Rebels By Bus

Slow Travel With Low Carbon Footprint

Ballard: A Historic and Hip Neighborhood in Seattle

As so aptly stated in the Ballard Merchant Association’s website (www.inballard.com):

Ballard is a historic and hip little town in Seattle’s big city. Settled in 1853, Ballard has been refining its exciting neighborhood for over 150 years. Today Ballard is a place full of some of the best restaurants, pubs, shops, spas, and parks in Seattle. From the famous Ballard Locks, to festive old Ballard Ave, and shopping-rich Market Street, come play in Ballard and experience Seattle in a whole new way.

My friend (and apprentice rebel!) Paula and I took inBallard’s advice… we took the bus to Ballard to
“experience Seattle in a whole new way.”

We met at the Olympia Martin Way Park and Ride, drove north on Highway I-5, taking exit 125 (Bridgeport Way) to the Lakewood Sounder station.  There is always plenty of parking in the four story garage. The Sound Transit bus 594 was ready, warm, and waiting.  Paula and I caught up on family and other activity news as we headed to Seattle.  Exiting the bus at 4th and Union in downtown Seattle, we walked one block west to 3rd Avenue, and north one block where we waited for Metro bus 18.

Metro bus 18 is a popular run (there is a bus every 15 minutes) so we didn’t have to wait long.  The bus travels through the Belltown neighborhood, the southeast corner of the Seattle Center, before paralleling Elliott Bay on Elliott Avenue.  From Elliott Avenue the bus heads north on 15th Avenue, with a great view of Fisherman’s Terminal before crossing the Ship Canal’s (joining Lake Union with Puget Sound) Ballard Bridge.

We decided to stay on the bus past the main business district of Ballard, heading up 24thfor a panoramic view of Puget Sound, then looping around heading back to Ballard. Shortly after making the loop past Triton Drive, we encountered a FIRST on our bus adventures:  a very grumpy bus driver.  She shouted back at us, demanding to know where we were going.  I told her we were taking a loop trip, and wanted to go back to Ballard.  She said she was due for her break, and we needed to get off.  Sigh.  We did get off the bus on 24th, at about 85th.

Our intended first shopping stop was Larsen’s Bakery, located at 8000 24th Avenue NW (www.larsensbakery.com) Even though they are out of the main shopping area, they obviously have a loyal customer base, especially during the holiday season.  They are known for their excellent Danish Kringle (think rich pastry with almond paste) which is formed in the shape of a large pretzel.  Yes, we each bought one to take home for a holiday brunch.

Since it wasn’t raining (and we didn’t want to encounter the grumpy bus driver again!), we strolled down 24th toward Market and Ballard Streets.  We walked along Ballard Avenue, having a sneak peek at the quirky and fun Ballard library that has Viagra Online a grass roof!  There is a periscope inside, so you can see what’s growing…

By this time we were hungry, and ready for lunch.  We reviewed our options, deciding on Plaka Estiatorio, a Greek restaurant located at 5407 20th Avenue NW (www.plakaballard.com) (206) 829-8934.  The comfortable and welcoming Athenian style restaurant serves traditional Greek food, as well as seasonal dishes.  I chose the oven roasted lamb platter, Paula chose a Greek sausage pita sandwich.  We both enjoyed our meals.

After lunch, we explored the main shopping blocks, along Ballard Avenue.  Our favorite shop was La Tienda, a folk art gallery featuring hand made crafts made locally and from around the world.  www.latienda-folkart.com  (206)297-3605.

The friendly shopkeeper at LaTienda gave us a wonderful business and walking guide to Ballard.  Very helpful!  Shops have the map, and it’s also available through the map’s sponsor, Ballard Merchant Association (www.inballard.com)

By late afternoon, we were ready to head back home.  We caught Metro Bus 18 on Ballard Avenue, getting off in downtown Seattle by Macy’s (3rd and Pine) then walking west to 2nd Avenue where we caught the Sound Transit 592 (which by-passes Tacoma) taking us to our car at the Lakewood Sounder station.

As always, there are LOTS of possible activities in Ballard… so many ideas, not enough time!  Here are some of those ideas…

  • Walk along the Ship Canal.
    The Burke Gilman trail is on the north side of the Ship Canal (Fremont is the fun neighborhood east of Ballard).  The Ship Canal Trail is on the south side.  Recently, a section of the Ship Canal Trail was paved (from 11th to the Fisherman’s terminal), which avoids the awkward (and dangerous) section by the Ballard bridge
  • Hiram M. Chittendan Locks.  3015 54th Street NW.   The Locks connect Lake Union to tide-driven Puget Sound, which are at different water levels.  (I have fond memories of going through the Locks on the Virginia V, heading to Camp Sealth!)  Watching the operation of the Locks is fascinating.  There is a visitor center, salmon ladder, and a lovely 7 acres garden (Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden).  The visitor center has an excellent guide to the garden.  You can walk to the Locks from Ballard, being just ½ mile from the intersection of Market and Ballard Avenues.
  • Golden Gardens Park at 8498 Seaview Place NW.  The Park includes a huge stretch of Puget Sound waterfront.  Bus 18 gets you close to the park (close to Triton Drive).
  • Nordic Heritage Museum at 3014 NW 67th Street.  This museum has ever-changing exhibits celebrating the town’s Nordic history.  It’s located northwest of the main shopping district; an easy walk.  www.nordicmuseum.org

  • Old Seattle Firehouse at 5425 Russell Avenue NW, celebrated it’s 100th anniversary on October 18th, 2011.  The firehouse retired in the 70’s, and now is home to the Hi-Life restaurant.  Russell street is off Ballard Avenue.
  • Want more ideas? Check out the award-winning blog/neighborhood e-news source:  www.myballard.com
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