8.0 out of 10

Ballard

Ranked 15th best neighborhood in Seattle
47.6651053413855 -122.374241993903
Great for
  • Medical Facilities
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Internet Access
  • Public Transport
  • Safe & Sound
Not great for
  • Parking
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Trendy & Stylish

Reviews

5/5
Mar 19, 2016

"Music at The Tractor Tavern!"

Ok I had to write a review for Ballard just so I could mention on of my favorite live music venues: the Tractor Tavern. They always have a good monthly lineup, with quality musicians from a ton of different genres. I’ve seen awesome punk, country, hip hop, and even reggae here. The vibe of the place is always good—just feels like a bunch of friends having a good time listening to some good tunes! Sometimes there’s dancing depending on the band and the crowd.

Conor Byrne (an Irish pub) is another one that’s decent, but nothing in this neighborhood beats the Tractor. The area for the crowd is super small at this place, so you get UP close and personal with the musicians. This is usually good, except for the one time the band just sucked and I ended up leaving. The drinks are fine. They do a mean Irish coffee with fresh whipped cream if you need some caffeine!

Sunset Tavern: Another small and cozy venue. It’s probably my third choice, but still a solid option depending on who’s playing. The only other thing I’ll say about this place is that they’re musicians are super white…. Like I’ve never seen a person of color performing there, or even on their calendar. But I guess that fits with Ballard, the whitest neighborhood in the city! :D
Pros
  • Music venues
  • Good nightlife
Cons
  • Hard to find parking
  • Lack of ethnic diversity
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
Feb 04, 2016

"A Great Place to Go Out"

Ballard is an awesome neighborhood on the northwest end of Seattle. It’s a really great spot for 20 to 30 somethings to hang out, eat, and drink.

I think there are probably more than 10 breweries in this neighborhood alone! So obviously drinking is a great pastime in Ballard. I feel that Ballard is mellower than Capitol Hill (think less hipsters and more professionals). A friend once said that Ballard is where you hang out once you get a real job.

The main drags are Market Street and Ballard Avenue. They intersect and both have lots of bars, restaurants, and coffee shops; it’s very walkable.

Ballard is also home to Golden Gardens, an amazing park with an actual sand beach and fire pits.

I have a couple friends that live in Ballard and they seem to really like it. The only downside is the distance from downtown. The Ballard Bridge can be a pain if you drive and there is really only a couple bus routes that head downtown, the D-Line and the 15. I know from experience the D-Line is packed in the mornings, so be prepared for that. Also be prepared for a serious lack of parking!

I don’t think Ballard is much cheaper than where I live in South Lake Union. The biggest pros is its walkability – everything you need is so close.
Pros
  • Great bars
  • Unique dining choices
Cons
  • Parking
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
Jan 24, 2016

"Beer Heaven"

Ballard is good if you like beer. They have a ton of brewpubs around the neighborhood that do microbrews. But I wish they were all closer together so you could walk to them easier.

Some of the best places are:

--Ballard Beer Company: This one’s right on the strip, and good chill place to go with friends.
--Stoup Brewing: Best in the summer, because they have garage door walls that open up. I’d get the Citra IPA if they still have it. There are kids allowed here too though so not everyone’s scene.
--Hilliard’s—this is a large brewery where you can bring your own growler and they’ll fill it up. Since it’s a huge warehouse, it’s not that fun as a bar, because it makes it feel empty, but it’s good as a concert venue. They do shows pretty often.
--Populuxe Brewing: They have a nice patio but literally only do beer. So you have to bring your own food, or they let you order takeout and bring it in, or they have a food truck. My favorite is their namesake the Populuxe IPA. It’s always on the menu.
--Jolly Roger: this is the kind of place where you take your family when they’re visiting. It’s a little cheesy, but family friendly. I don’t really like to go there otherwise though.

If you REALLY like beer, you can do the Cycle Saloon. We did this for my friend’s birthday. It was pretty fun, but depends on the people in your group. Basically it’s a giant bicycle bar that you all peddle together around Ballard and stop at the bars to drink.
Pros
  • Lots of craft beer
Cons
  • Breweries are spread out
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
Jan 22, 2016

"Nice location for an evening with friends"

A few friends of mine live in Ballard, and it’s one of our favorite places to go out for a meal and drinks. The Walrus and the Carpenter is a top choice. It’s a classy oyster bar with a great vibe to it. Since it’s not on the main streets, it also tends to be a locals secret. The Noble Fir is also noteworthy, particularly the seats near the fireplace on a winter's evening.

