Ballard's working waterfront provides views of a thriving maritime industry, including Fisherman's Terminal, which is the home base to North Pacific Fishing Fleet. SeafoodFest, held annually in July is a celebration of this heritage. People flock to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, an engineering marvel built in 1916, that enables boats to move from freshwater lakes to the salt water of Puget Sound, a 26-foot grade change. During certain times of the year, visitors can watch through underground viewing windows as salmon use the fish ladders located here to return to their spawning grounds.
Heading west to Shilshole Bay Marina, Ballard's waterways become more recreational. In addition to moorage for 1,500 recreational boats, the marina also offers a boat ramp, sailing schools and public art featuring Leif Erikson. A waterfront promenade, with beautiful views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, leads to Golden Gardens, an expansive beachfront park. Canine visitors love the off-leash play area up the hill.
While recent development has turned this one time blue-collar enclave into a hip, urban village, Ballard still maintains its quaint storefronts and pedestrian-friendly atmosphere. Ballard Avenue, a nationally registered historic district, takes visitors back to the time when Ballard was an area filled with numerous lumber mills that produced, largely, housing shingles, prompting the neighborhood to be anointed “The Shingle Capital of the World.” Metal plaques with historic pictures and stories guide visitors through this time.
On this lovely tree-lined street, there are trendy restaurants, boutiques, home décor shops, gift stores and an active nightlife. There’s also fabulous fresh produce at the Ballard Sunday Farmers Market year-round.
On and around Market Street is Ballard's modern business district. Easily walkable, it too features charming brick storefronts, great shops, theater, urban parks and a host of restaurants, many featuring sidewalk cafés. Once a month, the Second Saturday ArtWalks showcase work by local artists in numerous galleries, studios and shops.
A visit to Ballard isn’t complete without discovering some Scandinavian culture. The internationally acclaimed Nordic Heritage Museum features historic and fine art exhibits, as well as musical performances, children's activities and major cultural events.
The Sons of Norway’s Leif Erikson Lodge (a Norwegian-American social organization), specialty gift and food establishments, and Bergen Place Park all add to the Nordic experience. And once a year on May 17, all of Ballard celebrates Syttende Mai, or Norwegian Constitution Day. The parade, considered the largest of its kind outside Norway, is a favorite.
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