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Pike Place: Farmers Market, Tourist Must-See

There seems to be no stopping the continuing expansion of farmers markets in cities large and small across the country.  But how many of them can be called a top-tier tourist attraction?

One that can certainly make that claim is the venerable Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington. This bustling downtown market ranks right up there on Seattle sightseeing lists with the Space Needle and a ride on the monorail.

Overlooking Seattle’s Elliott Bay waterfront, the Pike Place Public Market is one of the oldest continually operating farmers markets in the country. Food and crafts vendors have been selling their wares here for more than a century. The fish mongers are famous for tossing fresh fish in the air—you catch one and it’s free!

We had the pleasure of visiting Pike Place recently, and, as it happened there were lots of Oregon Duck fans in town to see their football team take on the Washington State Cougars. So lots of folks clad in green were on the scene, and the place was really jumping. An aging musician playing Chinese-sounding music on a violin added a nice soundtrack to the controlled chaos.

Food sampling is a constant at Pike Place. Try some sweet chocolate-coated Chukar cherries--made with Washington State cherries, of course. Or how about a slice of OMG peaches? Or famous Washington State apples? Honey crisp is my new favorite—absolutely sublime.

The charming vendors range from perky young college-coeds to grizzled veterans who look as if they were here when the place first opened its stalls.

You’ll find all kinds of seafood on display and on sale. Buy as much or as little as you like. We bought three cooked and deveined shrimp that were beyond jumbo in size, along with a little cup of cocktail sauce and scarfed them down right on the street.

The flowers are truly amazing here—huge bouquets of beautiful fresh cut flowers on sale for ridiculously low prices. You see folks all around the nearby Seattle streets toting home these bountiful bouquets for wives and girlfriends.

Pike Place Market is a multi-level facility, with all variety of shops selling tee shirts, trinkets, and what-nots. There’s even an old-fashioned barber shop on one of the lower levels.

We visited the market several times while we were in town. The first time we bought one of those OMG peaches, it was so juicy we had to eat it over the sink back in the hotel room. The next time we went back to the market, I asked a snack bar vendor there if he could give me a plastic knife. He nodded and said, “I bet you just bought a peach!”

Next time you’re in Seattle, be sure to stop by Pike Place Market, down by the waterfront and under the big neon clock. It’s a trip.