Pike Place Market – Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.
A Waterfront Microcosm of Seattle
Seattle is virtually surrounded by water, so any visit to this growing Pacific Rim metropolis should begin on the waterfront, within earshot of the gulls and foghorns, among the harbors that have always been its lifeblood.
On Elliott Bay in the area of the Sea Aquarium, the exuberant Pike Place Market has been a Seattle institution since 1907, making it the oldest continuously operating farmer’s market in the United States. A tourist trap loved by locals and visitors alike, it sprawls across seven city blocks and fills sixteen multilevel buildings with 600 vendors speaking dozens of different languages.
Amazingly, it has remained largely unchanged through much of its colorful life, with wisecracking fishmongers still screaming “Fish up!” or “Low-flying fish!” before tossing their catch like so many footballs for the amusement of passersby. The variety of the seafood is astonishing – witness local specialties like just-caught Dungeness crab, coho salmon, halibut, diver-caught pink scallops from the nearby San Juan Islands, spot prawns (Northwest shrimp), and clams and oysters chilling on mountains of shaved ice.
The city that gave the world Starbucks promises a caffeine fix at every turn (the original Starbucks opened in 1971 and is found here in the market) as well as jewelry, tchotchkes, crusty fresh-baked bread, a meadow’s worth of cut flowers, and the chance to graze your way around the globe. Paired with local produce, the bounty of these waters (once destined only for distant markets) and the city’s ever-growing Asian population make for a remarkably sophisticated dining scene.
Though you’ll never go hungry at Pike Place or anywhere else in Seattle, the fifteen- minute taxi ride to the city’s best-known waterside restaurant, Ray’s Boathouse, is worth every penny. It’s a Seattle classic – shorts and sandals upstairs on the popular summertime deck, and a more refined eatery downstairs, all with the city’s best view of Shilshole Bay.
This is your Seattle Moment: watch the sun go down over Puget Sound and the towering Olympic Mountains while enjoying straightforward, unfussy, incredibly fresh fish such as the grilled black cod marinated in sake.