Think you know Pike Place Market? There’s more to Seattle’s most iconic market than flying fish, fresh produce and striking gifts. Go beyond the surface and you’ll find new ways to enjoy a day at the Market, with something for every age and taste. You can lounge in a rooftop garden, scout for ghosts or chanterelles, dive into herbal remedies, hunt for hidden history — or just take some epic selfies.
Located on the roof of the LaSalle Building, shared with Maximilien’s patio, 81 Pike St. Enter at the Pike Place Fish Market, go toward Maximilien’s neon sign, and take a left before the restaurant. Current Market hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. No admission fee.
Few know about this sweet rooftop garden atop the LaSalle Building overlooking Elliott Bay. The 2,000-square-foot space artfully blends ornamental flowers along with herbs, fruits and vegetables grown in galvanized stock tanks. Storage areas are decorated in flowers, and there’s a life-size pig statue welcoming your chalk messages and doodles. Entirely volunteer-run, harvests are donated to the Pike Market Food Bank, while Pike Market Child Care and Preschool and Heritage House Assisted Living Facility enjoy educational programs here. It’s open daily during Market hours — which vary seasonally. Come enjoy the plants, the view or just the fresh air.
Go on a Seattle lights hunt
Located along the Pike Street Hill Climb.
You might think of the Pike Street Hill Climb as a glute-burning short cut between the Market and the waterfront, but it is also a scavenger hunt. Scan the buildings along this two-part stairway from Pike Place to Alaskan Way, and you’ll see some small silver companions lighting your way.
There are seven male and female lamp-toting figures defying gravity, jutting from walls in all directions. The installation, titled “Short Cut,” by Dan Webb, was part of the 2010 Hill Climb renovation, extending from the elevator to Western Avenue. Did you find them all? Great. You have time for a nice workout — repeat the stairs as many times as you can.
Take a chef-led “Secrets of the Market” tour
Located at Pike Place Market. Sign up for a one- or two-hour tour daily. A one-hour tour with four stops costs $31.99, while a two-hour tour with nine stops costs $51.99. You can reserve tours online at eatseattletours.com.
If you’ve done the Hill Climb, you’re hungry. EatSeattle’s one- or two-hour tours give you a filling behind-the-scenes look at the Market’s produce, artisans and vendors from a chef’s perspective. Discover and sample favorite local yogurt, produce, salmon, chowder, chocolates and more. Tour leaders rotate, so your leader might be Eric Olinsky, who worked at the Pink Door; John Brink, who heads Food Tribe dinner party club; or Le Cordon Bleu-trained EatSeattle founder Liz Philpot. Tours are limited to 10 people; 90% of the tour is outdoors and masks are required. Reservations are also required.
Wander around the West Coast’s oldest, largest herbal apothecary
Tenzing Momo; 93 Pike St., open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily; tenzingmomo.com
A Market fixture for 47 years, Tenzing Momo loosely translates in Tibetan as “divine dumpling.” It bills itself as the West Coast’s oldest and largest herbal apothecary and perfumery. Offering more than 300 types each of both herbs and essential oils, you can find premixed teas and oils for various effects, or staff will custom mix you one on the spot. The three biggest sellers, says manager Indra Morella, are nag champa incense, patchouli oil and its Sinus Blaster tincture throat spray, blending osha root, elderberry and horseradish, among others.
Morella said many of their customers prefer naturopathic to allopathic methods, and some come simply because they lack insurance. You may also come for Tibetan and Nepalese gifts, as well as books and candles. Tarot readings are available five days a week, he said, but “we never know which five.”
Check out the Selfie Museum
92 Union St., located just south of the Gum Wall. Noon-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. Fee: $29 per adult on weekdays; $34 per adult on weekends; $22 for those ages 4-12; free for children 3 and younger.
While “museum” is a misnomer, this selfie studio just south of the Gum Wall is ready for your Instagram close-up seven days a week, by appointment. The two-floor space offers backdrops of roses, funky murals and more. The most popular sets are the mirror room, with remote-control lighting, and the upside-down room. Props stimulate creativity, and ring lights are available. A pop-up in 2020, it became permanent this year. It’s not cheap, averaging $30 per hour, but it’s a fun activity for selfie-loving influencers, couples, families and friends. Bonus: On the first Monday of each month, you can bring your dog along! You’re allowed to remove your mask for photos. Distancing is encouraged and capacity is restricted.
Visit the Giant Shoe Museum
Pike Place Market DownUnder level, store #424 next to Old Seattle Paperworks. Open Market hours — 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Old Seattle Paperworks hours vary, and are typically 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fee: $1.25 in quarters for all viewing stations.
This is a museum — albeit a very tiny museum — of very big shoes, worn by an array of people from clowns to the world’s tallest man. It sits alongside the affiliated 45-year-old Old Seattle Paperworks store, a worthy time travel tour through Seattle’s ads, posters and magazines. Consisting of just one wall, it’s a carnival-style museum with bombastic artwork by sign artist Sven Sundbaum worthy of Coney Island. Coin-powered viewing displays reveal their quirky treasures. For one or two quarters, you can see steroidal shoes like the size 37 brogue worn by Robert Wadlow, who was 8 feet 11.1 inches tall, and learn the mystery of a missing Wadlow shoe, which can still earn you $1,000 if you find it. FYI, RoadsideAmerica.com rates this as “Worth a Detour,” defined as “a solid attraction with extra payoff or unintentional comedy.”
Go on a Pike Place neighborhood ghost tour
The tour meets in front of the Four Seasons Hotel on 99 Union St. Tours run daily at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., and are operated by U.S. Ghost Adventures. The one-hour tour costs $24.99 per person, the 1.5-hour tour costs $25.99 per person; seattleterrors.com/tour-details
Some of the stories haunting Pike Place and the surrounding area could send a chill up your spine — and U.S. Ghost Adventures brings tourgoers the spooky scoop every night at 8 or 10 p.m. with its Seattle Terrors tour. A representative says their tours, based on history and consistent accounts of hauntings, reveal Seattle as “one of the most compelling haunted locations in the country.” Along with spots including a haunted hotel and funeral home in the Market, the one-hour tour visits the Gum Wall and the Market Theater, while the 1.5-hour tour includes the Alibi Room and the Heaven’s Gate Tile. Reservations are required, and tours are recommended for all ages.