New Ballard Eateries To Try: Spring and Summer 2018

Ballard is full of excellent eateries. From novel restaurants to craft beer, this neighborhood has a great array of cuisine to offer. If you are looking for something new and different to try, you’re in luck! A number of new bars, restaurants, and specialty food stores have recently opened in Ballard. Be sure to add these hot spots to your list of places to eat in this neighborhood!

Locust Cider

Whether you are a cider connoisseur or you are looking for some delicious gluten-free beverage options, Locust Cider is the place to be. They recently opened a new location in Ballard offering an array of delicious ciders on tap. They also donate a percentage of their profits for research to benefit children with hydrocephalus!

Salt and Straw

This welcoming Ballard ice cream parlor will curb your sweet tooth! With rotating seasonal ice creams you’ll find local novelties and classic flavors alike. Named one of Thrillist’s Top 21 Ice Cream Shops in America, Salt and Straw is well-worth a visit.  

Verve Bowl

If fresh smoothies, acai bowls, and kombucha are your calling, you should give Verve Bowl a try. Full of fresh fruit concoctions with fruity flavors from around the world, this newly-opened Ballard eatery should be on your list!

Coming Soon

Skål Beer Hall

Connecting Ballard with its Nordic roots, Skal Beer Hall will be a Viking-themed gathering space planned to open in summer 2018. Owner Adam McQueen will combine his Norwegian heritage and knowledge of beer to create this bar that speaks true to Ballard’s roots!

Trailbend Taproom

Owners of two Seattle favorites, The Dray and The Yard, are opening a new taproom and restaurant in the heart of Ballard. Located in Ballard’s brewery district, this space will be a sit-down restaurant with 42 beers on tap!

Bonus: Geo’s Bar and Grill in Greenwood

Geo’s Cuban and Creole, a Ballard favorite, has a new bar and grill 15 minutes north on the corner of Holman Road and Greenwood Avenue! This sit-down restaurant will transport you to Havana for the evening, and is a great place for a date night or fun sit-down meal. With live music on weekends and a speakeasy-style lounge in the back of the restaurant, Geo’s is another delicious restaurant to try. Consider also checking out a new microbrewery in this area, Broadview Taphouse, if you head north!


A Nordic Ballard Weekend

Ballardites: Norwegian events are happening this weekend in downtown Ballard! Even if you’re not into lye-soaked, fermented fish (aka lutefisk), there will be something for all of us to choose from, starting tonight Friday, March 16th, and running through Saturday, March 17th. Here’s a summary of what’s happening, and where to read more information:


Photo: Scott Radford

Tonight from 8 pm-11 pm, the Ballard Elks #827 are hosting Viking Bingo Night for a good cause. Add flair by coming in costume. Or come as yourself. Or better yet, come as yourself in costume. Either way, enjoy cash prizes, commeraderie, drinks and snacks.

Viking Bingo Facebook:
Ballard Elks site:
Ballard Elks Facebook:



Start with a 5k Run at 9 am, then immerse yourself in all things traditional Nordic after that. Does life get any better? Listen to live Norwegian music, learn about the beautiful murals in the Ballard Sons of Norway’s Leif Erikson Lodge, sample or watch authentic Norwegian cooking demos (lutefisk not required), as well as dance, clothing, handicrafts, genealogy, and more.

Funds from the run/walk go toward Leif Erikson Lodge repairs/upgrades and the Ballard Senior Center. Registration/Check-In is at 8 am, Run is at 9 am.  $10 for adults, $5 for children.
Run/Walk’s Facebook:


Norwegian Heritage Day Facebook:
Ballard Sons of Norway/Leif Erikson Lodge site:

Proudly wave your Norwegian flag, and enjoy a culture that helped shape Ballard!







4 Stunning Ballard Wedding Venues Where You Can Say I Do

Whether you are recently engaged, a parent of a soon-to-be bride or groom, or simply someone daydreaming about saying yes to the dress, Ballard has many excellent wedding venues to consider. Our Seattle neighborhood boasts a coastal escape in the heart of the city and is an ideal backdrop for a Pacific Northwest wedding.

For Ballard natives and transplants alike, this neighborhood is home to several popular Seattle wedding venues. Offering the perfect setting for a seaside summer wedding or a cool sunset backdrop for your winter celebration, there are many reasons to make Ballard the place you say “I do.” For anyone planning on exchanging their vows in Seattle, be sure to consider some of these spectacular wedding venues in Ballard!  

