Seattle

Seattleites are sometimes scorned for their fashion sense (polar fleece, sport sandals, and socks—oh my!), but as the city has grown and enough money has percolated through the ranks of retail, the city's style barometer has made a steady creep upward. Bibliophiles, foodies, wine aficionados, and design-centrists will also find plenty of shopping opportunities—Seattle is a hotbed of unique, independent shops stocking one-of-a-kind treasures.

Shopping in Seattle is something best done gradually. Don't expect to find it all in one or two days worth of blitz shopping tours. Downtown is the only area that allows for easy daylong shopping excursions. Within a few blocks along 4th and 5th Avenues, you'll find the standard chains (The Gap, Urban Outfitters, H&M, Anthropologie, Sephora, Old Navy), along with Nike's flagship store, and a few more glamorous high-end stores, some featuring well-known designers like Gucci . Downtown is also where you'll find department stores like Nordstrom, Macy's, and Barneys New York. Belltown and Pioneer Square are also easy areas to patrol—most stores of note are within a few blocks.

To find many of the stores that are truly special to Seattle—such as boutiques featuring handmade frocks from local designers, independent record stores run by encyclopedic-minded music geeks, cozy used-book shops that smell of paper and worn wood shelves—you'll have to branch out to Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, and northern neighborhoods like Ballard. Shopping these areas will give you a better feel for the character of the city and its quirky inhabitants, all while you score that new dress or nab gifts for your friends.

And don’t forget about Seattle’s culinary bounty, which includes the stalls at Pike Place Market; the flagship Sur La Table, which stocks every kitchen gadget known to man; and the city’s various weekly farmers' markets, where you’ll find enough locally made, artisanal offerings to fill a suitcase or two.

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  • 1. Buffalo Exchange

    University District | Clothing

    This big, bright shop of new and recycled fashions is always crowded, and it takes time to browse the stuffed racks—but the rewards are great...Read More

  • 2. Crossroads Trading Co.

    University District | Clothing

    Another spot on the used-clothing-store offerings on The Ave, Crossroads Trading Co. carries dependably cute and trendy clothes, bags, and...Read More

  • 3. LIKELIHOOD

    Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

    With designers ranging from Puma X Rihanna to Spalwart, this store has an extensive brand selection that's perfect for the eclectic Capitol...Read More

  • 4. Red Light Vintage and Costume

    University District | Clothing

    Nostalgia rules in this cavernous space filled with well-organized, good-quality (and sometimes pricey) vintage and new clothing. Fantasy outfits...Read More

  • 5. University Book Store

    University District | Books/Stationery

    Campus bookstores are usually rip-offs to be endured only by students clutching syllabi, but the University of Washington's store is a big exception...Read More

  • 6. University District Market Farmers Market

    University District | Outdoor/Flea/Green Markets

    An understated elegance pervades this farmers' market, where there are loads of flowers and fine cheeses and meats, as well as a small food...Read More

  • 7. University Village

    University District | Shopping Centers/Malls

    Make a beeline here for fabulous upscale shopping and good restaurants in a pretty, outdoor, tree- and fountain-laden shopping "village." You...Read More

  • 8. 5 Doors Up Footwear

    University District | Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

    Fashion-forward shoe lovers of both sexes head to 5 Doors Up and Woolly Mammoth, sister stores that are five storefronts apart on a busy section...Read More

  • 9. Snow Goose Associates

    University District | Household Items/Furniture

    Alaskan Eskimo, Canadian Inuit, and Northwest Coast Native American artists are represented through carvings, jewelry, baskets, masks, boxes...Read More

  • 10. Zanadu Comics

    University District | Books/Stationery

    One of the oldest and best comic book stores in a city with close to 70 comic shops, Zanadu Comics specializes in "alternative," small-press...Read More

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