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Visiting Pike Place Market in Seattle: Throwing Fish and More

The state of Washington in the far northwest part of our country is a beauty, with ocean breezes, mountains, meadows, and more!

Fish being displayed and sold at Pike Place Market

Fish being displayed and sold at Pike Place Market

A Tourist Attraction Worth Visiting

Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, has become a top tourist attraction where fishmongers entertain visitors and shoppers by throwing fish to one another and engaging people in conversations for entertainment and a type of drama not seen in many other places.

In addition to flying fish, there is so much more to be explored and enjoyed in the oldest continually operating farmer's market in the United States. One should not miss seeing it if visiting Seattle.

But this one isn't just for the tourists. Locals know that the freshest of seafood, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and other sundry items, can be located and purchased at Pike Place.

My mother, niece, and I began a 15-day vacation by flying to Seattle in July of 1989. We settled into the downtown Sheraton Hotel and walked to the famous Pike Place Market that was only blocks away.

History of Pike Place

Cobblestone streets lead to this historic market, which came into being around 1907. As a reaction to the middlemen taking most of the profits, the farmers and fishers decided they could collectively display and sell their fresh fish and produce to keep more of the money for themselves.

In 1971 the market had become very old and rundown, and the city fathers had decided to demolish it. There was a citizen outcry to save the market by the voters of Seattle who loved the history and idea of keeping it open for future generations. Besides, they liked to shop there!

Pike Place Market is on the National Register of Historic Places and has exceeded the century mark of age.

Pike Place Today

The area consists of seven-plus acres of everything from hawkers tossing and selling fish to restaurants, craft shops, fruit and vegetable markets to musicians and other entertainers, adding to the noise, smells, color, and ambiance of this historic place. 250 businesses are permanent and up to 200 people rent spaces to sell their crafts.

One can see mounds of iced down fresh crab legs, fish of every size and description, bratwurst and other "wurst's," a wide assortment of cheeses, brightly polished and colorful fruits as well as vegetables. Aromas of coffee beans and spices of every variety intermix with the sweet smells coming from the flower stall vendors. Hundreds of food items tempt a visitor to Pike Place Market.

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It is a vibrant mix of people, languages, sights, sounds, and scents. One could spend a good portion of a day there shopping, dining, and sightseeing.

We'll be going to the fish market and a farmer's market this afternoon to get what we need to make and eat dinner as a family. I'm trying to expose my kids to going to a farmers market or the fish market and learning what that's all about.

— Emeril Lagasse

"Fish is Flying"

Our Dining Experience

The backside of Pike Place Market borders the Elliott Bay waterfront. Many restaurants offer a bay view along with their proffered food and drinks.

After looking over the selection of restaurants, we chose to have lunch at The Athenian Inn that had been in business since 1909. Its address is 1517 Pike Place and the hours of operation were from early in the morning until 7:00 pm.

In addition to old-fashioned recipes like clam hash, kippers, and omelets, they served lobsters, steaks, and more. For refreshments, they had an old-fashioned soda fountain, numerous wines from the Northwest, and a large selection of beers (150 of them!) from around the world, with 16 of them on tap. I enjoyed an order of fresh sea bass with a sweet and sour sauce which was delicious. My mother and niece enjoyed their selections as well.


Go to this number-one tourist attraction for the entertainment of seeing the flying fish plus experiencing the vibrant farmer's market atmosphere that has made this historic spot so popular.

Nearby parking garages accommodate 800 plus stalls. Tours of this site can be self-guided, as in our case, or one can hire a guide. There are even food and cooking classes available on site.

For information about parking prices, operating hours, a market directory, etc., check out their website. Because of the current pandemic, you need to learn about any restrictions.

Look at our farmers markets today, bursting with heritage breeds and heirloom varieties, foods that were once abundant when we were an agricultural nation, but that we have lost touch with. Bringing all these back helps us connect to our roots, our communities and helps us feed America the proper way.

— Jose Andres

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Peggy Woods

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