Reasons to Visit Pike Place Market:
An Enthusiastic Tourist’s Thoughts on one of Seattle’s Greatest Attractions
If you are a friend of mine on Facebook (if not–why aren’t you?!), you can’t help but notice that I do a bit of traveling. Okay, a lot of traveling. One of my favorite places is Seattle. In the past 10 months I have visited this city three times. Each time, I am more convinced that I need to live there at some point in my life. So what is the draw to Seattle? There are many factors, but my favorite thing about the city is the Pike Place Market. If you haven’t heard of it, drop everything you’re doing and look it up. Then put it on your list of places to see before you die. In this very biased and enthusiastic post, I will enlighten you on what I consider to be Pike Place Market’s biggest draws.
The Original Starbucks
Okay, okay, I do work for Caribou Coffee. But this doesn’t mean that I turn my nose up at other brands of coffee. For me it’s about the whole experience of going to a coffeehouse, regardless of the name. This means that when I travel to places without a Caribou, I will happily pick up a french vanilla latte from Starbucks. And what better place to get Starbucks than in its home city? In Seattle there is a Starbucks on every corner. No, seriously. Even more impressive is the fact that when you stroll down to Pike Place Market, you can visit the original Starbucks, which opened in 1971. The line frequently runs out the front door, and street musicians are eager to entertain the waiting customers. My recommendation? Get your drink a block over and just visit this store.
Rachel the Brass Pig
In the middle of Pike Place Market is a big brass pig. Her name is Rachel and she is quite a sight. She is the unofficial mascot for the market, and according to Piggy Bank World, she weighs 550 pounds and has collected $100,000.00 for the Market Foundation since she appeared in 1986. Remember when St. Paul had the giant statues of Charlie Brown characters around the city and different artists customized them? Seattle did the same thing with pigs in the early 2000’s, but Rachel is one of the few you’ll find around these days. Who doesn’t want to take a picture with a giant brass piggy bank?
June 2012 visit to Pike’s
It wouldn’t be a pier-front market without fish. Pike’s has no shortage of fish vendors. A few too many for my opinion–the smell doesn’t do much for me. But it’s part of the culture of the market. Just inside the main entrance of the market, past Rachel the Pig, is Pike Place Fish. This isn’t just a place to buy something fresh to take home for dinner. The employees at this fish merchant take pride in being hospitable Seattleites who will gladly talk to visitors about almost anything. Visiting them is pure entertainment. The men will revive old fisherman’s chants while tossing the fish to and fro. It’s a feast for the eyes!
I am not picky when it comes to desserts. If there is sugar in it, I will eat it. In fact, I just polished off a bag of chocolate chips while writing this post. But I also know a good bakery when I see it. On my last trip to Seattle two weeks ago, I happily explored the Market on a Saturday morning. There is nothing better for a weary traveler than a cup of coffee and a fresh bakery treat, so I anxiously surveyed all the bakery options before leaving with a chocolate-filled croissant and a bag of cinnamon sugar mini donuts. Let me tell you, both were amazing. This place is not lacking in talented bakers! There are some heavy European influences at the bakeries, which makes it different than local bakeries here, but they are no less delicious. In fact, they are probably even more so!
The Seattle Gum Wall
My knowledge surrounding the history of this next attraction is a little fuzzy. There is a brick wall in Post Alley (which runs through the Pike Place Market area) that is covered in gum. According to Oddity Central, the gum wall started when people waiting in line to get into theatre performances would stick their gum to the wall and then get in trouble for it. Somehow it turned into a symbol of the area. There’s more than one story for its origin, but no matter what, it’s a crazy sight. To go to Pike Place means you have to swing by the gum wall and make an addition to the wall. If you’re really thinking ahead, you’ll bring enough gum to make some cool design and take a picture of it. Or, you’ll just sit there and think about how disgusting it is…
Flowers, Flowers, Flowers
Honestly, the flowers at the Pike Place Market are easily enough of a reason for you to go there, even if you didn’t see anything else. There are multiple merchants selling fresh flowers, and the sight is just incredible. It doesn’t hurt that the smell of the flowers is a nice break from the smell of the fish, either! You can buy a gorgeous bouquet starting at just $5. These aren’t like the bouquets you buy last-minute at Cub on Mother’s Day (yes, I’m talking to all the people I saw doing that yesterday). These are bouquets that you would want to get for your wedding. And they are just $5. For $10, you get a bigger and even more beautiful selection of flowers. The vendors are knowledgable and willing to let you just stand there and take pictures of their displays. If you bring a decent camera, you will want to stay in one spot all day to capture images of these floral delights.
I feel like I’ve made my point. Pike Place Market is great and you should go there. But maybe you’re not convinced. Let me give you a quick run-down of what else you would experience if you went there: gorgeous fresh produce, the best Greek gyro ever (in my opinion), eclectic street vendors, a kitchen store with every gadget imaginable, great antique stores, beautiful views of the pier, and a huge variety of ethnic foods. Next time you’re looking for an adventure, consider Pike’s. Even if you can only visit Seattle for a weekend, do it. The longest I’ve ever been there is two days, but it’s enough to see, smell, and taste every part of the market.
Have you been to Pike Place Market? What is your favorite place to visit?