One place I would not recommend is the Sexton. Though the building itself looks like a pleasant location for a meal, the service is terrible. The waiter accidentally overcharged me when he ran my card. When I called to inquire, the manager, instead of refunding me, charged me again! Absolutely inept service. In the end, I had to have my bank withdraw the payments because the manager was unresponsive after he charged me again. Unacceptable.

But if you like games, you cannot miss Café Mox. It is attached to a games store, and you can play any of the hundreds of games they have for free, while you enjoy a meal and some beers.

The only deterrent from Ballard can be the parking. In a pinch, I can usually find something in the gravel lots on Shilshole Avenue, but I usually look elsewhere first.
Pros
  • Unique dining choices
Cons
  • Limited Parking
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Jan 22, 2016

"Full of family activities"

Ballard is great neighborhood for families. There are many childcare facilities and good schools. The neighborhood is also very safe and friendly.

I like to take my family to Golden Gardens Park in the summer for a picnic, but it does get too crowded on weekends. We’ve also gone to the Ballard locks to watch the boats go in and out, and see the salmon swim by. And every holiday season, we bundle up and go to watch the Christmas ships with a thermos of hot cocoa.

Lastly, I’d recommend the Ballard pool if you have children, during family hours on Sunday. There are lots of kids, and my daughter loves making new friends here.
Pros
  • Family activities
Cons
  • High traffic volumes on arterial streets
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Jan 07, 2016

"A historic gem."

Ballard is a popular neighborhood just north of downtown Seattle with deep historic maritime roots. It used to be its own city and its waterfront supported fishers, boat builders, and millworks—many of Scandinavian decent. It has since grown to one of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods. It still has a working waterfront, but most blue-collar workers have been priced out of the area and live elsewhere.

Despite the recent growth, Ballard has preserved its historic feel. Ballard Avenue is a historic district lined with two and three story Italianate brick stores, saloons, hotels and banks. There are also a lot of new condominiums. The central area is surrounded by a neighborhood of cute houses, parks, and apartment buildings.

Housing

I lived in Ballard for years and it is still one of my favorite neighborhoods but it is getting quite expensive. There are a ton of single-family homes, but the prices are well out of my reach. As of 2015, the median home price is $471,000. A two-bedroom apartment rents for more than $2000 per month and they are typically less than 1000 square feet. Prices fall quite a bit if you move north of Ballard. You’ll save $400 a month on rent in Greenwood or Crown Hill and still be within a mile or two of central Ballard.

Restaurants and Shopping

Ballard has an eclectic mix of shops, bars, and restaurants as well as a bustling nightlife. You can get everything from American to Oaxacan food. Some of my favorites include La Isla, which serves up tasty Puerto Rican food, and the Hi-Life, which features Pacific Northwest and American favorites.

Parks

There are tons of good parks in Ballard where you can go for a stroll or take the kids to play. Golden Gardens has a big sandy beach (rare in Washington State where most beaches are rocky) and never gets crowded. Joggers, bikers, and walkers stroll down the Burke-Gilman trail, which runs through Ballard and connects to neighborhoods near and far. There are also a ton of small parks scattered throughout the neighborhood that include playing fields, playgrounds, skateboard bowls, and kid-friendly water features.

Driving and Parking

Commuting from Ballard to downtown Seattle is an easy commute. Traffic can be bad during rush hour so most folks bus or bike downtown. It is very pedestrian friendly and parking is tight. When I lived in the area, I found I could get to Ballard Avenue faster by hopping on the bus or walking than I could by driving and parking. Getting from Ballard to I-5 isn’t very convenient and I-5 is chronically congested, so it’s not a great place to live if you need to commute along I-5.
Pros
  • Unique dining choices
  • Interesting historic sites
Cons
  • High traffic volumes on arterial streets
  • Lack of ethnic diversity
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
2yrs+

"Scandinavians, craft beer, and cozy homes."

