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Seattle’s Pike Place Market: What to Do, See and Eat With Kids

A perfect itinerary for a family day at Seattle’s famous public market

Published on: May 02, 2024

A young girls with a bouquet of flowers at Seattle's Pike Place Market with kids
It’s hard to leave the Market without a bouquet of gorgeous flowers. Credit: Krista Tsai

City dwellers are well-known for avoiding iconic local landmarks. It’s rare for a New Yorker to visit the Empire State Building, for instance. In the case of my family, we have yet to visit the Space Needle. But there’s one “touristy” Seattle spot we can’t stop returning to: Pike Place Market. Founded in 1907 and lovingly preserved over the years, this historic destination is always at the top of our downtown itinerary.

Many of the most famous amusements, such as a photo-op with Rachel the Pig or watching the fishmongers toss salmon, are front and center at the market’s Pike Street entrance, but other gems take a bit more wandering to discover. Even repeat visitors might find it a bit overwhelming to weave through the sprawling 9-acre public market, so I’ve rounded up over a dozen of our family’s favorite stops to make your next visit fun for everyone.

People eating outside at the Pike Place Marekt in Seattle with kids on a sunny day
There's no better place to grab lunch on a sunny day than outside Pike Place Market. Credit: Krista Tsai

Note: The approximately 500 small businesses that operate at the market generally set their own hours and some even close seasonally (although most are open on weekends), so you’ll want to check that your top picks are open before arriving, and be flexible about your plan.

1. Start with the most important meal of the day.

One of the biggest obstacles to visiting the market is navigating the crowds (especially during cruise season). Starting your day with a market breakfast means you’ll dodge the busiest hours.

View of the interior of The Crumpet Shop at Seattle’s Pike Place Market family day itinerary breakfast first
The Crumpet Shop starts your Market day off right. 

While many restaurants offer morning fare, our favorite stop is The Crumpet Shop. We order a house-made chai and watch the team flip fresh crumpets on the griddle through the large interior window before settling in at a sidewalk patio table to eat. (Note that the shop faces a Deja Vu Showgirls strip club location, so if you have inquisitive kids and aren’t ready for that particular talk just yet, you might want to take your treats to go.)

2. Find magic at the land DownUnder.

Many of our market trips stay above ground, but a trip to the market’s underbelly (appropriately called DownUnder) is full of fun. Bring quarters to peek through stereoscope-style lenses at the enormous footwear on display at the world-famous Giant Shoe Museum, which is located just outside Old Seattle Paperworks, purveyor of unique vintage posters and advertising art.

Magic Shop entryway at Pike Place Market with kids
He's watching you! Photo: Krista Tsai

Look above the Market Magic Shop for the magician poster with eyes that move, before venturing inside to try out the vintage fortune-telling machines. Founded in 1973 by Sheila Lyon and Darryl Beckmann and recently changing hands in 2023 to Patrick, Brent and Bill, this shop is the longest-running magic shop in the Pacific Northwest and the third oldest in the U.S. Pranksters and curious minds of all ages will find something intriguing here and if you’re lucky, you may even get to see a live magic trick.

Kids choosing candy at Sweetie's Candy shop in Pike Place Market
With so many choices, it's hard to choose just one at Sweetie's. Photo: Krista Tsai

If you feel compelled to leave your mark on the famous Gum Wall, make like a kid in a candy store and visit Sweetie’s Candy for your chewable art medium of choice (or just stick to the rainbow of other candy options available).

3. How does your garden grow?

Pike Place Market’s worst-kept secret might be its secret garden. Although it’s currently blocked off for construction (until mid-May 2024), you can find it once it reopens by heading past the fish throwers and the Maximilien restaurant’s patio. Feast your eyes, but not your fingers — volunteers lovingly tend the garden and donate produce to the Pike Market Senior Center & Food Bank.

While the garden is at its lushest during the summer, even our winter visits are brightened by the sight of thriving hearty greens and a scribble on the chalkboard pig. A few benches are scattered throughout, making this a good spot to pause for an outdoor snack.

