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. Elliott Bay Book Company

    Capitol Hill | Books/Stationery

    A major reason to visit this landmark bookstore—formerly a longtime haunt in Pioneer Square, hence the name—is the great selection of Pacific...Read More

  • 2. Peter Miller Architectural & Design Books and Supplies

    Belltown | Books/Stationery

    Aesthetes and architects haunt this shop, which is stocked floor to ceiling with all things design. Rare, international architecture, art, and...Read More

  • 3. Arundel Books

    Pioneer Square | Books/Stationery

    Since 1984, this bastion of bibliophilia has offered new, used, and collectible titles to discerning shoppers. Its shelves are especially strong...Read More

  • 4. Kinokuniya Book Stores of America

    International District | Books/Stationery

    Japanamaniacs, get thee to this Tokyo-based chain for a huge collection of books, magazines, office supplies, collectibles, clothes, and gifts...Read More

  • 5. Metsker Maps of Seattle

    Downtown | Books/Stationery

    Whether you're searching for a laminated pocket map of Seattle or a world map made up of music notes, stop here for a massive selection of books...Read More

  • 6. Open Books

    Wallingford | Books/Stationery

    One of only a couple of poetry-only bookstores in the country, this serene space is conducive to hours of browsing; when you're ready to interact...Read More

  • 7. Ophelia's Books

    Fremont | Books/Stationery

    With a tiny spiral staircase leading to the basement, and resident cats wandering through the tightly packed aisles, Ophelia's offers a classic...Read More

  • 8. Queen Anne Book Company

    Queen Anne | Books/Stationery

    This beloved Seattle bookstore is well-known for its friendly, knowledgeable staff and extensive book selection. Pop in for children's storytelling...Read More

  • 9. Secret Garden Bookshop

    Ballard | Books/Stationery

    Named after the Francis Hodgson Burnett classic, this cozy shop has been delighting readers for 34 years. A favorite of teachers, librarians...Read More

  • 10. Twice Sold Tales

    Capitol Hill | Books/Stationery

    It's hard to miss this excellent used-book store—simply look for the six-foot neon cat sign—he'll be waving his Cheshire tail. Inside, you'll...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. Wessel & Lieberman Booksellers

    Pioneer Square | Books/Stationery

    Crammed with first editions, antiquarian materials, Pacific Northwest history and literature, Western Americana, poetry, and fine examples of...Read More

  • 13. Wide World Travel Store

    Wallingford | Books/Stationery

    One of the first travel-only bookstores in the country, Wide World Travel Store has been outfitting the adventurous since 1976. This is a great...Read More

  • 14. Zanadu Comics

    Downtown | Books/Stationery

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

  • 15. Paperhaus

    Belltown | Books/Stationery

    Artists, designers, and writers should hightail it to Paperhaus to pick up professional portfolios and presentation materials. Lust-worthy notebooks...Read More

  • 16. 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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