Growing up in Seattle few places captivated me the way Pike Place Market did. The vibrancy, the colors, the culture. Pike Place Market is pure northwest and pure Seattle.
Originally opened in 1907, Pike Place is one of the oldest continuously operated farmers markets in the US. Today, among the throngs of tourists hoping to catch a shot of a flying fish or waiting in an obnoxiously long line just to say they grabbed a latte at the original Starbucks, you’ll still find locals, searching for the freshest produce or the most vibrant flowers for their dining room tables.
As you approach the market from Seattle’s colorful waterfront you may pass through Post Alley, a narrow street that winds it’s way around the shops surrounding the market and is also home to the world famous gum wall. A place where people from near or far can become united by sticking their chewed mound of bubblicious on top of someone else’s chewed mound of extra. Colorful yet disgusting.
When you walk into the south end of the market you’re immediately overwhelmed by the stench of seafood. Straight ahead is the Pike Place Fish Co. with mounds of every type of fish, crustacean and mollusk imaginable packed into mountains of ice.
And then the fish fight starts. Someone is having seafood for dinner, men are shouting, and suddenly a 3 foot Salmon flies by so fast it’s impossible to capture a picture.
As you turn to explore the rest of the market the salty stench of the sea soon gives way to the sweet aroma of flowers. Thousands and thousands of flowers, sold by Hmong flower farmers. Lily’s, daisy’s, peonies, if you can think of a flower, you can find it here, and for cheap! Most bouquets can be purchased for $5-$10.
But flowers and seafood aren’t the only products you can find at the market. As you continue to stroll down the hall you’ll see local artisans and farmers selling everything from cherries to organic honey, silver jewelry and tie dye shirts. A year-round eclectic assortment that rivals any summer street fair.
Just when you’ve reached the end and are ready to brave the line at Starbucks you see a sign that says “lower floor.” And you think, there’s more?
While the top floor has the traditional farmers market vibe, if you journey to the lower floors you’ll find quaint little shops, life-size cardboard cut outs of the cast of “Doctor Who?” and Chinese noodle kitchens, but my favorite part is the curios a la Ripley’s believe it or Not. Like the shoe of the “Worlds Tallest Man,” an element that truly transports you back 100 years to the time when the market first began and the national public was enamored with oddities and circus sideshows.
So there you have it. A little stroll through Pike Place market, one of Seattle’s top attractions and a must on any persons visit to Seattle, tourist or local.
Have you visited Seattle’s Pike Place Market? What did you think?