Kids watch boat traffic from the secret garden at Pike Place Market, found just past Maximilien’s patio
Find the “secret” garden just past Maximilien’s patio. Credit: Natasha Dillinger

4. Admire the views.

The market’s hillside location makes it one of the best places to appreciate views of Puget Sound. My kids have a minor obsession with boats and love watching ferries, container ships and tugboats make their way in and out of the docks.

The easiest viewing spot to access is through the MarketFront Pavilion, which opened in 2017. We bring a picnic lunch from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese  — after watching the cheese being made through the shop’s window, of course — to one of the outdoor tables and watch the Great Wheel light up as it turns. The urban garden mentioned above and Victor Steinbrueck Park are also excellent scenic spots.

View of a cafe latte at Pike Place Market shop Storyville Coffee with a view of brass pigs through the window
Recharge with a coffee from Storyville Coffee. Credit: Natasha Dillinger

5. Coffee is life.

A busy day at the market calls for a caffeinated recharge. We like to sneak upstairs to Storyville Coffee for a latte and to tuck ourselves into one of its cozy armchairs with a view (look for the pigs atop the market roof). On a drizzly cold day, we might also stop in at Indi Chocolate for a cup of thick and decadent drinking chocolate.

6. Enjoy abundant walkabout snacks and samples.

Let’s be clear: The real reason we frequent the market so often is for the snacks. My kids could probably lead their own food tours at this point. Whether it’s the fluffy mini doughnuts at Daily Dozen Doughnut Company or a savory pork bun from Mee Sum Pastry, a sampling of handheld delights is the perfect way to keep little legs fueled on a market day.

A boy watching donuts being make at Pike Place Market in Seattle
A stop at Daily Dozen Donuts is as entertaining as it is delicious. Photo: Krista Tsai

As you stroll through the market, you will surely collect more samples than on a Costco trip — bits of smoked salmon, a stick of chocolate pasta, chocolate-covered cherries and slices of fresh fruit are some of the market’s amuse-bouches.

For a unique treat, try the charcuterie cone from DeLaurenti Food & Wine. Filled with cheese, green olives (with pits) and your choice of either speck or salami, these ingenious portable charcuterie boards turn my gourmet kids into bloodhounds — they ask for one whenever we’re nearby. The cones aren’t always advertised, so just ask for one at the deli counter.

View inside The Souk, a spice shop at Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market
Shopping for spices at The Souk. Credit: Natasha Dillinger

7. Spice up your life.

When we’re ready to bring the food fest home, we take advantage of the market’s bevy of spice shops. You’ll find South Asian and Middle Eastern spices at The Souk, Latin American favorites at El Mercado Latino, hot sauce and herbs at Herbanfarm, and a hug in a mug with the distinguished Cinnamon Orange tea at MarketSpice. A sampler of fun spices is one of my favorite gifts for hosts or housewarmings.

View of produce for sale at Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market which is a true farmers market
Pike Place Market is, of course, an actual farmers market, not just a fun family destination. 

8. Support local farmers.

It’s worth remembering that the market’s original purpose was to help connect Seattleites directly to their local farmers. Picking up fresh produce and beautifully arranged flowers from the market stalls saves us money and helps preserve the market’s core mission.

9. Souvenirs aren’t just for tourists.

When it fits our family’s budget, I like to treat my kids with a bit of spending money so they can choose a small item to take home. I keep my fingers crossed for clutter-free consumables, such as bath goodies from The Soap Box, but you’ll also find figurines for your home fairy garden at Tiny Fairy Houses, quirky plush Pastry Pets from MarninSaylor that sell out just like edible donuts, adorable felted accessories like dumpling clips from Catshy Crafts, or colorful board books from Kate Endle Illustration & Fine Art (Endle is the wife of Caspar Babypants — I mean Chris Ballew — and has illustrated his album covers).

