One of Seattle’s most exciting and hip neighborhoods enjoys a complicated history with the city. Once a sovereign city, it thrived as a commercial maritime hub. By the turn of the 20th century, it held the distinction of being the 2nd largest city in King County. Its rapid growth presented governing and infrastructural challenges, however, and after struggling to supply residents with several critical services, including water, it was annexed by Seattle in 1907. That was a very controversial decision for residents, and more than 100 years after the fact, “Free Ballard!” bumper stickers adorn cars throughout the neighborhood in a nod to the lingering sentiment.

For those looking for a taste of the neighborhood’s origins, a visit to the National Nordic Museum is a must-do. Ballard’s Scandinavian roots are preserved and showcased here, as the museum hosts a rotation of exhibits of art and objects that highlight the area’s rich history.

Ballard’s waterfront location offers a wealth of recreational activities. One particularly popular tourist excursion is a visit to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. This impressive engineering feat, completed in 1917, offers visitors an underwater observatory with a view of the salmon as they migrate up the fish ladder heading to Lake Washington. Golden Gardens Park offers something fairly unique for the area: a sandy beach, complete with volleyball nets. Any sunny day will find it teeming with sunbathers, picnickers, and kite flyers. The area’s agricultural bounty is on display every Sunday year-round as busy Ballard Avenue is closed off to vehicles to make way for the Ballard Farmers’ Market.

Speaking of Ballard Avenue, it’s the pinnacle shopping and dining destination in the neighborhood. Whether one is looking to browse for used and rare books, vintage vinyl, board games, or home and décor items, the numerous independent shops that line the avenue provide nearly endless options to indulge. The many varied and eclectic eateries that call Ballard Avenue home offer culinary experiences for all. From coffee-lovers to connoisseurs of craft brews, vegans to carnivores, and fans of down-home cooking to those with an international palate there’s something for everyone.

Simply put, the Ballard neighborhood is where it’s happening in Seattle. This vibrant, eclectic, and hip neighborhood is worth a visit.

Lori Weaver HeadshotLori Weaver is a Certified Luxury Home Specialist with John L. Scott Real Estate in Bellevue, WA. For more information on Lori & The Weaver Team at John L. Scott, please visit TheWeaverTeam.com.