Open since 1907, the Pike Place Market is one of the oldest year-round farmers markets in the country and one of the most iconic things to do in Seattle. Featuring over 200 shops and more than 80 restaurants, the Market is jam-packed with a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and tastes. From “flying” fish markets and local artisans, to artfully displayed produce stands, one-of-a-kind coffee shops and dynamic and diverse entertainers, we’ve mapped out everything you need to see, eat and do with kids when visiting this vibrant farmers market in the heart of the city. Read on!

photo: daveraley via Flickr 

When to Go

The Pike Place Market is only closed two days of the year: Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. The Market is hugely popular and not surprisingly, the best time to visit is during the week or early on the weekends. Hours at the Market vary among the merchants, but generally, restaurants that offer breakfast tend to open as early as 6 a.m.; produce and seafood stands open at about 7 a.m.; the farm tables open at 8 a.m.; and the crafts markets and merchants normally open by 10 a.m. While the farm table and crafts market closes at 4 p.m., most of the merchants keep the lights on until 6 p.m. and the restaurants stay open until the wee hours of the night. But that won’t really be an issue for you because your bringing the kids, right?

photo: Kristina Moy

What to See

Since we know you can’t possibly see everything within Pike Place Market’s nine-acre historic district with kids in tow, we’ve mapped out six must-see attractions. In no particular order:

Rachel the Piggy Bank: Created by Georgia Gerber, the 550 lb. bronze piggy bank is plenty strong to hold your little guys and gals for a photo opp and if you so choose, drop a coin or two inside her to help support the Pike Place Market Foundation. Find Rachel: beneath the Public Market clock and sign at the corner of Pike Place.

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Flying Fish: Everyone in your crew will enjoy this free “flying fish show” where fishmongers throw salmon back and forth across the seafood counters. Find Pike Place Fish: under the Public Market clock.

Giant Shoe Museum: Located on Level 4, the Giant Shoe Museum is exactly what it sounds like. Go and check it out!

Elvis the Fortune Teller: While visiting the Market, you can have your fortune told by Elvis! You’ll find him at the Market Magic & Novelty Shop located in the lower level of the main Market.

Gum Wall: You can’t miss this sticky mess found on the walls in Lower Post Alley. Don’t forget to bring some gum. You can contribute your own personal touch to the “art” while you’re there.

Buskers: Depending on the day or time, you’ll find a variety of street performers including musicians, magicians, clowns, singers, jugglers and even signing parrots. Keep an eye out!

photo: Christine C. via Yelp

Where to Find Good Eats

From sweet to savory, you will find tempting food choices around every corner of the Market. If you’ve got a crew of finicky palates, here are some of the best family-friendly choices:

Lowell’s Restaurant & Bar 
This “almost classy since 1957” restaurant boasts three floors of beautiful waterfront views and delish old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes. Want to try something a little different? Order Lowell’s Incredible Breakfast Taco made with house-made chorizo, scrambled eggs and cotijo cheese on grilled soft double corn tortillas or Lowell’s “Restorative” Breakfast Bowl, a bacon-cheddar-green onion strata fancied up with biscuits and topped with poached eggs over crispy hashbrowns. The Lemon Zest Ricotta Seasonal Berry Pancakes also can’t be beat. But if breakfast doesn’t work for you and your crew, Lowell’s is also open for lunch and dinner.

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
Press your noses against the glass walls of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese to get a firsthand look at what it takes to make great cheese. Then, beeline it to the café to enjoy hot paninis, soups and the “world’s best mac & cheese.”

Taxi Dogs
You might have to stand in line a while, but this is the place for the best dogs in the city. While junior will like the all-beef kid dog, dad and mom might prefer a pork bratwurst, sun-dried tomato chicken sausage, a beef and Pork hot link or kielbasa. Feeling adventurous? Go completely off the board with a vegetarian dog. Add-ons include grilled onions and peppers, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, cream cheese, chili and coleslaw. They also have a large variety of condiments as well.

Three Girls Bakery
Believe it or not, the Three Girls Bakery has been baking up happiness since 1912. In addition to a variety of pastries and cookies, Three Girls Bakery serves soups and sandwiches made from a variety of breads from some of the best bakeries across the city, Psst..be sure to leave room for a bearclaw.

