Seattle, Washington audio tour: Historic Ballard: the quirky Scandinavian enclave just north of downtown Seattle

Historic Ballard: the quirky Scandinavian enclave just north of downtown Seattle

Walking Tour

30 mins

About the Tour

Who says history has to be boring? Enjoy this saucy walking tour of the historic Ballard neighborhood from a veteran tour guide who has heard all the great stories.

I fell in love with Ballard the first time I was introduced to it – so much so that I stayed in Seattle, learning about the city. That was over 14 years ago now! Find out for yourself why this charming city of salmon, coffee and music is so magical.
Some of the highlights that I cover on the tour:

• A brief introduction to Seattle's early history
• Bergen Place and its Scandinavian Connection
• How Ballard was annexed by the City of Seattle
• What Snoose Junction was

Whether you've lived here all your life, are visiting for the first time – or anything in between – this tour is for you. You’ll find so much of the history of this quirky 19th century boomtown on Ballard Avenue. It’s an authentic slice of Seattle, with some of its most iconic buildings and establishments. Let’s take a stroll down it together.

Tour Producer


Elke Hautala

An identical twin performer/tour guide turned scholar and documentary filmmaker. Elke has worked as an actress, completed a singer-songwriter album, given tours of the Seattle Underground (including one for Anthony Bourdain's show The Layover) and is currently finishing three educational documentary films. She wants to share the joy of public history and diverse culture through uplifting stories.

Major Landmarks

  • Historical Ballard Ave

  • NW Market St.

  • Bergen Place

  • Bell Tower in old Ballard City Hall Location

Directions to Starting Point

You'll be starting in the heart of the preserved district at 5000 20th ave NW. This is right at the intersection of Ballard Ave and 20th Ave NW. Plenty of street parking is usually available or you can take the #44 bus to NW Market St and Ballard Ave then walk in to where the tour begins.

Show Directions
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Places to stop along the way

There are lots of incredible places to stop at along Ballard Ave. Some of my all time favorites include:

*Other Coast Cafe for out-of-this-world sandwiches and subs
*Miro Tea (especially good on cozy days with light rain) for an amazing tea, coffee and treats selection
*La Carta de Oaxaca for authentic Mexican food you'll be sure to remember
*Ocho is the perfect way to end your tour with tapas and a fun beverage

Best time of day

Mornings are the best time if you want lots of quiet and time to reflect except Sundays when the Farmer's Market will be open. If you prefer a little more activity aim for early afternoon. Weekends will be busier. Avoid evenings on the weekend as it will be especially crowded at that time.


Keep an eye out as you are walking and watch your step. The sidewalk is uneven at times and there are cobblestones.


What a delightful tour. Elke Hautala is a veritable fount of fascinating history and quirky anecdotes about Seattle's Ballard neighborhood. Fun and informative in equal measure - a tour not to be missed, whether you're a local curious about Seattle origins or wandering the neighborhood for the first time. Five Stars!!!

Posted by Jean Sherrard , over 1 year ago
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Historic Ballard: the quirky Scandinavian enclave just north of downtown Seattle