We tackled a beast on Friday for Episode 3 of Seattle by Sarah: the Pike Place Market.
I love the Pike Place Market for many reasons. While it’s absolutely a tourist destination, I’ve already made it clear that I like playing a tourist in my own city. Nine times out of ten, the destination or activity is a legitimately cool thing – that’s why it exists! (The one exception that I would make is the Underground Tour, but we can explore that some other time. I’m basically the only person who doesn’t think it’s worth the $$.)
Here’s what makes the Pike Place Market cool, for locals and for tourists:
- The Pike Place Market is free for anyone and everyone to enjoy. It costs nothing to watch the fish guys toss fish around, to enjoy the buskers, to marvel at the beautiful flowers and to take in the view.
- You know what else is free? My sample tour of the Pike Place Market.
- Have $20? You can get a coffee from the original Starbucks, a dozen Daily Dozen Donuts, an oyster cocktail from the fish throwers and a $5 bouquet of flowers. Pike Place Market well-experienced, $20 well-spent.
- There is SO MUCH TO EXPLORE. So much, ya’ll. There are literally four FLOORS of artisan crafts, specialty foods and totally random oddities – you could spend hours there and never even see it all. Give yourself time to explore and you might find a fortune teller, the World’s Tallest Man, or a Buddha’s Hand. (That’s a fruit, it turns out – and you zest it like a lemon.)
- It’s so much more than a Farmers Market. The Pike Place Market Foundation is one of the city’s key service providers in the downtown area. They operate a senior center, a preschool, a food bank, and a health clinic, all located within the Market.
- Need a certain special ingredient and can’t find it anywhere? I’ll bet it’s in the Market. I’ve found the pomegranate molasses and tahini sauce I needed at The Souk, harissa at World Spice Merchants, and have avoided having to make my own passion fruit puree by finding it at El Mercado Latino (which also serves delicious empanadas).
- It was almost torn down and turned into a parking lot. For you history nerds (I have very recently applied for membership in your club), the Pike Place Market was almost torn down and turned into high-rise building and parking in the late 1960’s. However, in one of Seattle’s first instances of citizen-led activism, citizens rallied around the campaign to “Save the Market” and it was designated as a historic district in the middle of the city.
- It’s expanding. Ground has been broken on the new MarketFront project and they are turning one of the parking lots on Western into more space for vendors, low-income senior housing, and open public space.
It would have taken us hours to highlight all these fun facts in this episode, so I took you all on a modified version of my specialty food tour that I always take visitors on. The Market is something that you can see, smell, and actually taste, which is part of the reason I love it so much!
If you’re a first-timer, please observe the following rules (made up by me):
- DO NOT DRIVE INTO THE MARKET. Just don’t do it! I will never understand why the Market isn’t car-free and I’m sure it has something to do with vendor access but for the love of god, if you’re visiting, ditch your car in a parking lot and use your feet. If you drive through the Market, you are going to have a terrible time. The pedestrians are always going to be in your way. They’re going to be snapping pictures and wandering around with no destination in mind, and you are going to be so frustrated and unable to move forward and unable to turn right to get away. If you actually do manage to turn right, I pray that you don’t have a stick shift because those hills are steep.
- Observe the flow of traffic. One of the most frustrating things about the Market is how people just stop, for no reason, in the middle of the walkway. Don’t be one of those people. If you can’t decide where you’re going or what to look at – which I totally understand – please step to the side to make your decision and to let people get around you.
- If you’re trying to get somewhere fast, ditch the sidewalk and walk in the street. Sure, you’ll risk pissing off some of those drivers who shouldn’t be driving anyway, but if you know where you’re going, walking through the main part of the Market is not the most efficient way to get there.
- Have cash on hand. There are several spots (Daily Dozen Doughnuts, flower stands) that are cash-only and it sucks to wait in line and then make this discovery. Need an ATM? There’s a Wells Fargo ATM located up on 1st Avenue right between Starbucks and Dream Girls.
Special shout outs to Daily Dozen Doughnut Company (approaching their 30th anniversary next July!), Market Spice, Pike Place Fish Market (I don’t know WHY I’m so intimidated by the fish throwers but they are just SO COOL that I can’t even talk to them), Pappardelle’s Pasta (you didn’t make the cut in the editing room but I still love your marinades!), Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, La Buona Tavola (you also didn’t make the cut but I LOVE that potato leek soup), Britt’s Pickles (hey cute bros!), Ellenos Greek Yogurt (I simply love you), and Rachel’s Ginger Beer (boozy floats FTW!).
For those of you who are following the creative development of this vlog, I have the following updates regarding the process:
- Taking direction is really hard. Directing might be even harder.
- Repeating yourself 30 times while tourists roam around you is super distracting.
- The majority of my intros and outros of each location ended with swear words. Greg has promised me a blooper reel. I’m so excited.