A Pike Place Kind of Morning
The Pike Place Market is one of those Seattle icons that everyone visits when they come to town. Tourist swamp the small walkways and stand gaping at the fishermen as they throw a $200 fish through the air. Oddly enough, it is also a place that locals frequent. I tend to steer clear of any tourist congestion whenever possible, but even I can’t help myself from running down to check out the fresh produce or grab a sandwich at my favorite spot.
When we were presented with a beautiful, sunny Wednesday morning, my friend Nic and I decided it was time to head down with the kids and do a little exploring toddler style. The beauty of the market in winter is that the crowds aren’t as heavy. If you go in the morning you can practically have the place to yourself. Shopkeepers were still setting up when we arrived at 9:30am. But what to do with toddlers in a market full of goodies? Oh boy, what is there NOT to do.
First off, no morning visit is complete without a stop at the Crumpet Shop. We fuelled up on coffee, steam milk and some fresh out of the oven crumpets. The kids got boring ole butter crumpets. Nic and I shared the decadent maple butter crumpet along with a ricotta, honey and walnut topped crumpet. It may sound like a strange combo, but trust me it is amazing.
Pike Place is not only a spot to grab a bite to eat, but you can also load up on household staples, like spices from the Market Spice, or pick up fish and produce for your dinner that night. Your hubby may need to take the hint (as mine rarely does) and head on down to take advantage of the amazing flower deals. Fresh blooms for $5, $10, or $15 really can’t be beat. In the winter the stalls mostly have dried arrangements, but any day now the tulips will come pouring in. By summer bouquets with peonies, crocosmias and dahlias will fill the air with their sweet scent.
There is no end to the entertainment either. Street performers, each licensed by the city, have their designated spot in the market and time slot. Enjoy a harmonizing duo, tap dancing blue grass band or just a lone guy with his guitar and dog by his side.
For a little educational moment, hop on over to Beecher’s Handmade Cheese to watch the masters at work. We caught the end of the show as employees scooped up cheese curds from the latest batch. Afterwards we helped ourselves to a few free samples. Mind you this was after the fruit sampling we had been doing earlier in our meanderings. Did you know there are heirloom oranges? Delicious!
To round out our morning of toddler fun, we headed to my favorite sandwich counter at Three Girls Bakery. They really know how to stack on the pickles, which are the perfect complement to their chicken salad sandwich. With a hint of pineapple in the chicken salad, a little dill adds the tang my growing belly craves.
Know Before You Go
- Pike Place Market, corner of 1st and Pike in downtown Seattle
- Open 7 days a week, 362 days a year. 9am-6pm, but some restaurants within the market are open earlier for breakfast or later for dinner.
- Public restrooms are available. Just follow the signs or ask a merchant
- Parking is available in lots around the market. You may also be able to find parking on the street. All charge fees during the day. Be extra vigilant about reading signs carefully for tow zones.
- This is not the best stroller spot, especially in the summer. If your kids love to walk, let them. If you have a baby, strap them into your baby carrier. It will be easier to maneuver the crowds.
- Go early in the morning or late in the afternoon, especially in the summer, to avoid the crush.
- There are several levels to the market. If you have little legs traveling with you, you may not be able to explore all of them. Even the top level is more than enough to keep you entertained.
- Enjoy the free samples. You are getting to know the city and all it has to offer one bite at a time.