Plush toys at Marnin Saylor at Pike Place Mareket
Plush toys as far as the eye can see at MarninSaylor. Photo: Krista Tsai

Another favorite stop to buy a souvenir or a gift is Post Alley Kids. In the warmer months, you can find their store by following the bubbles from their bubble-blowing bear fixed outside of their building. Inside is jam-packed with everything one could want for a baby or child: vintage tees, PNW and Seattle gifts, Jelly Cats galore, clothing, toys, games, art supplies, books and more.

A young girl in a pink jacket picks out toys at Post Alley Kids at Pike Place Market in seattle
Your kids won't want to leave Post Alley Kids. Photo: Krista Tsai

10. Savor the season.

It wouldn’t be a farm-focused destination without celebrating seasonality! The market puts on a variety of signature events and programs throughout the year, and I try to sync up our calendars. Whether it’s the springtime Daffodil Day and Flower Festival (usually timed to coincide with Mother’s Day), the Fall Festival or the holiday Magic in the Market, we love visiting Pike Place Market all year long.

Pike Place Market’s famous gum wall
Don’t forget to leave your mark on the Gum Wall. Credit: Natasha Dillinger

11. What’s for dinner?

Visit Kitchen and Market’s flagship location, an upscale neighborhood corner store concept that aims to solve your dinner planning dilemmas. Kitchen and Market’s meal kits can be picked up in-store and are a gift to your 5 p.m. self. Peruse gifts, beautifully curated shelves of local goods, fresh produce, ready-to-eat salads and sandwiches, an array of grab-and-go cold drinks, and a rainbow of sprinkle jars. Good luck passing up a melty warm chocolate chip cookie at the check-out counter!

A woman standing in front of the freezer section at Kitchen and Market in Pike Place Market Seattle
Grab a quick bite at Kitchen and Market. Photo: Krista Tsai

12. Ice cream! Ice cream! We all scream for ice cream (or gelato).

Ice cream is always a good idea. Hellenika Cultured Creamery puts a Greek spin on their small-batch cultured gelato. It’s no surprise that the family who founded Ellenos Yogurt are behind this delectable new spot. After sampling a few flavors, I landed on a solidly recommended split scoop of Ube Coconut and Dutch Chocolate — think German chocolate cake in gelato form. While a child’s size isn’t advertised, it is available for under $5 and the small cup of densely rich gelato is the perfect amount for little ones. Keep in mind that there isn’t any seating, so you’ll have to enjoy your gelato on your market stroll.

A purple yogurt cup from Hellenika in Pike Place Market
Dive into a cup of gelato from Hellenika with the kids. Photo: Krista Tsai

If you prefer to sit down with a sweet treat, Shug’s Soda Fountain and Ice Cream is known for their over-the-top sundaes, ice cream cocktails for adults, house-made sodas, and scoops of Lopez Island Creamery ice creams and sorbets. Shug’s is a bright and happy spot in the market, sure to create new memories and nostalgic feelings. Your kids will leave wanting to come back for s’more — the sundae that is. This popular dessert starts with vanilla ice cream, graham cracker chunks, and drizzles of hot fudge, before it is topped with a homemade marshmallow, torched to toasty perfection before you.

13. Find a place to eat with a seat.

Space to sit and eat is limited at Pike Place Market, but we have a couple of favorites to step away from the hustle and bustle to savor a meal. Tucked away amongst the gobs of gum in Post Alley, the Alibi Room is an iconic local favorite for brick-oven pizzas, salads and cocktails. Step into the brick archway and enter into the cozy casual restaurant where kids are welcomed until 9 p.m. Head to Old Stove Brewing for pretzels, wood-fired pizzas, fish and chips, burgers and brews with views. They produce their beer onsite and locally source their food. My kids enjoy the line-caught fish and chips on the kid’s menu. On sunny days, you can’t beat their outdoor seating with views of the Puget Sound.

Enjoying food at Pike Place Market
More outdoor seating for those sunny days. Photo: Krista Tsai

More fun around town...

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2022 and most recently updated in 2024 to include new suggestions of things to do with kids at Seattle's Pike Place Market. Krista Tsai also contributed to this article.

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