seattle sights

Seattle's KEXP: Where the Music Matters

KEXP

There is probably no radio station more loved in this country than KEXP (90.3 FM), which just happens to have its home base in Seattle, WA. And even though its home is here, it's live-streamed across the country and loved by people from coast to coast, because who knows good music better than Seattle?

The KEXP studio, which is open to the public, is a MUST-visit for any Seattle local or visitor! Yes - it sounds weird for us to tell you to visit a radio station, but this really is an institution and a big piece of Seattle music history, dating back to 1972 when they first went on-air from the UW campus.

What really makes this radio station so special? For starters, it's a not-for-profit public radio station funded by sponsors and donations. And what that really means is that the KEXP DJs can play whatever it is they want, whenever they want...from Wilco, to local musicians, to obscure indie artists you have never heard of. You won't find Taylor Swift's latest hit played every 30 minutes on this station. They also don't have advertisements, so no more annoying plumbing jingles or cheesy jewelry commercials interrupting your jam session.

In addition to the wide range of indie rock artists you'll hear, there are also weekly programs dedicated to music genres (our favorite is Positive Vibrations on Saturday mornings, which plays reggae music from 9 AM - noon PST). There are also in-studio sessions where artists (visiting and local) play right in the KEXP space and the best news is, it's open to the public FOR FREE. Tickets to the in-studio sessions become available around 90 minutes before air time, and it's first come, first serve. The more well known artists will fill up fast, so make sure you are there early. They let 75 people into the standing room only space where you can listen to the artist's performance and interview on air. Sessions last around 30 minutes. Check the entire line-up on their webpage

The beautiful La Marzocco

The beautiful La Marzocco

If you aren't interested in an in-studio session or if you are waiting for your session to start, the KEXP studio is a wonderful place to work and hang out. The beautiful La Marzocco coffee shop fills the space and serves amazing coffee from a list of rotating coffee roasters around the world, which changes monthly. The space is large and filled with light and there is seating for everyone, ranging from tables to couches and armchairs. All this plus the free wifi makes it an easy place to get some work done. KEXP plays overhead (obviously), and there is even a record store for shopping and a rotating art gallery. You can even watch the current DJ on air through a large window. The whole set-up is chill, laid back, and very, very cool.

KEXP
KEXP's colorful floor

KEXP's colorful floor

If you are already a fan of KEXP, consider donating! In addition to supporting a wonderful station, there are also a ton of member perks. Check them all out here. KEXP is located in the Seattle Center. If you want other ideas about things to do in this area, check out this post

KEXP
KEXP
KEXP: Where the Music Matters

Best Kept Secrets of Pike Place Market: Part Two

Honestly, it seems like Pike Place Market is a giant onion and we could explore our whole lives and never peel back all the layers! This 9-acre playground is full of secrets. We covered some of our favorite ones in Pike Place Market's lower levels a couple months ago. We had such a good response from that post we decided to share some more fun secrets of the market here!  

Lantern men

Pike Place Market Lantern Men
Pike Place Market Lantern  Men

Hanging upside down, sideways, and walking out of a door to nowhere these guys are easy to miss, but fun to find. First, make your way to the back side of the market (Western Avenue). When you get to the small courtyard by Choukette Eclairs take the stairs up into the belly of the market and try to find all the men holding lanterns.

Hint: There are six! 

Morning roll call

Roll call at the market.  Photo source

Roll call at the market. Photo source

Morning roll call is a tradition and a way of life at Pike Place Market. Every morning at 9:00 AM the daystall vendors and the Market Master gather at the north end of the North Arcade to have roll call. This determines which vendor will get what booth in the market. It is based on seniority, so how long you have been selling at Pike Place Market gets you higher on the list to pick your spot. Anyone can watch this and if you are interested in seeing how the market comes to life every morning this is a good place to start. After roll call is complete the vendors all disperse to set up their stalls and start selling. 

