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Holiday shoppers make the rounds at festive shops in Seattle & beyond



If you're not keen to 'shop till you drop' while hunting for gifts this festive season, you've come to the right place. (Let's be honest–the quicker, the better, when it comes to fighting holiday crowds.) Our list recommends a range of friendly, local spots and bigger emporiums, ensuring you will walk away feeling satisfied. The best news of all: Seattle is a superb place to find unique, unforgettable presents.

Thanks to the variety of venues that complete the Seattle shopping scene, you will find options that cater to the gamut of vast and eclectic tastes. Start with the iconic, must-see Pike Place Market, for example. At this one-stop-shop of a bustling bazaar, you'll stumble upon amiable vendors selling goods that range from locally-made art and Emerald City souvenirs to clothing, jewelry, books and edible goodies like chocolate-covered Chukar cherries, boxes of salmon and tins of regional tea.

Whether you prefer browsing the big shopping malls on the outskirts of the city or the intimate boutiques that showcase the various character traits of Seattle's distinctive neighborhoods, we've streamlined some of the best spots for you to explore in downtown Seattle and beyond. No doubt you'll find gifts that sufficiently represent the spectacular Pacific Northwest–good food, good drinks, good outdoor gear and, of course, good music. 


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Westlake Center


Westlake Center is a four-story shopping center and twenty-five story office tower in downtown Seattle that features 80 upscale shops on four floors of retail. Included in the retail venues is a wide range of specialty shops, which carry everything from Godiva chocolates to Romy Boutique shoes. Hungry shoppers will find a third-floor food court (with surprisingly varied options) and P.F. Chang's China Bistro at street level. The top-floor monorail terminal (that runs the short but enjoyable route to Seattle Center) and the underground parking garage provide easy access for shoppers. The shopping center is also close to the light rail, a great public transportation option in Seattle.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Westlake Center means four floors of quality shopping, a food court and even the take-off point for a Monorail (that travels to Seattle Center).

Corinne's expert tip: Children under four ride the monorail for free. Take the monorail to Seattle Center, where Winterfest all-season long.

Read more about Westlake Center →


PCC Community Markets
Photo courtesy of PCC Community Markets


At PCC Community Markets, a member-owned cooperative, you'll find fresh, local and organic produce, quality meats and sustainable seafood at more than a dozen Seattle-area locations. And while these are certainly great places to do one's grocery shopping (or pick up a quick, hot meal on the go), they're also a lesser-known destination for stocking up on gifts (think journals, books, knitted goods and kitchenware) by local companies and artisans for your friends or loved ones. Also consider gifting tasty local goodies ranging from chocolate (Theo, Fran's and Seattle Chocolate Company's seasonal holiday bars) to Washington wines and beers from neighboring Fremont Brewing. Other great gifts? The PCC Cooking From Scratch Cookbook (released in fall 2018, the book focuses on seasonal, delicious and scratch-made recipes ideal for home chefs of any skill level) plus PCC gift cards (that can go toward Cooks classes as well!).

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: At PCC Community Markets, a member-owned cooperative, you'll find fresh, local and organic produce, quality meats and sustainable seafood plus locally-made gifts and cookbooks.

Corinne's expert tip: Check out cooking classes offered by PCC, too, for those who prefer "experience" versus material gifts! On Sundays, you can combine a Fremont PCC run with a visit to the year-round Fremont Fair, a vibrant market showcasing local artisans who take over the street that runs adjacent to the store.

Read more about PCC Community Markets →


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. 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 and star restaurateur John Howie have set up shop here, while foodies also love a hotpot restaurant from China (The Dolar Shop) and the fun scene found at Sugar Factory. In addition to Nieman, heavy-hitting haute retailers here also include the likes of Prada, Hermes Paris, Louis Vuitton, Moncler, Omega, Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci. On chilly evenings, the huge stone fireplace in the courtyard is a great place to gather.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: The largest collection of luxury brands in one stylish Pacific Northwest destination, the Shops at The Bravern lure shoppers to its Bellevue retail hub.

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. Also, check out neighboring retail hubs Bellevue Square and Lincoln Square South.

Read more about Shops at the Bravern →


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Pacific Place
Photo courtesy of Saskia Potter


In the heart of downtown Seattle, this extravagant mall (currently undoing a massive and exciting revitalization project) features five floors filled with high-quality shops, some standout restaurants and an eleven-screen movie theatre. Amid the redevelopment momentum, with construction planned for completion by the end of the year, several fun and festive pop-ups brighter the season. 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 connotation of "mall food," including Pike Place Chowder, Din Tai Fung and soon-to-arrive, much-anticipated hot pot mecca HaiDiLao. The mall's 1,200-space underground garage provides ample convenient parking.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: In the heart of downtown Seattle, this extravagant mall (currently undoing a massive revitalization project) features seasonal pop-ups that brighten the holiday retail scene.

Corinne's expert tip: With entrances on 6th and 7th Avenues, Pacific Place offers some of the most affordable parking in the heart of Seattle. Well-lit and open from 5 a.m. –to 2 a.m., the garage is the largest in downtown Seattle with more than 1,200 spaces on six levels.