Ballard Bay Club

If you are seeking an elegant and romantic wedding venue, Ballard Bay Club should be on your list. This space is a versatile setting that can be configured to create the experience you are looking for. The Ballard Bay Club is equipped for events large and small, with full dining options for 150 up to 400 guests and cocktail style receptions for up to 1,000 guests. With beautiful views of the Olympic Mountains and the Puget Sound, this is a picturesque venue for a wedding any time of the year. This space also offers:

  • Views and easy access to Shilshole Beach
  • Hardwood dance floors
  • Outdoor patio
  • Private bridal suite
  • Beverage and dessert service

Olympic Rooftop Pavilion

For couples who picture their special day on a rooftop that overlooks the city they call home, Ballard’s Olympic Rooftop Pavilion is the place to be. This space is located on the rooftop of Hotel Ballard in the center of Market Street. Guests will enjoy spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains, the Puget Sound, and the city skyline. Equipped with audio-visual equipment, outdoor fireplaces, and seating for up to 130 guests, this is an optimal location for a beautiful wedding. Hotel Ballard also offers discounted rates for groups to simplify lodging for out-of-town guests! Additional features include:

  • Options for food and wine pairings
  • Space and be configured for open-air or indoor seating
  • Full bar and customized cocktails

The Canal

The Canal is a spacious, open venue in a historic Ballard setting. Encompassed by forest and water, this is an ideal location for a true Pacific Northwest wedding. The happy couple and their guests will enjoy indoor and outdoor features of this venue including a landscaped courtyard, banquet style seating, outdoor cocktail tables, and more. The Canal includes a number of amenities to simplify your wedding process and create maximum enjoyment for the wedding party and their guests including:

  • Flexible event start and end times
  • Food and beverage catering, if needed
  • Banquet hall-style seating with waterfront view

Ray’s Boathouse

No list of Ballard wedding venues is complete without including Ray’s Boathouse. Situated at the edge of Ballard just south of Golden Gardens park, Ray’s offers a beautiful venue for any couple interested in a seaside wedding. This space has a private banquet room that seats up to 120 guests. Couples can also get married in an open, outdoor seating area if weather permits! Not only does this venue have an incredible view but it also boasts a delicious menu of seafood and other Pacific Northwest culinary delights. Ray’s Boathouse also offers:

  • Rehearsal walk-through
  • Dressing area
  • On-site event planner
  • Expert wait staff and hospitality

Ballard has no shortage of beautiful views to see and spaces to enjoy, many of which make a perfect backdrop for a wedding! Best of luck to you and your future spouse in finding your ideal wedding venue.

Image courtesy of

Ballard Events: Things to Do in March

Are you looking for some fun and exciting activities during the final weeks of March? Whether you are seeking family fun, outdoor activities, or all of the above, our neighborhood has a ton of engaging activities for couples, families and more. If you are looking for a few fun events to participate in, be sure to add some of these local activities to your list!

March 15-April 8: Moisture Festival

Times vary | Hale’s Ales Palladium

Anyone interested in a stage performance like no other should consider attending Ballard Moisture Festival! This showcase is a unique comedy/variete. This fun spectacle is made up of 3-15 minute performances by magicians, jugglers, acrobats, strong men and women and more! You can catch these novel performances now through April 8.

March 22-24: Ballard High School Playmakers Present “Damn Yankees

Times vary | Earl Kelly Performing Arts Center at Ballard High School

Don’t miss your chance to get tickets to Ballard High School’s presentation of “Damn Yankees!” This musical is a comedy with classic songs such as “Whatever Lola Wants” and “Heart.” Preformed by Ballard High School actors and orchestra, this play is a must see! You can purchase your tickets at

March 19: Games for Good

5:30 – 7:30pm | Lagunitas Taproom

What better way to spend a Monday than with beer, games, and more?! Plus, this event benefits charity. Games for Good at Lagunitas Taproom will feature live music, cornhole, giant Jenga, trivia, and more. For a $5 cover, guests will gain access to all of the games plus two slices of pizza. Proceeds from this event go toward FamilyWorks, a food bank and resource center for families in need. Be sure to get your taste of many delicious varieties of Lagunitas beer while also supporting your community.

March 31: Easter Egg Coloring Party

11:30am | Ray’s Cafe

Easter is right around the corner! For anyone seeking a great place to get together with their community, consider attending Ray’s Cafe Easter Egg Coloring Party. This event will take place on Ray’s covered patio, starting at 11:30 a.m. Children will have access to dyeing kits and hard-boiled eggs to make unique creations. Ray’s full menu will also be available during this event. Families will be asked to provide $10 donations to Mary’s Place, a center that empowers homeless women, children, and families, as the cost of entry.


Irish Eyes Are Smiling! Seattle Center’s Festal presents the 2018 Irish Festival

With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, there’s no better time to celebrate the beauty and depth of the Irish culture, and Seattle Center’s Festal is gearing up to do just that!

