Pike Place Market
1531 Western Avenue
Seattle, WA, 98101
I can’t think of anywhere more fun to Christmas shop in Seattle than Pike’s Place Market, right off the waterfront in the heart of downtown. People might just think of Pike’s Place as a tourist pit stop, but the truth is that local Seattle residents flock there year round. And around the holidays, they are down there more than ever to take in the crisp winter air, and to buy that perfect local gift to send to friends and family.
If you don’t know what already, Pike’s Place is Seattle’s infamous outdoor market. It is considered to be the most successful farmer’s market in the country, and you can find just about everything here: produce, seafood, flowers, gifts, and amazing restaurants. The Market has a street level, as well as three underground levels, all filled with independent stores – some of which are truly unique and half hidden.
The Market is a great place for Christmas gifts, because there is just so much available. You can buy fresh seafood and have it shipped anywhere in the country (this might sound like an odd gift, but who wouldn’t want to receive fresh lobster for Christmas dinner – don’t worry, it is ice packed, and arrives with the fastest possible delivery.) You can send fresh salmon, halibut, crab, prawns – you name it, you’ll find it at one of the many seafood vendors. Or you can buy other food gifts: there is an amazing chocolate shop, where you can send the most decadent chocolate covered strawberries and apples you’ve ever seen (I sent a caramel-white chocolate apple to my little cousin once, and now I’m stuck for it: I have to do it every year, until the kid’s teeth fall out or something.) People sell delicious homemade jams and granola, and Market Spice brews up great tea – you can buy an artisan tea pot and send it along with some of their amazingly aromatic teas to a loved one. It’s a perfect gift for the winter. Delaurenti’s, an Italian food shop in the market, sells great items if you are planning on putting together a food basket for somebody. They have an amazing selection of olive oils, cheeses, olives, bread, and chocolates. Or, you can let them put one together for you, which is even easier. There is a place where you can watch cheese being made, and then buy some of the delicious product for yourself, or for friends.
Pike Place is a good place to shop for wine lovers. The Pike Place wine Shoppe has a great selection, and a helpful staff that can point you in the right direction. Or you can go to Cost Plus, just a block away, for some really good deals. The Spanish Table, located in the lower section of the Market (down the stairs, towards the waterfront) sells a great selection of Spanish, Portuguese, and Argentinean wines.
If you are more in the mood for flowers, than Pike Place is a great place to go. They sell fresh flowers year round, and the bouquets are amazing (and very well priced – you can buy bouquets here for a fraction of what you would pay at a florist.) There is a huge strip of independent growers selling flowers in the covered section of the market, and you can also find great wreaths around the holidays, as well as poinsettias (and mistletoe.) Many of the places will ship, and usually, for a pretty good price. Or buy one of the amazingly decorative and useful Chile pepper bouquets: they are beautiful arrangements of habaneras, jalapenos, and other peppers- they look like a hanging flower display, but you can actually use them – and they last forever.
Local artists have booths all throughout the market, so if you know someone who likes funky jewelry, homemade sweaters or baby clothes, or great watercolors, this is a great place to look for them. Most of the artist booths are located on the top floor, but don’t forget the bottom levels: if you skip these, you’ll miss some of the great clothing shops. There is a music store in the market that sells beautiful wooden instruments. If you are looking to buy a gift that is a little more expensive but will last a lifetime, this is a good place to go. There are also a few antique stores in the Market, and Pike Place Market Antiques has rooms and rooms full of treasures for collectors. Sur la Table is a great place to shop for the chef of the family: it is a kitchen store jam packed with every cook’s need. And for fun, try the wind up store- they have every wind up toy imaginable, from the extremely cute and silly for the kids, to extremely perverse or political, for a gag gift for adults.
Or if you just want to get someone a nice gift certificate for a decent restaurant, Pike Place is perfect. You couldn’t ask for a better setting, and some of Seattle’s most delicious restaurants are nestled in the confines of the Market. This includes Campagne, a French restaurant that many people claim is Seattle’s finest place to eat. There is also El Bistro, the Pink Door, and Typhoon!, among others. You can’t go wrong with a nice gift certificate.
No matter what you decide on, Pike Place Market is a fun and less stifling alternative to the mall for your shopping needs – and you will be able to find something a little more unique for your efforts.