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. Archie McPhee

    Wallingford | Household Items/Furniture

    If your life is missing a punching-nun puppet, an Edgar Allen Poe action figure, or a bacon-scented air freshener, there's hope. Leave your...Read More

  • 2. Burnt Sugar

    Fremont | Household Items/Furniture

    If there's a rocket on the roof, then you've found Burnt Sugar—or you've gone too far and are in Cape Canaveral. This hip and funky shop offers...Read More

  • 3. Camelion Design

    Ballard | Household Items/Furniture

    This reasonably affordable, modern home-accessories store in Ballard is crammed, showroom-style, with furniture, accessories, and gift items...Read More

  • 4. Chartreuse International

    Belltown | Household Items/Furniture

    Savvy collectors shop here for authentic midcentury-modern furniture and accessories by Harry Bertoia, Arne Jacobsen, Isamu Noguchi, and other...Read More

  • 5. Dandelion Botanical Company

    Ballard | Household Items/Furniture

    Apothecary" is the term that this high-end but down-to-earth boutique gift stores uses to describe itself. Its brick walls are lined with hundreds...Read More

  • 6. Essenza

    Fremont | Household Items/Furniture

    A gurgling stone fountain stands in the center of this light-filled boutique, where airy displays showcase delicately scented European bath...Read More

  • 7. Kobo

    Capitol Hill | Household Items/Furniture

    This lovely store sells artisan crafts from studios in Japan and in the Northwest. What's here is similar to what's stocked at the International...Read More

  • 8. Kobo at Higo

    International District | Household Items/Furniture

    Housed in what used to be a 75-year-old five-and-dime store, this distinctive gallery has fine ceramics, textiles, and exquisite crafts by Japanese...Read More

  • 9. Momo

    International District | Household Items/Furniture

    Right next door to the Kobo gallery is a perky little shop with great gift options, including unique clothing, vials of perfume, plastic sushi...Read More

  • 10. NuBe Green

    Capitol Hill | Household Items/Furniture

    An emphasis on recycled goods and sustainability is the mission of this well-presented store anchoring a corner of the Oddfellows Building....Read More

  • 11. Sur La Table

    Downtown | Household Items/Furniture

    Need a brass-plated medieval French duck press? You've come to the right place. Culinary artists and foodies have flocked to this popular Pike...Read More

  • 12. Venue

    Ballard | Household Items/Furniture

    Venue is the chic version of the Made In Washington stores: it stocks only goods made by local artists (some of whom have their studios in the...Read More

  • 13. Watson Kennedy Fine Living

    Downtown | Household Items/Furniture

    This small store in the courtyard of the Inn at the Market is worth a visit just for how heavenly it smells. With a lovely line of artisanal...Read More

  • 14. La Tienda

    Ballard | Household Items/Furniture

    Every item in this showroom of handmade art was lovingly selected by the owners, who pride themselves on procuring art directly from craftspeople...Read More

  • 15. Schmancy

    Downtown | Household Items/Furniture

    Weird and wonderful, this toy store is more surreal art funhouse than FAO Schwarz. Pick up a crocheted zombie (with a cute little bow), a felted...Read More

  • 16. Area 51

    Capitol Hill | Household Items/Furniture

    Anything might materialize in this 10,000-square-foot industrial space, from Eames replicas to clever coffee mugs, but the mix of retro-inspired...Read More

  • 17. Bitters Co.

    Fremont | Household Items/Furniture

    Filled with treasures from around the world, this store carries textiles, linens, tableware, and jewelry. There are handcrafted goods from Guatemala...Read More

  • 18. CakeSpy Shop and Bluebottle Art

    Capitol Hill | Household Items/Furniture

    Etsy lovers and indie-craft-fair types should definitely make a trip to Bluebottle for affordable handmade art and gifts by mostly local artists...Read More

  • 19. Casita International

    Capitol Hill | Household Items/Furniture

    Brighten a rainy day with a trip to this sunny little boutique, where you'll find gorgeous treasures from Latin America, including Day of the...Read More

  • 20. Frank & Dunya

    Fremont | Household Items/Furniture

    For cute, locally crafted art, head to Frank & Dunya. Functional gift items range from hand-painted switch-plate covers and elaborate nightlights...Read More

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