Head to Seattle Center on Saturday, March 17th and Sunday, March 18th and find a serious taste of the Emerald Isle right here in the heart of in the Emerald City. Festal’s Irish Festival will bring to life a multifaceted, in-depth adventure through Ireland, its history and traditions, no passport necessary.

Enjoy a fun and fascinating exploration of Irish cultural heritage, past and present, through visual arts, live performance, games, activities, and of course, food! Explore the market place featuring Irish handicrafts, live Irish music and that famous and oh-so-impressive Irish step dancing.

Do you have the luck of the Irish? Find out by tracing your own roots in geology workshops (yes! That’s at the festival!), and learn a bit of the Celtic language while you’re at it. The festival also promises Irish movies and short films, cultural exhibits and live demonstrations and maybe even a few Irish celebrities!


Festal is a series of multi-cultural events presented by and at the Seattle Center each year. Now in its 21st year, Festal continues to shine a light on the beauty and majesty of cultures across the globe by showcasing their rich and complex traditions, histories, art, music, dance, food and much more. Festal’s Irish Festival is presented in partnership with the Irish Heritage Club of Seattle.


Whether you’re looking to learn more about your own heritage, wanting to learn more about Ireland and its culture in general, or you’re simply tired of leprechauns and green beer and looking for a more authentic experience, Festal’s Irish Festival is sure to be a fun and fabulous way to spend your St. Patty’s Day weekend.

Seattle Center Festál
Irish Festival
March 17-18, 2018
Armory Main Level

Ballard’s 46 Libraries

A few of Ballard’s 45 Little Free Libraries.

Including our great (let’s be honest) Ballard branch of the Seattle Public Library, there are 46 libraries in our neighborhood! If you’ve seen little (often wood) boxes standing on poles along a residential street somewhere containing books, they are referred to as “Little Free Libraries”: a worldwide movement which started in Hudson, Wisconsin. As of Fall 2016, 50,000 of these little book depositories/lending libraries have sprouted up across the globe.

So how does it work? Some kind individual or organization wants to spread the joy of reading books and increase literacy. So they either buy a pre-made box from the Little Free Library organization  that originated the idea, or build one themselves. Books range greatly in subject matter, but the goal is to provide a varied selection of literature for the community. You can take a book, trade, or donate your own books. There is no need to bring back the book you borrowed, but if you have a few to share to keep the book exchange stocked for other neighbors, that’s great.

There are some fantastic structures in Ballard. They range from straightforward and practical, to colorful and whimsical! If you’re interested in finding out where a little free library is near you, or go on your own fun tour to see many of them, here’s a great map. Click on the book icons on the map to see what some of the boxes look like.

If you’d like to get involved or receive a $20 rebate for starting a new one, check out this page at Sustainable Ballard’s site. Or read more on Little Free Library’s FAQs page.

Happy reading!


What is going into this space, just east of the Ballard bridge? Read on.

So what’s happening with that empty lot south of the Ballard Blocks? A second Ballard Blocks complex is planned, and some businesses have already signed on. A couple different theories as to why the space development for that block was previously put on-hold include the financial strife of the former recession and another, the drainage problem the area is reportedly plagued with.

Looking east from the Ballard bridge at the current Ballard Blocks complex. New development will be to its right.

PCC Community Markets will almost certainly be the anchor business located at 1451 NW 46th Street, on the west end of the block next to the Ballard bridge. Permits have not been issued yet, but last year the city conditionally granted approval for this building project to move ahead, although the decision can be appealed through January 25th. A new 25,000 square foot co-op is planned to open in spring 2019, with a projected 100 unionized jobs. It will be interesting to see how this store melds with our many other nearby grocery options: Ballard Market, Safeway, QFC, Fred Meyer’s food section, a New Seasons store under construction, and right across the street, Trader Joe’s. This PCC store will not replace the Fremont store, which will receive an upgrade.

The proposed new site, look west.  Renderings: Weber Thompson

A walkway and seating area will lead from PCC between two businesses on the east end of the block, which will include West Marine. The all-things-marine/boat store will be located on the southeast corner and will also have about 25,000 square feet in their 2-story building. West Marine has two other established stores in Seattle as well: Shilshole Bay and Interbay. The future 12,000 sq. foot 3rd floor in the 5-story building on the northeast corner of the block is reserved for Bright Horizons childcare center, according to the leasing company, Real Retail. A fun feature of Bright Horizons’ space is a planned skybridge that will lead to West Marine’s roof to access an area for kids to play outside.

