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Image: James Whelan

To get there you must be willing to put up with the crowd—the biggest, slowest, most selfie-obsessed crowd there is—but once you’ve swerved through the horde on the First and Pike entrance of Pike Place Market and scissored past the fish throwers and down a short hallway, you’re there and likely have it all to yourself: the Pike Place Market alcove and its serene view of Elliott Bay and the slo-mo pulse of the Washington State Ferries system.

I’ve been reluctant to talk about the Pike Place Market alcove. In some part of my brain—perhaps the part that’s foolishly convinced it “discovered,” say, that latest band you’ve probably never heard of—I think of it as mine. It’s where I’ve gone to experience great highs and lows; where I went to phone my father about a work promotion—and to hear the details of his divorce from my mother after nearly 40 years of marriage. 

When you’re in the business of recommending trails, restaurants, concerts, and other quality ways to spend time—as Seattle Met’s editorial staff is—an obdurate methodology can set in: a series of well meaning but ultimately limiting questions like, “But will everyone like it? What’s the universal appeal?”

We approached this month’s cover story a little differently. “No, but where do you really go?” we asked ourselves—and then answered with a cavernous silence, eyes locked on the surface of the conference room table.

Like me, my colleagues also jealously hold onto parts of the city. The fear seems to be that, if more people know about it, it will become less special. Pressed further, the secrets nonetheless spilled out: The staffer who likes to retire to the back deck of a Capitol Hill bar with his girlfriend for quiet conversation. The other staffer who finds uncommon bliss practicing blues standards at the Seattle Central Library’s seemingly unknown piano practice room. 

Our inability to keep these gems to ourselves is your gain. Here you’ll find hidden recesses and bright corners throughout the city—from secret menu items to peeks inside exclusive clubs to, yes, special patios and semiprivate public spaces with views of the bay.

Just don’t tell anyone else.

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