Urban Garden

Pike Place Market Urban Garden
Pike Place Market Urban Garden

In the middle of all the hustle and bustle and throwing of fish, there is a peaceful garden with views of Puget Sound and seating to relax from the crowds. Make sure to explore the different art and produce that is scattered around the rooftop garden and don't forget to write your name and where you are visiting from on one of the chalkboard surfaces! This garden is cared for by the Pike Place Market Senior Center and all the produce is donated to the Pike Place Market Food Bank to help feed people in need. The garden boasts 18 types of vegetables and enough harvest to feed hundreds of people per year. 

Window seating in Main Arcade

Window seating in main Arcade
Window Seating in the Main Arcade

There are many places to grab food to-go in Pike Place Market, but if you don't have an office or home to take it back to, seating can feel limited. Luckily there is a bar-type seating area at the end of the hallway to the right of Pike Place Fish (if you are facing it) in the Main Arcade. This little area is a spot you can usually find a seat to eat. Best part? It comes with a view!

Insider Tip: Read some of the writings scrawled across the window sills. You might find some inspiration for the day! 

Hidden artwork

Artsy benches are all over Pike Place Market

Artsy benches are all over Pike Place Market

Eat lunch with a giant Sasquatch

Eat lunch with a giant Sasquatch

Self-watering storm drain

Self-watering storm drain

There is fun artwork scattered all over the market. We have several favorites.

  • Sasquatch - Located in the Atrium on the first floor, this carved sasquatch is a perfect photo opp! He looks so sad to be out in the open, seen by all! 
  • Two faced bench - This green bench located in the lower levels courtyard is a fun and functional piece of art! Take a seat and enjoy the buskers that gather nearby.
  • Self-watering planter - This storm drain turned planter is such a quirky little addition to the side of the apartments that sit at Virginia St. and Post Alley.
  • Giant squid - There is a 200 pound metal sculpture of a giant squid hanging from the ceiling in the Market Atrium. We don't need to explain why we love this one, everyone does! 

Bird sanctuary

Bird Sanctuary
Pike Place Market Bird Sancutary

Another great place to eat is a small alcove beneath Post Alley and behind the Soames Dunn Building (take the hallway two doors north of the original Starbucks all the way back). It boasts a bird sanctuary, but to be honest we aren't sure how many birds reside here besides the little owl someone has hung for decoration and maybe to keep pests away. Regardless, it's a nice hidden spot to enjoy some food or take a break away from the crowds. 

Insider tip: Country Dough makes delicious Szechuan flatbreads and is right by this sanctuary.

Original hitching post

Pike Place Market hitching post

Outside of Rachel's Ginger Beer you can find an old, wooden post. Most people walk right by it and never notice it, including us for many years. Once you know the significance though it is definitely worth a walk by to admire it as a piece of Pike Place history. This old, wooden post is one of many posts where farmers and customers used to hitch their horses when they came to the market, hence the name of the alley it is located in: Post Alley.


What are you favorite secret spots in the market? 

The Backside of the Pike Place Market: Part Two

Last year we got to know all the cool, hidden spots on the backside of Pike Place Market. Since then, there have been some developments that we thought you all would like to hear about! 

First up, the changes.

Spanish Table closed it's doors and moved in with Paris Grocery (it's now the Paris-Madrid Grocery). Billie the Pig found a new home down the street. And there has been a whole lot of construction for the new Marketfront Expansion. 

The Marketfront Expansion is going to be well worth the pesky construction though. With the new market space and some other new businesses coming to the backside of the market this is going to be an even better part of the city to explore!

Marketfront Expansion Project

Pike Place Marketfront Expansion Project

The Marketfront Expansion is in full swing and we can't even tell you how excited we are for all the new businesses that will open in the new space in June! It will include a chocolate factory in indi chocolate), a brewery (Old Stove Brewing), and a restaurant/cannery from Jarr and Co. along with a lot more day stalls for local craftspeople and artists. 

The new space is also set to include a beautiful, open air plaza for locals and tourists to enjoy as well as a new neighborhood center and low income lofts for local artists. 

