The vast majority of Pike Place Market visitors walk right past one of my favorite free things to do at Pike Place Market: the rooftop urban oasis called The Secret Garden.
Hidden around a few corners, down a short hall, and just a few steps from Pike Place’s iconic entrance sign, in this article you’ll find instructions to find this secret space. Plus, a list of things to do while you’re there.
It made the list of my Local’s Guide to Pike Place Market, but directions to find it require a post of their own, if you aren’t familiar with the market.
The rooftop garden at the market is a quiet reprieve from the noise and crowd of the market. Even in the peak of tourist season, this relatively unknown spot remains pretty quiet. It’s a great spot to take a picnic lunch or to have a few moments of quiet amid the urban landscape. It’s a fun stop for kids- garden organizers make sure chalk is provided to draw on the resident pig statue and a few designated walls. If you’re lucky, you might get to call dibs on one of their rocking chairs!
Keep reading more about this garden and how to find it.
How to Find the Secret Garden at Pike Place Market:
Finding the community garden is easy once you locate some iconic landmarks.
1. Locate the Main Entrance to the Market
This entrance, where the big neon clock hangs above the iconic fish-throwing booth, is the best starting point to find the garden.
2. Enter, and Look for MarketSpice (Near the Fish Throwers)
Once you are inside the market, press through the crowd gathered around the fish sellers and go deeper into the corner where the market bends and continues up Pike St.
3. Go Down the Hall Between MarketSpice & the Butcher
Past the crowd surrounding the fish mongers, you’ll see Don & Joe’s butcher’s counter. Across from the butcher, you’ll see a spice shop called MarketSpice. The walkway between them becomes a hallway as you follow it back away from the crowd of the market. (under the Maximilian neon sign)
4. Follow Hallway Until it Meets a Hallway on the Left
A few steps down this hallway, it meets another hallway on the left- turn left. If you look closely, modest signs will indicate the garden is nearby.
5. Turn Left & Proceed to the Garden
The market garden has lots of fun and whimsical features, including water features, chalkboard walls open to the public, art, mosaics, creative seating, and more. This is a particularly impressive feat since this lush garden is made entirely of containers and raised beds! Vegetables, inter-planted with flowers, supply the food bank and Pike Place’s Senior Center.
5 Things to Do at Pike Place Market’s Secret Garden
This charming garden is filled with colorful flowers and vegetables grown for the food pantry a few floors below. Here are some of the things you can enjoy while strolling through the garden.
The view is so good from this overlook that taking photos is one of the first things people do when they find the garden. It’s one of the most instagrammable places in Pike Place Market. This garden is open to the public and offers stunning views of the waterfront, Puget Sound, West Seattle (across the water), and the Olympic mountain range beyond. On a clear day, you’ll even see Mount Ranier looming towards the left of the overlook.
Make Art on the chalkboard walls
Savvy garden management has installed interactive art-making spaces. In the secret garden, you can draw on the chalkboard walls! Whether you’re an artist or simply someone who loves to doodle, the chalkboard walls in the rooftop garden at Pike Place Market are a fun place to create some art.
Have a picnic at pike place market’s rooftop garden
Pike Place Market is a network of farmers, craftspeople, merchants, and businesses that offer a wide variety of fresh, local produce and handmade goods. It is also home to a variety of restaurants, cafes, and food trucks. All of that means that you have almost-infinite options for assembling a picnic to enjoy at the Secret Garden. With its lush garden and spectacular views of Elliott Bay, the garden is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a picnic. Visitors can purchase picnic items from the market’s many vendors, or purchase a ready-made meal from one of the dozens of restaurants.
Let kids explore the garden
If you (or the younger travelers in your group) need some outdoor time, the Secret Garden is a good spot. Insulated from many of the (often drug-related 😬) issues that occur in the park just outside Pike Place Market, the Secret Garden is smaller, more contained, and better patrolled by security- making it a good spot for folks on family vacations to let little ones wiggle and walk around exploring.
Rest your body and practice mindfulness
Pike Place Market can cause sensory overload. It’s a lot of sounds, smells, and crowds to take in. The secret garden is a space where you can escape from the chaos for a few minutes. Mindfulness, the practice of being present in the moment and paying attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment, can help you to relax and feel more grounded. Thankfully, the market has even provided a few rocking chars on this rooftop deck. If you need a break for mindfulness, grab a rocking chair and spend a few minutes connecting to the natural surroundings and wide-open vista.
What you’ll see from this Overlook
On a clear day, the views from this spot are unbeatable. The haze on this day hid Mt Rainier. Still, often visible is Mt Rainier to the left and the Olympic mountains to the Right, with views of miles of Puget Sound and beaches, the Seattle Waterfront, passing Washington State Ferries, cruise ships, and the ferris wheel are always in view.
I love visiting this secret hideaway in all four seasons in Seattle. Even during the Christmas season at the market, when the Puget Sound is cloaked in a thick fog almost daily, this rooftop garden in Pike Place still feels like an oasis. Even though the flowers and vegetable planters are dormant, somehow this just highlights the garden art and the view. Whether you are visiting in the winter, spring, summer, or fall, don’t miss this treasure just a few steps off the main walkway in Pike Place market.
A Place for Kids and Families
I love Pike Place because it’s such a richly sensory place. However, for kids, all that sensory input can be really overwhelming.
With all of its smells, sights, sounds, and crowds, the market can be a lot to take in for both kids and adults. The secret rooftop garden at Pike Place Market is a retreat that every parent visiting Pike Place market with kids should know about.
If your child gets overwhelmed by the experience, head out to this waterfront overlook. Muted sounds from the market meet fresh sea breezes coming in off the Puget Sound. There, in a quiet place surrounded by green things and open water, you can help your child regulate, calm down, and get ready to re-enter the Pike Place Market experience.
A romantic spot in Pike Place market
If you want to make a romantic gesture (perhaps even a proposal) at Pike Place Market, but you don’t want 1,000 onlookers to be part of your special moment, this rooftop garden is the place to go. Boasting incredible views of Elliott Bay surrounded by vibrant flowers and garden art, it’s hard to take a bad photograph from any angle in this garden.
Although it’s technically a public space, and you will have to share it with other visitors to Pike Place Market, this rooftop garden is well off the radar of most tourists. Even on busy summer market days you might only see a few others during a visit to this garden. It’s a perfect place for photos during a PNW engagement trip or a honeymoon in Seattle.
The Secret Garden is a great place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the market. There are plenty of benches to sit on, and the garden is full of beautiful flowers and plants. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a quiet moment, or to chat with a friend. If you’re looking for a free, quiet place to relax in the middle of the city, make sure to check out The Secret Garden at Pike Place Market.
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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.