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Seattle Scene:Fun In Ballard

Updated on October 11, 2012
Beach view of The Puget Sound at Golden Gardens Park
Beach view of The Puget Sound at Golden Gardens Park | Source


The Ballard neighborhood is one of the oldest communities in Seattle, Washington.

This trendy area has managed to maintain its deep roots within its Scandinavian heritage while keeping up with the times. The population is well integrated now and offers a varied selection of restaurants and cafes, shops, activities, venues for live entertainment as well as a beautiful family oriented residential area.

Ballard offers many outstanding places to see and activities to do and two of the largest attractions are Golden Gardens Park and the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks.

Playground at Golden Gardens Park
Playground at Golden Gardens Park | Source

Golden Gardens Park

Golden Gardens Park encapsulates Seattle, Washington. This park is located approximately 15 minutes north of Downtown Seattle and it has something for everyone. A few samples of things visitors will see during an outing to Golden Gardens are:

  • Breathtaking View of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains
  • Large beach area with picnic tables and covered areas
  • Playground for kids
  • Boat launch area
  • Fishing Pier
  • Hiking trail
  • Separate grassy park area where off leash dogs and their owners are welcome
  • Twelve designated fire pits located along the beach for a wonderful way to relax and enjoy the sunset next to an open fire.
  • Volleyball nets
  • Kites flying
  • Sailboats as far as the eye can see
  • Sand dunes located on the far north side of the beach

Golden Gardens always seems to be the perfect destination for celebrations. Visitors will often see joyful gatherings on the beach such as wedding ceremonies, family reunions and numerous birthday parties. The out of the way location and view make for a beautiful venue for any gathering.

Golden Gardens Park
Golden Gardens Park | Source
Golden Gardens Park Beach
Golden Gardens Park Beach | Source

The Golden Gardens Bathhouse

The weather in Seattle isn’t always conducive to an outdoors event but that doesn’t mean that a beach party has to be out of the question. The Golden Gardens Bathhouse is the perfect solution to Mother Nature’s fickle ways.

The historic bathhouse was originally built in 1930 and was renovated in 2004 to comfortably accommodate gatherings for up to 140 guests.

There are chairs and tables included, staff is available for your event and the view of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains in the horizon is truly amazing.

The Bathhouse at Golden Gardens Park
The Bathhouse at Golden Gardens Park | Source

Hiram M Chittenden Locks

Hiram M Chittenden Locks has been nicknamed The Ballard Locks because it is located just minutes east of Golden Gardens Park in the Ballard community in Seattle, Washington.

The Ballard Locks is a gateway for boats to travel from the salty waters of the Puget Sound into the fresh water of the Ship Canal. The Ship Canal connects to Lake Union and Lake Washington.

Boat traveling through the Ballard Locks
Boat traveling through the Ballard Locks | Source

How The Ballard Locks Works

The unique design of the Ballard Locks accommodates the fact that the lakes are kept at least 20 feet above sea level and it keeps the saltwater of the Puget Sound from mixing into the fresh water lakes.

There are two channels available for boats to pass through. The small passageway is available for smaller motor boats, kayaks and sailboats and one large passageway for larger boats, yachts and barges.

Each channel has two sets of watertight concrete gates used for water level control.

  1. When leaving the Puget Sound
  2. Vessels pass through the first set of gates
  3. Tie the vessel up on the side walls of the channel with assistance as needed from the Locks attendants
  4. The first set of gates close behind the vessels
  5. Fresh water is pumped into the channel, raising the boats to the level of the Ship Canal
  6. The second set of gates opens and allows the boats to continue on their journey.

This whole process takes about 15 minutes and is simply reversed for vessels that wish to travel the opposite directions and go from the Ship Canal into the Puget Sound.

Over one million tons of cargo travel through the Ballard Locks each year.

Boats entering the Ballard Locks
Boats entering the Ballard Locks | Source

Fun To Watch Up Close

The tops of the gates we designed so that pedestrians can walk across the channels. Visitors can use the gates to travel from the botanical gardens to the fish ladder or to simply enjoy watching the Locks in action.

Many are fascinated to see the variety of vessels that pass through the Locks each day. It is common to see everything from kayaks, speed boats, yachts to commercial fishing boats.

Fish Ladder at the Ballard Locks
Fish Ladder at the Ballard Locks | Source

The Fish Ladder

The fish latter was designed to allow Salmon to swim downstream or upstream as they instinctually would, without having to go through the Locks.

There is a front row viewing area for visitors to watch the salmon. Everyone can see the fish ladder from outside or underground with interesting facts available for all to learn about the Salmons migration.

Fish Ladder at the Ballard Locks
Fish Ladder at the Ballard Locks | Source

The Botanical Gardens

The Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden is another featured attraction that makes the Ballard Locks such a wonderful place to visit.

Designed in 1931, this remarkable seven acre garden is filled with over 570 types of exotic plants from all over the world. The ambiance and backdrop makes it a highly desired place to hold wedding ceremonies.

Botanical Gardens at the Ballard Locks
Botanical Gardens at the Ballard Locks | Source

Must See

While Ballard has many wonderful things to offer, Golden Garden Park and Hiram M Chittenden Locks are two historic and beautiful attractions that everyone who is in the Seattle area should experience at least once.

Both locations offer many incredible activities to witness and participate in while always offering a simply breathtaking peaceful views of nature.

Golden Gardens Park Beach
Golden Gardens Park Beach | Source

Map and Directions To Ballard

show route and directions
A markerGolden Gardens Park -
8498 Seaview Pl NW, Seattle, WA 98117, USA
get directions

B markerBallard Locks -
3015 NW 54th St, Seattle, WA 98107, USA
get directions


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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      This was so interesting to follow. The photos are good and make you feel as if you are there. Thanks for sharing the highlights of this area.

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      I'd love to see the fish ladder, being able to view it above and below ground must be really interesting.

    • roxanne459 profile image

      Roxanne Lewis 5 years ago from Washington

      I love it when a hub sparks nostalgia! Thank you for reading :)

    • GClark profile image

      GClark 5 years ago from United States

      This hub certainly evokes lots of memories - haven't been to Ballard in years, but have always thought of it as an interesting and fun place with great atmosphere. The Scandinavian history and influence added extra interest for early visitors. Having a great beach like Golden Gardens was an additional plus and provided more activities for the whole family.

    • roxanne459 profile image

      Roxanne Lewis 5 years ago from Washington

      I love that! I grew up in Magnolia so I spend much of my youth there as well. Great place!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Golden Gardens is where we hung out when I was in college at Seattle University; I haven't been back there in forty years. Thanks for the memories.