So what else is new on Western Ave. aka the backside of the market.....

Choukette Eclairs

Choukette Eclairs Pike Place Market

This place is a little pricey, but if you like eclairs they know how to do them right. These light, fluffy filled desserts add a little more diversity to the market's sweets scene. Our favorite flavors are hazelnut praline and caramel.

Paper Feather

Lovely Jennifer Cullin from the Paper Feather

Lovely Jennifer Cullin from the Paper Feather

The Paper Feather isn't new to the block, but we didn't cover them in our last post and this shop is too fun not to know about! Jennifer Cullin is the mastermind and artist behind all the paper crafts and creations here. We covered her in our Meet the Maker series too! 

The Carrot Flower Company

The Carrot Flower Company

This new flower shop compliments the businesses in this stretch of the block perfectly. With Paper Feather making wedding invitations and decor right next door, the back of the market can be your one stop shop for a Pinterest-perfect wedding! 

Room for Change, a mural by Carolina Silva 

Room for Change

This new mural was unveiled on the Pike Place Market Hillclimb and it adds a huge pop of color to the space! 

Multiple panels of repetitive pattern envelope the space, transforming a forgotten place- a mundane passageway- into a vibrant room. Repetitive patterns and hand-traced flowers are recurrent elements in Silva’s recent work; they represent chaos within harmony, or rather harmony within chaos.

That concludes this update for now, but keep an eye out for an extended post this summer reviewing the new Marketfront Expansion opening! 

What To Do With Seattle's CityPass

Seattle

For first time visitors to Seattle the CityPass is a great way to see some of Seattle's hottest attractions without paying top dollar. One adult pass costs $74 and gives you access to the: 

  • Space Needle

  • Seattle Aquarium

  • Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour
  • Museum of Pop Culture   OR   Woodland Park Zoo

  • Chihuly Garden and Glass   OR   Pacific Science Center 

If you were to go to five of those places (on adult tickets) you would pay around $140. Unlike some cities, the places on CityPass in Seattle are actually awesome places to visit so with the savings and the locations we definitely recommend it. You can visit them in whatever order you would like and it is valid for 9 days from the first time you use it. 

Now depending on how long you are in Seattle you might be able to do it all, but even if you only have time to visit three or four of the places you might still save money. Here is the order and places we would choose if we were doing the CityPass ourselves:

Argosy Cruises

Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour 

  • Argosy gets you out on the water, which is worth the ticket price by itself in our opinion. You get to see the city from the Puget Sound and learn a ton about the history and culture of Seattle. They have indoor and outdoor seating so it's fun rain or shine. Also, there is a bar on the boat. 
Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass

  • Chihuly Garden and Glass is completely unique to Seattle. This museum brings to life the beauty of local artist Dale Chihuly and his glass blowing techniques. It is truly a spectacular place to visit.
MoPop

MoPOP

  • The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) is that museum for people who don't normally like museums. It is full of rock memorabilia, props from famous sci-fi movies, and an entire room devoted to the Seahawks Super Bowl win! 
Space Needle

Space Needle

  • This one doesn't need much of an explanation. It's one of Seattle's more noteworthy landmarks and the most visited place in the city. Head up to the observation deck to take in the city, mountains, and Puget Sound below.
Seattle Waterfront

Seattle Aquarium

  • The aquarium is right on the waterfront and is a cool building full of local and not so local fishes and marine life. There is a ton to do around it on the waterfront, so try to plan some extra time while you are visiting to check out the Seattle Great Wheel and maybe take a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island.

If you are cramped for time to go to all the places, we would recommend skipping the aquarium, especially if you have been to one of the more famous ones like Atlanta, Vancouver, or Monterey because Seattle just won't compare. If you have time though, of course go, you can see otters and that is never a bad thing!

Another thing to note is if you have small children, the Woodland Park Zoo and Pacific Science Center would be better options than MoPOP and Chihuly, which are better for ages 13+. 

You might like these other blog posts about sightseeing in Seattle: