Ballard is a neighborhood in northwest Seattle. While mostly residential, the locks are a major tourist attraction. Nearby smaller neighborhoods sometimes falling under Ballard's umbrella include Phinney Ridge and Greenwood, extending to the northeast, and Crown Hill directly north. A small commercial district extends along Greenwood and Phinney Avenues.
Further to the east, the Greenlake neighborhood surrounds, reasonably enough, Green Lake (both spellings are common). The lake and its surrounding park are one of Seattle's best places to jog, rollerblade, swim, and rowboat.
Known locally as "Snoose Junction," Ballard has traditionally been the home of Seattle's Scandinavian immigrants, and as a result there's hardly a Seattleite who hasn't heard of lutefisk (preserved whitefish) or lefse (a flatbread made with potatoes). Historically a working-class area supported by several sawmills and a fishery, Ballard now has an increasingly young and diverse population. Due to its close proximity to downtown Seattle, Ballard's property values have soared, causing many long-time residents to move elsewhere. Though becoming increasingly trendy, Ballard still manages to preserve its blue-collar image as well as its Scandinavian atmosphere to a great extent.
Phinney Ridge and Greenwood are residential satellites of Ballard, with a single shared commercial strip running along Phinney and Greenwood Avenues (forming a single street with a jog in the road at 67th St.)
From downtown Seattle, the simplest way into Ballard is to drive north on 1st Ave, veer left at the foot of Queen Anne Hill (where 1st Ave, 1st Ave N and Denny Way meet), then follow the arterial northward until you cross the Ballard bridge. Turn left on NW Market St.
For the Phinney-Greenwood corridor, take Aurora Ave. across the bridge, then exit at Green Lake Way; take a left on 46th St., then a right in four blocks onto Greenwood Ave.
Catch the northbound route 40 or D Line on 3rd Ave. Metro buses feature GPS-based destination signs and audio announcements that call out the upcoming stop.
D Line (map | sched) continues along 15th Ave NW. Exit the bus at 15th Ave NW and NW Market St (stations are clearly marked), then walk a few blocks westbound on NW Market St.
Route 40 (map | sched) goes west on Leary Way NW, meets NW Market St at Ballard Ave NW then turns right and continues on 24th Ave NW. Exit at Market and Ballard Ave. This route takes you to the heart of Ballard's shopping, dining and entertainment district.
Routes 17X and 18X are express routes that, like the 40, connect 3rd Ave downtown with Market and Ballard. While faster, express routes offer limited stops and operate on commute timetables.
Route 44 (map | sched) goes from the University District (where it connects to, or turns into, the 43 to Capitol Hill and Downtown) to Ballard via N. 45th St and continues down Market.
Route 5 (map | sched) runs from 3rd Ave. downtown up to Phinney Ridge and Greenwood.
See this link for additional bus routes serving Ballard.
Hiram M Chittenden Locks, 3015 NW 54th St (At junction with 32nd Ave, served by bus route 44), ☎ +1 206-783-7059, . 7AM-9PM. Linking the freshwater and the salt-water , the locks allow boats to cross the Lake Washington Ship Canal, relying solely on the force of gravity. A salmon ladder with a viewing gallery allows visitors to witness the salmon migration, which with different species allow for viewing throughout most of the year. Adjacent is the Carl S English, Jr Botanical Garden.Free. edit The Locks create access between Puget Sound (which is saltwater) and the fresh water Lake Union across a height difference of 22 feet. From Lake Union, via the Montlake Cut, boats can connect with Lake Washington, which is also fresh water.
Nordic Heritage Museum, 3014 NW 67th Street, ☎ (206) 789-5707, . Tu-Sa 10AM-4PM. Su noon-4PM. Documents the history of Scandinavian immigration to Seattle; the only museum of its kind in the U.S.$6 adults, $5 seniors and college students, $4 children above 5 yrs, under 5 free. edit
Fisherman's Terminal, (South across the Ballard Bridge), . Carefully wander the docks (avoiding stepping on ropes or nets) and look at the boats. Many of them sell fresh crab or fish right off of the boat in season. Visit the Fisherman's Memorial dedicated to all of those who have lost their lives at sea while engaged in commercial fishing.edit
The Ballard Sunday Farmers Market is one of the only year-round outdoor markets in Seattle, and takes place on historic Ballard Avenue on Sundays. Buy seasonal produce and local crafts, this is the sister to the Fremont Sunday Market in nearby Fremont.
