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Every Sunday, rain or shine, an open street market operates in Ballard. Combined with the regular eccentric stores that line Ballard Avenue, you will find not just food (though naturally a good farmer's market provides a lot of good local food) but also a number of craft items as well.
Originally, Fremont was the location of the Sunday market, but according to local folklore (not ot mention the market web site) by 1999 the Fremont Market had grown so large that it finally burst in two, thus sending many of the crafts and a few of the farmers over to Ballard.
The market web site includes just about everything you need to know, including a blog and a section about "What's Fresh This Week".
The market is located between 20th Avenue NW and 22nd Avenue NW, south of Market Street.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: Ballard Avenue between 20th at 22nd, S of Market
There are a number of facilities that are part of what is called the "Ballard Locks"(though officially is called the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks): this includes the Locks themselves and the Carl English Botanical Gardens.
This tip covers the small museum and visitor's center display on the second floor of a building near the entrance to area of the locks that is open to the public.
The displays in the visitor's center are free of charge to enter and visit, but are not extremely extensive. There are:
1. History of various proposals to link Lake Washington to Puget Sound, including maps of the various routes proposed, and a brief mention of one of the failed efforts by a private group of investors to dig a tunnel to connect the two bodies of water.
2. A display devoted to Hiram M. Chittenden, who is described as a "visionary leader" of the effort to build the locks where they are today.
3. Tools, materials, and methods used to build the locks including some of the very large casting molds used to create various massive parts required, historic photographs with description of what is going on, and mock-ups of a few of the facilities required (such as the blacksmith shop of the efforts).
4. Scale models of the ships that go through the locks.
5. Natural resources found near the locks, including the salmon and other fish that go through the fish ladder, and other discussion of natural resources.
6. A discussion of how the locks work, including a small cross-sectional model view of the water levels and the locks and a description of the contols used to raise and lower the water levels.
7. A small theatre with various programs that show history and present day construction and operation of the locks.
I found the visitor's center to have some interesting information about the history of the locks, but the presentation would be better if these were actually located at the locks themselves. There are quite a lot of people that simply walk right by the visitor's center entrance without stopping in to see what is here, and thus miss the more extensive history and operational description of what is observed when watching the locks in action.
At the same time, reserving the room with all the treasures in it for those who actually look for it is probably better for the displays, as it means only those who really want to learn more about the locks visit this part of the facility.
While there were very few visitors to this room of historical and operational displays while I was there, the locks themselves were packed with people, and it would have been a bit harder to gain any historical perspective had those crowds been milling about in the historical displays.
My Hiram M. Chittenden Locks tip - as this is listed as a Seattle "Things to Do" activity in the existing VirtualTourist system, that is where I have put my entry as well.
My Carl English Botanical Gardens tip
My Commodore Park tip (this park is on the south side of the locks, and while maintained by the city of Seattle is basically part of the Locks complex, and provides viewing from the south side of ships entering the locks).
Updated Feb 21, 2011
Address: 32nd Ave NW, Seattle, Washington 98107
Unfortunately, it was some year and a half ago that I ate at the Seattle India Bistro. I do not remember what I had, except that it was good. However, I can tell you that it is always a very crowded and popular place to eat. The place has definitely met the price and quality of food point that makes restaurants popular in the Ballard area.
Written Mar 17, 2011
Address: 2301 NW Market Street, Seattle, WA 98107
It's a reasonably typical Seattle pub, but has some interesting features, including a pile of board games on a shelf by the room closest to the entry of the pub. Apparently, unlike certain other establishments, they aren't in a hurry for their customers to leave to make room for new ones.
Children are allowed in the front room as well, until 10 pm.
It is also a somewhat unique place in that some of the owners are graduates of a university in Virginia, and thus sports events from that team are shown on the television here.
It is intended that the pub have somewhat of a German feel to it, and the names and content of some of the menu selections, and some of the beverage selections. This also explains the way the web site is set up. However, in reality in my opinion it is pretty much an American institution in its methods and servings. It does fine in this, and should not pretend to be anything else.
There are only two tables close to the front windows, so if you are wanting something with a view of local scenery you are best off trying to find somewhere else.
Favorite Dish: The Hinden-Burger adds bacon and deep fried pickle to one of the standard burgers, including house salad, german potato salad, chips or fries for $8.
A Fox Barrel Black Currant cider is $4.50
Updated Feb 21, 2011
Address: 5429 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107
Phone: (206) 783-6521
OK, so it is a national chain these days, but that doesn't stop the fact that they started in Washington and their headquarters are in Seattle.
So, I would hope that their Seattle locations would be the best ones to sample.
This store is part health food store, and part smoothie shop. Quite a number of heathly snacks, drinks, and food mixes are sold here, plus water bottles and the like. The primary food sold here are "healthy" smoothies, and the menu options include such sections as "zero fat" and "low sugar".
The Ballard location features only three tables along a southwest facing window. In the summer months, the sunlight is fairly intense, but due to the busy street right outside any outdoor seating (there isn't any) would be a waste to try to use. In the winter months, the huge new buildings in this part of town block the sunlight.
Favorite Dish: The fruit mixtures here are quite eccentric and quite good, though certainly on the more expensive side. I like the Mango Mania, which is $5.23 at the Ballard location, including the sales tax.
Updated Sep 24, 2010
Address: 5404 Leary AVE NW, Seattle, WA 98107
Located in the very far northern reaches of what should be considered Ballard (beyond here lies Crown Hill) the Larsen Brothers Bakery have been making wonderful treats since the early 1970s, and have developed quite a reputation. There are now locations in a number of places in western Washington, but Ballard is the first.
The "restaurant" part of the operation is a bit limited. There are three tables to sit at, the coffee (which seems to be extremely popular) is mostly self-service, and there are no public restrooms offered.
However, the baked goods have a reputation that makes many generations of people come here, and you will find something you will want to try.
Weather you *should* try it or not I will leave up to you.
Favorite Dish: The rhubarb strudel ($2.75 per slice) isn't featured on the web site, but disappeared some time back, and is now back in the display cabinet by popular demand.
You will probably want to try the kringle, however, as the reputation for that is quite large.
Updated Sep 19, 2010
Address: 8000 24th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98117
In January of 2001, 2nd Avenue was rebuilt between NW 120th and NW 117th as a pilot project to demonstrate one alternative of what the streets in the neighborhood might be made to look like. The majority of the streets in this area north of Ballard lack sidewalks as well as good drainage methods. This demonstration might be what these less developed streets turn into in years to come.
The goals are:
+ A street and drainage system that reduces the runoff rate from streets directly into local streems, which causes flooding and pollution of the streams due to road oil and other contaminants.
+ A "traffic-calmed" street that also meets the resident's needs for access and parking.
+ Landscape that takes advantage of the changes as well as incorporating drainage from the street.
To get the best idea of what the area used to look like, visit 2nd Avenue on the north side of 120th Street.
The addition of a sidewalk is really nice, even in a place like this where the streets are not really that busy. The meandering nature of the street and sidewalk make the area seem a lot larger than it is due to the introduction of plants that obstruct the direct sight lines and help separate out the areas. The use of native and/or wild plants is also a wonderful addition compared to the very sterile environment you will find on 2nd north of 120th.
Written Apr 27, 2010