Read more about Pacific Place →


REI
Photo courtesy of REI


Sure, there are multiple REI locations across the country, but the Seattle flagship location of Recreational Equipment Incorporated 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 you're a helpless outdoor gadget geek, this is your place. Shopping for your outdoors enthusiast family members and friends? Even better. The sheer volume of the place itself is a wonder, but before you get to the ice-ax 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 testing out hiking boots and mountain bikes before buying. And if it's climbing gear you've come for, check the performance of rock-climbing shoes and carabineers on the towering indoor climbing wall (reservations required).

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Seattle's home to the flagship REI store and this destination draws visitors for its bounty of gear and awe-inspiring ambiance (they have a climbing wall!).

Corinne'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 at a fair rate. Underground garage parking makes this a perfect spot for rainy-day shopping.

Read more about REI →


indi chocolate
Photo courtesy of indi chocolate


indi chocolate is a local bean to bar chocolate company that just opened its very first chocolate factory in the expanded part of the historic Pike Place Market. (Find the welcoming shop in the new Pike Place MarketFront next to Old Stove and Honest Biscuit on Western Ave.) While the beans come from all over the world, everything at indi is produced here in Seattle. In addition to wonderful products that are perfect for any time of year, they also sell holiday gift sets that feature a wide range of cacao-based products including teas, spice rubs and body care products made from cocoa butter. At indi, watch your chocolate being made, enjoy ethically-sourced chocolate from around the world, savor indi chocolate drinks and other creations in the cafe, and join the friendly team for a wide range of classes.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: indi chocolate, a local bean to bar chocolate company, sells a range of delicious gifts in historic Pike Place Market.

Corinne's expert tip: Check out indi's chocolate-making class schedule among other enticing events. Chocolate lovers also head to the Fremont neighborhood, where Theo Chocolate books informative tours and offers samples in its aromatic gift shop.

Read more about indi chocolate →


Made in Washington
Photo courtesy of Made in Washington Stores


In 1984, Gillian and Jack Mathews opened the first Made In Washington store at the iconic Pike Place Market. The store brought a new concept to the region, stocking a wide variety of quality products– made in Washington state by local artists, craftspeople and small businesses. Today, the shop continues to celebrate the rich bounty of the state's food, art and lifestyle at its five locations throughout Puget Sound. Artisan baskets (with a variety of themes) make gift-giving easy. Visitors will also find a slew of "Sasquatch Approved" gifts and beach-themed goodies, from mugs and pottery pieces to hand-blown glass artwork. The shop thrives in the culinary department, too, stocking tasty Washington wines, boxes of Saber salmon, jars of jams (like local favorite marionberry!) and chocolate indulgences from local brands like Theo, Fran's and Seattle Chocolates.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Made In Washington has several locations, like one in the iconic Pike Place Market, making gift-giving season in the Northwest a breezy delight.

Corinne's expert tip: Made in Washington celebrates the state's rich bounty of food, art and lifestyle at its five locations throughout Puget Sound. SeaBear's salmon offerings make for the perfect Northwest gift.

Read more about Made in Washington →




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, Amazon Books and Apple, along with chains such as Barnes & Noble, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Gap, Athleta, Lululemon, Bluemercury and the Ibex Outdoor Clothing. 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 prove additional draws. Among the restaurants, you'll find brand-new Bamboo Sushi (the world's first sustainable sushi restaurant) Veggie Grill, Elemental Pizza, JOEY Restaurant, Din Tai Fung and Ram Restaurant and Brewery, an outpost of a regional craft brewery that originated in Tacoma.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: The hub of Seattle's University District shopping scene, University Village is an attractive open-air complex that's perfect for holiday shopping.

Corinne's expert tip: University Village has two, free, 800-stall parking garages which are accessible from the 25th Avenue NE entrances. Electric Vehicle charging stations are located on Level D of the south building parking garage.

Read more about University Village →


Elliott Bay Book Company


More than a generation old, this venerable bookstore in Capitol Hill is a Seattle tradition. Exposed brick walls and wooden floors lend a note of permanence to the establishment, which offers thousands of books and texts. You'll find new volumes (especially fiction), along with rare and out-of-print books and a selection of used books as well. The shop also offers enticing author events where the public may meet prominent writers and leaders—or hear them read from their books. A downstairs coffee shop makes a great place to browse, grab a bite or share coffee chats with friends among the store's rows and rows of books and magazines. Find other gifts and trinkets, ranging from cloth tote bags to artsy calendars and journals.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Elliott Bay Book Company is an establishment in Seattle, and bookworms flock to the welcoming Capitol Hill space to browse its fantastic literary stock.

Corinne's expert tip: Book lovers can check out the store's stock online and order books and e-books through the website.

Read more about Elliott Bay Book Company →


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


It could be argued quite persuasively that Pike Place Market is Seattle's heartbeat. Situated along the water in the city's downtown zone, 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 donning suits or tie-dyed t-shirts, people of all persuasions find the market a fabulous place to spend the day. The Market Foundation offers fun and informational, one-hour tours, while companies like Savor Seattle and Eat Seattle lead foodies on delicious walkabouts, too. Whether you're there on a gift hunt or simply to enjoy the sights, tastes and sounds, Pike Place is a perfect spot to spend the day.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: The expanded Pike Place Market bustles with vendors selling locally-crafted art and jewelry plus regional delicacies like chocolate-covered cherries and salmon.

Corinne's expert tip: Arrive early in the morning to watch the vendors set up shop, bringing the market to life before things begin to truly bustle. (Check out the online calendar for special holiday happenings, from seasonal cooking classes to musical performances.)

Read more about Pike Place Market →


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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

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