A unique neighborhood with strong Scandinavian ties and maritime history, Ballard is now one of the city’s hot spots for eating, drinking and live music. In addition to its bounty of craft breweries, independent restaurants and cool boutiques, the area is also home to a historic waterfront and one of the best beaches. Situated on Puget Sound, with impressive views of the Olympic Mountains, Golden Gardens Park attracts visitors from all over the city, especially during sunset hours. Located in the northwestern part of the city, Ballard is accessible by bus, including the RapidRide line, making it easier to get to and from downtown.
You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to eating in Ballard, but the sweetest treat can be found at Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery. Order a molten chocolate cake, made with Seattle’s Theo chocolate, and a grilled chocolate sandwich with salted caramel dipping sauce. Chocoholics, proceed with reckless abandon.
There are so many breweries in the ‘hood, you shouldn’t just choose one—but Stoup is definitely a good place to start. Tucked in-between homes a few blocks north of Leary Way, this busy taproom and beer garden has something for everyone. With 20 taps and rotating food trucks, you’ll only just scratch the surface of the Ballard brewery scene.
Once a Scandinavian seafaring community, Ballard is home to a rich maritime history. Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (or the Ballard Locks, as referred to by locals), at the west end of Salmon Bay, carries more boat traffic than any other lock in the U.S. and is a major tourist attraction in Seattle. It is especially popular during the late summer, when you can catch sight of salmon swimming up the fish ladder on their way to fresh water.
Hotel Ballard offers upscale elegance in the heart of the neighborhood, but if you’re looking for a bit more space and a more authentic Seattle stay, your best bet is booking a home a few blocks off Market Street through AirBnB or VRBO.
If you do one thing…
Visit the Ballard Farmers Market on Sundays. Open year-round, the bustling market is packed with vendors selling everything from Washington produce and leather goods to seafood and kombucha. Along the tree-lined street, pause to enjoy local musicians busking and poets writing on vintage typewriters (yes, really!).