Seattle's Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square lays claim to many things: birthplace of Seattle for one. But, did you know it can now claim canine-friendliness? Yes, indeed!
Written by Deanna Duff | Photography by Tushna Lehman | Click on images to enlarge
Pioneer Square is Seattle’s original downtown neighborhood and is rich in both people and pet history. The mix of old Seattle architecture, contemporary shops and an abundance of good eats and activities make it a must-see for locals and visitors alike—and, of course, doggie day trippers!

Settlers arrived in 1852, but Pioneer Square truly hit its stride after being rebuilt following Seattle’s Great Fire of 1889. Rather than rebuilding in the marshy tide flats, the area was filled, raised and brick and stone buildings were built atop the charred remains. Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour (free-$16 admission) provides a glimpse of the original city via subterranean passages. Colorful, all-ages commentary about plumbing problems and prostitutes not only educates, but entertains!

After the tour, take a stroll in Pioneer Place Park and enjoy some shade under the iron Pergola built in 1909. Built the same year, the nearby bronze bust of Chief Seattle honors the Native-American leader’s local legacy. For canine history buffs, it also originally marked a water fountain used by dogs and horses.

During the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s, the area became a bustling business district, and newspapers wrote about the prospectors and their “teams of trained dogs, trotting about” town. At the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park/Visitor Center, learn about the era, pan for gold or join one of the free, daily 2:00 p.m. ranger-led walking tours of Pioneer Square. Tours end at the Smith Tower and participants receive discounted Tower admission. Built in 1914, it was one of the world’s first skyscrapers. Ride the original brass and copper elevators—the last West Coast building still employing elevator operators—to visit the 35th-floor, open-air observation deck.

The Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum and Last Resort Fire Department Museum depict life in uniform from the 1800s to present. For law enforcement enthusiasts, the Police Museum (admission $3-$5) showcases weaponry, artifacts and even a historic jail cell. Opened in 2008, the Fire Museum (free admission) showcases historical vehicles—such as an 1834 hand-pumper—older than Washington State itself. In addition to learning about Seattle’s Great Fire, ask about Smokey—the fire house’s former, resident Dalmatian. Follow up with a meal at McCoy’s Firehouse—details below.

To satisfy your puppy’s palate, head to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, which offers “chocolate”-dipped dog bones ($3.95/$6.95) packaged in paw-print cellophane bags. Not true chocolate, they’re scrumptious and safe for canine consumption. For the human sweet tooth, cases are filled with truffles, locally-made Full Tilt ice cream, giant caramel apples and everything from chocolate-dipped Oreos to Twinkies. Dog-lovers will especially love Rocky Mountain’s “Bark” candy in various flavors.

It wouldn’t be a proper day in Seattle without a cup of coffee. Cherry Street Coffee House is a great spot following the Underground Tour. Located in a historic building, there is underground seating and the shop’s offices are located in an antique bank vault. For those with artistic inclinations, Zeitgeist Coffee has a European flair and is home to rotating art exhibits. Grab some reading to accompany your cup of joe at the in-house newsstand with everything from The New York Times to Financial Times. The self-proclaimed “dog-crazy” baristas welcome visiting pooches to lounge in the covered, outdoor entrance.

Pioneer Square is filled with some of Seattle’s favorite and historic lunch haunts. Salumi Artisan Cured Meats is world-renowned for its artisan-cured meats—you’ll salivate over their salamis! They serve monster sandwiches and house-made soups and pastas to the lunchtime crowd. Lines snake around the block, but canine companions often ease the wait (and sometimes sneak free meat samples!). A bonus, if Salumi’s indoor seating is filled (almost inevitable!), head to the Waterfall Garden Park. This hidden gem has plenty of outdoor seating—covered and not—surrounded by azaleas, rhododendrons and geraniums. The 22-foot gushing waterfall makes it an oasis for city folk and canines alike.

McCoy’s Firehouse and The Central Saloon are both famous for furry faces. Per city rules, restaurants cannot admit pets, but these eateries remain dog devotees at heart. McCoy’s is especially perfect following a Fire Museum visit. Housed in an 1898 brick building and packed with fire memorabilia, visitors feel like they’re ready to gear up themselves. The Central Saloon, opened in 1892, has served everyone from Gold Rush miners to Boeing engineers. In addition to food and drinks, it hosts live music. Many legendary Seattle bands—including Nirvana and Pearl Jam—have rocked the Central.

Pioneer Pet Feed Supply is destined to become Pioneer Square’s doggie hotspot. Another underground gem, owner David Bovard opened the shop in June 2012 partially to honor his dog Irko—a tattoo on Bovard’s bicep memorializes the precious pup. The shop exudes old-world charm thanks to original, rounded doorways, stained-glass lamps and antique, pet-themed postcards decorating the counter. The store stocks a variety of local, Northwest products, such as Mukilteo’s Himalayan Dog Chews, and is dedicated to healthy, affordable options. “We want to do business with companies that have the animals’ best interests in mind,” says Bovard. Dogs will especially go wild for the “Singles Snack Bar”—old-fashioned, apothecary-type glass jars filled with tasty treats such as sweet potato slices, freeze-dried cheddar cheese bits and hemp banana treats.

For a novel experience, drop by the Globe Bookstore. An antique edition of Rin Tin Tin graces the display window hinting at the store’s doggie devotion. Owner John Siscoe invites bibliophiles and their dogs to explore the stacks of books blanketing every wall, nook and cranny. Like a treasure hunt, patrons will find an unexpected gem with each visit. Globe is a community hub with daily visitors such as Pioneer Square-based artist Sam Day and his gorgeous and gregarious dog, Ruby.

To commemorate a day exploring Pioneer Square—either pictorially or permanently—consider a trip to Klondike Penny’s Old Time Portrait Studio or Shotgun Ceremonies. At Klondike Penny’s, take a photo dressed in clothes from yesteryear—a society lady, brothel madame or pistol-packin’ outlaw. Dogs are welcome with or without costumes. If your Pioneer Square outing inspires you to create a more enduring, to-have-and-hold-forever bond, you can get married at Shotgun Ceremonies. Decor is a mix of candy-colored angel wings and pink shotguns, but the best part is your best man can also be man’s best friend—dogs are welcome to attend.

More Information
Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour
608 First Avenue

Klondike Gold Rush Visitor Center
319 Second Avenue

Smith Tower
506 Second Avenue South

Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum
317 Third Avenue South

Last Resort Fire Department Museum
301 Second Avenue South

Cherry Street Coffee House
103 Cherry Street

Zeitgeist Coffee
171 South Jackson Street

Salumi Artisan Cured Meats
309 Third Avenue South

Waterfall Garden Park
Northwest corner of Second Avenue South and South Main Street

McCoy’s Firehouse Bar & Grill
173 South Washington Street

The Central Saloon
207 First Avenue South

Pioneer Pet Feed & Supply
87 1/2 South Washington Street

Globe Bookstore
218 First Avenue South

Sam Day Studio & Gallery
79 South Main Street

Klondike Penny’s Old Time Portrait Studio
112 South Washington Street

Shotgun Ceremonies
206 First Avenue South

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
99 Yesler Way; 206.405.2872
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Events Near Pioneer Square


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