a first-timer's guide to Pike Place

Most trips, I'm all about seeing a place off the beaten path, searching for a local experience. Exceptions do exist. There are certain tourist sites that I can't help but feel attracted to. Pike Place in Seattle is one such site. Time and time again, I find myself drawn to the food, fresh flowers, and live music offered around the famous street. Every time I visit, I make it a point to wander the market and nearby alleys. 

Here's my advice to first-time visitors...

Parking //

Parking in Seattle, like most cities, can be both expensive and a total nightmare. I paid $4.50 for two hours on the side of Stewart Street. There are garages that might be safer {less door dings or side swipes}, however, they come at a steeper price. 

The Gum Wall //

I once put my initials in gum on the side of the gum wall. Nasty, I know but it's a local landmark that's fun to drop by. As the name implies, Gum Wall is literally a wall with chewing gum stuck to it. The city has tried to clean it up to prevent brick erosion, but the tradition never seems to die. Go add a piece to insure your own legacy!

Unexpected Productions //

It shouldn't be surprising that comedy clubs and improv shows are among my top choices for things to do in Seattle. It has solid comedic chops! Unexpected Productions is in the same alley as the Gum Wall, so buy your tickets in advance while you're taking pictures of the nasty resin covered brick. 

Food { and drink} for Thought //

It wouldn't be a guide written by me if it didn't include a shit ton of places to eat. Because I love food. And coffee. And just being in a foodie-type environment. 

  • Le PanierI like Le Panier for its fresh baked bread {I could eat an entire loaf of the sourdough!!}, but they also serve coffee. You won't have nearly the line to wait in that you would if you visit the original Starbucks and you might even have a chance at finding a seat near the window to people watch. 
  • Piroshky Piroshky: Russian pastries, need I say more? Actually, I should warn you that you'll likely be waiting in a line for these delicious goodies, but it moves quickly and you'll forget about it once you have a hot Cardamon Braid in your hand. 
  • Starbucks: totally touristy and the only time I'd recommend anyone visiting a Starbucks while traveling, this is the original location for the mega-franchise. This store sticks to the original Starbucks menu and you can see the debut logo. 
  • Beecher's: definitely not for those with cholesterol problems or those who are vegan. Beecher's grilled cheese sandwich used to be a favourite when I did dairy. To. Die. For. 
  • Cutter'slocated off of Pike Place on Western Ave, it's less than a full block away and if you're looking for delicious seafood, this is your spot! Back in the days when I ate fish, I had a multiple course meal here and it was insanely good. Well worth the higher price tag! 
  • El Mercado Latino: not actually a place to eat, but a place to buy all the hot sauce your little taste buds can handle! I like things spicy, so I always stop by and try to find something new to me.

Main Concourse //

The main market concourse is where you'll find colourful flowers for decent prices, seasonal produce, and samples of teas and jams. Here is also where you can witness the famous fish throwing, which is pretty neat to see once. There are some hidden hole-in-the-wall ethnic food restaurants, fresh fair donuts, and dried fruit or nuts for sell by weight. If you're looking for souvenirs, you'll find them here. My advice? Skip the trinkets. They're overpriced inside the market. 

If the weather is to your taste or you catch Seattle on a sunny day, enjoy the green spaces overlooking the bay. You'll often find street musicians and people on their lunch breaks.