The Pike Place Market is Seattle"s number one tourist draw. Sandwiched between the waterfront and the main drag of First Avenue, this public farmers market has been a hub of waterfront activity since the early days of Seattle. Since its first day of business, August 17, 1907, when 10,000 visitors overwhelmed vendors, the Pike Place Market Seattle has drawn tourists and residents alike to its outdoor stalls and vintage arcades, and Pike Place Fish Market. Today, the market easily draws up to 40,000 visitors on summer Saturday at the market.
Street performers, craftsmen, local artists, florists, fruit vendors, and the many specialty food shop employees are just a few of the folks vying for your attention as you wander through the Pike Place Market. From the first day it opened, when the Seattle Pike Place Market was first built, up to this most recent Saturday throngs, the market is a place to shop, dine, have an interesting stroll, or just catch up with old friends. It's also one of Seattle's most iconic attractions, along with the Space Needle.
From Pike to Stewart on Pike Place Alley, is the area of the Seattle Pike Place Market known as the North Arcade. Today this area is a covered outdoor menagerie of local foodstuffs, crafts, leather goods, and jewelry stands next to fresh fruit and vegetable stands. Across from this, situated in the buildings, the many shops all in a line resemble a gallery, Pike Place Market style, with food shops like the French bakery Le Panier, or the well-known Kosher Delight.
As you walk straight down Pike street, you will walk across the cobblestones at the intersection at First and Pike. On your left is the Pike Place Fish Market, where the employees are expert fish throwers, tossing and catching 20 salmon without nary a drop. Continue walking towards the large neon clock and the glowing "Public Market" sign, past the resident brass pig that sits next to the street performers, and you will find a descending staircase. Below you will find the Main Arcade, which was built in 1914, expanding the map of Pike Place Market, and is still in use today. Candy shops, restaurants, antique shops, jewelers, and ethnic shops are set in the old fashioned wood lined floors, creating a gallery. Pike Place Market's many shops and stores all have a distinct feel to them, depending on what part of the market they're in.
In 1916, The Economy Market buildings were added to the Seattle Pike Place Market. They were called as such for the damaged goods from freight trains that were sold here at discounted prices. You can access this area from either first avenue or from the labyrinth-like Main Arcade below. More shops, such as Metsker Maps, and the Rocky Mountain chocolate factory are just as frequented by locals as they are out of town visitors. Many are stops on the popular food tours of Seattle, so if you like to explore a city through its culinary treats, sign up for one of these.
Although there are always crowds at the Pike Place Market, it is not constantly open and the outdoor stands and many of the shops close earlier than you might expect, so it's good to arrive earlier in the day, and take advantage of the empty sidewalks before the crowds arrive and enjoy the best choice of fresh fruit and seafood. On Sundays, the shops are open on a voluntary basis, so some may or may not be open, and this is in part why Saturdays are so busy. The hours vary from store to store, but most of the outdoor stalls are open for business by 8 am during the peak season, which is from May to October. Arm yourself with a map of Pike Place Market and the Pike Place Fish Market and immerse yourself in an experience that is uniquely Seattle.