Ballard is a neighborhood in northwest Seattle. While mostly residential, the ship canal 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 Street).
From Downtown Seattle, the simplest way into Ballard is to drive north on 1st Avenue, veer left at the foot of Queen Anne Hill (where 1st Avenue N and Denny Way meet), then follow the arterial northward until you cross the Ballard bridge. Turn left on NW Market Street to get into the center of Ballard.
For the Phinney-Greenwood corridor, take Aurora Avenue north across the bridge, then exit at Green Lake Way; take a left on 46th Street, then four blocks later take a right onto Greenwood Avenue.
In Downtown, you can catch all northbound King County Metro routes to Ballard on 3rd Avenue.
- RapidRide Route D is the new primary Ballard-Downtown connector, continuing north along 15th Ave NW. Exit the distinctive red-and-yellow bus at 15th Ave NW and NW Market St, then walk a few blocks westbound on Market.
- Route 40 heads north from Downtown along Westlake Ave N before crossing the canal and turning west on Leary Way NW, meeting NW Market St at Ballard Ave NW (the heart of Ballard's shopping, dining and entertainment district) before turning right and continuing north on 24th Ave NW.
- Routes 15, 17, and 18 are all rush-hour expresses from Downtown to Ballard making no stops after Seattle Center; they're of limited use to visitors, but are handy if you happen to catch one at the right time. The 15 goes up 15th Ave NW, and the 17 and 18 both follow the 40's route into the commercial district.
- The easiest connection to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks is Route 44, which travels along Market Street in Ballard, continuing east via N 45th Street to the University District (where it connects to, or turns into, the 43 to Capitol Hill and Downtown).
- For Phinney Ridge and Greenwood, Route 5 offers the most direct connection from Downtown, running from 3rd Avenue in Downtown up via Fremont before continuing along Phinney Ave N and Greenwood Ave N. The RapidRide Route E skirts the east side of both neighborhoods along Aurora Ave N, making a useful stop at 85th St N. Route 48 cuts east-west through Greenwood along 85th St N, continuing southeast through Green Lake to the University District and the Central District.
The Ballard Locks are the only watercraft connection between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, operating free of charge to all boaters, 24 hours a day. Expect delays during sunny summer weekends, when whole flotillas of less-experienced boaters pack into the locks.
- Shilshole Bay Marina (VHF: Channel 17), 7001 Seaview Ave. N.W., Suite 100, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: +1 206 787-3391, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Seattle's largest marina, offering guest moorage for vessels up to 250'. Accessible on Puget Sound with full facilities including electrical up to 100amp, pump outs, showers, wifi, locked security, fuel, garbage and full service repairs. between $0.85-$2.00 per foot depending on length and season.
- Hiram M Chittenden Locks, 3015 NW 54th St (At junction with 32nd Ave, served by bus route 44), ☎ . 7AM-9PM. Linking the freshwater Lake Union and the salt-water Puget Sound across a height difference of 22 feet, 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, but preferably mid to late summer. Adjacent is the Carl S English, Jr Botanical Garden. Guided tours weekdays 1PM and 3PM; weekends 11AM. Free.
- Nordic Heritage Museum, 3014 NW 67th St, ☎ . Tu-Sa 10AM-4PM. Su-M 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.
- Fishermen'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 Fishermen's Memorial dedicated to all of those who have lost their lives at sea while engaged in commercial fishing.
- The Ballard Sunday Farmers Market is one of the only year-round outdoor markets in Seattle, and is the sister to the Fremont Sunday Market in nearby Fremont. The market takes place on Ballard Avenue on Sundays, and you can buy seasonal produce and local crafts.
- Golden Gardens Park. A wonderful saltwater 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, and watch wind surfers and ships go by. On clear days 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. The significant feature of the Green Lake neighborhood, this park 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, and it is now one of the cleanest public swimming areas in the Seattle area.
- Seattle Metaphysical Library, 2220 NW Market Street, Lower Level (near the intersection of Ballard Ave NW and NW Market Street), ☎ . afternoons. A member-supported non-profit library open to the public, the Seattle Metaphysical Library has been in Seattle for over 50 years. It specializes in books you can't find at the public 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.
- The Ballard Jazz Festival. Mid-Nov. Several music venues participate, and all may be accessed by buying a single ticket. $15.
- 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.
- Greenwood Classic Car Show. Jun. Draws more people than you would expect.
- Greenwood/Phinney Art Walk. Showcases hundreds of local artists.
