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Seattle: Where to shop

  • Story Highlights
  • You have to visit Pike Place Market, a fantastic, historic farmers market
  • Downtown is the place for chain stores; Capitol Hill is great for boutiques
  • Seattle is full of independent bookshops -- Elliot Bay Bookstore is the best
  • Archie McPhee is a bizarre store where you can buy some quirky souvenirs
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(CNN) -- More than just the quintessential Seattle shopping experience, Pike Place Market is a tourist attraction in its own right. This historic farmers market is the place to pick up all manner of fresh local produce, as well as handmade crafts, jewelry, antiques and paintings. Keep your camera handy to snap the colorful floral displays and the fishmongers tossing whole salmon to each other.

Pike Place

Flying fish at Pike Place Market.

If Pike Place whets your appetite for fresh produce, check out the Ballard Sunday Farmers Market (5330 Ballard Avenue, Sundays) for delicious farm-fresh goodies. Another great Sunday market is the weekly Fremont Flea Market (400 N 34th Street), a cornucopia of used, vintage and antique goods. For the avid antiques hunter the underground Pioneer Square Antiques Mall (602 First Avenue) has more than 60 stalls.

If you prefer big brand names you'll want to head downtown, where you'll find the likes of Banana Republic (500 Pike Street) and a colossal Nike Town (1500 6th Avenue). Downtown is also home to Macy's (1601 Third Avenue), still known to locals as "The Bon" from its former incarnation as Bon Marché. Macy's can be good for a bargain, but the city's best department store is the flagship Nordstrom (500 Pine Street), famed for it exemplary customer service.

For something more cutting edge, Capitol Hill and Belltown are full of funky boutiques and vintage clothing stores. Crossroads Trading Company (325 Broadway Avenue E and 4300 University Way) is a good option for second-hand threads, while sneaker freaks will find that Gems (615 Western Avenue) is a treasure trove of fancy footwear.

Bibliophiles will love Seattle for its numerous independent books stores. Set aside a couple of hours to visit the Elliot Bay Book Company (101 South Main Street), a vast space crammed full of new and used books. It boasts an excellent selection of titles about the region, a pleasant café and readings or signings almost every night. University Bookstore (4326 University Way) has a huge selection, while Fremont Place Books (621 N 35th Street) is a cozy little place with an interesting range of titles.

If you're planning an expedition into the beautiful wilderness around Seattle, you can get kitted out at the flagship REI (222 Yale Avenue N). There's everything you'll need for hiking, biking, rock climbing and skiing, and you can even hire stuff, so you won't have to drag it all back home with you.

Bamboozle your friends by getting them an eccentric souvenir from Archie McPhee (2428 NW Market Street). Of course, eccentric is a relative term, but squirrel underpants (which, apparently, are also suitable for hamsters, frogs and gerbils) and inflatable fruitcakes should qualify as eccentric by most standards. If you plan to visit this bazaar of the bizarre you should note that Archie's is set to move to the corner of North 45th Street and Stone Way North, in Wallingford, some time next year.

Where to stay | What to see | Where to be seen | Where to eat | Where to shop |


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