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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.

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.

Recommendations

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

For More Information:

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

Comments

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 26, 2021:

Hi Doris,

Yes, those flying fish are fun to capture via video. If I ever return to Seattle, I would also enjoy another visit to Pike Place Market. It is hard to take it all in with one visit.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on February 26, 2021:

I enjoyed your visit to the Pike Place Market in Seattle. I love visiting that place and wouldn't miss it anytime I get to go to Seattle. My first visit in 2005 was a little overwhelming, but then I knew more of what to expect. The last time I visited (2015) I had a smartphone, so I made a video of the flying fish. Aren't they something! I can't remember where we ate, but it wasn't at the restaurant you mentioned. I'll have to remember it the next time I visit, if I ever get to go again. Thanks for the memories.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 23, 2021:

Hi Misbah,

That is exactly the one we got to visit while in Barcelona. It was so much fun to see, and we enjoyed strolling through Las Ramblas viewing other sites as well.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 23, 2021:

Hi Denise,

The Pike Place Market has so much more than just fish. I am sure you would enjoy visiting it for the fresh flowers, crafts, restaurants, and more.

Misbah from The Planet Earth on February 22, 2021:

In Barcelona you may have visited the one in Rambla Raval

The most famous one

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 22, 2021:

Hi Misbah,

We went to one of those fabulous markets in Barcelona many years ago. I am sure that because of Covid-19, markets everywhere are no longer as crowded. It will be great when we can return to them post-pandemic.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 22, 2021:

Hi Misbah,

So happy to know that you enjoyed learning about the Pike Place Market. Thanks for your comment.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on February 22, 2021:

What a great place for food and entertainment. I'd like to see that even if I don't like fish.

Blessings,

Denise

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 22, 2021:

Hi Adrienne,

The tossed fish are not alive, but other things, like clams, etc., are sold that way. Glad you learned something new by reading this when you saw the sign about the singing scallops.

Misbah from The Planet Earth on February 22, 2021:

We have such markets in Spain too but now they aren't much crowded due to C19 , they are losing their glory and beauty

Misbah from The Planet Earth on February 22, 2021:

I enjoyed reading it Peggy

It sounds like a very vibrant place

The photographs are very nice

Thanks for sharing it

Blessings

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 21, 2021:

Hi Vanita,

I am glad you enjoyed reading this article, and I truly appreciate your checking up on us after that snow and ice storm in our region. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 21, 2021:

Hi Manatita,

Texas is in recovery mode after this record-breaking winter storm. Broken pipes have damaged many homes and businesses across the state. Some people are having a hard time locating food and water. At least the weather is warming up! According to reports, 50 people have died. In addition to hypothermia, some people died of carbon monoxide poisoning when trying to heat their homes.

While we shivered without heat and had to boil our water when it was running, we are among the lucky ones! It will take a lot of time and effort to return to normal. Many people from other states are aiding us in that effort. Thanks for your empathy and prayers.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 21, 2021:

Hi Manatita,

I seriously doubt that I have been to more places than you. My mother and I did enjoy vacationing together for a period of years. It is fun to reminisce. Pike Place Market was one such place that we enjoyed while in Seattle. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 21, 2021:

Hi Chitrangada,

I am pleased that you enjoyed this virtual tour of the Pike Place Market. We had fun discovering and spending time in this Seattle tourist attraction.

Adrienne Farricelli on February 21, 2021:

What a colorful and characteristic market! It must be entertaining watching the flying fish. Many of the signs say the fish is live, that shows how fresh it is. I was intrigued by the sign selling "singing scallops" and had to Google them. Apparently, they got their name because "they puff through the water with their shells moving, like they're singing." Nice to learn something new!

Vanita Thakkar on February 21, 2021:

I enjoyed my visit to this beautiful, grand market with your memories, dear Peggy. The photographs are beautiful.

Happy to be able to comment in your article.

Good to hear that you are fine and safe and things are getting better.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 21, 2021:

Hi Heidi,

You are correct. The Pike Place Market does have a very European look and feel to it. Most of Texas now has electricity, but the water woes are far from over. We are fortunate. As of late yesterday, we no longer have to boil our water. Most of the Houston area still had that boil alert active.

manatita44 from london on February 21, 2021:

I forget to offer my empathies. I hear that Texas is having a very hard time. I always get the news late. Lol. Stay safe and blessed.

manatita44 from london on February 21, 2021:

You have been to so many places, Peggy. More than me, perhaps. With your mother too.. Sweet! Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, must have been a bustling one!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on February 21, 2021:

Nice and informative article about Pike place market. Your description is interesting and the pictures are great, and provide an overview of this interesting place.

Thanks for the virtual tour.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 20, 2021:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

Thanks for thinking of us in Texas during this extreme low-temperature event. It could and should have been preventable. So sorry for all of those people who have busted plumbing pipes. It will take much recovery time and expense to get things back to normal. Many people, even those from out of state, are helping to provide water and food. Fortunately, most of the power is back on, but the water is still being restored.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on February 20, 2021:

That has a very European market appeal. And, of course, Pike Place is also the home of the first Starbucks. I agree, it is a must-visit.

Thanks for sharing this corner of the NW with us! Hope you're all good in TX with the recent weather.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 20, 2021:

Hi Ravi,

I am pleased that you enjoyed learning about this fascinating place in which to shop, dine, and more.

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 20, 2021:

Peggy, I've been thinking of you in this Texas weather and power debacle! Thank you for sharing your current status. Much love to you and best wishes for a return to normal as soon as possible!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 20, 2021:

Hi Ann,

Yes, I am also glad that the local people prevailed in keeping that market open. It is a fun Seattle place to visit.

We are luckier than many people. While most people in Texas now have their power restored, running water is still a problem. We do have running water, but still have to boil it for safety concerns. Also, our pipes did not burst. So many people are dealing with those issues having their homes and businesses flooded.

Grocery stores are gradually reopening, but food and water are hard to find.

Help is coming from other states. We have plenty of frozen food which we kept outside to stay frozen during the worst of the power outages. Again, we are lucky that we are not hungry and searching for food. We shared food with our neighbors so that if the power had not come on in time, much of it would have been wasted.

We have some great neighbors who are always there to help one another out. Thanks for asking.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 20, 2021:

Hi Devika,

This is not only a great place for the locals to shop, but it is also a great tourist attraction in Seattle. It was fun seeing it and also dining there.

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on February 20, 2021:

Very interesting place Peggy. Sure the history and the photos make it a worth visiting place. Thanks for sharing this incredible bit of information and thanks also for teaching me something new today.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 20, 2021:

Hi Rosina,

I hope that your travels take you to Seattle someday so that you can enjoy the Pike Place Market. Those old photos were fun to see as compared to today. Thanks for your comment.

Ann Carr from SW England on February 20, 2021:

What a vibrant and fascinating place, Peggy! I love markets and this one seems full of life and is obviously popular. It's a good job the locals insisted on keeping it going. For people to be able to display and sell their own wares is so important - it encourages pride, entrepreneurial-ship and it's good for the health to have fresh produce.

Great hub! I hope you're keeping well, Peggy.

Ann

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 20, 2021:

Hi Peggy W a beautiful place and so much to enjoy there. This is amazing to visit and have fun at a different market.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 19, 2021:

Hi Bill,

You are lucky to have a brother that lives in the area so that you get to visit this unique and scenic place more often. Those flying fish are always a spectacle! Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 19, 2021:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

It is great that you visited the Pike Place Market many years ago. Like you, I would happily return for a revisit. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 19, 2021:

Hi Dennis,

I hope you get to see this market in person someday. If so, enjoy!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 19, 2021:

Hi Pamela,

We did have a wonderful time visiting the Pike Place Market. Thanks for your comment and concern about us in Houston regarding the deep freeze we just endured. We have plenty of food, power, and running water. We still do have to boil our water. Compared to others, we fared well. So many people are suffering, and the results of this will be long-lasting.

Rosina S Khan on February 19, 2021:

It was enjoyable reading about The Pike Place Market in Seattle. I liked both the old and new photos. It certainly is a great tourist attraction and I would like to visit it some day. Thanks for sharing, Peggy.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on February 19, 2021:

Great review Peggy. We’ve made many a visit to the Pike Place Market with our last visit just a few years ago, my brother lives in the area. It never disappoints and witnessing the flying fish is always a treat. You can find just about anything at the market and the Seattle waterfront is a vibrant, happening place. Whenever we are visiting my brother we always make time to spend a day in and around the market.

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 19, 2021:

It’s been about 15 years since I’ve visited but it was a memorable trip and highly recommended. I like how you profiled the history of the market, interspersing it with photos through the decades and giving your personal perspective too. Makes me wish I could return. Maybe after the pandemic.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 19, 2021:

Hi Bill,

I'll take you up on that offer to meet for lunch somewhere in the Pike Place Market. It would be so much fun meeting you in person!

Dennis on February 19, 2021:

What an exciting place to visit. Hope to go someday to experience the scope of such an expansive farmers market.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 19, 2021:

This looks like a delightful place to visit, Peggy. I have been in Washington state, but I have not visited this market. It sounds like you had a wonderful time with your family. I enjoyed your article.

i am glad it is warming up a bit in Houston. I hope you have plenty of food, as I understand grocery shelves are empty. I imagine it has been dangerous to drive on icy roads. Stay safe, Peggy.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 19, 2021:

I know it well, my friend. Spent many an afternoon there when I was in college, and have returned many times since then. Grateful you didn't mention the homeless problem; we hear enough about that on the local news each night. :) If you ever return, let me know and we'll meet for lunch at the market. I would gladly drive sixty miles for that lunch.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 19, 2021:

Hi Liz,

I am pleased that you enjoyed learning about the Pike Place Market. It surely has a long history!

Liz Westwood from UK on February 19, 2021:

This is a fascinating and well-researched article. You have highlighted a unique tourist attraction. I really appreciate the mix of illustrations, some showing the market from way back in time.

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