I’ve learned to appreciate the wet darkness of winter in Seattle. It means days pass a little quieter in the strip of downtown I call home and Pike Place market becomes, again, a place to explore playfully- something that becomes a lot harder when the onslaught of tourists arrives in the fair-weather months.
Sometimes, when tourists arrive in Seattle and discover it’s raining on their Pike Place market day, there can be a disappointment. However, I always challenge people to consider that Pike Place Market in the rain is just part of the ambiance. In fact, Pike Place market is designed to accommodate visitors in rain- with good shelter from the storm, rain at Pike Place becomes just a part of the backdrop!
Go Raincoat Shipping
If you arrived in Seattle unprepared for rain- or committing the Seattle faux pas of using an umbrella – start your rainy Seattle day by raincoat shopping. Many shops and businesses around Pike Place market offer raincoats (and even the shunned umbrella) and when you return home your raincoat can be a fun reminder and souvenir of your trip to Pike Place market.
Stay warm with coffee, tea, and cider
Often, the rain in Seattle comes with cool temperatures even in the summer. If you find yourself getting a chill from the rain, it’s just a great excuse to spend the day embracing a warm-to-go cup filled with something hot and wonderful from Pike Place market. You can find hot teas at market spice (85 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101 ) hot cider from Apple vendor located near the corner produce stand (1500 Pike Pl, Seattle, WA 98101 ) or coffee and espresso drinks at any one of Pike Place market’s amazing coffee shops.
Enjoy the view
Much ado is made about the waterfront view from Pike Place market. From Pike Place market overlooks on a clear day you can see across the Puget Sound to West Seattle, Alki Beach, and Bainbridge Island. However, on a rainy day the rain obscures this view in a sometimes really majestic way. Don’t skip the views just because of the rainy day, watching the rain and fog billow and roll off the Puget Sound can be stunning. And on a perfect day (at least, my idea of a perfect day) there’s almost no delineation between the sky and the water, making the views seem peaceful and otherworldly.
If you have a chance, grab a seat at my favorite Pike Place restaurant at the Edgewater Hotel and sketch, draw, or watercolor the scene into your travel journal– a pastime enjoyed by the many artists and creatives in Seattle.
Don’t reschedule or cancel because of rain
listen, it rains in Seattle almost constantly through the winter, and Pike Place Market is open 364 days a year. In other words, Pike Place market knows how to handle rain. Although you might be tempted to reschedule or cancel your visit to Pike Place market, know that even though this is a mostly outdoor market, the market is structured in a way that will keep you dry and undercover as you explore the market. There’s so much to see that you’ll never run out of things to do at Pike Place Market.
Explore the depths of Pike Place market
Most tourists only visit the part of Pike Place market that opens onto Pike Street, but the market actually extends several stories underground. While heavy rain can make the upper levels feel damp and a little less crowded as people avoid walking outside, the lower levels remain cozy and less densely crowded. Check out the shops and stores below for an experience at Pike Place that not a lot of tourists get to see.
Reflections on a Rainy Day at Pike Place Market:
When I moved to downtown Seattle in January of 2016, I began a ritual of Thursday exploration in the market. In a school where classes run Monday through Wednesday, Thursday became my Saturday, a day to rest, reset, go to therapy, and revive myself a bit before jumping back into Friday & Sunday homework days and Saturday play. In this rhythm I adopted Market Thursdays- in which I try something new at Pike Place each Thursday. As this school year begins and I’ve vowed not to neglect my blog this year, I’m going to be posting at least semi-regularly about my reviews of adventures in the restaurants, groceries, and market stalls at Pike Place.
This Thursday I set out for the market set on acquiring some Black Eyed Susans before the chill temperatures and grey days spell their departure from Pike Place Flower Market until late summer next year.
Black Eyed Susans (and their more expensive cousins, Sunflowers) remind me of home in all the best ways: endless gravel roads between oceans of gold wheat fields, outlined with orange and yellow Black Eyed Susans lining the sides of the road like runway lights. I always keep an eye out for Black Eyed Susans because, unlike more delicate flowers, these fierce little weeds of my home state last for days or weeks in a vase in my apartment- making them perfect for my grad school budget.
A friend had been telling me recently about the unassuming Market Grill and their fish sandwiches. I’d walked past this place no less than 100 times, I’m sure, and though noticing the tiny counter, exposed kitchen, and 10 coveted seats, I’d never stopped to try any of their offerings.
Feeling brave, when I stepped up to place my order I simply asked the man behind the counter what he recommended for my first time there.
“Halibut, no question” was his reply, so halibut I ordered, as I took a seat at the counter and watched as much lunch was prepared just a few feet in front of me.
Fresh wild caught fish and french bread from the bakery on the other side of Pike Place market are key ingredients, but to say that’s all would be an understatement. My sandwich came unassuming, a grilled halibut fillet on a baguette served in a carnival-style hot dog tray.
But you guys. You guys… Best. Fish Sandwich. Ever.
Maybe the best sandwich ever. I don’t know what is in the secret sauce. Or how they get their onions caramelized so perfectly. Or how halibut and onion and tomato and lettuce actually form such a perfect combo, but this fish-suspicious eater was impressed.
Market Grill’s tagline claims their fish is always fresh and wild caught, and I believe it. I loved this fish sandwich. And, important to note, I HATE fish. I am ultra-sensitive to even the slightest hint of fishy taste. I was raised in a rural area in a state land locked by at least two states on all four sides, and I claim this as my excuse for why I am able to taste even the slightest suggestion of less-than-fresh flavor in all types of seafood.
The only downside to fresh, wild, and delicious fish in this iconic spot is the pricetag. When my bill for my sandwich without sides and a can of ginger ale arrived I owed over $20! High, but totally worth the halibut encounter I’d just experienced. (Update, in 2022 expect to pay closer to $30 for this combo)
This excursion to Market Grill was a great way to restart my ritual of Pike Place Market Thursdays, and taking advantage- for the season I call a tiny apartment in the downtown of Seattle’s bustling metropolis home- to explore and enjoy all the unique and excellent spots Pike Place hides within its tiled floors and cobbled streets.
I headed home with a bouquet of Sunflowers and Black Eyed Susans, Fresh local pears, and a great new spot to recommend to friends and visitors to Seattle- I’ve already taken a friend back to visit Market Grill. With a Sandwich split between us, and a bag of chips and fancy sodas from Pear Delicatessen, this made a cheap and satisfying lunch in the market that fit a student’s budget.
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Lynli Roman’s unique approach to travel is informed by decades of experience on the road with a traveling family and, later, years spent as a solo international traveler. When she’s not writing about Seattle from her Pike Place Market apartment, Lynli writes on-location while conducting hands-on research in each destination she covers. Lynli’s writing has been featured by MSN, ABC Money, Buzzfeed, and Huffington Post. She is passionate about sharing information that makes travel more accessible for all bodies.