowers elizabeth rider

One of the best parts about visiting downtown Seattle is stopping by the market for an incredible bouquet of flowers at awesome prices!

This section of the market bursts with color and fragrance, featuring stalls lined with buckets of fresh-cut flowers and exotic plants.

From delicate tulips and robust sunflowers to aromatic lavender and exotic orchids, each stall offers a stunning selection that reflects the seasonal diversity of the Pacific Northwest.

Depending on the stall and the season, you can get an incredible bouquet of flowers for anywhere from $10-$30. I once got a $15 bouquet that looked similar to one that was $75 at a bigger florist.

The Flower Market is not only a visual treat but also an olfactory delight, with scents of fresh blooms filling the air, creating a tranquil atmosphere amidst the bustling market.

Photographers, romantics, and nature lovers will find this market segment irresistible, providing endless inspiration and the perfect bouquet to brighten up any room or occasion.

10. The Market Front Expansion

Cap off your visit to Pike Place Market at the Market Front expansion, unveiled in 2017 as a modern enhancement to the historic market. This spacious addition boasts spectacular views of Elliott Bay, providing a scenic backdrop where you can relax and soak in the waterfront sights.

Market Front also extends more room for local vendors and artists, showcasing a vibrant mix of public art installations and artisanal market stalls.

This area reflects Pike Place Market’s ongoing commitment to community and culture, integrating the old with the new in a seamless celebration of Seattle’s dynamic spirit.

Whether you’re snapping photos of the stunning panorama, browsing the latest local crafts, or simply enjoying a moment of peace by the bay, the Market Front offers a fresh perspective and a quiet space to reflect on the rich experiences Pike Place Market provides.

Pike Place Market transcends the typical marketplace experience; it is a living tapestry woven with history, culture, and community spirit. As one of the top Seattle attractions, it stands as a vibrant gathering place where both locals and visitors converge to enjoy the freshest produce, discover unique handcrafted goods, and soak in the rich cultural atmosphere that can only be found in this Seattle landmark.

Each stall and performer breathes life into the market, offering a unique story and contributing to a bustling, communal mosaic. Supporting Pike Place not only enriches your own experience but also bolsters the local economy and aids community-focused initiatives.

So, we invite you to explore, taste, and celebrate this beloved Seattle jewel. See for yourself why Pike Place Market is not just a market, but a vital part of the city’s identity—a place where each visit leaves a lasting impression and a deep connection to the community. Come and experience the magic of Pike Place Market for yourself!

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