The Juice Emporium
Featuring 40 (give or take) different healthy beverage choices, The Juice Emporium offers a variety of fresh squeezed juices from fruits and vegetable along with delicious smoothies and bubble tea.

photo: Ellenos

Where to Find Sweet Treats

You probably won’t be able to escape the Market without stopping for at least one sweet treat. From ice cream parlors to candy shops to bakeries, Pike Place Market has plenty to offer. Here are some of our favorites:

Daily Dozen Doughnut Company
Check out the “donut robot” which sends mini donuts on their way into the fryer and out again. These bite-sized wonders made at the Daily Dozen Doughnut Company come with a variety of frostings and toppings and are oh-so tasty. Find the Daily Dozen Doughnut Company near the Pike Place Market news stand. Psst…don’t let the lines intimidate you; they move fast.

photo: Crystal C. via Yelp

Shug’s Soda Fountain & Ice Cream
Set in a space that is both nostalgic and modern, Shug’s Soda Fountain & Ice Cream hosts a full menu of sundaes, sodas, floats and, of course, simple ice cream cones. Featuring creations made from Lopez Island Creamery ice cream and topped with housemade syrups and sauces, Shug’s is the bomb! Mom and dad will appreciate the organic coffee, adult ice cream cocktails and local beer and wine offerings, too.

Ellenos
Using only 100 percent natural fruits and toppings, Ellenos greek yogurt is not only delicious, but a super-popular spot for a little pick-me-up or after meal dessert any time of the day. Try their Nutty Fruity Muesli, Lemon Curd, Marionberry, Passionfruit, Mango and Pumpkin Pie. You can thank us later!

Sweetie’s Candy
Located in the lower level of the Market and housed in a tiny space (just 135 square feet!) Sweetie’s Candy caries over 200 different goodies including Jelly Belly’s, gummi candies, nostalgic candies and plenty of sweet gifts.

photo: Arthur A. via Yelp

Where to Shop

Most of the retail shops at the Market are underneath what you see on the street level. From apparel, art, books and music, to maps, collectibles and home and kitchen goods, the Market is jam-packed with unique and one-of-a-kind shops. Here are a some crowd-pleasing faves to check out:

Golden Age Collectables
Did you know that the world’s oldest comic book shop is located in the Market? It’s true and they have everything your littles (and you) want to splurge on: comics and manga, toys and games, pictures of your favorite stars and scripts from their movies. From light-sabers to Bobbleheads, you’ll find it here.

Seattle Market Magic
Located in the Market’s lower level, Seattle Market Magic is part museum and part magic shop. Lined with pictures of famous magicians on the walls, you’ll find everything a budding magician needs for his or her new act, including how-to books, videos, props and more.

Rummage Around
With an ever-changing inventory of hidden treasures and vintage goods, you never know what you’re going to find at Rummage Around. The inventory changes from week to week with second-hand collectibles, antiques and a variety of goods.

3D Wood Puzzles
You won’t believe what you’ll find at 3D Wood Puzzles. Over 100 different wooden 3D models of everything from dragons to the Space Needle. You’ll find them just down the ramp from Pike Place Fish.

photo: Pike Place Market

Special Events

You probably don’t need another reason to visit Pike Place Market, but in case you do, consider visiting during these special events and make your trip even more memorable.

Daffodil Day
Each year, 10,000 daffodils are handed out to downtown Seattle residents, workers and Market visitors honoring the first day of spring. Families are encouraged to join the many community members and volunteers in the fun of handing out flowers in exchange for smiles around noon.

Annual Flower Festival
The Market always has hundreds of flowers to choose from, but during Mother’s Day Weekend, an extra abundance of tulips, daffodils, irises and peonies are on hand. The Atrium Kitchen has also been known to offer special cooking classes with mom where attendees will learn how to prepare spaghetti from scratch.

photo: Downtown Seattle Association

Downtown Summer Sounds
Recently, the Market was included in the Downtown Association’s Downtown Summer Sounds program that brings free local music concerts during the months of July and August. Whether its afro-soul, rockabilly, Americana, rock ‘n roll, R&B, electronic, or indie, chances are good that you and your kids will like what you hear. Visit the Downtown Seattle Association’s website to see this year’s lineup.

Costumes on the Cobblestones
While not always on Halloween, the Market hosts this daytime event of trick-or-treating throughout its nine acres of shops and businesses with many handing out treats for little tricksters showing off their superhero, princess or pirate attire. The fun continues on the Market Front (1901 Western Ave.) with fresh apple cider and pumpkin picking.

Magic in the Market
Christmas tends to come early at the Market with this free all-day event that is usually held right after Thanksgiving. The festive affair features one-on-one meetings with Santa, Christmas cookie decorating, live reindeer, festive holiday music, hot apple cider and cocoa, a “Stockings and Stuffers” craft fair, Christmas tree shopping, demonstrations and an annual Christmas tree lighting countdown with the jolly old elf himself in the early evening. You can also expect a few surprises here and there too.

Pike Place Market
1st Ave and Pike St.
Seattle, Wa 98101
206-602-6420
Online: pikeplacemarket.org

For more information, be sure to check out the Pike Place Market Visitors Guide.

—Jeff Totey

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