At the time of this writing, some spaces were still open for lease. There’s a retail kiosk space with about 950 sq. feet available near the southeast corner. In the northeast building, floors 1 & 2 would work for retail, and floors 4-5 are set up for office spaces, with a large rooftop deck. Total parking around or underneath the entire south Ballard Blocks will be approximately 300 stalls.

Say Välkommen To The Holiday Season At Yulefest!

Ready or not, it’s officially the holiday season.

The music has started, the decorations are going up, and each night, another house is lit up in the most festive of colors. If you ARE ready for some good ol’ fashioned Holiday cheer (so, basically unless you’re Scrooge?), head down to the Nordic Heritage Museum’s Annual Yulefest this Saturday and Sunday, November 18th and 19th!

Yulefest features all things Scandinavian and all things holiday, making it the perfect event to get in that ’God Jul’ (Merry Christmas) spirit!


Enjoy traditional Nordic-inspired items from many different vendors, plenty of delicious Scandinavian sweet and savory treats at the Nordic Cafe (even get some to go for later!) and traditional and contemporary Nordic music and dance will be performed on three different stages.

Kids are encouraged to have fun and get crafty with plenty of kid-oriented crafts,  a raffle and the opportunity to meet the man we all want a visit from in December, Santa Claus (or, Julenissen in Norwegian, Jultomten in Swedish)!

Grown-ups are also encouraged to have plenty of fun and toast the season in the Valhalla Beer Garden (which will be nice and toasty warm!) with a tasty beverage including the Nordic-fav hot mulled wine, glögg. Skål (cheers!) to that!  

This year, Yulefest celebrates its 40th year of bringing Scandinavian holiday fun and flair to our community, and it will be the last Yulefest celebrated at the Nordic Heritage Museum’s current location, before they move on to bigger and better things for 2018.

Yulefest is a wonderful celebration of culture, the holidays and community. If you’re ready for some serious holiday spirit, good food, fun music and maybe even some holiday shopping, Yulefest is the place to be!

God Jul!

Four Party Venues In Ballard To Book Your Holiday Party

November is here, and that means holiday party season is right around the corner. While it may seem too soon to be decking the halls and putting up holiday lights, rentable venues and party spaces are already starting to fill up in December. If you are looking for a private party room in Seattle, a Ballard music venue, or simply a fun place to host your holiday party, you’ve come to the right place. Here are a few Ballard venues for rent to book this holiday season.

For Elegant and Classy Dining Events: Hotel Ballard’s Olympic Rooftop Pavilion

Hotel Ballard, in the heart of Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, is an ideal location for gatherings of all kinds. This space has over 1,300 square feet of event space equipped with seating for up to 100 guests, an outdoor fireplace, antique chandeliers and more. Boasting elegant views of the mountains and water, the view from atop Hotel Ballard is hard to beat. Hotel Ballard also offers discounted rates for groups who reserve their event space if you have out of towners coming to Ballard for the holidays.

For Birthday Parties, Sporting Events, and Casual Get-Togethers: Ballard Loft

For a casual event space with great food and beer, Ballard Loft is the place to be. The Loft allows parties to reserve everything from eight person tables for the big game, to large areas within their space for groups of 20 or more. Party hosts can purchase advanced drink tickets for their guests and pre-order a number of menu items. You can also reserve their flat screen TV for sporting events, video premieres, theme parties and more.

For an evening near the ocean with a sunset view: Ray’s Boathouse

If your are looking for secluded charm and an ocean view for your holiday event, Ray’s Boathouse is the place for you. Events with Ray’s Boathouse include professional event planning staff, top notch servers, audiovisual equipment and more. Their menu of tasty seafood and other local flavors makes Ray’s a great choice for holiday parties of all kinds.

For an event catered to wine lovers: ESR Cellar

If you’re hosting a party for wine lovers, look no further than ESR Cellar for your venue. This space includes a tasting and dining space for up to 18 people and a custom food and drink menu for each party. A unique location for any kind of party, ESR is a great option this holiday season.

Image courtesy of


Halloween in Ballard

Photo:  Julia Raasch

If you live in or frequent downtown Ballard often, Halloween might be your favorite time of year here (as it is mine). The sidewalks, especially along Market Street, are a moving panorama of little kids dressed in their Halloween costumes, holding hands with a parent or two, some of which occasionally dress in costume, too. It brings a smile to one’s face, watching them gather their treats, handed out by local shop owners. This year is no exception, with trick-or-treat happening from 4:00-6:00 pm on Tuesday, October 31st, along Market Street and Ballard Avenue, near Bergen Place Park. neighborhood treat map

There’s also a nifty map on if you’d like to add your house as a place to stop in the neighborhood to collect more treats. Happy Hallow’s Eve!