If you imagined Seattle to be full of white people wearing flannel and stylishly-overlarge glasses while enjoying a craft beer and a side of locally-grown kale salad, this is where you’ll find them.

Ballard, the heart of which is near the Shilshole Bay, about two miles north of downtown Seattle, was traditionally a salmon fishing ground for the Shilshole, a local Native American people. When Europeans arrived, a Nordic seafairing community settled in Ballard, attracted by the fishing. The Scandinavians also invested in industrialism, especially the railroad and mills, and eventually the Hiram M Chittenden Locks were built, in order to control the water flow from Lake Union. As Seattle grew, Ballard slowly became more residential and less industrial.

I mention all this because that history is still very evident in Ballard today, with a very euro-centric community. It’s bordered to the West and South by water. To the East are Fremont, Greenlake, and Phinney Ridge, with Hwy Aurora/99 running north to south, and to the North is Crown Hill.

Today, Ballard is a cozy neighborhood where many would love to buy a home and settle down, if the prices weren’t so high.

Housing:
You could call Ballard affordable for those with a well-paying job, but for many, they’ll have to look elsewhere. This is partly because it’s still full of single-family homes, and has a strong neighborhood vibe to it. The exceptions are along Market St, the main downtown area, and along 15th Ave. These arterials have new apartment buildings, but they’re still pricey.

Food:
Along Market Street, and also Leary and Ballard Ave, you’ll find a cluster of restaurants and bars. They’re all in the moderate to high price range, catering to the well-off locals. A few notable ones are the Tractor Tavern, which is known for live music, Portage Bay Café, with a killer brunch, and the Kangaroo and Kiwi, that used to be a big old library and is now an Australian-style sports bar.

Aside from two grocery stores, there’s also a farmer’s market that runs year-round, which is full of fresh produce, pastries, kombucha, the usual. It’s a great place for hipster-spotting.

Beer:
Craft beer is a growing trend in Seattle, and if you’re into that kind of thing, head to Ballard. Ballard Beer Company, Hilliard’s, Stoup Brewing, and Populuxe are just a few. You could probably try a new beer every day and not run out of options for months.

Activities:
Remember how Ballard has a Nordic heritage? Well, two of the biggest events are the Ballard Seafood Festival in the summer (YUM!), and Yulefest in the winter, which is at the Nordic Heritage Museum. It’s also fun to visit the Ballard Locks, and if it’s the right time of year, you can walk down into a little viewing room and look right into the water to see the salmon. They have been a bit scarce lately though, because of too-hot summers, and the resident seals, who love salmon even more than the Scandinavians.

Medical Center:
One of the perks of Ballard is the huge Swedish Medical Center. There’s an ER, general practitioners, and quite a few specialists. There’s also a ‘learning center’ where new doctors do their residency, which means it’s more affordable.

Parks:
Like most neighborhoods north of downtown, Ballard is full of parks. The best one by a country mile is Golden Gardens. I consider it one of Seattle’s secrets, because it’s just far enough from downtown that you won’t find too many tourists, and it has a big sandy beach right in the city! In the summer it gets crowded, but it’s still worth it. You can swim in the salt-water or play volleyball, and if you get there early enough, you can snag one of the fire pits and have an evening campfire. It’s also the terminus of the paved Burke-Gilman trail, which you can bike or walk all the way to Redmond if you’re so inclined.

Transportation:
Like a lot of Seattle, north-south travel is decent in Ballard (there’s an express line to downtown Seattle), but east-west is difficult. Street parking in downtown Ballard can be tricky, but it’s not so bad once you get farther out in the neighborhood.
Pros
  • Golden Gardens Park
  • Unique dining choices
  • Great medical facilities
Cons
  • Lack of ethnic diversity
  • High traffic volumes on arterial streets
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 5/5
2yrs+

"The Fisherman's Refuge"

In the old section of Ballard, there are wonderful brick roads that harken back to a time when development was a bit more human, a bit less slick. In fact, the rest of Ballard and the surrounding areas still have these brick streets underneath the pavement, only to show themselves when the rain and tires prove too much for the thin black coating. While Ballard has undergone extensive renewal efforts in recent years and decades, some brick still shows through in the buildings, the parks, and perhaps most importantly the people.

