Shop till You Drop at Seattle's Sprawling Malls and Intimate Boutiques
By Corinne Whiting
Seattle Local Expert
Go for convenience, accessibility and selection. Those are the perks of Seattle's best malls and shopping centers. You can get in and out quickly and experience tons of shopping success in the meantime. Local retail options range from high-brow to low-brow stores, along with food offerings, should you need a drink or a bite along the way. (Shopping, after all, can be a tiring sport!)
A great place to start to get an overview of available local goods: downtown's iconic Pike Place Market; here you'll find gifts for yourself or others that include crafts, jewelry, clothing and home decor goods made by local artisans as well as culinary treats representative of the region (think smoked salmon, bins of tea and chocolate-covered Rainier cherries). Afterward, consider heading to Seattle's quaint neighborhoods, where you'll get a dose of the local flavor along with your retail experience (head to Wallingford Center, the youthful and vibrant University District or the Asian-centric International District, for example). If you need a one-stop-shop complex in which to visit as many stores as possible in the shortest amount of time, head to malls in Everett or Northgate. Here you'll also find parking, restaurant options and sometimes even a cinema in which to unwind after the shopping's complete.
Westfield Southcenter Shopping Mall
Westfield Southcenter calls itself "the Northwest's foremost destination for abundant choice." Think fashions, accessories and jewelry from a "premium blend of national and regional brands," all with a Northwest twist. One of the largest indoor shopping malls in the Pacific Northwest, this complex features shops like Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle Outfitters, and Gymboree, as well as anchors Macy's, Sears, Nordstrom and JCPenney. Iconic American brand JCrew is going to the mall soon. Shoppers have plenty from which to choose at this modern complex, where wide corridors, ample lighting, a food court, and comfortable common areas enhance the overall shopping experience. (206-246-7400, 800-246-7400)
Everett Mall is a 673,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor shopping mall located in Everett, Washington. The mall, planned in the late 1960s, began with the construction of two anchor stores--Sears and White Front. Today, shops range from Aeropostale, Old Navy and Massage Envy to Motherhood Maternity, Wet Seal and Zales. Shoppers will find a variety of shops that stock sports and travel gear like Just Sports, Foot Locker, Macy's and TJ Maxx (for those more budget conscious travelers). Find travel technology needs at Best Buy, and secure those coveted journals and stationery goods at Paula's Hallmark. Find special events, deals and other happenings listed online. ((425) 355-1771)
The International District, or the "ID," was originally settled in the 1880s by a group of Chinese railroad workers. Since that time, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean cultures have come together to form the Asian-American district of Seattle. The area also boasts a plethora of delicious Asian restaurants and authentic shops well worth your time and a visit. Particularly noteworthy is Uwajimaya, an enormous market where you can find everything from arts and crafts to live fish to fresh produce and herbs. Save some time for a meal after your shopping spree, as this district boasts some of the city's most delicious ethnic food. (206-382-1197)
The University District, as full of young faces as you would expect, features plenty of shopping venues, restaurants, cafés, and cultural centers. The area was also the site of the Alaska-Yukon Pacific Exposition in 1909; a few of the buildings constructed then are still in use today. Aside from the gorgeous campus, the district offers museums, libraries, comedy clubs and bars for day and evening entertainment. In addition, the area boasts a farmers market and a veritable cornucopia of unique stores and boutiques. Find hip, young fashion at American Apparel and Buffalo Exchange, or stock up on UW paraphernalia at the bookstore. (206-547-4417)
