Pike Place is one of the most instagrammable places in the world, and it’s a great place to re-create your version of iconic shots. As a resident of the Pike Place neighborhood for four years, and regular visitor turned tour-guide to Pike Place Market. I learned the in’s and out’s of this historic neighborhood in downtown Seattle and am excited to share the best photo secrets.
In this post, I’ll be telling you how to find the best photos spots- including how to re-create the iconic shots you’ve seen before, how to get new angles on classic shots, and how to find some truly unique backdrops within this diverse neighborhood.
First, the Classic Pike Place Photo Spots:
1. Under the Neon Market Sign & Clock
The most iconic shots from Pike Place are photos taken in front of the neon sign, clock, and bronze pig, which are all located directly in front of the famous fish throwing booth in Pike Place Market. This is where everyone stops for photos, so expect to wait your turn or shoulder your way into the photo if you visit during high season.
NEW ANGLE: for a new angle on this shot, have your photographer climb the steps (kitty-corner to this corner) following the signs to Storyville Coffee.
On the landing halfway up two to Storyville, huge windows offer a unique view of this classic Pike Place corner – and the perspective allows for far more of the famous architecture to make it into the photograph. Position yourself on the brick street below and pose while your photographer climbs the steps and gets this unique shot!
2. The Market Pig
The bronze market pig is a must-see photo spot for many visitors, and often features a line to get your 15-second shot at a photo. Fact worth knowing: there are THREE giant photo-worthy pigs located at Pike Place. One of these is located in the new addition to Pike Place near the waterfront, and the second is located in the secret rooftop garden. The rooftop garden pig is also a chalkboard wall, so your photo op can be an art op as well.
3. The Gum Wall
Colorful and disgusting, the gum wall is a favorite Instagram selfie spot and is tucked away on the lower level of Pike Place. The Gum Wall is found in a covered alley called “ghost alley” – so named for the many ghost stories told about this section of the market.
Fun Fact: Since 2016, the gum wall has been annually steamed-clean, but always regenerates within weeks. For some truly disgusting satisfaction, you can find videos of that first 2016 cleaning on YouTube.
How to Find It: Find the gum wall by walking directly under the neon sign at the main entrance. Look next to the bronze pig and you’ll see a narrow staircase headed down. Follow the staircase, and at the bottom continue on the street as it goes down. You’ll see Ghost Alley Coffee on your right- the local’s top choice over the market Starbucks- and to the left will be the gum wall.
4. Mid-Intersection at 1st and Pike
Although most people stage their photo directly underneath the iconic neon sign, you can catch a wider angle- and more of the character of Pike Place, by backing up and taking a photo from the middle of Pike Street or even the intersection of Pike and 1st Street- at the entrance to Pike Place Market.
How to Get the Shot: Just watch the stoplight- it’s an all-way crosswalk, so once the traffic light turns red for cars, you have 26 seconds to run to any spot in the intersection, get your shot, and make it back to the curb!
New Looks in this Old Neighborhood
5. Pike’s Rooftop garden
99% of visitors to Pike Place will miss out on this lush public garden tucked away on a rooftop overlooking the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Follow my instructions to locate this hidden treasure, and get a shot of this amazing waterfront without the crowd.
6. Bell Street Pier’s Rooftop Deck
Take a 5 minute stroll north from the market and check out Bell Street Pier Rooftop Deck. This pier features stunning views of the Seattle waterfront- and is open to the public anytime a cruise ship is NOT docked (due to security, the proximity of the spirit to the cruise ships, it is closed when ships are docked.)
6. Mural Alley- 2nd and Lenora.
A new photo spot has sprung up in the past few years behind Jupiter Bar at 2126 2nd Ave A, Seattle, WA 98121, while the interior features moodily lit art during business hours, the ally behind has a variety of murals to enjoy any (reasonable) hour of the day.
Do be aware that this area of Seattle can be a bit shady after dark, but this alley is a common and reasonably-safe walkway during daylight hours. There you’ll find dozens of Instagrammable backdrops in a number of diverse styles.
2021 Update: After realizing how many murals I enjoy during my pedestrian commute in Seattle, I created a map for a Seattle Mural Walk near Pike Place.
7. Below the Market on Western Ave
Follow the stairs behind the market down (and down, and down) and you’ll find yourself on Western Ave, were you can find this angular floral mural:
8. The Intersection of Pike & Pike
Find this shot of the intersectionf Pike St and Pike Place, with the Neon Pike Place Market sign in the backdrop by navigating to GPS points: 47°36’32.0″N 122°20’24.7″W
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Artist, digital nomad, and highly sensitive person, Lynli started traveling full time as a digital nomad in 2018. Writer and Illustrator by day, remote-destination explorer by other-days, Lynli is passionate about pushing the boundaries of her own comfort zone, exploring the world as a female, fat, one-bag traveler, and journalling it all on WanderBig.com