Golden Gardens Park is a wonderful salt-water beach park in Ballard, past the locks and Shilshole Marina. Water around here is too cold to swim except for crazy and determined kids during the hottest months, but you can wade a little, walk the beach, make sand castles, claim a fire pit, watch wind surfers and ships go by. If it's clear there is a magnificent view of the Olympics on the other side of Puget Sound. Kids of all ages have endless muddy fun trying to dam up or re-route the fresh water stream flowing across one end of the beach.
Greenlake Park, , A significant feature of the neighborhood. Includes a loop walk around Greenlake frequented by cyclists, runners, rollerbladers, and walkers. The lake is swimmer friendly. Algae growth and closures were sometimes a problem before 2004 when the City of Seattle performed a comprehensive cleanup. It is now one of the cleanest public swimming areas in the Seattle area.
Dance with Mollie (U-Studios), 4332 University Ave NE ((rear entrance, in alley, next to University Bookstore)), ☎ 206-708-6780, . Offering traditional Bhangra and Bollywood dance classes on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.$18. edit
Seattle Metaphysical Library, 2220 NW Market Street, Lower Level (near the intersection of Ballard Ave NW and NW Market Street), ☎ 206-329-1794, . afternoons. A member-supported non-profit library open to the pubic, the Seattle Metaphysical Library has been in Seattle for over 50 years. It specializes in books you can't find at the pubic library - books on astrology, UFOs, secret societies, shamanism, chakra meditation, astral projections, Tarot cards, anthroposophy, alternative energy, 2012, and many other esoteric topics. There is also an extensive collection of DVDs, VHS and audio tapes, and magazines on similar topics. Check the website for open hours. You can also sign up for their newsletter to learn about events and classes.Free. edit
The Ballard Jazz Festival, . Mid-Nov. Several music venues participate, and all may be accessed by buying a single ticket.$15. edit
The Ballard Seafood Festival, . Late Jul. A parade, a salmon barbecue, local musicians and a lutefisk-eating contest. Most businesses along NW Market St participate by holding sidewalk sales as well.edit
Greenwood Classic Car Show. Jun. Draws more people than you would expect.edit
Greenwood/Phinney Art Walk. Showcases hundreds of local artists.edit
Art Up Greenwood-Phinney. Second Friday of each month. A monthly art walk.edit
Connor Byrne's Pub, 5140 Ballard Ave NW, . +1 206 784-3640. A major live music venue.edit
Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave NW, ☎ +1 206 789-3599, . A major live music venue.edit
Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave, ☎ +1 206 784-4880, . Another more recent music venue/night spot.edit
Egan's Ballard Jam House, 1707 NW Market St, ☎ +1 206 789-1621, . A small intimate music supper club with mostly jazz (vocal and instrumental) and other styles of live music offered. Open mic (vocal jam) every other Wednesday evening.edit
Ballard Goodwill Store, 6400 8th Avenue NW, . As long as you're here you might as well see if you can find a bargain or a treasure.edit
Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co., 8414 Greenwood Ave., ☎ +1 206 725-2625, . M-Tu 3-6PM, W-F noon-6, Sa 10-6; may close early. The elaborate facade actually conceals a creative writing center for children and teenagers. The amusingly kitschy or geeky sci-fi themed goods sold by the storefront help support their operations. Rocket parking on roof.edit
Bad Albert's Tap & Grill, 5100 Ballard Ave NW, +1 206 782-9623. Cheap yet good quality pub grub: burgers, excellent fries, hot sandwiches, soups and salads.
"'Indian Bistro"' 2301 NW Market Street - (206) 783-5080. Reasonably priced and delicious. Friendly owner and a definite go-to for any indian food lover.
La Carta de Oaxaca, 5431 Ballard Ave NW, +1 206 782-8722. Cheap and good Oaxaca-style Mexican food.
The Dish, 4358 Leary Way NW, +1 206 782-9985. New American cuisine. Home of the Slacker Special: scrambled eggs or tofu, cheese, tortilla chips, enchilada sauce and sour cream served with potatoes and toast. Although you might see a line outside, it never takes long to be seated and it's worth the wait.
Golden City, 5518 20th Avenue Northwest,(206) 782-6809. Best Chinese food. Ever.
Great Harvest Bread Company, 2218 NW Market St, +1 206 706-3434. Pop in, have a sandwich and soup or just buy a loaf of great, fresh baked bread.
Louie's Cuisine of China, 5100 15th Ave NW, +1 206 782-8855. Pretty standard Chinese-American fare. The locals like it, and it's been there for many years.
