Answers from Our Experts (3)
Ballard is like five minutes from Seattle. It’s part of Seattle; but they have these “Free Ballard” bumper stickers, like “Free Tibet” because they want to be their own independent nation. It’s originally like a Nordic fishing village. They’re just independent, fiery and wonderful. Probably my favorite restaurant scene is in Ballard, and the bars, the nightlife. It’s on the water. It’s like brick streets. It’s perfect.
Capitol Hill is super hip and trendy. It’s a fight between Ballard and Capitol Hill on who has the better restaurant scene. Capitol Hill is a little bigger, a little louder and a little crazier, so I’m a little more on Team Ballard between the two. But you can’t go wrong if you hang out in Ballard or Capitol Hill.
Another one that is really great is Fremont, which is just below our restaurant. They’re a little bit crazy in Fremont. They’re wonderfully hippy-ish. They have this parade where they all get naked and ride their bicycles through the city. It’s so laidback and fun. Great restaurants in Fremont. They’re fun and crazy.
Then you have to love Queen Anne, which is probably the calmest of all of them. But in Queen Anne, you get views of the ocean and of the city. You get great little shops and boutiques, and great little restaurants. It’s the most beautiful of the neighborhoods. It’s the most expensive, but it’s wonderful.
Full confession: When we moved from Fremont to the north end of the University District a little over a year ago, I was not a fan. After living on a quiet residential street, moving to a student-centric neighborhood proved to be (ahem) rather colorful. Slowly, I learned to live with weekend noise and an uptick in crime and transient activity. And I’ve grown to love all the conveniences living near a university offers.
Here are the top five reasons why I think the University District is a great neighborhood:
Saturday Farmers Market. What’s not to love about dozens of vendors, frequent live music and sampling local foodstuffs?
Ravenna Park. When I need a dose of urban nature, I grab my dog and head to this 50 acre wooded park. Cut by a ½-mile ravine and lots of paths, it’s a great place to lose yourself for a while.
Events at UW. Being near a big university means lots of cool events like author readns, musical performances and cultural exhibits. I can always find something fun (and cheap) to do.
Ethnic food. At first, I opined a lack of thoughtful wine lists and craft cocktails, but the variety of global fare has more than made up for these grown-up shortcomings. Whether I want Greek, Thai or Indian (and that’s the shortlist), it’s all within a few block radius.
Seattle is stitched together from many unique neighborhoods, each with their own personality. So it's tough to pinpoint the "best" neighborhoods, because it really depends on what you're after. Here's a rundown of some of the most popular:
Fremont: Fremont rocks its "funky on purpose" vibe. Weird statues (including a massive troll under the Aurora Bridge and one of Lenin), bizarre architecture (a building that incorporates a missle into the facade), and a colorful cast of characters makes this 'hood interesting.
Capitol Hill: Cap Hill is a mix of students, hipsters, and increasingly, young families. It's widely considered the hippest neighborhood in the city, and the soaring rent prices attest. Once run-down, the neighborhood gentrified in the last decade or so, with shiny new condo buildings and more restaurants and bars than you could possibly patronize in a lifetime. There's a thriving party scene here, so this is a favorite 'hood for those seeking nightlife.
Ballard: Ballard was once a separate municipality before Seattle annexed it. The fishing village was colonized by Scandinavians, and the heart of Ballard still shows its Nordic roots a bit despite modern condos and gentrification. Find Ballard's history on Ballard Avenue, with its "old town" feel. High-end boutiques are mixed with some of the city's best restaurants and bars.