Pike Place Market:
It’s kind of interesting to me that the main touristy areas of Seattle aren’t just for tourists. Seattle is pretty hipster about a lot of things, but I don’t know a single person who hates, or avoids going to, Pike Place Market. When I first moved here, I worked on Pike Street and everyone went to lunch somewhere in the market. Whether it was for crispy fish and chips, a simple pastry and coffee, or a nondescript Mexican restaurant located under the market (which has since closed), everyone was happy. Honestly, I don’t want to list too many places, because I want you to explore and find things on your own (and tell me about them of course!) Here are some of my favorite corners:
Cafe Campagne– This is such a great traditional French restaurant for lots of different occasions. I first went on a (terrible) date for brunch, but I’ve gone back several times with my mom, with my grandparents and I’m trying to get up the nerve to go by myself one day! It can be a bit expensive, but the food is always well worth it and the atmosphere is beautiful! Plus, it’s a prime location, just off of Pike Place.
Il Bistro– A dark, sexy Italian restaurant, great for a date, and tucked away in a little corner of the market.
Gum Wall- It seems like a weird one, but it’s a fun one. I make all my visitors chew a wad of colorful gum and pose for embarrassing photos. It might be my favorite thing about having visitors!
DeLaurenti– I love this place and every time I’m in it, I wish I could take everything home with me. The fancy capers, fancy pasta, fancy wine, cheese I hate the smell of, mustard brands I’ve never heard of… it’s all sexy and mysterious and wonderful. If you’re feeling hangry, the front of the store sells quick and yummy morsels like paninis and pastries. Technically it’s a grocery store, but it’s the coolest grocery store I’ve seen.
Antiques at Pike Place– A beautiful maze of antiques that’s not too overwhelming. It’s a great spot if you are looking for something in particular, or just looking to look.
BLMF Literary Saloon- This gem is hidden deep underneath the market, and if you like books and reading you should absolutely stop in! It feels like something straight out of Harry Potter, with stacks of books teetering precariously up to the ceiling.
Sur La Table– It’s so cute to hear people pronounce this wrong (It’s “Ssssserrrrrr laaaaaa taaaaaableh”) and a great shop to find the perfect cooking accessories. It’s a chain, but they are based out of Seattle and I spend far too much time and money in this store!
Watson Kennedy– An ultra cool shop for pretty odds and ends for the home, and yourself, and if you’re nice, this is a great place to buy little gifts too.
Metsker Maps of Seattle– It’s a store. Just for maps. And I love spending time in there.
What NOT to do?
When visiting Pike Place, tourists tend to do silly things. I’m warning you now, please do not watch them throw the fish. It’s awkward and weird and they don’t like doing it. Plus, you’re not going to buy their fish, so it’s kind of rude too. Other market faux pas? Don’t hang out in the park at Pike Place, it’s dirty and gross and no matter how sunny it is… it’s just not worth it. Also, don’t embarrass me by waiting in the line outside the “original” Starbucks. No Starbucks is worth that line and everybody knows it. Just take a selfie out front if you must. Finally, you may be tempted by the stores (Zara, Loft, Anthropologie, Nordstrom… oh my!) but try your hardest to refrain from spending too much time here. There’s a lot to see and hanging out in chain stores will feel like a waste after the fact.
Other To Do Options in Downtown Seattle:
Seattle Art Museum: The SAM, if you’re in the know. One of the best kept secrets of Seattle is that museums are actually free the first Thursday of every month. It’s a beautiful museum, truly, and it pays a good homage to it’s city with quirky displays. (Ex: when you’re first entering, look up!)
Seattle Library: Honestly, it makes me a little depressed with it’s grey and glass and concrete and steel. But it’s definitely a building that is worth seeing, if nothing else.
5th Avenue Theater: I took myself to see Jersey Boys here and was not disappointed. Everything was opulent and glamorous in a way that people just don’t experience any more! It’s a truly beautiful venue to see a great musical or play.
The Seattle Waterfront is a cheesy tourist trap, but it can be a lot of fun too! It’s worth it to take an afternoon to eat some Ivar’s fish and chips, ride the Great Ferris Wheel and take a visit to the Seattle Aquarium . I grew up close to the best aquarium in the world (in my humble opinion), but the Seattle Aquarium is perfectly good and focuses on Pacific Northwest waters, which is nice to see. And if you’re feeling daring, you can catch a ferry to anywhere in the Sound!