Formed by Scandinavian boatbuilders and fishermen, Ballard has always been all about the water. From the annual Seafood Fest to the parades and festivities celebrating Norway's Constitution Day, everything in Ballard points back to the Puget Sound. The Ballard Locks are an impressive feat of engineering surrounded by grassy hills allowing you to watch the boats come and go from the lower, salty Sound into the higher fresh water of the canals and Lake Union. If you walk across the locks you can watch the Chinook, Coho, and Sockeye determinedly swim their way up the salmon ladder in the fall. Of course there is plenty of fish to eat as well, including at the Lock Spot, a bar and eatery which has appeared on TV hosting the cast and crew from the Deadlist Catch.

To get the real feel of Ballard though, I take friends to the Smoke Shop. Half bar, half diner, this relic of old Ballard refuses to alter a single thing despite radically changing demographics and tastes. You can still hear stories and adventures from the wizened regulars who sit at the horseshoe shaped bar, and if you're still relaxing when the kitchen next door closes, you can often end up with a free bowl of chili or clam chowder. The diner itself (the "Ember Room") is a veritable time capsule serving only the classics, and is patronized by long term residents and young families alike. I should note that while it's called the Smoke Shop, there is no smoking. Yet this gem of days gone by still has a character and mood that cannot be denied.

Down the street from the Smoke Shop there are dozens of excellent bars and restaurants, providing all manner of entertainment from cutting-edge live music to ultra-authentic Oaxacan cuisine cooked by grandmothers. Perhaps the beauty of Ballard is its ability to absorb its new arrivals and accept them. Despite there being an extremely eclectic mix of businesses and patrons from every corner of society, the neighborhood still feels like, well, a neighborhood. You can drink a $3 cocktail with a fisherman just back from Alaska, and walk next door and get innovative, expertly crafted high cuisine, and somehow everyone gets along swimmingly.

While Ballard is experiencing a great deal of change from the influx of young families and professionals, it's managing to accommodate everyone better than perhaps anywhere else in the city. Like most Seattle neighborhoods, Ballard is quite self contained and you could theoretically never leave the area, but its proximity to Fremont, Queen Anne, and Magnolia (all quite pleasant neighborhoods in their own right) makes it one of my favorite places to live in the city. You can see on any real estate site that Ballard has good schools, access to shopping and transport, parks, movie theaters and so on. And so do a lot of great Seattle neighborhoods. But what makes Ballard important to me is not the amenities, it's the all-encompassing mood of the place. Optimistic yet nostalgic, foggy and full of sea salt but bright and alive, dock workers and graphic designers sharing stories and a beer. But don't take my word for it, it's something experiential that you'll have to wander across on your own time, at your own pace.
Pros
  • Great Casual Nightlife
  • Intact Scandinavian Culture
  • Neighborhood Feel
  • Interesting historic sites
  • Proximity to downtown
  • Unique dining choices
Cons
  • Lots of Construction
  • High traffic volumes on arterial streets
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
2yrs+

"A City Within Itself"

Ballard is a city unto itself. And I’m not exaggerating and I’m not saying this in that “nod to annexation” kind of way, I’m saying that there is a humorously subversive element that really demonstrates Ballard’s sense of community. Until recently, the novelties store Archie McPhee’s was ground zero for the “Free Ballard” movement… until they moved—which was sort of disappointing.

Ok, ok, free Ballard, yeah. But seriously, Ballard is an established community that has its own library branches, five elementary schools, a high school, live music, and strip club. Despite the strip club Ballard is a mild-mannered, family friendly type of place. The living arrangements are diverse and range from ramblers to condos. Recently, around a dozen condo/retail locations were in development that, all told, contributed about two thousand or more new households to the area.

