Shop Around at Seattle's Sprawling Malls, Charming Centers & Intimate Boutiques

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-end to more casual stores, along with food offerings, should you need a drink or a bite along the way to refuel.

A great place to start for 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 Bellevue, 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.  


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 Shopping Malls and Centers because: No Seattle shopping trip is complete without visiting the massive REI flagship store near downtown. Load up on active clothing and gear for future adventures.

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

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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.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: The International District takes shoppers on a colorful voyage to Asia, thanks to its may authentic boutiques, markets and cafes.

Corinne's expert tip: If you work up an appetite after all that shopping, try delicious ethnic eats at spots like Tamarind Tree, Jade Garden and Phnom Penh Noodle House. To learn about the neighborhood's fascinating history, visit the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.

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The University District, as full of young faces as you would expect, features plenty of shopping venues, thrift stores, restaurants, caf├ęs 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.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: The University District features laid-back restaurants, bars, a seasonal farmers market and an array of shops that sell recycled goods plus the newest trends.

Corinne's expert tip: The University Bookstore is not only a great place to load up on UW banners and clothing; it's also a great spot to find regional photography compilations, technology and children's books.

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Wallingford Center
Photo courtesy of Wallingford Center

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.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: Wallingford Center is a unique indoor shopping experience that features 17 local and regionally-based boutiques (many stocking sustainable and eco-friendly goods).

Corinne's expert tip: This center is open daily--with free parking, too! Connect with the Wallingford Center on Facebook to keep up with timely community events (like the Wallingford Art Walk) and fan discounts.

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Financial District
Pacific Place
Photo courtesy of subactive_photo

In the heart of downtown Seattle, this extravagant mall features 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 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. Happy shopping!

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Photo courtesy of Show Pony

Entering this neighborhood, you're greeted by a sign that says, "Welcome to the Center of the Universe." Thanks to its bohemian and funky culture, 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. Find cute seasonal pieces and accessories at Show Pony, thoughtful gifts at Portage Bay Goods and sweet treats at Theo Chocolate. Also, check out the Fremont Fair that sets up shop along N 34th Street each Sunday!

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: Fremont features a laid-back, friendly vibe, and the shopping scene here thrives with locally-owned, unique boutiques.

Corinne's expert tip: While in the neighborhood, grab a coffee at MiiR, an ice cream cone at Bluebird, some chocolate from Theo, a margarita at El Camino or a pint at Brouwer's Cafe. Be sure to also visit the Fremont Fair that happens every Sunday!

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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, 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, Tory Burch, Hermes and Wolford. On chilly evenings, the huge stone fireplace in the courtyard is a great place to gather.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: Bellevue's collection of high-end merchants and restaurants has elevated Northwest shopping by creating an environment that attracts international luxury brand retailers to the region.

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.

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Northgate Mall

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 traditional shopping 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 Cafe Pho and California Pizza Kitchen. Kids (and parents, too) will appreciate the play area. Other shops include XXI Forever, Lane Bryant, Finish Line, Gymboree, Old Navy and more.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: Northgate Mall boasts three major department stores, a food court, a play area and more than 130 stores.

Corinne's expert tip: If you don't have a car, take a public King County bus to the mall, which is located right off I-5.

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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. 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 destination. 2017 marked the unveiling of a $74 million MarketFront project summer that realizes a long-held vision of Market advocates. The project boasts 30,000 square feet of open public space that offer picture-perfect views of Mount Rainier, the Olympic Mountains and sparkling Puget Sound, plus three public art installations, 47 new tablespaces for farmers and craftspeople and 40 low-income senior housing units.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: Recently expanded Pike Place Market bustles with vendors selling locally-crafted art and jewelry plus regional delicacies like chocolate-covered cherries, salmon, tea and more.

Corinne's expert tip: Go on an Eat Seattle excursion or a Savor Seattle Food Tour to experience all the culinary riches of the market. Be sure to check out recently-added public spaces and businesses (with a view!); for example, Old Stove Brewing Co. is a great place to savor the scenery and local brews. For the ultimate culinary treat, grab a table at nearby new addition Aerlume, where you'll be talking about their sensational Black Cod dish for months to come.

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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, 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 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 Shopping Malls and Centers because: University Village is an attractive open-air complex that features popular stores from national chains to local retailers.

Corinne's expert tip: This complex is also a one-stop-shop for an array of convenient resources like a Bartell's Drugs, UPS Store, Tall's Camera shop, even a place to get key copies made! Break up the shopping experience with a delectable meal at Din Tai Fung; believe us, it'll be worth the wait.

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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