- Art Up Greenwood-Phinney. Second Friday of each month. A monthly art walk.
- Connor Byrne's Pub, 5140 Ballard Ave NW, ☎ . A major live music venue.
- Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave NW, ☎ . A major live music venue.
- Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave NW, ☎ . Another more recent music venue/night spot.
- Egan's Ballard Jam House, 1707 NW Market St, ☎ . 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.
- Blackbird, 5410 22nd Ave NW, ☎ . A mid-priced menswear boutique.
- 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.
- Bherd Studios Gallery, 312 N 85th St, Ste 101, ☎ . 12PM to 6PM, Wednesday-Friday. Local artist John Osgood dedicates a space for his unique art gallery, a few of them are for sale.
- Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co., 8414 Greenwood Ave. NW, ☎ . 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.
- Pema Kharpo, 8554 Greenwood Ave N, ☎ . Exotic Tibetan and Nepali (and Buddhism) items coming straight from the region. Get ready for the smell of incense and a greeting from one of the two female owners as you enter.
- Sonic Boom Records, 2209 NW Market St, ☎ .
- Top Ten Toys, 120 N 85th St (tucked behind Bartell Drugs), ☎ . The most complete toy store in Seattle, with a huge selection for both kids and adults. Don't expect your typical fast food toy giveaways.
- Value Village, 8532 15th Ave NW. Great deals on foolishly discarded items (most likely from the residents of Crown Hill).
- Market Street/Ballard Ave. Wander along Market Street and then down to Ballard Avenue, and you'll find a plethora of boutiques and boutique spa/salons for every price range.
Central Ballard collects most of the area's restaurants, on or near Market Street. 15th Avenue NW and Greenwood Avenue house most of the rest.
- Bad Albert's Tap & Grill, 5100 Ballard Ave NW, ☎ . Cheap yet good quality pub grub: burgers, excellent fries, hot sandwiches, soups and salads.
- La Carta de Oaxaca, 5431 Ballard Ave NW, ☎ . Cheap and good Oaxaca-style Mexican food.
- The Dish, 4358 Leary Way NW, ☎ . 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 NW, ☎ . Excellent Chinese food.
- Great Harvest Bread Company, 2218 NW Market St, ☎ . Pop in, have a sandwich and soup or just buy a loaf of great, freshly baked bread.
- Indian Bistro, 2301 NW Market St, ☎ . Reasonably priced and delicious. Friendly owner and a definite go-to for any Indian food lover.
- Louie's Cuisine of China, 5100 15th Ave NW, ☎ . 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, ☎ . 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, ☎ . This is an old breakfast and lunch (burgers, mostly) spot that's mostly patronized by local workers and very popular with them.
- Matador, 2221 NW Market St, ☎ . 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, ☎ . 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, ☎ . 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 St, ☎ . A small Seattle chain named after its original location on Portage Bay. Delicious breakfast, huge fresh fruit bar and great pancakes. Vegan friendly.
- Ray's Boathouse and Ray's Cafe, 6049 Seaview Avenue NW. On Shilshole Bay. Great views and, in the downstairs Boathouse restaurant, some of the best seafood cooking in the city, priced accordingly. Upstairs, Ray's Cafe is more casual, the food is good but not comparable to the Boathouse downstairs, and you can keep it to $20 a person.
- Señor Moose, 5242 Leary Ave NW, ☎ . Daily 8AM-3PM, 5PM-9PM. Authentic Mexican cooking from Mexico. Try the pork canitas.
- Snoose Junction Pizza, 2305 NW Market St, ☎ . Standard, good family-friendly pizza joint but also a great place to grab a beer and a pizza with your hipster friends.
- Taquería Tequila Authentic Mexican Food, 301 NW 85th St, Seattle, WA 98117, ☎ . Daily 9AM-10PM. The name might be deceiving, but this place takes its Mexican food just as seriously as it takes being a place to drink. Cheap burritos, tacos, quesadillas, fajitas. $1-$5.
- Vera's, 5417 22nd Ave NW, ☎ . 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.
- The Walrus and The Carpenter, 4743 Ballard Ave NW, ☎ . Daily, 4PM to close. No Reservations. Excellent oyster bar in a restored historic building.
Greenwood, Phinney Ridge, and Crown Hill
- Angry Beaver, 8412 Greenwood Ave N. Standard American/Canadian fare. Great poutine. Full bar.
