Scavenger Hunt in Seattle’s Pike Place Market

Welcome to Seattle's Pike Place MarketAre you looking for a quick food-filled adventure in Seattle?

Here’s a scavenger hunt that I created for my clients at Rare Finds….

Take the airport train less than 30 minutes from SeaTac to Westlake

and let your  Gastro-Adventure begin!

Flying Fish

Start with the Pike Place icon – the flying salmon.

You buy it, they’ll throw it!

This famous attraction was the brainstorm of the near-bankrupt fishmongers who grabbed the media’s attention with this silly ritual:

The Pike Place Fish Market is best known for their habit of hurling customers’ orders across the shopping area.  A typical routine will involve a customer ordering a fish from the fishmongers in the orange rubber overalls and boots who call out the order, which is loudly shouted back by all the other stuff, at which point the original fishmonger will throw the customer’s fish behind the counter for wrapping.  Initially, the shouted repeating of the ordered fish began as a prank on one employee, but was enjoyed by customers so it became a tradition.  While working, the staff continually yell to each other and chant in unison while they throw ordered fish.  At times, the fish market staff will throw a flat fish into the crowd to scare bystanders, or select a customer from the crowds to participate.  Above the areas in which they throw the fish hangs a sign that reads, “Caution, Low Flying Fish”.

Find the flying fish scene at the corner of Pike Place and Pike Street, where the market forms an “L”

… or just look around for the big loud crowd.

Fly a Fish Home

Tuna Poke is one of many choices at the fishmonger stalls of Seattle's Pike Place MarketTurn you back on the flying fish and walk through the flowers.

You’ll see stand after stand of fishmongers, though my favorite is the City Fish Market.

They will ship your choice of their finest seafood (try the tuna poke!) to your home, but you can also avoid the expensive box an shipping.  Instead, ask them to pack it in a plastic bag with ice, and your fish can ride on the conveyor belt, right through security at SeaTac!

…not a good idea if you’re at the start of your trip… just sayin’…

Celebrity Photo

Not a fish but a pig.  Rachel is debatably the biggest celebrity of Pike Place Market.

Rachel is a bronze cast piggy bank created by Georgia Gerber, a sculptor from Whidbey Island, Washington.   Rachel weighs in at 550 pounds and was named after a real 750-pound pig who won the 1985 Island County Fair.

Take a photo with Rachel, and put it on your wall at home, next to your poses with the Wall Street bull, the NY Library lions, and Edinburgh’s Greyfriars Bobby.

You can also donate money to Rachel. (donations go to the PP Market Foundation which supports low-income people who live in the PP market neighborhood)

Find Rachel at the entrance to Pike Place Market, right under the Public Market Center sign.

Also on the farm…

Tasting Truffles at Seattle's Pike Place Market La Buona Tavola – don’t miss this one!  There are truffle oils and salts, of course.  But there’re also creams and pastas and gourmet items like wine.

But this is no large-scale Wiliamsonoma.  All this decadence is squeezed into a 15×20′ shop.  And they have samples, like this:

What’s the story?   This lady married an Italian man whose family happened to own a truffle farm in Umbria.   She now runs a swanky little shop in the lane of storefronts across from the tented market, officially located at 1524 Pike Place.

If you get lost, call her at 206-292-5555.

Before we go on… are you getting little lost?    Send me an email and I’ll send you a handy map to find your way around Pike Place Market.


Best Busker of Pike Place Market in Seattle: the piano manA little piano at Pike Place

Jonny Hann has been rolling his piano to various busker spots at Pike Place for over 25 years now.  He’ll be easy to fine – because you’ll be able to hear him tinkle the ivories from a long way off!

Last time I saw him right at the corner of the main T of the market on Pike Place across from the Public Market sign.


Right across the corner, you’ll find another institution:  Beechers.

Trust me.  It’s worth the wait for this mac-and-cheese.

This shop, now a chain, started right here across from the Cambodian flower stalls and is a Pike Place institution.

The line will likely be long, but you’ll stay entertained, watching the cheese-making process through the long glass windows (and trying to decide which mac-n-chess to order – the World’s Best or the Mariachi, loaded with roasted Anaheim chiles!

(the original) Starbucks

drinking coffee at the original Starbucks in Pike Place MarketKeep walking down the sidewalk, keeping the tented market to your left, and you’ll hit the original Starbucks.

Here’s the story:

The first Starbucks opened in Seattle Washington on March 30, 1971, by 3 partners who met while they were students at U of San Fran:  English teacher Jerry Baldwin, history teacher Zev Siegl, and writer Gordon Bowker.  Originally, the company was to be called Pequot, after the whaling ship from Moby Dick, but this name was rejected by some of the co-founders.  The company was instead named after the chief mate on the Pequot, Starbuck.

The first Starbucks cafe was located at 2000 Western Avenue from 1071-1976. This cafe was later moved to 1912 Pike Place Market, never to be relocated again.