In the heart of downtown, Seattle, this extravagant mall is five floors filled with high-quality shops, some standout restaurants and an eleven-screen movie theatre. Among the trendy retail outlets offering their wares: Tiffany & Co., Barneys New York, J. Crew, Brookstone, Williams Sonoma Grande Cuisine, Express, Game Stop, J. Crew, Ann Taylor, Michael Kors, Victoria's Secret, True Religion, Tiffany and Co., Guess, Coach,and bebe. Several Pacific Place cuisine choices defy the usual conotation of "mall food," including pnk Restaurant and Ultra Lounge, Thai Ginger, and Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant. The mall's 1,200-space underground garage provides ample convenient parking. Happy shopping! (206-405-2655, 877-883-2400)
Entering this neighborhood, you're greeted by a sign that says, "Welcome to the Center of the Universe." Thanks to its bohemian culture, Fremont is often considered a sister to Paris's Left Bank. Some of Seattle's most famous public artwork can be found here as well, including "Waiting for the Interurban," the Fremont Troll, and a statue of Vladimir Lenin. The area continues to accumulate new restaurants, cultural venues, and unique boutiques. Shopping thrives in this zone, thanks to an array of friendly shops that stock desirable goods from trendy women's clothing to funky cowboy boots and charming stationery to stunning artwork perfect for the office or home. (206-632-1500)
Featuring anchor stores Nordstrom, Macy's, and JCPenney, as well as more than 60 specialty shops, Northgate is one of the area's more popular malls. Broad corridors and a wide-open central atrium, punctuated by high white columns and contemporary skylights, create a comfortable setting for an afternoon of shopping. If you find that you've worked up an appetite while shopping , Northgate boasts a food court and traditional "sit down" restaurants like Azteca and California Pizza Kitchen. Kids (and parents) will appreciate the play area. Other shops include XXI Forever, Lane Bryant, Finish Line, Gymboree and Old Navy (which is coming soon). (206-362-4777)
Wallingford Center carries the tagline "Life's necessities and little luxuries." This venue offers a pleasant and intimate shopping experience (in a former schoolhouse) and features more than 17 local and regionally based retail boutiques, many of which offer fair trade, organic, sustainable and eco-friendly goods. Among other gems, shoppers find handmade women's clothing, jewelry, gifts, handbags and home decor items at shops like Crackerjack Contemporary Crafts and Fair Trade Winds; craft supplies at Bad Woman Yarn; hardware and gardening goods at Tweedy & Popp; and culinary treats at Trophy Cupcakes and Party and Chutneys Bistro. Its location off 45th Street is easy to access by car or bus. (206) 547-7246)
Pike Place Market
It could be argued quite persuasively that Pike Place Market is Seattle's heartbeat. Sure, it's on everyone's must-see list, but believe us, it's worth the hype. Situated along the water, the market was originally founded to allow produce growers to sell directly to consumers. Today, it's a protected historic district that inundates you with sights, sounds, smells, and the best people-watching in town. Whether in suits or tie-dyed t-shirts, wearing boutonnieres or strewn with wildflowers, people of all persuasions find the market a fabulous place to spend the day. The Market Foundation offers fun and informational tours Wednesdays to Saturdays, starting at the Market Heritage Center at 1531 Western Avenue. (206-682-7453, 206-774-5249)
The hub of the Seattle's University District shopping scene, University Village is an attractive open-air complex that features popular hometown outdoor clothier Eddie Bauer along with chains such as Barnes & Noble and Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Gap, and the North Face. More than two-dozen local merchants also maintain stores in this unique center, providing shoppers a touch of Northwest flavor. Among them are chic candle maker Glassybaby and Fran's Chocolates. Attractive garden areas, numerous restaurants, and ample free parking are additional draws. Among the restaurants is Ram Restaurant and Brewery, an outpost of a regional craft brewery that originated in Tacoma. (206-523-0622)
About Corinne Whiting
Corinne hails from the other Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's backpacked around Australia, taught English in Argentina and explored (so far!) countries from Cambodia and Egypt to Turkey and China. Corinne served as associate editor at Where magazine for five years; as a freelancer, she now writes for publications like National Geographic Traveler and Amtrak's OnTrak. Here in the lovely Northwest, she's attempting to debunk the rain myths, up her coffee and live music quotient and find her Zen near/on the water.
Read more about Corinne Whiting here.