Seattle Shopping Proves as Eclectic and Unique as the City's Neighborhoods

Seattle’s renowned Pike Place Market is just a starting point for unique Northwest shopping finds. Here, local vendors sell beautiful, varied goods amongst the hustle and bustle of this invigorating bazaar. The region's Asian influence is on display and for sale in the International District, while progressive neighborhoods promote local arts and crafts.

Weekend markets prove a great way to check out some of the local talent; vendors' merchandise ranges from clothing and accessories to wall hangings, furniture (often made from the area's luscious wood) and eclectic art pieces for the home or office. Both Fremont and Ballard host Sunday markets that are well worth a visit (think delicious food and coffee plus exotic wares and wears to take with you).

Luxury goods are showcased in tony shopping gallerias both urban and suburban. Find luxurious malls downtown (Pacific Place and its surrounding streets) or out east in Bellevue. The recent arrival of Spain's ZARA has the downtown buzzing and promises to revitalize Seattle's core shopping zone. (Travel even farther to the suburbs to find more traditional malls offering a cornucopia of shopping choices.)

Whichever type of shopping scene you happen to fancy–sleek megastores or intimate boutiques, this town surely promises to deliver.


Barneys New York

If you forgot your formalwear at home, this might be a great pit stop to find some decadent duds for fancy cruise evening events! This shop carries a stellar lineup of international ready-to-wear designers for men and women, including PRADA and Jil Sander, along with an impressive collection of cosmetics and in-house sportswear. January and July usher in new seasonal lines, which often means 30% to 50% markdowns on existing stock. Shoppers will also find shoes, bags and other accessories, as well as home goods and tech and travel accessories (like electronics and travel towels). They stock kids clothing, too.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Barneys New York brings high-fashion flair to downtown Seattle. Find deals in January and July when new seasonal lines fill the racks.

John's expert tip: January and July usher in new seasonal lines, which often means 30% to 50% markdowns on existing stock.

Read more about Barneys New York →

Financial District
Pacific Place
Photo courtesy of Saskia Potter

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., J. Crew, Game Stop, J. Crew, Michael Kors, Victoria's Secret, Coach, The Handmade Showroom, lululemon, Kate Spade New York and Trophy Cupcakes. 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. If coming by Light Rail, the venue is located close to Westlake Station.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Pacific Place is a five-floor mall featuring an elegant vibe and an array of high-quality shops. Find a movie theater here, too!

John's expert tip: Check the online "Events and Offers" page for deals at stores and promotions with local businesses (like nearby theaters, for example).

Read more about Pacific Place →

This shop is easy to find, hard to leave. Items featuring global flavors range from women's clothing and accessories to home decor merchandise like aromatic candles and exotic duvets. Find stunningly simple or delightfully intricate pieces for any season--flowing dresses for summer, flattering pullovers for winter and tunics and blouses for any time of year. For female cruise goers, this is a great store in which to find stylish yet sensible bathing suits and resort wear, as well as delightfully fancy yet funky dresses that prove perfect for more formal evening boat events. Be sure to check out the well-stocked sales section for marked-down treasures!

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Anthropologie means hip, fashion-forward clothing, accessories and homeware goods.

John's expert tip: Check out this shop's sale section, which always proves a hot spot of hidden treasures!

Read more about Anthropologie →


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.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: University Village is a pleasant open-air complex that boasts shops from Gap and North Face to Pottery Barn and Fran's Chocolates.

John's expert tip: Attention all drivers: All levels of the new south garage are now open for free customer parking; the entrance is located off of 25th Avenue NE.

Read more about University Village →

Elliott Bay Book Company

What better way to pass the time on a rainy Seattle afternoon than browsing for that latest thriller or travel guide? You could do so online, but nothing beats that new-book smell. For that, you actually have to step into a book store. Seattle doesn't quite have the City Lights Books of San Francisco or Powell's of Portland. The equivalent here is venerable specialty bookseller Elliot Bay Book Company. Relocated a couple of years ago from its original building, the store's new digs are in the heart of Seattle's funky Capitol Hill neighborhood, once again in a re-purposed, historic brick building. More than a generation in business, Elliott Bay is a full service bookstore with more than 150,000 titles, all aligned on cedar shelves in a multi-level, loft-type space. Elliot Bay offers a full schedule of author readings and events throughout the year. The café downstairs is more than convenient.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Elliott Bay Book Company proves an ideal place to spend a wet Seattle afternoon; stock up on reading material, and chill in the cozy cafe.

John's expert tip: Books, of course, can be purchased anywhere. But Elliot Bay is worth checking out for its selection of specialty and collectible editions.

