Pike Place Market

While the tourists stay out of the cold, Pike Place is yours to enjoy

I worked downtown for two years after graduating from college—two years of my life in a dreary office mere steps from Pike Place Market. Yet the only time I graced its historic brick walk and listened to the fishmongers call out orders was when out-of-state friends came to town. So in most of my Market memories, I’m pushing through crowds, ears assaulted by competing street musicians, only to stand in line for ages waiting for a latte at “Omigod, the original Starbucks! I have to call my sister.” But if you bundle up and venture out on a chilly winter weekday, you can see the Market the way the farmers market gods intended it. It’s not vacant or creepy—the stalls still bustle with life—but the crowds are much thinner and more interested in really purchasing produce for the week than in trying to barter down the price of already cheap apples. The musicians are out, but in slightly smaller numbers, and the sea of humanity has slowed to a trickle so you can actually stop to enjoy the strains of “La Bamba” or a cappella renditions of Temptations hits. Best of all, you can pause to enjoy the spectacular view of Puget Sound. Sure it’s cold, but soon it’ll be spring and you’ll be competing with camera-blinded tourists and loud, flirty teenagers on school trips for the time and attention of the local growers. Put on a hat and scarf and enjoy it, un-hectically, while you can. Pike Place Market, 1501 Pike Pl., wwwpikeplacemarket.org. Free, unless you buy stuff. Merchants set their own hours, but generally early morning to evening. LAURA ONSTOT

Mon., Feb. 11, 2008

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