Unlike most other cities around Puget Sound, Seattle’s downtown shopping district has not died out under the pressure of surrounding suburban malls. In fact, downtown shopping is more alive than ever, with popular Westlake Center (5th Ave. and Pine St.) and Century Square (4th Ave. and Pike St.) among the highlights. Top-shelf jewelry, perfume, art, leather goods, and clothing stores abound in these two small centers. Westlake is the endpoint for the Monorail from Seattle Center, and it has a Ticketmaster booth for discounted day-of-performance tickets. Downstairs, you'll find the entrance to the bus tunnel; upstairs is a food court with plenty of quick-eat choices.
Nearby is Pacific Place (600 Pine St., 206/405-2655 www.pacificplaceseattle.com), a retail and entertainment center with five levels of retail shops, three restaurants, and an 11-plex movie theater. The complex has underground parking and is connected by skywalk to Seattle’s flagship Nordstrom store (5th Ave. between Pike and Pine St., www.nordstrom.com).
Another downtown shopping center with small shops—this one underground—is Rainier Square (4th and 5th Aves. and Union St.) The underground concourse has bookstores and restaurants and serves as an entrance to Eddie Bauer, another store founded in Seattle that became global.
The waterfront and Pike Place Market are loaded with tiny wine shops, boutiques, and craft stores, plus the big, obvious produce stands and tourist traps. Plan to get lost in the maze of crowds for at least a couple of hours!
The center of Capitol Hill buzz is Broadway Market (401 Broadway E, 206/322-1610, www.shopbroadwaymarket.com, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–6 p.m. Sun.), a thriving set of offbeat shops with—for some reason—a Fred Meyer store occupying the back half. Buy magazines at Bulldog News, get a glass of wheatgrass juice at the arty Gravity Bar, buy half-price concert tickets at Ticket/Ticket, or get a blast of latte at B&O Espresso. Interesting artworks are displayed on the upper level.
Malls abound in the Seattle area; the largest is Northgate Shopping Mall, seven miles north of downtown Seattle (exit 173 from I-5). The attractive University Village Mall (25th Ave. NE) near campus down N.E. 45th St. is another good neighborhood mall, with numerous boutiques, a Barnes and Noble, loads of restaurants, and a grocery store. There are a number of additional suburban area malls in the vicinity of Seattle.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition