AOL PICK from our Editors
Downtown shopping centers on Westlake Center, a multi-story indoor complex between 4th and 5th avenues, fronting triangular Westlake Park. Nearby you’ll find a broad assortment of retail, from Urban Outfitters, Gap and Barnes & Noble to Seattle’s flagship Nordstrom store. Fifth Avenue’s clothiers offer handbags and party dresses for dot-com survivors and Microsoft millionaires. Westlake Center and nearby Pacific Place provide shelter from rain showers and a broad range of brand-name stores. The International District is the place for fun Asian imports, and Pike Place Market offers fabulous arts and crafts. Farther afield, Ballard is known for the frock boutiques and interior design stores along its tree-lined historic district. Capitol Hill has shops for goths and hipsters, as well as The Elliott Bay Book Company, the city’s largest independent bookstore.
Westlake Center is a glass-walled, four-story shopping emporium with local and national shops. The third floor houses a food court with low-cost chain restaurants. Among the most interesting merchants are Fireworks, with colorful, one-of-a-kind artworks, and Silver Works, with silver jewelry. The Dilettante Mocha Café, on the first floor, sells chocolates made in Seattle.
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Neighborhood: Cascade/South Lake Union
Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) is the city’s most beloved retail establishment, especially worth checking out if you dig outdoorsy accoutrements. Most Seattleites live for time spent on the slopes or paddling Puget Sound. The REI flagship store is a magnet for rock-climbers, hikers, bikers, skiers and other outdoor zealots. This grand Northwest-style edifice fits its role with a massive stone fireplace, countless racks of outdoor gear and apparel, and salespeople who live the company’s outdoors ethic. A 65-foot climbing wall, mountain-bike test trail and waterfall add to the natural appeal.
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Nordstrom is a household name across the nation, but it all started here with a shoe store in 1901. A visit to the chain’s flagship store guarantees individual attention by superb salespeople, high-quality clothing and accessories, and yes, a still-peerless shoe department. While prices are high, Nordstrom Rack, at 1602 2nd Avenue, sells steeply discounted apparel and accessories.
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Pike Place Market surprises around every corner—it’s a warren of tiny shops offering everything from imported teas and handmade soaps to hand-crafted jewelry and pottery. The best part is all the goodies you can munch on as you travel further into the labyrinth. Take the time to sample a Russian pastry (Piroshky Piroshky); hot cinnamon-sugar doughnuts (Daily Dozen); made-on-the-spot cheese (Beecher’s) or a succulent piece of smoked salmon (Jack’s Fish Spot).
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