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The Unexpected Neighborhood Guide to Ballard

Young woman walks down the street of the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. She holds a straw basket with farmer's market items like flowers and bread, and the business "Percy & Co." is visible in the background.

Our corner in Seattle may be one of the hippest, but we also have some of the most unique history and most interesting locales. Unlike other guides to Ballard, this one will explore the strange and the underground — the spots and community groups that will uncover new layers to Seattle that you didn’t know before.

What It’s Like to Live in Ballard

Ballard is an engaged, active community who is dedicated to promoting growth and happiness for citizens while preserving the history and traditions of the area. Because of this, fostering great schools, safety, beautiful spaces, and celebrating food and cultural heritage are all major parts of the community’s focus. Ballard is continuously considered one of the best places to live in Seattle.

Ballard is known for high walkability, so whether you live here or are just visiting, touring the most unique parts of Ballard will be easy.

Ballard Alliance helps maintain the vitality of our community by engaging community members to decide on and implement continuous improvement projects. Ballard is constantly getting better because of this, and our community is alive — not static.

Spots Celebrating the Unique Nordic Heritage of the Ballard Neighborhood

Being in the upper Pacific North West, Seattle is close to Canada and Alaska and is surrounded by water. Thus, we are privy to some of the history and secrets of the cold waters up here.

Ballard attracted those of Nordic and Scandinavian heritage in the 19th century due to our forests and cold waters. We have long had a rich community centered on Nordic history and values, as well as industries familiar to Nordic communities like fishing in the Puget Sound and the North Pacific, building boats, and logging.

If you’re thinking of Vikings — you’re right! There are a lot of ways Ballard preserves their Nordic and Viking Heritage.

  • The Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard dives into a complex and nuanced picture of these oft-stereotyped people. Annually, they host Viking Days, a celebration of Viking heritage.

  • Bergan Place Park, on 22nd Ave in Ballard, is a beautiful park that celebrates this heritage with public art inspired by the Scandanavian immigrant influence and the native peoples of Ballard. It includes a mural, an educational kiosk, and Witness Trees, a gorgeous sculpture by Jennifer Dixon created from five Cedar posts. The Immigrant Tree has a classic Danish porcelain pattern. Fossil Tree celebrates the wonderful marine life. Clam Tree acknowledges is Salish Lake People, native peoples who lived in Ballard before European colonialists committed genocide against native populations in North America.

  • Skål Beer Hall is a beer hall that brings Nordic and Viking brewing traditions and social rituals to the modern era — particularly what is known as a meadhall. It’s located on Ballard Avenue.

  • Leif Erikson Lodge our local Nordic lodge is a great event venue dedicated to preserving Nordic heritage in Ballard. They host an annual Heritage Day which includes traditional food, music, and a 5K run.

Unique Nature Trails and Parks in Ballard

People in the Pacific Northwest love the great outdoors, and Ballard is no exception. One thing that's special about Ballard is you don't have to go far for flourishing greenspaces, pretty nature, and outdoor recreation. Some of these nature spots are easy walking distance from Ballard Yards, and the rest are a short drive.

  • Carl S. English Botanical Garden consists of seven acres of a beautiful garden created by botanist Carl S. English Jr.. Within the bounds of this garden, you don’t even know you’re in the middle of a city. It’s a great spot for picnics or just getting away from the noise. It also serves as an event venue.

  • Ballard Locks are attached to the botanic gardens, which transformed the Pacific Northwest by creating shipping channels. While not hiking in the woods, being outdoors and along the water while admiring the feats of humanity is a grand time.

  • Golden Garden Wetlands offer the most gorgeous views of Puget Sound in the state (we might be biased) and an undeniably good beach. Just a short drive from main drag, this area transports you to another world. With a boat ramp and a bath house event venue, this state park has everything. Hot tip: sunset lets you catch the most beautiful golden mountain view.

  • Ballard Sculpture Garden is for those who want a tiny oasis in the middle of the busiest part of Ballard. Down on 46th Street, this small garden has stone benches for daydreaming and sweet cement sculptures for inspiring.

The Events that Ballard Locals Look Forward To

Ballard residents love to get together, especially during the summer seasons when good weather is in abundance. Here are some of the most anticipated events that happen every year.

  • Seafood Fest is arguably the biggest weekend of the year in all of Seattle, and it takes place right here in Ballard, celebrating a long history of fishing. Beer, food, BBQ, dozens of food carts and arts and crafts vendors fill up Ballard every summer.

  • The Ballard Farmer’s Market is every Sunday, year-round, rain or shine (unless that Sunday falls on Christmas). The consistency of this event has helped it develop a likely community with lots of regulars and invested, high-quality vendors. The market is dedicated to their mission of providing for the community, and they are committed to promoting food access.

  • Ballard Art Walk happens every second Saturday of the month. Business participate by supporting the local artisan community through featuring an artist at their location. Residents participate by strolling through the neighborhood and checking out the businesses and art.

Living in Ballard is Unique

We may be biased, but in our humble opinion, there's no place like our Ballard neighborhood. Ballard Yards is in the ideal location to enjoy the best of it.


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