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Where to Shop in Seattle
Shopping becomes decidedly less fun when it involves driving around and circling for parking. You're better off limiting your all-day shopping tours to one of several key areas than planning to do a citywide search for a particular item. The following areas have the greatest concentration of shops and the greatest variety.
5th and 6th Avenues, Downtown. Depending on where you're staying, you may not need to drive to this area, but if you do, the parking garage at Pacific Place mall (at 600 Pine Street) always seems to have a space somewhere (it also has valet parking). Tackling either Pacific Place or the four blocks of 5th and 6th avenues between Olive Way and University Street will keep you very busy for a day.
1st Avenue, Belltown. From Wall Street to Pine Street, you'll find clothing boutiques, shoe stores, and some sleek home and architectural design stores. 1st Avenue and Pike Street brings you to the Pike Place Market. There are numerous pay parking lots on both 1st and 2nd avenues.
Pioneer Square. Walk or bus here if you can. Art galleries are the main draw, along with some home decor and rug shops. If you do drive, many pay lots in the neighborhood participate in the "Parking Around the Square" program, which works with local businesses to offer shoppers validated parking; the website (www.pioneersquare.org) lists the lots and stores that offer it.
International District. Parking in the I.D. can be hit or miss depending on the time of day. It's best if you can walk here from Downtown or take a quick bus ride over. If you do drive, go directly to the Uwajimaya parking lot. They validate for purchases, and it's a safe bet you'll be buying something there. It's too fun to resist.
Pike-Pine Corridor, Capitol Hill. The best shopping in the Hill is on Pike and Pine streets between Melrose Avenue and 10th Avenue E. Most of the stores are on Pike Street; Pine's best offerings are clustered on the western end of the avenue between Melrose and Summit. There are pay lots on Pike Street (near Broadway) and one on Summit by E. Olive Way (next to the Starbucks).
Fremont and Ballard. Start in Fremont's small retail center, which is mostly along 36th Street. You may be able to snag street parking. After you've exhausted Fremont's shops, it's an easy drive over to Ballard. Ballard Avenue and NW Market Street are chockablock with great boutiques. Finding parking in Ballard can be tricky on weekends, but it's usually possible.
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