Ballard is the Scandinavian enclave of the Seattle area, and is just a few minutes northwest of downtown Seattle. The community includes several great restaurants, Golden Gardens City Park, Shilshole Marina and abundant history. The Historical Society maintains several self-guided walking tours through the main part of town. Across the waterway is Magnolia Bluff, Fisherman’s Wharf and Discovery Park. Ballard is centrally located, sitting on Lake Union and Shilshole Bay. Here is your guide to an enjoyable day in Ballard.

Larsen’s Danish Bakery
8000 24th Ave. N.W.
Seattle, WA 98117
(206) 782-8285

Larsen’s Danish Bakery is the best Danish bakery in Seattle, and the perfect way to start the day. The recipes used come from the “old” world, and are done to perfection. This is home to pastries with almond paste and marzipan. The bakery offers traditional Danish Kringle, smorkaka (seven sisters), breakfast pastries and coffee drinks. After purchasing pastries and coffee, head to the front of the bakery by the windows for tables and chairs to enjoy breakfast.

Nordic Heritage Museum
3014 N.W. 67th St.
Seattle, WA 98117
(206) 789-5707

The Nordic Heritage Museum is a hub for Scandinavian heritage in the area. Historically, many Scandinavian immigrants settled in the Ballard area, and the area is still steeped in this history. The museum keeps this heritage alive through exhibits, lectures and classes for the community. It gives a good view of the culture that is the foundation of Ballard. The exhibits are varied from furniture designs to fashion. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, and closed on Monday.

Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (Credit, Karen Ulvestad)

Hiram  M. Chittenden Locks
3015 N.W. 54th St.
Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 783-7059

The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, also known as the Ballard Locks locally, is a three-in-one deal for the visitor. The ship locks allow boats to travel between Lake Union and Puget Sound. The park at the site is the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden. This garden is interspersed with lawn areas for picnics, and the pathways are paved for easy walking. The garden is accessible to disabled individuals. Visitors may view the gardens, the locks, the wildlife, tour the museum and gift shop or view the salmon ladders. The salmon ladder is on the other side of the ship locks, and visitors look through glass windows at the passing salmon. These fish will eventually move up the rivers from Lake Washington and lay the eggs of a new generation of salmon. The biggest salmon runs happen in the late summer and into the fall.

Lockspot Cafe (Credit, Karen Ulvestad)

Lockspot Cafe
3005 N.W. 54th St.
Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 789-4865

The Lockspot Cafe is located outside the entrance to the Ballard Locks on 54th, and is pure vintage. The cafe has a walk-up window, indoor seating, outdoor seating and a bar. The interior is dark paneling, with plenty of light from the windows. This is a great place for a quick lunch. The cafe serves delicious fish & chips, other seafood, burgers and steaks. The menu items are moderately priced.

Ray’s Boathouse
6049 Seaview Ave. N.W.
Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 789-3770

Ray’s Boathouse is the perfect way to end the day, whether eating at the Boathouse or the Cafe. The Boathouse is a classic fine dining restaurant, and the Cafe is casual. The restaurant sits on Shilshole Bay, with views of the water, Olympic Mountains and sunsets. The food is suburb and locally sourced. The fish is purchased directly from the fishermen and is some of the freshest in town. The staff is knowledgeable about pairing entrees and wine. The restaurant has a full service bar. Ray’s helped develop the Northwest Cuisine in the 1980s, which spread to other restaurants in the area. It is a nationally known restaurant. The Cafe’ serves great food and micro beers, and has an outdoor deck dining area. It is perfect for a casual dining experience.

Karen Ulvestad is a mother and professional writer/photographer, who lives in the greater Seattle area. She graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in English Composition. Her background is in fitness, travel, photography and writing. She continually researches locations to visit, and/or entertainment opportunities for family outings and/or photo shoots. Her work can be found at