I Spy Ballard: Why You and Your Family Should Spend the day in Ballard…ASAP
Ballard is the place to be.
Long touted as a little city in the big city, it is just that. With Scandinavian roots that make it super charming, there’s just something magical about this neighborhood – making you feel like you’re a world away, though you’re only minutes from downtown Seattle. This neighborhood has it all – a hip vibe, wonderful parks (with AH-MAY-ZING views), and treats for your taste buds at every turn.
I Spy: CAFFEINE!
Ahhh….don’t you love the morning time? When you can sit down quietly with a nice cup of joe and read the paper?? Yea right! If you’re a parent, most likely those days have long been fading in the rearview mirror. That’s why we love Firehouse Coffee. Aside from the perfectly brewed Caffe Vita, this little gem boasts its own kids’ area. You can sit and sip, visit with friends, log on to their reportedly unfailing wi-fi, or just stare at a wall – while your kids are occupied with toys and a bunch of new little best friends... it’s a total win-win.
Firehouse Coffee: yelp | 2622 NW Market Street
I Spy: Something Local
Who doesn't love a good farmer’s market? Local suppliers, entertainment – and samples galore! How can you go wrong? Ballard Farmer’s Market is a “European-style sustainable market” that operates every Sunday year round. These hardcore purveyors will not be affected by the weather, in fact on the website they claim to be open rain, sun, wind or snow claiming they are “more reliable than the Post Office.” Well, that’s excellent news for us. With a huge variety of everything from baked goods, to kombucha, local Washington produce and meats… there’s no shortage of things to taste. PLUS there’s always some fun entertainment provided by a variety of street performers (“buskers”), not to mention the great people (and four-legged friend) watching.
I Spy: Something Educational
Move over Fremont Troll – Hiram M. Chittenon Locks has become one of Seattle’s most popular tourist attractions (especially in the summer), and it could literally provide HOURS of fun for little ones and grown-ups alike. As the link between the Puget Sound and Lake Union/Lake Washington, the Ballard Locks is a boat-watchers mecca (from 760 footers to kayaks!). Aside from the boat traffic, this location is also a critical link for the salmon and steelhead heading upstream to spawn. The “fish ladder” provides an awesome view of these amazingly majestic creatures as they make their trek. Look for King Salmon in mid-August, Coho in late-September, Steelhead February-March and Sockeye in the month of July. And the best news? It’s all completely free!
Ballard Locks: trip advisor | 3015 Northwest 54th Street
I Spy: Something Berry-licious
All of that standing and staring has no doubt made you work up an appetite – and there is no better place in Ballard to take the family than Portage Bay Café. With an extensive menu loaded with local ingredients (think Uli’s sausage, Beecher’s cheese and Grand Central Bakery), a plethora of gluten free and vegan options, and breakfast served all day – Portage Bay will fill those growling tummies with good quality fare. Arguably the best part of the experience is the infamous breakfast bar. One view will make “your eyes light up and your tummy say howdy”, as my grandpa used to say. The bar piled high with seasonal fruit, nuts, organic maple syrup from Stannard Farm, and whipped cream for diners to top their French toast, pancakes and waffles. And Portage Bay says there’s only one rule… “Take all you want, but eat all you take!” Yum.
I Spy: Pacific Northwest Scenery
Take your sugar high and head to one of the best parks our great city has to offer – Golden Gardens Park. This is an absolutely gorgeous spot that has something for everyone. With awesome beaches (most ideal for sunbathing when the sun is out – the water is pretty cold year round), scenic hiking trails, and panoramic wetlands that are home to a great variety of wildlife – you will not get bored at Golden Gardens Park. Plus word on the street is eagle sightings are plenty, and on select days you may even sneak a peak of a sea lion sunning!
I Spy: Something Decadent
Oh. My. Chocolate. We’re talking ooey gooey, warm and melting, change your life chocolate. Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery is everything. Read that again – it’s a Molten. Chocolate. Cakery. Serving up self-described “classic American comfort desserts and other original and innovative confections”, they are best known for their take-and-bake Molten Chocolate Cake in a mason jar. They have a Happy Hour (arguably the happiest 3 hours in Seattle!) from 3-6pm Monday through Friday. Get $5 deals like cookies and milk, spiked drinking chocolate, and exquisite glasses of wine. We’re telling you, Hot Cakes is the stuff that dreams are made of.
I Spy: Pure Sweetness
“I’ll Take You to the Candy Shop…” – this is a little bit of a music reference for the Generation X and Y-ers, and while the rest of the lyrics are slightly inappropriate, there is nothing inappropriate about Sweet Mickey’s Candy Shop. Recently voted one of America’s Best Candy Shops by Travel + Leisure magazine, the store boasts an impressive selection of handmade fudge (melts in your mouth), a ginormous collection of licorice, nostalgic candy – and over 100 bulk items. This locally-owned confectionery will satisfy any sweet tooth, and make you feel, well, like a kid in a candy store.