You could easily spend hours in Pike Place Market, buying or just admiring the bounty of land and sea, sampling tasty foods from across the globe, enjoying the talents of skilled buskers, watching the flying fish, dining while soaking up gorgeous water views and more. But just steps away from this historic market, you’ll find all sorts of things to do. So many that you may want to extend that weekend trip a few days or even longer.
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Catch a Sunset from Sky View Observatory at Columbia Center
Less than a mile from the market, the Sky View Observatory at Columbia Center recently began offering visitors direct entry to the 73rd floor of the tallest skyscraper in the city, Columbia Center. It provides one of the best places in the city to marvel at the surrounding beauty as well as to get a perspective of Seattle’s layout. This spot is arguably better than the observation deck at the Space Needle because you’ll be able to see the iconic landmark from here, over 900 feet above downtown, with 100-mile views in every direction on a clear day. You’ll be able to see Mount Rainier, Bellevue, the ferries and water taxis that glide across Elliott Bay, Bainbridge Island and the craggy Olympic Mountains beyond.
Explore the Seattle Art Museum
The Seattle Art Museum is a must for art aficionados as the most prestigious museum in the city and is just one-third of a mile from the market. You’ll notice it with the 48-foot Hammering Man sculpture right out front, and upon entering you’ll encounter an exceptional display of nine sculpted white cars that hang in the air at various angles. The galleries include permanent exhibitions from across the globe, displaying African, European and Native American art. Visitors also have the opportunity to view special exhibitions and take in live performances as well as classes and regularly-scheduled lectures.
Join Pioneer Square Underground Tour
Pioneer Square, located about three-quarters of a mile from the market, is the city’s original downtown area and it’s also one of its most interesting. In 1889, nearly four decades after Seattle was settled, a fire destroyed much of the area, including the waterfront, resulting in it being rebuilt on top of the ruins. Today the labyrinth of streets, alleys and buildings that still lie underneath can be explored by taking an underground tour. Bill Speidel’s is considered one of the best, providing a fascinating glimpse into the city’s past, including its old storefronts, while hearing the riveting tales of its early pioneers and their exploits. For those who want something more adventurous, ghost tours after dark are offered too.
Hop on a cruise to Blake Island
The waterfront is just steps away from Pike Place Market, and here you’ll have a variety of cruise options to choose from. One of the best involves hopping aboard a vessel via Argosy Cruises to visit Blake Island. The birthplace of Chief Seattle, it also hosts Tillicum Village, where the traditions of the indigenous people have been carefully preserved and brought to life. You’ll not only enjoy the scenic ride across the water but once there you can explore the art and history of the area’s native tribes and even taste some of the traditional foods, like steamed clams, to really get a sense of how people lived before the Europeans arrived.
Enjoy a pint and fish and chips at Owl 'n Thistle
A true “hidden gem,” the Owl ‘n Thistle may be a bit hard to find, tucked into a little alleyway a little over a half-mile from the market. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a night out, especially on Fridays and Saturdays when you can enjoy live Irish music with a perfectly poured pint and the best fish and chips in town. Its dark library-vibe fits the location and provides a more authentic atmosphere as well. There are plenty of other fabulous Irish dishes to choose from too, like the Guinness beef stew and shepherd’s pie.
Check out the works at the Olympic Sculpture Park
The open-air museum known as Olympic Sculpture Park sits along the downtown waterfront less than a mile from the market. There is no admission cost to check out the impressive collection of modern works as well as jaw-dropping views of the mountains, Puget Sound, the ferries and the craggy Olympics beyond. It’s filled with massive sculptures and art installations of all kinds that can be seen while walking the maze of paths. At one end you’ll find a fantastic pocket beach with comfy chairs to relax in while taking in the scenery.
Catch a live show
Seattle is one of the best music cities in the nation, cementing its place in music history when Kurt Cobain launched Nirvana, the grunge band that defined the city in the 1990s. It also gave birth to Jimi Hendrix, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart and hip-hop star Macklemore. Just about every music genre can be enjoyed here today at one of many outstanding venues within walking distance of Pike Place Market, including The Showbox at the Market, the Triple Door, Paramount Theatre and the Moore Theater.
Visit the Seattle Aquarium
Set along the waterfront at Pier 59, just a half-mile from Pike Place Market, the Seattle Aquarium features exhibits that focus on creatures that inhabit the Puget Sound. the Pacific Ocean and beyond, including clownfish popular from “Finding Nemo.” Check out the fascinating giant Pacific octopus with arm spans of up to 20 feet across, the adorable sea otters and the tide pools where you can reach out and touch starfish and sea anemones and the starfish. There are also educational, interactive exhibits on topics like the area’s resident orca whales and ocean science, as well as a cafe and gift shop.