Visiting Seattle and not visiting Pike Place is like skipping Central Park on a visit to NYC; you just don’t do it! This bustling waterfront market is a Seattle staple. But you may be asking yourself, what can we do at the Pike Place market? It’s a super busy market that is filled with stands from food producers, fresh flowers and local artists. It’s often packed and can be a little difficult to navigate if you don’t know where you’re going.
That’s why we decided to do a Pike Place market self guided tour, using tips and recommendation from local friends, to help you plan your next trip! Here were our favorite things to see at Pike Market:
Pike Place Fish Throwing
Perhaps one of the most well known “attractions” at the market is the famous fish stand. If you’re entering the market under the famous Public Market Center sign, the fish stall will be straight ahead of you. At first glance it may just seem like one of the many seafood stands with fresh fish and shellfish. But if you wait around long enough you’ll notice a crowd start to form and eventually the workers will start hollering. Then they’ll take a fish and throw it back and forth from the iced display to the inside of the counter and back again.
There’s not much else to it, but it’s actually pretty fun to see them throwing a big fish around. The first time I went to the market they only threw the fish when someone actually ordered one. But the second time we went there was a camera crew filming behind the counter so they did the whole big shebang. There doesn’t seem to be any specific fish throwing time at Pike Market, so if you want to see one, you’re best bet is to order a fish yourself! They ship so you don’t have to carry a smelly fish on the plane.
Famous Pike Place Pig
This is an easy stop on your self guided walking tour of Pike Place market. The bronze pig statue is in front of the fish stand, to the left. If you go on a busy day (which is pretty much everyday at Pike Market), the pig will probably be hidden by a swarm of tourists plopping their child on top for a photo. The pig is named Rachel and she’s actually there for a good cause. She’s a giant piggy bank that takes donations for various causes and has raised over $200,000 since 1986. Apparently if you rub her snout and make a donation you’ll be blessed with good luck!
Rachel has a cousin named Billy who lives on the other side of the market near the water. He’s also a piggy bank, although as my friend pointed out during our last visit, not as famous as Rachel. If you’re looking for a less crowded photo opp, or just want to give the under dog some love, pay Billy a visit!
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Pike Place Market Gum Wall
This next spot at Pike Place Market may not be everyone’s jam. We may even get chewed out for including this one our list. It’s the gum wall! The wall is actually an alley that can be difficult to find, but ask anyone about it and they’ll point you in the right direction. This little alley is literally covered in gum that visitors have stuck to the walls. Cool, disgusting, a bit of both? Whatever you think of it personally, it’s definitely worth a visit to see in all its sticky glory.
The history of the gum wall is that the theater down the street had patrons come by after showings and stick their gum on the wall (I guess gum is the theater snack of yore? I’ll stick with popcorn, thanks!). Theater employees would come by to scrap the sticky mess off, but it became so common they gave up. Now the gum wall is a fully fledged tourist attraction. So many people stick their gum on the wall that the city has to come by every few months and scrap it clean, otherwise it would literally take up the whole alley. Stop by and add your piece, but don’t get too close to the wall or you could end up in a sticky situation!
Piroshky Piroshky Pike Place
After walking through the market you’re bound to work up an appetite. There is no shortage of places to eat around Pike Place Market and you can find tons of recommendations online. If you want a quick snack instead of sitting down to a long meal, stop by Piroshky Piroshky. They have the best, well, piroshky!
If you don’t know, piroshky is an Eastern European/ Russian pastry which is stuffed with fillings like meat, cheese, potatoes or vegetables. There is usually a line out the door but it goes fast. They are in high demand so they keep making new ones fresh out of the oven. We recommend the cheese and potato piroshky or the smoked salmon piroshky. Both are delicious!
The Pink Door Seattle
Thank goodness we’d already heard about this restaurant, because otherwise we may have walked right by it. The entrance is just a light pink door built into a windowless wall on Post Alley. Word of warning, the door is not bright pink. It’s more of a muted blush color, so don’t visit if you’re hoping for a colorful Instagram photo.
Instead, go inside for a fun bar/ restaurant that has nightly entertainment like music, cabaret and even a trapeze swing that flies over the tables. In the winter this a cozy fun spot for a hot toddy or Irish coffee. In the summer, their back deck is the perfect place to enjoy their signature summer cocktails (I was obsessed with my fresh watermelon margarita!)
Ellenos Greek Yogurt Pike Place
If you want a little post meal sweet treat, we definitely recommend grabbing a flavored greek yogurt at Ellenos. This little stand is across the street from the market not far from the Public Market Center sign. They have tons of flavors. Our favorites were passionfruit and creme brûlée. This shop is a favorite amongst locals and we found out about it from a friend who lives in Seattle. We’ll definitely be recommending this to others!