Reviewing Seattle’s Neighborhoods, Ballard Area

Scroll to the end of this entry for a key to the measurements I use in comparing neighborhoods.

I’ve been out to Ballard a number of times.  I also know a few people that live out that way.  The neighborhood is suburban in nature, but it is of the town center layout model.  The neighborhood leads outwards from a town center area close to the Salmon Bay.

My general ride to explore the area from Belltown consists of jumping aboard the #18.  This bus provides a quick & easy single seat ride from downtown Seattle, through Belltown, by Queen Anne Hill, and directly into downtown Ballard.  It’s a quick and easy ride without much ballyhoo from miscreants or wierdos.  Especially during rush hour when they’re are extra express buses run along this route and the working class are always cordial and somewhat jovial, with smiles abounding as ladies are first onto the bus and drivers greet the riders.

Google Images with the search Ballard, Seattle, WA.

Bing Images with the search Ballard, Seattle, WA.

Architectural Mix:  Cape Cod, Coastal, Colonial, Contemporary, Modernistic, European, Feng Shui, California, Row Houses, and other architectural styles.  Generally follows the great mix of houses that Seattle has.

The Unique Bits:  Ballard truly has some very unique bits.  This adds a great deal of character to the neighborhood & town area in general.  The town center area has artwork, and large art pieces on display.  Over the waterway their are unique bridges that add an element of escape from the bustle of downtown Seattle.  The Salmon Bay has hundreds of boats in the area.  The list of unique characteristics is pretty long, my advice, but this neighborhood on the list of places to check out in Seattle.  It is absolutely one of the best areas in the city!

Arterial Mapping:  Ballard has more than a few primary arterials coming into and out of the area.  If you’re looking for an Interstate (which you shouldn’t be) then this is not the area of town for you.

On the map below I highlighted some of the major arterials in, out, and around the area.

Primary Arterials (Click of full size map image)

Primary Arterials (Click of full size map image)

Sleep Quality:  I’ve not actually stayed in Ballard overnight, but just from spending multiple days there hanging out I can imagine the sleep quality one gets is very good.  Even though downtown, which stays up late, is a quiet downtown, with a calm and safe demeanor (i.e. lower crime than most areas).  A little further from the downtown core I imagine gets even more quiet and calm for a solid night of sleep.

Night Life:  The night life in the area is really good.  There is art, music (rock, punk, blues, and other) in the area on the weekends, multiple festivals every year and a host of restaraunts, bars, coffee shops, and other establishments that stay open 10pm, and several that are open well into the night and into the morning not closing until 1 or 2 am.  These establishments range from the fun little dive bar, the local bar with sloopers that are 34 ounces, to the trendier and more upscale establishments throwing in the adventurous drink mixes, well lit romantic establishments, and more.

Transit Options:  The transit options in Ballard are some of the best in the area.  There is east west and north south options heading toward other major areas like Fremont, Wallingford, University District, Belltown, and of course Downtown.  Most of the routes are frequent, and run pretty late into the night (midnight or later) and start running plenty early at 4 and 5 am.  There are also plans for Rapid Ride (BRT), the D Line, to begin service in later 2012, which will provide 5-10 minute access to downtown and around the area during peak times and 10-15 minute during non-peak times.  For more information about Rapid Ride check out the Rapid Ride Blog.  To put it simply, Ballard doesn’t just have good transit options for Seattle, but good transit options compared to most American cities!  Check out the map below for an idea of the routes + a layout of the downtown with many of the local establishments listed.

Ballard Transit Options (Click for full size map image)

Ballard Transit Options (Click for full size map image)

Walk Score:  Ballards walk score ranges between 100 (yup, it’s one of the best in the world – a walker’s paradise as walkscore states) to ~70ish which is still very walkable (Click the links for the walkscore map & additional information).  Overall the Ballard area is easily one of the best areas to explore in Seattle, especially when the fairs and festivals are taking place!

Measurement Key:

  • Walk Score: from at least 2 residential locations in the neighborhood: Via
  • Transit Options: What buses traverse the area and what other town centers/areas are easily navigable via transit.
  • Night Life: What time does the neighborhood generally “shut down”, or at least appear to.
  • Sleep Quality: This is simply a combination of noise, crime, feeling safe, and other measures and feeling rolled into one. Ranking will be Good or Bad.
  • Arterial Mapping: This will be a map of the primary transit & road arterials in and out of the neighborhood.
  • The Unique Bits: This is a list of things that make a particular neighborhood unique. Think of it like a list that makes this neighborhood not like the ticky tacky, cookie cutter, suburban sprawl neighborhoods.
  • Architecture Mix: See this chart for examples:


    1. Ha ha ha. I miss Almost Live. And yeah, those Ballard bits were funny as hell. I think it’s more fun than it used to be 🙂


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