Larsen's Danish Bakery, 8000 24th Ave NW, +1 206 782-8285, . Famous throughout Seattle, this is the best Scandinavian-style bakery in town. Drive or ride the route 18 bus. It's worth the trip.
Lockspot Cafe, 3005 NW 54th St, +1 206 789-4865. This is an old breakfast and (burgers, mostly) lunch spot that's mostly patronized by local workers and very popular with them.
Madame K's Pizza, 5327 Ballard Ave NW, +1 206 783-9710, Dinner only (M-Th until 10PM, F-Sa 11PM, Su 9PM. Located in a building that once housed a brothel (hence the name), offers gourmet pizzas and Italian cuisine in a semi-romantic, sexy atmosphere. Children not welcome. Under $20.
Matador, 2221 NW Market St, +1 206 297-2855. Somewhat pricier, more upscale Tex-Mex fare though their happy-hour bar food menu is more reasonable at $4 per plate.
Mike's Chili Parlor, 1447 NW Ballard Way, +1 206 782-2808. Located just east of the Ballard bridge, this combination dive tavern/chili parlor is a good place to grab a spicy, cheap meal. They do chili burgers and dogs too.
The People's Pub (Die Volksknelpe), 5429 Ballard Ave NW, +1 206 783-6521, . Hearty German and Hungarian pub grub fare. Daily dinner until 10PM, pub fare 1:30AM. Happy hour food specials. Under $20 with many items under $10.
"'Portage Bay Cafe"' 2821 NW MARKET 206.783.1547. A small Seattle chain named after its original location on Portage Bay. Delicious breakfast. Huge fresh fruit bar and delicious pancakes. Vegan friendly.
Ray's Boathouse and Ray's Cafe, on Shilshole Bay. Great views and, in the downstairs Boathouse restaurant some of the best seafood cooking in the city, priced accordingly. Upstairs, the Cafe is more casual, the food is good but not comparable to downstairs, and you can keep it to $20 a person.
Snoose Junction Pizza 2305 NW Market Street (206) 789-2305. Standard, good family-friendly pizza joint but also a great place to grab a beer and a pizza with your hipster friends.
Vera's, 5417 22nd Ave NW, ☎ +1 206 782-9966. M-Sa 8AM-2:30PM, Su 8AM-2PM. Cheap and well-rounded breakfast and lunch. A Ballard institution. Weekend breakfast bustles with families, hipsters, and locals.edit*
Zesto's, 6416 15th Ave NW, +1 206 783-3350, Daily 10AM-10PM. An old Seattle landmark, since the 1950s and their restaurant shows it: red naugahyde upholstered booths, an old Wurlitzer jukebox, local high school pictures and pennants on the walls, and until fairly recently they had a (working) 1957 Chevy coupe on the roof. Feature fresh fish and chips, burgers (with "beefallo" as an alternative to regular beef), fries, milkshakes and malteds in a wide variety of flavors. A good family place. You'll want to drive or take the route 15 bus as it's rather far to walk from downtown Ballard and back. Try the Triple Everything burger and curly fries, but you'll want to share it with someone. Under $15.
Red Mill Burgers, 312 N 67th St., (206)783-6362. Good old-fashioned burgers, fries, and shakes.
Greenwood Mandarin, 7307 Greenwood Ave N., 206-783-6426. Small local chinese restaurant, with decent fare. Lunch prices are often below $5, and tend to be less heavy with the salt than many other Chinese restaurants in the area.
Restaurante Michoacan 8311 15th Ave NW - Best Mexican in Crown Hill...
Yen-Wor Garden 8580 Greenwood Ave N. Good Food, Bad Kareoke.
Pho Tic-Tac Relocated to 14515 Aurora Avenue North after arson. Decent Pho at a good price.
Gordito's 213 N 85th St. Baby-size burritos, meaning they're the size of an actual baby. The sign claims they're healthy.
Olive You 8516 Greenwood Ave N. Mediterranean food for the few people in Greenwood who pretend to be sophisticated. (closed due to arson, reopening soon)
Mr. Gyros 8411 Greenwood Ave N. Try the combo plate. Absolutely delicious.
Romio's Pizza & Pasta 8523 Greenwood Ave. Great Pizza, lots of families.
Pig N' Whistle 8412 Greenwood Ave. Standard American fare. Full bar.
King Falafel Grill 8102 Greenwood Ave. Outstanding Middle Eastern food at a great price. Best gyro in town.
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