Located in the northwestern area of Seattle, Washington, Ballard is a humble neighborhood rich in history and buzzing with foodie hot spots. Its rapid growth put it on the map quite early as settlers flocked far and wide for a chance to live by the budding bay.
Before the first European settlers came to the area in the mid-1800’s, Ballard was occupied by the Shilshole Tribe. The Natives depended on the salmon and clams that were in the Shilshole Bay. After European settlers moved to the area and started to develop the railroad, the population began to grow quite rapidly. Captain William Rankin Ballard, joined forces with other developers in the area and gave his name to the then-city.
The city’s reputation for salmon fishing had spread far and wide. A lot of migrants from Scandinavia had settled in the area for this reason, with the Scandinavian influence still evident today.
The city became the second biggest in King County with 17,000 residents in 1907. Sadly Ballard was becoming a victim of its popularity. The water system was less than adequate, actually presenting as a hazard to residents by not being able to provide safe drinking water. When the Supreme Court ruled that the city of Seattle did not have to share its water with the surrounding areas, Ballard had no choice but to vote in favor of annexation and become part of Seattle. This was met with mixed feelings, though, as the Town Hall was draped in black and flag flown at half-mast on the day. There are still people driving around with “Free Ballard!” bumper stickers today!
Ballard has become one of the hippest places to visit in the Seattle area. If you choose to stay in this bayside area, there are two great places right in the area including the Ballard Hotel or the Ballard Inn. The hotel will set you back further than the inn, as it does not scrimp on luxury at all. The inn is still incredibly lovely and humble…and about half the price of the hotel.
As mentioned before, Ballard has become a very modern town with a hipster vibe to some areas. You’ll find a fusion of foods from around the world, giving your taste buds something new to enjoy for every hour of the day. Why not start your day at Toast where they serve, you guessed it - toast! But what makes it different? You can try all sorts of spreads you wouldn’t have tried before like spiced apple butter or pear on artisan bread.
Because you are in an area rich in fishing history, you must try the seafood at The Walrus and the Carpenter. American fine dining at its best, yet with a laid-back vibe at this Oyster Bar. If you fancy trying “the best sandwich ever,” then head to Paseo for their Caribbean Roast. It’s like a Cuban, but juicier and messier and completely worth it, but arrive early as they tend to run out daily (yes, it’s THAT good!)
Places to go/things to do: The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, or Ballard Locks, is the most popular tourist destination in Ballard. More boats pass through this area than any other locks in the U.S.! You might even catch a luxury yacht or two passing through. The fish ladder is also something to see, but this one is unique as it is where fresh water meets salt water. You can watch the fish underwater even.
The Nordic Heritage Museum is a great place to see all things Scandinavian from art to artifacts, and to learn about the history of the Nordic culture in the area.
If you appreciate a good craft beer, you can visit one of the few craft breweries in the area, like the Maritime Pacific Brewing Company. The Ballard Avenue Historic District is a great place to travel to if looking for historical places of interest in this bayside neighborhood.
If you are wanting for a beautiful getaway that has a lot on offer, Ballard can give you the waterfront, with the city of Seattle not far away, and is situated between two national parks. There is a sense of pride in the area that once used to be its own city that sets it apart from other areas.
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