Preface: if you POSSIBLY can, visit in the morning or early afternoon, on a weekday. On weekend days, it is not a market. It is a zoo. Now that we’ve covered that…
When you mention Pike Place to Seattle locals, the response is typically the same across the board – “eh, it’s an overrated tourist trap.” And they’re totally right…sort of. Sometimes I forget that I live in a majorly visitable city. To me, it’s just home. Then I go to Pike Place on a Saturday, and I see all of the camera-laden wanderers, moving in front of me at an impossibly glacial pace, mouths agape, and I think – good lord – where did all of these people come from? Lucky for those of us who don’t have to go home after a long weekend, the Market is actually way cooler than the local hipsters would let on. You can find nearly anything you could possibly dream up. Need some fresh pasta? You got it. Locally foraged mushrooms? No problem. Local butchers? There are two. One of those children’s toys filled with beans and shaped like long, shiny snakes? I got one at Pike Place in the 90s, and surprise – they’re still selling!
Aside from what you’d expect of a run-of-the-mill farmer’s market – fresh foodstuffs, flowers, etc. – Pike Place also boasts a sizable newsstand, which sells some of my favourite hard-to-find mags. (Hellllllo, RUSSH!) Meander through the multiple maze-like levels of the market, and you’ll also find a crazy variance of curiosity shops, restaurants, bars, and more. Despite it’s rep, which seems to be generally bad at worst and cliche at best, I still think Pike Place is one of Seattle’s shiniest gems.
For a truly tourist-y experience, you can hop across the street for a liter of Rachel’s Ginger Beer and a Beecher’s grilled cheese, or – god forbid – stand in the 1,000-member line for a crappy cup of coffee at the world’s first Starbucks. For a more local-y vibe: have a boozy beverage and a-maz-ing snack at Zig Zag Cafe, if you can find it. It’s on the back side of the market. I’ve been there repeatedly, and I still get lost trying to find it.
Seriously, guys. Don’t go on the weekend. You’ll just come back and yell at me for lying to you about the Market’s greatness.