Welcome to Ballard, a Scandinavian fishing and railroad town that was once the second largest city in King County. Now it’s one of Seattle’s most popular neighborhoods, nestled against Shilshole Bay to the west and Salmon Bay to the south. Ballard is home to terrific parks, restaurants, shops and pubs — and more breweries than any other neighborhood in the Northwest.
If you’re new to Ballard — or looking to become more involved — you’ve come to right place:
As a destination for locals and tourists alike, Ballard draws big crowds, especially on the weekends. Unlike most Seattle neighborhoods, Ballard has a wide variety of places to see and things to do:
- Old Ballard – One of Seattle’s top hot spots, Old Ballard features boutique shopping, top-rate restaurants and a bustling nightlife. Officially called the Ballard Avenue Landmark District — located along the stretch of Ballard Ave. from Market St. to Dock Pl. — many of the buildings were built in the 1890s to the 1940s.
- Ballard Farmers Market – A prime attraction in Old Ballard, the Ballard Farmers Market features a wide variety of fresh foods and flowers from Washington farmers every Sunday.
- Golden Gardens Park – With prime beachfront property, Golden Gardens Park offers stunning views of the Sound and the Olympic Mountains (especially at sunset.) During the summer, Golden Gardens becomes a citywide beach hangout.
- Ballard Locks – Often a must-stop for tourists, the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks link the Puget Sound with Lake Union and Lake Washington. Visitors can also see an underwater view of the fish ladder and enjoy the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden.
- Ballard Breweries – With more breweries than any other neighborhood in the Pacific Northwest, Ballard has become a craft beer lover’s paradise.
- Nordic Museum – Coming this May, the new Nordic Museum will open its doors, featuring a variety of exhibits that share Nordic and Nordic-American cultural heritage.
- Fishermen’s Terminal – Just off the Ballard Bridge, Fishermen’s Terminal is home for hundreds of fishing boats that spend months on the open sea off the coast of Alaska.
Ballard isn’t just a neighborhood, it’s a collection of them. While some argue that Ballard’s northern border is 85th St., we draw the line farther north at Carkeek Park, which includes all of these neighborhoods below. The population was approximately 43,446 in the 2016 census.
- Sunset Hill – The western-most neighborhood, Sunset Hill has picturesque views of the Sound and includes Shilshole Bay Marina, Golden Gardens Park and Sunset Hill Park.
- Loyal Heights – Located between Whittier Heights to the east and Sunset Hill to the west, this neighborhood is home to the Loyal Heights Playfield and Salmon Bay Park.
- Whittier Heights – Next door to Loyal Heights, Whittier Heights sits at the base of Phinney Ridge and is home to Ballard High School.
- West Woodland – A rather new addition, this neighborhood occupies the southeastern quadrant of Ballard, including an industrial area that’s home to several breweries. It stretches east to 3rd Ave. into an area that’s sometimes called “Frelard.”
- Crown Hill – If you head up 15th Ave. NW from Ballard, you’ll climb into Crown Hill, a neighborhood that includes a business district and Crown Hill Park.
- North Beach/Blue Ridge – Just to the north of Sunset Hill extending up to Carkeek Park, North Beach also shares beautiful views of the Sound. It includes Olympic Manor, a hilly neighborhood with epic holiday lights.
Ballard is part of the Seattle School District, and our schools are among the best in the city, ranking between 8-9 on GreatSchools.com. Here are the attendance maps (.pdf) and schools:
- High school map – Nearly all of Ballard attends Ballard High School, with some to the north attending Ingraham High School. The high school boundary maps will change for 2019.
- Middle school map – Most of the neighborhood attends Whitman Middle School, while the West Woodland area attends Hamilton International Middle School.
- Elementary school map – They include Adams Elementary, Salmon Bay K-8, Whittier Elementary, Loyal Heights Elementary, West Woodland Elementary, North Beach Elementary and B.F. Day Elementary.
News and events
Ballard is growing fast — faster than most Seattle neighborhoods — and that means there’s lots of news in the neighborhood. Here’s how to stay on top of what’s happening:
- My Ballard – Created in 2007, My Ballard is the neighborhood’s most-read news source — and North Seattle’s largest independent news site. You can also see an events calendar along with a Ballard restaurant guide.
- My Ballard Facebook Group – For community-powered news and events, join the My Ballard Facebook group, the largest group of its kind in Ballard.
- Westside Seattle – The Ballard News Tribune was founded in 1891, and is now operating as part of WestSideSeattle.com.
Ballard neighbors are an active bunch, and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved and volunteer your time. Here’s a list of community groups and blogs:
- Ballard Alliance – A collection of Ballard business owners and operators, the Ballard Alliance “provides programs and services critical to ensuring that Ballard remains a vibrant place to live, shop, work, eat and play.”
- Ballard District Council – Once part of the city but now operating independently, the Ballard District Council is a coalition of Ballard and Crown Hill organizations lobbying for the neighborhood’s interests.
- Ballard Elks – One of the fastest-growing lodges in the county, the Ballard Elks are located right down on the water on Shilshole.
- Ballard Food Bank – Ballard Food Bank distributes food to over 1,200 individuals once per week, including children and the elderly.
- Ballard High School PTSA – The PTSA “works to cultivate an excellent educational environment for all Ballard High Students.”
- Crown Hill Business Association – The community group “provides a voice for our business community” in the Crown Hill neighborhood.
- Crown Hill Neighborhood Association – The CHNA is a volunteer group who “strengthen our community through programs, events and community outreach.”
- East Ballard Community Association – The EBCA represents the West Woodland area and a chunk of Whittier Heights. It’s best known for leading the charge for the creation of Gemenskap Park on 14th Ave NW.
- Groundswell NW – A volunteer organization, Groundswell NW has helped create and improve neighborhood parks, open space and habitat.
- North Seattle Industrial Association – The association represents North Seattle maritime, manufacturing and industrial support businesses and its property owners.
- Olympic Manor Community Club – Homeowners group in Olympic Manor.
- Rotary Club of Ballard – The Ballard chapter of Rotary hosts a variety of events.
- Shilshole Liveaboards – An association and blog for people who live at and frequent Shilshole Bay and the marina.
- Sons of Norway – The Ballard Sons of Norway call the Leif Erikson Lodge home, which was established back in 1903.
- Sustainable Ballard – Formed in 2003, the non-profit group “educates, inspires, and engages neighbors to take action to live more sustainably.”
- Sunset Hill Community Association – One of the oldest community groups in Seattle, SHCA is a nonprofit that “serves as a voice for issues that affect Sunset Hill” — and it also owns a 1920s clubhouse that’s a popular spot for neighborhood events.
- West Woodland – A blog and events guide for the West Woodland neighborhood
- Whittier Heights Community Council – WHCC is a “forum for neighbors to connect, raise concerns and work together to improve our community.”
Ballard is packed full of history, and it defines the unique character of the neighborhood. Have you seen one of those “Free Ballard” bumper stickers? That’s a taste of Ballard’s independent spirit that stretches back to its days as King County’s second largest city.
- Ballard Historical Society – The society works to preserve and celebrate the culture and history of Seattle’s unique Ballard neighborhood.
- Nordic Museum – With Ballard’s Scandinavian roots, there’s no better place for the Nordic Museum to call home (opens in May).
- City Archives – The city of Seattle has a deep database of photos and documents.
- HistoryLink – A great compilation of Washington State history, HistoryLink also features a great overview of Ballard’s upbringing.
We’re continuing to update. See something we should add? Email us at email@example.com.