There’s definitely a lot for visitors and residents can do. Ballard’s Majestic Bay Theater has been renovated and serves as a big-deal triplex. The boutique, artsy feel of local shops is really attractive, and the waterfront offers much in the way of seaside play and sports. Visit the locks or Golden Gardens Beach, or go take sailing lessons. And if you love all of the waterfront play, you’ll definitely want to check back in the summer for Seafood Fest. Your belly will thank you.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
2yrs+

"A Place Where Scandinavia And Seattle Meet"

A flavorful array of personality, taste and attitude—this “seaport” community is located due north of Magnolia (http://bitly.com/cWwQE0) and Queen Anne (http://bitly.com/9FJ1Dg). More specifically, it occupies an area encapsulated by 24th Avenue NW on the west, NW 61st Street on the north, 8th Avenue NW on the east, and the Ship Canal (http://bitly.com/dniouN) on the south.

History

After changing hands a couple of times, amidst a lost coin toss, Ballard began its establishment in the Salmon Bay district. The real growth occurred after the Great Seattle Fire in 1889 (http://bitly.com/aYN1qN), which forced many urban dwellers to move into its confines and begin work in the mills. Along with its rich heritage, several structures are among the National Register of Historic Places (http://nps.gov/nr). Among these structures are: Ballard Avenue Historic District (http://bitly.com/dANtJi), Ballard Carnegie Library (http://bitly.com/bvhR0o), and Fire Station No. 18 (http://bitly.com/dz2Cya).

Demographics and Income

A young population, with the majority being singles in their 20s and 30s, define Ballard’s vibrance. Young marrieds also find solace here, with the majority not having children. Ethnicity is fairly uniform, with a predominance of Whites. This comes as no surprise, considering its strong Scandinavian roots. Household incomes are average, by Seattle standards. Incomes are generally higher in the northern portion of the community, where there is a larger presence of single-family homes.

Culture

It is difficult to unpack the distinctive culture of Ballard in one review. A place rich in historic pride, with several well-known landmarks to prove it. The Ballard Avenue Historic District is a fascinating street to stroll in this regard. Other eye-catching buildings can be found along and near Market Street, which is the main east-west drag for the community. A couple of these older structures house dynamic restaurants, deepening the surreal experience. The second Saturday of every month features an Art Walk (http://bitly.com/cJzFzg), hosted by several venues in and around Market Street. The Nordic Heritage Museum (http://bitly.com/9DfApz), founded in 1980, occupies the building used as an elementary school for over 70 years.

Real Estate

Spacious homes and large, sprawling yards are definitely not trademark in Ballard. With over 50% of homes being Condominiums, at less than 1400 Sq. Ft., living space is a precious commodity. Evidences of the neighborhood’s transience is found with the 65% of renters who dwell here. This population density is new, as the average construction date for homes (Mainly condos) is 1999, much newer than Seattle’s average of 1948. Home values have dropped nearly $100,000 since the Summer of 2007. Some stabilizing occurred over 2009 and halfway into 2010, with another dip in prices the latter half of that year. For further details and current values, visit Zillow (http://bitly.com/9ERfAE).

Local Business Tour (Restaurants, Pubs, Coffee Shops and other Amenities)

Restaurants are not far and few between on these streets. Several to highlight are: The Hi-Life Grill (http://bitly.com/butFS3) - Occupies an old Ballard Firehouse, serving a tasty American menu with an open and energetic atmosphere; Senor Moose Cafe (http://senormoose.com) serves incredible burritos greasy spoon style—not Azteca or Taco Bell stock, but authentic Mexican cuisine; Vera's Restaurant (http://bitly.com/9BOPSE) - Serving up traditional American dishes, grease and all, with fast service, filling food, and extreme taste—on 22nd Avenue and Market St.; and Cupcake Royale (http://cupcakeroyale.com) - A favorite treat place for my wife and I, serving Verite coffee and unique cupcakes in the same venue.

Small businesses are everywhere in Ballard. The Ballard Market (http://bitly.com/ajN266) - Located near 15th Avenue and Market Street is the flagship store, as the QFC (http://qfc.com) is to Wallingford. Blocks away lies a large branch of the Swedish Medical Center (http://bitly.com/cDAq1Q), providing great health care to this bustling environment.

