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Guide to Shopping Seattle’s Pike’s Place Market for Take Home Souvenirs

Guide to Shopping Seattle’s Pike’s Place Market for Take Home Souvenirs

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Pike’s Place is one of the United State’s oldest markets– and one of the best. Pike Place opened in 1907 and overlooks the bay, so you’ll have water views from the back of the market. According to Wikipedia, more than 10 million people visit Pike Place Market annually, making it the 33rd most popular tourist attraction in the world. The gigantic market is multi-level, with covered arcades and winding paths.  Pike Place is divided into different sections, including a fish market, farmers market and produce stall, craft market and collectibles.

When I walked through Pike Place on a recent visit to Seattle, I was laser focused on looking for souvenirs to bring home. Sure the fresh crab legs and smoked salmon were tempting, but could they be safely (and non-odorously) be brought home on an airplane? While I did visit the craft and collectible sections, nothing there grabbed me as much as the edible souvenirs Pike Place market has to offer.

Pike place market sign entrance seattle

The iconic sign and entrance to Pike Place market along Seattle’s waterfront.

Enter Pike’s Place Market, Watch the Fish Toss

When you first enter Pike Place market, you’ll see the big spreads of seafood run by salty but charming vendors. Even if you have no interest in bringing home some souvenir salmon or crab, you have to stay for the “show.” Watch as customers place their orders and vendors make a production of tossing, catching and wrapping the fish. This portion of the market can get very crowded, so try to avoid peak times.

Yes, Vendors will Pack Fresh Seafood and Produce to Take Home (Airline approved)

Wandering the market and eyeing all the fresh pacific northwest seafood, I had envy for the locals– all these delicious options they could simply take home and enjoy. But it turns out that visitors can also enjoy this fresh bounty of the sea as pretty much everything can be boxed and packed with ice to go. I didn’t even have to ask the vendors, because everywhere you looked were sample packing boxes dangling from the ceiling, clearly stating “airline approved” and “keeps for 24-48 hours.”

Interestingly, it’s not just the seafood vendors who provide secure packing (and shipping in case you don’t want to haul it on the plane)– produce vendors will also secure your edible souvenirs for you.

What Souvenirs to Buy at Pike Place Market– Wild Pacific Salmon: Fresh and Smoked

Wild caught pacific northwest salmon is the only salmon I really eat. You won’t find it any fresher than here, where it’s just pulled out of the ocean. While buying preboxed smoked salmon is the sensible thing to do, you might also consider the freshly smoked salmon (try a sample and you’ll be hooked).

fresh smoked salmon pike place market seattle edible souvenir

Freshly smoked salmon at Pike Place market. It’s impossible to try a sample and not go home with some.

alder smoked salmon pike place market seattle

You’ll find every possible variety of packaged smoked salmon available (including multi variety gift packs). These are perfect for gifting, or for the least amount of hassle if you don’t want to deal with a cooler on the plane.

fresh salmon fillets pike place market seattle

The fresh salmon fillets here looked amazing.

whole salmon fish pike place market seattle

Whole salmon if you’d prefer to filet your own.

Cooked Whole Dungeness Crab and Alaskan Crab Legs

Hauling boxes of crabs on the plane seems even crazier than packing fresh fish, but apparently people do it all the time. As an East coaster I have ready access to Maryland crabs, but my favorite crabs are Dungeness, native to the Pacific Northwest. I also love King Alaskan crab legs, mostly because they are easy to eat with a high meat to shell ratio.

Sweet whole dungeness crabs pike place market

Sweet whole dungeness crabs, ready to be cracked and eaten.

I could probably eat a few pounds of Alaskan crab legs all by myself.

Washington Cherries as a Souvenir- Fresh, Dried and Chocolate Covered

Washington is one of the three top cherry producing states in the US. While other states excel in tart, Washington cherries are deliciously sweet. Look for bing and dark sweet cherries, two popular Washington varieties. I was lucky to visit Washington during cherry season (generally June-August) but if you miss the season, you can still pick up local dried, jarred and chocolate covered versions.

washington cherries pike place market

Yes they will box up your cherries for you for easy transport

Dried Cherries

Perfect for adding to salads, oatmeal or granola.

Chukar Chocolate Covered Cherries

Look for the unmissable Chukar cherry sign in Pike Place market. The chocolate covered cherries (available in both milk and dark chocolate) are to die for.

Look for this sign to sample chocolate covered cherries and more.

dark chocolate covered cherries pike place

These classic dark chocolate covered cherries are my personal crack. I can’t stop eating them until the entire bag is gone. Whoops.

jarred cherries pike place market

Jarred cherries are infinitely better tasting than the chemically flavored supermarket version.

Washington Apples

The Washington apple commission claims its apples are the finest in the world, as Washington has the ideal climate and growing conditions. In any case, Washington is the top apple producing state in the US and much of what I see at my local supermarket comes from Washington state.  While you’ll find all of the usual apple varieties here, it’s fun sampling new varieties that aren’t as widely distributed.

Fresh Local vegetables

I’m just throwing this one in there because the vegetable selection looked so amazing. I have no idea what is local or unique to Washington, but the produce somehow looks so much better than anything near me.

Honorable “Souvenir” Mention: Doughnuts

I’m not so sure if these are really a souvenir as they are best eaten hot and immediately. But you can’t really pass by this stand without picking up a little bag.

Not a Souvenir: Snacking

There are so many places to eat at Pike’s Place and I’ll admit I did no research, but I stopped into Market Gril and had a delicious freshly grilled fish sandwich (I asked for local catch of the day).

A perfect snack while browsing the market– a freshly grilled fish sandwich featuring the catch of the day.

Have you been to Pike Place market in Seattle? What are your favorite take home souvenirs?


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Shepard C Willner

Saturday 10th of February 2018

Great article, Kristin. I visited Pike's Place market way back in the fall of '09 when my cruise ship docked in Seattle for a port of call visit during a West Coast Wine Cruise (it sailed from Vancouver). I did see the fish toss, all of the flowers, and the produce. The only thing I bought there was a dry pint of raspberries that I took back to the bus to eat. I was surprised just now easily the market was to navigate--I never got lost, which is easy for me to do and under a time limit for visiting the market. I put Pike's Place on my bucket list for my next visit to the Emerald City-whenever that is. As a single guy, I noticed that Washington State's women were very good-looking and very nice, too. I think I know where to find my future spouse: Seattle! :-)