- Beth's Cafe, 7311 Aurora Ave N. Open 24 hours a day. A Seattle institution and one of the last true 'greasy spoon' diners, this place serves breakfast 24 hours a day, 364 days a year (it's closed the day after Thanksgiving for cleaning). Frequented by an eclectic mix of goths, punks, stoners, workers and yuppies, the appeal is as much people-watching as the food - go with friends when you have a couple of hours to spare. Their specialties are omelettes, available in 6 or 12 egg varieties, with bottomless plates of hash browns. Ask for crayons and paper and you can hang your artistic creations on the wall when done. Note that Beth's is very popular and long lines can form for tables around rushes, which tend to be in the early evenings and around midnight.
- Gordito's Healthy Mexican Food, 213 N 85th St, ☎ . Huge servings, a fast but sometimes long line, way-cheap prices, amazingly tasty burritos that most folks can't finish in one sitting (the "Baby burrito" is about the size of an actual baby), lots of homemade salsas (on the salsa bar), and an outdoor patio. If you ask most people in Seattle where the good Mexican food is, they'll either say Gordito's or the Taco Bus that drives around town (but good luck finding that).
- Greenwood Mandarin, 7307 Greenwood Ave N, ☎ . 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.
- King Falafel Grill, 8102 Greenwood Ave N. Outstanding Middle Eastern food at great prices. One of the best gyros in town.
- Mr. Gyros, 8411 Greenwood Ave N. Try the combo plate; absolutely delicious.
- Olive You, 8516 Greenwood Ave N. Mediterranean food for the few people in Greenwood who pretend to be sophisticated.
- Rosita's Mexican Restaurant, 7210 Woodlawn Ave NE, ☎ . Some of the best margaritas in town, as well as good Happy Hour eats. The nachos are great.
- Red Mill Burgers, 312 N 67th St, ☎ . Good old-fashioned burgers, fries, and shakes.
- Restaurante Michoacan, 8311 15th Ave NW. Best Mexican in Crown Hill.
- Romio's Pizza & Pasta, 8523 Greenwood Ave N. Great pizza, popular with families.
- Yen-Wor Garden, 8580 Greenwood Ave N. Good food, bad karaoke.
- Aster CoffeeLounge, 5615 24th Ave NW, ☎ . daily. Coffee shop serving espresso, coffee brewed by the cup, pastries baked fresh on site, waffles, beer and wine.
- MIRO Tea, 5305 Ballard Avenue NW. A contemporary tea house with a large selection of beverages and food.
- Prost!, 7311 Greenwood Ave N, ☎ . Great little Bavarian-style German pub loaded with great German beer and all beers served in their appropriate glassware.
- Bleacher's, 8118 Greenwood Ave N. Standard Sports Bar, stiff drinks.
- Naked City Brewery & Taphouse, 8564 Greenwood Ave N. Lots of great taps and some light meals.
- Gainsbourg, 8550 Greenwood Ave N. Great food, music, and cocktails at an unexpectedly hip lounge.
- The Baranof, 8549 Greenwood Ave N. Classic dive. A Greenwood Institution. Go for the karaoke.
- The Crosswalk, 8556 Greenwood Ave N. Divier than the Baranof, with bigger drinks.
- Greenlake Bar and Grill, 7200 E Green Lake Dr N, ☎ . The outside seating is great for a sunny day. There's a nice view of the lake, along with happy hour specials.
There are few hotels in the Ballard area since its primarily residential, although the area has its fair share of bed and breakfasts. Along the northern segment of Aurora Ave, there are some sketchy hourly rate motels — use at your own risk.
- 9 Cranes, 5717 Palatine Avenue N, ☎ . Check-in: 4-6PM, check-out: 11AM. A bed and breakfast close to Woodland Park Zoo. 4 rooms employing different styles, distinctive wallpapers and bedding, but it may be small. The place offers a personal touch at breakfast with the hostess...and her pet dog! From $125 per night.
- Greenlake Guest House, 7630 E. Green Lake Dr. N., ☎ . A 4-room bed and breakfast overlooking Green Lake. The couple who own the place cook breakfast and constantly chat with guests. From $140 per night.
- Hotel Ballard, 5216 Ballard Ave NW, ☎ . Mediterranean-style hotel in the heart of Ballard. 29 rooms and suites with marble and carpet tiles in lavish rooms. It also hosts an in-house Mediterranean restaurant in the lobby and a rooftop pavilion. For pampering or sports, an athletic club with swimming pool, gym, and spa is just next door. From $150 per night.