Explosion of Senses: Pike Place Market

 

What started as a humble public food market has grown into a must-see tourist attraction in the heart of downtown Seattle. Pike Place Market, opened on August 17, 1907 is the oldest continuously running farmer's market in the US, and currently attracts around 10 million visitors a year. And boy, can you tell. A visit to the market is an exercise in oggling the impressive offers of the hundreds of vendors hawking fish, meat, spices, fruit, leather goods, flowers, artwork, and much more while simultaneously avoiding the thick crowds of folks who are equally distracted by the display. Actually attempting to buy anything is sure to send the indecisive into a panic, but is certainly worth it. Venturing underground, you'll find various oddity shops, bookstores, and restaurants - and of course, panicked tourist searching for the restrooms. 

A couple tips for visiting the market:

1) The market is open an impressive 19 hours a day and 363 days a year. The busiest times tend to be mid-morning to early afternoon. The craft stalls are open from 10am-4pm, and produce stalls from 6am onwards. The restaurants and shops keep their own varying hours. Be sure to check the website before visiting, however - occasionally the market will close early for special events. 

2) Yes, certain parts get a little creepy at night. Seattle is your typical modern city, and walking through the market maze on a Saturday night will introduce you to sights and smells of a whole different variety. Don't stress about it - it's all part of the vibe.

3) Be respectful of the vendors. As you wander, you'll likely see the signs put up by frustrated farmers: "Do not touch produce!" "You eat it, you buy it," and "No loitering." These folks are trying to make a living - don't stand in front of the flower stall for ages trying to get the perfect photo, as you'll be obstructing their customer flow. And for goodness sake don't poke the fish - whoever buys that for dinner does not need your fingerprints in their salmon.

4) Don't even think about using the restrooms. Especially if you're a lady. Not to say they aren't perfectly lovely bathrooms - it's just that there will almost certainly be a line far out the door during peak times.

5) Don't come hungry. Or do. Support local farmers and fishers.  

 Long story short? Don't stress about finding fancy activities to do in Seattle. The market and surrounding shops, bakeries, and cafes can easily keep you occupied for hours if you just let yourself float along in the chaos and sensory overload. 

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