Running along the southern edge is the Burke Gilman Bicycle Trail (http://bitly.com/b9XkAC), which connects areas of Lake Washington with the rest of North Seattle. Interestingly, in Southwest Ballard, the trail lacks definition and has been the source of contention due to dangerous conditions riders face with truck traffic. The trail does pick up again west of the 15th Avenue Bridge, continuing up towards Shilshole Marina (http://bitly.com/caUHxy). To reduce the chaos of this controversy, stop into the Dutch Bike Company (http://dutchbikeseattle.com) on Shilshole Ave for a quick tune up from those rough roads. Also, coming soon, will be a partnership featuring a cafe, pub and oysters (Courtesy of The Walrus and the Carpenter (http://thewalrusbar.com)).

Some cool activities for many kids and teens can be found at the Ballard Commons Park (http://bitly.com/a1pLf2) near 57th and 22nd Avenue. Featured is a full skateboard area, water fountains and wading pool. With so many amenities nearby on Market Street, parents can create a morning or afternoon adventure enjoyed on all fronts. If the kids get tired of skating and swimming, walk them to the Ballard Public Library (http://bitly.com/chEYa5) for some time to read and reflect. It becomes apparent that you forgot to send that letter or package to your parents, stop in at the Ballard Sip and Ship (http://sipandship.com) to get that accomplished. All this, while enjoying a quality cup of espresso. A generous selection of pastries, along with some Odwalla for the kiddos. If you find the day is getting on and no time stands for homemade dinner, trek over to Egan's Ballard Jam House (http://ballardjamhouse.com) for dinner and jazz.

After a great time tapping your feet to the snare and swaying to the saxophone, you realize your return home will be rocky - the car is dead. No problem, High Road Automotive (http://high-road.com) is a few blocks away with years of experience working on cars. Our friends own this place and run a top-notch operation we would recommend to anyone.

Your friends agree to take your three for the night so you and your loved one can enjoy a creative music show at The Tractor Tavern (http://tractortavern.com). This, fortunately, has been a superb end to a tumultuous evening.

After getting the car crankin' again, the kids are excited about taking the boat out to the Sound in the morning. However, you recall the engine defect and wonder how things will pan out. Not to worry, as Ballard Marine Service (http://ballardmarineservice.com) is a stone's throw away to remedy the problem. The young ones are satisfied they will still hit the water, even if it is only an afternoon adventure.

After a hot and tiring afternoon on the high seas, you are ready for a large meal that you can control. Not far from the docks is The Counter (http://thecounterburger.com), a Burgerville (http://burgerville.com) for the new generation. You'll be given a clipboard to style your own masterpiece. There are more combinations than the grains of sand still adhered to your feet from the beach.

Now full with your own devise, take a few steps southeast to Todd Martin Glass (http://toddmartinglass.com) and enjoy the glass creations for every taste. If there is money left over from the day, consider taking a unique souvenir from this establishment. However, upon walking to the car you realize that a vintage shelf would house that vase nicely. Not to fear when The RE Store (http://re-store.org) is near. Head north a few blocks and pick out some pre-owned materials to construct a one-of-a-kind product.

Accommodations

Upon purchasing the shelf materials, you receive a call from your brother. He wants to join you for another Ballard adventure and prefers to stay in the neighborhood. You have to break the news regarding limited hotel options, encouraging him to stay in nearby Queen Anne. But wait, if he’s into Bed and Breakfasts, then he can try the houseboat experience with Joyfull Adventures (http://joyfulladventures.com). A fifty-four foot pontoon houseboat, complete with a propane fireplace, awaits.

Schools and Recreation Facilities

A number of different schools and educational centers can be found in Ballard. Here are a few: Sylvan Learning Center (http://sylvanseattle.com) - Tutoring programs for children in a variety of subjects; New York Fashion Academy (http://newyorkfashionacademy.com) - One of the most up-to-date fashion design curricula anywhere; Seattle Maritime Academy (http://seattlecentral.com/maritime) - Fully accredited by the U.S. Coast Guard—the only maritime program of its kind in Washington or Alaska; Divers Institute of Technology (http://diversinstitute.edu) - Become a certified commercial diver in seven months, poised to labor in aquatics virtually anywhere; Ahimsa Dog Training (http://ahimsadogtraining.com) - Non-violent training, featuring a “clicker” or voice marker; Zoom Language Center (http://zoomlanguage.com) - Engaging activities and sensitivity to each child’s pace with Spanish language learning; and St. Alphonsus School (http://saintalsseattle.org) - Catholic education for preschool through 8th grade.