If you give a mouse a coffee…

He’s going to need a donut.

Zeppoles are more or less Italian doughnut holes – fried ricotta doughnuts, dusted with sugar, and served warm!  They are amazing.

There’s a loved-by-locals restaurant on the east side of Pike Place that often has a (fast moving) line out the door of folks picking up zeppoles and the best grilled panini that the city has to offer.

It’s Michou Fresca and is located between the first Starbucks location and Le Panier Bakery.

A Barbershop Quartet

Another famous Pike Place Market musical group is a barbershop quartet that covers a wide variety of old hymns, blues songs, and more.  They’re often found down by the very first Starbucks.

Maple Bacon Donuts - my favorite at the Daily Dozen at Seattle's Pike Place MarketA Donut Taste-Test:  the Daily Dozen

Don’t let your nutritionally reasonable self talk you out of this!

If you thought zeppoles were yummy, then turn around and walk back down the sidewalk, now keeping the tented market to your right.

At the end, inside the tents, almost directly straight ahead (near your first fish-throwing shop), you’ll find the Daily Dozen.   Rolled and fried before your very eyes, their specialty is… drumroll, please... maple iced with bacon!

Try it before you judge.

The Gum Wall:  it’ll stick to your memory

Welcome to Post Alley in Seattle's Pike Place marketNothing is more simultaneously revolting and intriguing as a large wall covered with years and years of (pre-chewed) gum.  Be sure to bring a pack of gum so you can add to it.

Where can find this lovely landmark?  From the Daily Dozen, walk back out to the street, and with your back to the water, walk up.  Post Alley runs down on your left.

Post Alley

Good the you’ve finally discovered the lesser-trampled Post Alley.

If it’s 5:00 and you’re ready for a cocktail, there’s a wine bar (The Tasting Room), a beer hall (500 to choose from!)m and an English Tavern (The White Horse).

But a real find is the small and almost hidden Alibi Room (to to the Gum Wall and you won’t be far away).

There’s also a pretty good chowder (and Dungeness Crab sandwich) at the Pick Place Chowder, but maybe you’d like a rest from the crowds by now?

A quiet bowl of chowder

Secluded booth with a view at Pike Place Market, Seattle Had enough crowds?

If so, head back into the hornet’s nest of the tented market and down the stairs.  There you’ll find many options, but Lowell’s is a good standby for local chowder, local wine, and great water views.

Or pretend you’re Tom Hanks and …

Sleepless in Seattle

Want advice on dating, sex, and tiramisu, just like Tom Hanks got  from his pal Jay, in Sleepless in Seattle?   The scene took place right here in Pike Place Market.

You can have your own advice and chowder, too, if you head to the Athenian Inn at 1517 Pike Place (206-624-7166), a breakfast and lunch eater in the Main Arcade.

Like Lowells, the Athenian offers lunch with a view!

Meet a different Annie and sample Fireweed honey

Tom Hanks had an Annie but Pike Place does too.  Here she is:

My name is Annie Smith and I started keeping bees in Seattle about 5 years ago. Soon after the bug for beekeeping really bit (!), I moved onto a 60-acre organic berry farm up in Whatcom County.  Their old beekeeper was retiring, so he showed me the ropes and I took over all the pollination duties for Alm Hill Gardens.

At Sunny Honey Company, Annie sells creamed, raw, raspberry blossom, and- yes – fireweed honey… even honey body balm.

Sunny Honey Company is located under the white tent outside Pike Place Market on Saturdays.   But don’t worry if you visit on the wrong day – you can order online too.

Alexander the Fortune Teller (while you’re in the PP underbelly)

If you’re looking for a person, you’ll walk right by him.  Head into the underbelly of the market to find Alexander and all of his tricks.

Or maybe Darleen, a REAL  fortune teller?

Christoper’s Lamp focuses on a myriad of things in the “divination” business.  However, the main highlight is Darleen Christopher herself.  Darleen is known to provide the truth:  nothing more, nothing less.   Oftentimes, psychics will only provide the pleasantries to earn a dollar but Darleen gives both the bad and the good, so if a quality, truthful psychic is in order, Darleen is the one to see:  206-903-8344

Enjoy Seattle's fresh sea air at the Urban Garden The Urban Garden

To ponder the divinations of Darleen, or just to soak in the Seattle sea air, go back upstairs, and down the hallway by the Daily Dozen.  You’ll see a sign for the Urban Garden.


Why are YOU in Seattle?

Sleeping in the artisanal treehouse?    Visiting Olympic National Park?   Sailing in the San Juans?

Or maybe you’re headed to Alaska (if so, check this out – we promise an Alaska like you’ve never imagined!)

Remember that Rare Finds specializes in unique trips for adventurous travelers.

Ask us your questions right here…

Comments are closed.