The Seattle shopping scene offers everything from mega-malls and trendy boutiques to independent art galleries and traditional fresh food markets.
The Best Seattle Shopping: A Traveler’s Guide
The downtown area is a bustling hub for Seattle shopping—that’s where you’ll find the Nordstrom flagship store as well as several major malls—but you’ll also find more unique places in other neighborhoods, including the quirky offerings of Capitol Hill and the art and antiques of historic Pioneer Square. Learn more in this Seattle shopping guide.
Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market, the home of “those fish-throwing guys,” is a must-visit. The south end of the market houses the edibles, including the fish stalls, the original Starbucks, fresh meats, and fruit and vegetables. The north end is filled with artists’ wares and freshly cut flowers (pick up a nice bouquet to brighten up your hotel room). Don’t forget to go to the lower levels; you might find a weird collectible that you’ve always wanted, or get your palm read by a self-proclaimed psychic. One gross local landmark worth looking for: the gum wall, which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s located in Post Alley, right near the market.
It’s said that you can return anything at any time to Nordstrom and its salespeople will refund your money with a smile; the company’s standard of customer service is taught in business schools around the world. What started as a simple shoe store in 1901 has evolved into the standard-bearer for class and sophistication. If you can’t afford to shop here, pretend it’s a museum and browse through the “exhibits” before enjoying a sweet treat in its cafe; then head for Nordstrom Rack at 400 Pine Street, where excess inventory is sold for a pittance. Just don’t call it “Nordstrom’s”; that’s a big no-no. It’s NORDSTROM.
Elliott Bay Book Company
Bibliophiles can’t come to Seattle without making a pilgrimage to the Elliott Bay Book Company, the city’s popular independent bookstore. It moved a few years ago from its longtime Main Street address to a new location in Capitol Hill, but the warm, homey atmosphere and 150,000-title collection remain the same.
Pacific Place is a downtown Seattle mall where you’ll find names like Tiffany & Co., J.Crew, Chico’s, and Lululemon—as well as an 11-screen movie theater. There’s a sky bridge between Pacific Place and neighboring Nordstrom.
Pioneer Square District
The historic Pioneer Square District is home to a number of art galleries and antique stores, as well as distinctive clothing boutiques and gift shops. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants here, too, for when you need a break.
Capitol Hill, home to Seattle’s LGBTQI community, has some of the best shopping in Seattle for quirkier items like vintage clothes, new and used music, specialty books, and adult items.
The Outlet Collection Seattle
Willing to leave town for a discount? If so, make the trip to The Outlet Collection Seattle, located in nearby Auburn. At this Seattle outlet you can snag discounted goodies from Nike, Old Navy, Banana Republic, and dozens of other stores.
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—Original reporting by Jana Jones