A wide variety of recreational choices exist. Here is an abbreviated list: Ballard Health Club (http://ballardhealthclub.com) - A community oriented, supportive atmosphere for exercise and relaxation since 1998; World Martial Arts & Health (http://worldmartialarts.org) - One of the best martial arts programs in the world—Founded by Grandmaster Solomon Yun; Ballard Commons Park (http://bitly.com/a1pLf2) - Mentioned earlier; and Gilman Playground (http://bitly.com/9dSNzR) - Several sports facilities, including a water feature for kids.

Shopping and other Amenities

The places to spend money in Ballard are just as creative and outlandish as its culture. A few to note are: Market Street Shoes (http://marketstreetshoes.com) - A full-service shoe store for men, women and children; Blackbird (http://blackbirdballard.com) - Creative apparel for men; Clover Toys (http://clovertoys.com) - Unique toys, furnishings and clothing for children; Homestead Book Company (http://homesteadbook.com) - The oldest counter-culture book distributor in the world; Majestic Bay Theatres (http://majesticbay.com) - A triplex movie theatre that features older style architecture, with modern innovations; Ballard Street Metal (http://ballardstreetmetal.com) - A leader in the construction industry, featuring numerous types of architectural work; Studio 3 Signs (http://studio3signs.com) - A sign company offering indoor signage, outdoor displays, and a wide range of other options; and Zerene Salon (http://zerene.com) - Featuring hair grooming, colour care, and bridal services.

Medical Facilities

Unequivocally, the best place to receive medical attention in Ballard is Swedish (http://swedish.org/Locations/Ballard-Campus). This is one of the five major Swedish campuses around Seattle, providing a myriad of services—even a state-of-the-art childbirth facility with single-room maternity care. Other medical amenities, to name a few, around Ballard are: Full Bloom Acupuncture (http://fullbloomacupuncture.com) - Maureen M. Conant MTCM, L.Ac. offers gentle acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine services; Ballard Hearing & Speech Center (http://ballardhearing.net) - A variety of healthcare services, including hearing assessments and rehabilitiation, education and counseling; Eye Associates Northwest, P.C. (http://eanw.net) - Deliver exceptional medical and surgical care through advanced technology, continuing education and access to multiple sub-specialists; The Sports Medicine Clinic (http://thesportsmedicineclinic.com) - A team of eleven medical staff and six therapists provide care for secondary schools, collegiate and professional athletes, local industries and for those in all walks of life; Ballard Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (http://seattleoralsurgeon.com) - Dr. John K. Tidwell, DDS provides multiple oral-related procedures in a friendly and safe environment; and Ballard Family Dentistry (http://ballarddentistry.com) - Featuring the expertise of Dr. Jonathan Su, a Seattle native and graduate of The University of Washington School of Dentistry (http://dental.washington.edu).

Spiritual Centers and Churches

An institution, probably one of the largest in Seattle, that focuses on spiritual health, having also grown immensely in the last decade, is Mars Hill Church (http://marshillchurch.org). Here, you can find Mark Driscoll speaking to an audience of several thousand, with satellite churches all over the city. Other centers for spiritual growth are, to name a couple: Interfaith Community Church (http://interfaithcommunitychurch.org) - A collective group of faith-oriented people, representing a variety of disciplines; and Ballard Seventh-day Adventist Church (http://bitly.com/94SCT0) - A place to understand God’s character, and thus, ultimately, to experience His love.

Access

The location of Ballard proves challenging, especially for east-west commutes, with a lot of stop-and-go through either Wallingford (http://bitly.com/cO972f) or Fremont (http://bitly.com/abPBcR). No direct route exists to the Interstate, and the streets that do eventually reach this main transportation artery are usually backed-up during the work commute hours. The arterial streets, however, do a good job with access either north towards Crown Hill or south into Queen Anne (http://bitly.com/c3diBe), and ultimately downtown.