Read more about Elliott Bay Book Company →

Photo courtesy of REI

Sure, there are multiple REI locations across the country these days, and of course you can shop for their gear online, but the Seattle location is a destination in itself. Whether you're gearing up for a planned hike at Mt. Rainier National Park, looking for a kayak rental to ply Puget Sound or are just a helpless outdoor gadget geek, this is your place. The sheer volume of the place and the amount of gear itself is a wonder, but before you get to the ice-axe handles of the giant wooden front doors, you wander along a miniature section of Northwest trail complete with pine trees, ferns and a waterfall. In addition to wowing first-time visitors, the area is meant for trying out hiking boots and mountain bikes before buying. Parkas can be pushed to the limit in the "rain room." Also enjoy the towering indoor climbing wall (reservations required).

Recommended for Best Shopping because: REI defines the Pacific Northwest in many ways, and a shopping spree at this sprawling venue is an adventure unto itself.

John's expert tip: If you plan any outdoor activities in Seattle that require gear, REI's rental program is an excellent choice. Bikes, skis, snowshoes, kayaks, and more are available, all top-notch equipment in good repari at a fair rate. Underground garage parking makes this a perfect spot for rainy day shopping.

Read more about REI →

Show Pony
Photo courtesy of Show Pony

When shopping for female friends and family members, consider a charming, neighborhood shop that guarantees unique gift options that won't match anyone else's. This welcoming Fremont women's boutique in one of Seattle's most popular, artsy neighborhood, stocks funky clothing, jewelry, accessories and gifts, most items locally manufactured and designed. Vintage and bargain shoppers head to the shop's upper loft to find an array of consignment gems. Among the venue's merch, find dresses by Suzabelle, handbags by Crystalyn Kae, jewelry by Lauren G Divine Designs and soaps by Estrella. Show Pony's merchandise is now also available online, so perhaps you can even save yourself a trip to the store.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Show Pony shows off Seattle's fashion flavors found in small, funky neighborhoods--like Fremont. This is a must-visit, thanks to its enticing merchandise and welcoming staff.

Corinne's expert tip: Visit the shop's website for spring's hottest trends.

Read more about Show Pony →

Pike Place Market
Photo courtesy of Magic in the Market/Richmond Public Relations

Why not start your shopping adventure here? It could be argued quite persuasively that Pike Place Market is Seattle's heartbeat. 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.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Pike Place Market, Seattle's most iconic bazaar of bustling activity and local vendors, proves a great place to start the city's retail adventure.

John's expert tip: It's not like you can't find a pair of Levi's jeans anywhere, but at the south end of the market on the upper level is a Levi-Strauss outlet with table after table of denim, including all of the classic styles (think 501) and cool cuts you've likely never heard of.

Read more about Pike Place Market →

Shops at the Bravern
Photo courtesy of Shops at the Bravern

Occupying multiple levels on the basement, street and mezzanine of a massive combination Microsoft office tower-and-condo complex in downtown Bellevue, the Shops at the Bravern is tony and upscale to a fault. This collection of high-end merchants and restaurants has elevated Northwest shopping by creating an environment that attracts international luxury brand retailers to the region. The prime example is department store Neiman Marcus, for which the Bravern is an initial outpost in this part of the country. Local bakery phenomenon Trophy Cupcakes, star restaurateur John Howie and Seattle Asian-cuisine institution Wild Ginger have all set up shop here. In addition to Nieman, heavy hitting haute retailers here also include the likes of Jimmy Choo, Karen Millen, David Barton Gym, Louis Vuitton, Salvatore, Ferragamo, Neiman Marcus, Tory Burch, Hermes and Wolford. On chilly evenings, the huge stone fireplace in the courtyard is a great place to gather.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Bellevue's Shops at the Bravern offer high-end stores in a comfortable retail environment.

John's expert tip: With validated underground parking and covered, open-air hallways, the Shops at the Bravern is a perfect spot to while away a rainy Seattle day shopping and dining on the finest.

Read more about Shops at the Bravern →


The hottest new store to hit Seattle's retail scene? Spain's beloved Zara finally comes to this West Coast town, making its debut in Westlake Center, not far from Pike Place Market and the heart of the city. The sleek European "fast fashion" venue features trends in clothing for women, men and kids, with new arrivals brightening the display racks each week. The brand-new space opens in mid-February, generating much buzz and bringing fresh air to two floors of one of the city's most trafficked downtown malls (the Monorail leaves from the building's upper level). At Zara, helpful staff ensure the shopping experience is a pleasant one.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: ZARA joined the Seattle retail lineup last year, making it the city's hottest new fashion find. Spain meets the Northwest at this sleek venue.

Corinne's expert tip: Check out the store's online shopping options, too.

Read more about Zara →


Meet 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...  More About Corinne