Summary

A plethora of tastes and experiences, well-rooted in a strong Scandinavian heritage—Ballard continues to be a main driving force of Seattle culture. Any trip to Seattle for tourists or outing for locals should not overlook this neighborhood wonder. The additional driving time to reach the main drag, Market Street, will be well worth the wait.
Pros
  • Interesting historic sites
  • Newer construction
  • Great medical facilities
  • Unique dining choices
  • Proximity to downtown
Cons
  • Many rental properties
  • Limited accommodations
  • High traffic volumes on arterial streets
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5
2yrs+

"Great nightlife!"

Ballard is one of the most distinctive neighborhoods in Seattle. Also one of the oldest areas of the city, Ballard was historically a working-class neighborhood settled by Scandinavians employed in the fishing, canning, and lumber industries. In recent decades they have been replaced by young Seattleites drawn by the active nightlife and newly built condos. Still, Ballard retains much of its earlier Scandinavian charm.

This historic district has become a center of ethnic cafes, lively bars, and unique local merchants. While in Ballard, be sure to check out the year-round Ballard Sunday Farmers Market on Ballard Avenue. Ballard High School is the oldest high school in the city. There are several elementary schools in the neighborhood, as well as the Ballard Public Library, making this area of the city popular for those with children. Today, Ballard's population is young and diverse, and the area is becoming increasingly trendy.

One of Seattle's hottest neighborhoods for shopping, dining, and drinking, the boundaries of this hip and exciting neighborhood are Crown Hill and NW 8th Street to the north, the Greenwood, Fremont, and Phinney Ridge neighborhoods along the east, the Lake Washington Ship Canal to the south, and Shilshole Bay and Puget Sound to the west. Most of the shopping and dining opportunities are found along Ballard Ave and Market Street.

Ballard's historic business district is popular among locals and tourists alike. Tourists will find that there are few hotels within the Ballard neighborhood, although the area is easily reached from downtown Seattle and other areas of the city. Popular attractions in Ballard include the Fishermen's Terminal, Golden Gardens Park, and the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, known to locals as the Ballard Locks. Many visitors find that Ballard reminds them of visiting the San Francisco waterfront.
Recommended for
  • Singles
3/5
2yrs+

"The oldest neighborhood in Seattle, rich in history"

Ballard is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the Seattle area. It was settled by Danish and Finish immigrants in the early 1800s and today its Scandinavian roots are reflected in its rich historic landmarks and winding streets.

There are trendy cafes, neighborhood pubs, and unique shops which have made Ballard a favorite destination for locals and visitors alike. Stores range from home design shops that focus on “green living” to the latest in chic apparel. Visitors can find a wide range of ethnic restaurants in Ballard, from popular Thai cuisine to upscale dining.

Ballard’s pubs, like its restaurants, are often known as much for their unusual settings as for their excellent fare. Converted hardware stores, historic buildings and Ballard’s famous library have become settings for unique meeting places, adding to the attractive atmosphere that makes up one of Seattle’s most popular neighborhoods.

The neighborhood overlooks Salmon Bay and is known for its panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains, sandy beaches, and winding forest trails that are great for hiking. Golden Garden Park is found in Ballard and includes an off-leash dog park, fishing pier, and boat launch.

Owning a home in Ballard provides you with quick access to 15th Avenue West, which takes you straight into Queen Anne, Belltown, and Downtown. There is also efficient and quick access to Highway 99.

There have been many new condos built in Ballard recently. Some of the Ballard condos are within blocks of Market Street which will give many new residents quick access to many fun things.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees

Travelling to Ballard?

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Best Streets in Ballard

"Like stepping back in time, Ballard Avenue provides New England charm in Seattle."
47.6654715141883 -122.382098542353
"Quiet street close to shopping and dining options"
47.6666327712852 -122.380707029349

Unranked Streets in Ballard

"A quick alternative to Market St."
47.6665126390817 -122.37350060983
"Noisy, busy street - main access to Ballard neighborhood"
47.664818698202 -122.376221018056
"Street that runs right along the Swedish Medical Center in Ballard"
47.6668945937315 -122.378886265111
"Useful stores, but watch out for the scene in front of Golden City"
47.6691453623375 -122.382128190309
"Intersects a major medical center and well known park and playground"
47.6647775086175 -122.368610065568
"Good community living"
47.6686667409357 -122.377397528991
"Runs right through a major medical center"
47.6670232044 -122.379785583617

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