Welcome to my first edition of my new feature “Travelin’ Around”. While I will spend most of my travel in the Pacific Northwest, occasionally I will feature farther away spots too. Today’s edition belongs to the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle.
Why Ballard? Well, it’s a funny story. I had planned on trying out a feature of my local Fred Meyer called Clicklist. So I did all of my online shopping and originally planned on picking it up when I went an hour north to pick up my nephew for his birthday adventure (there are not any stores in my city that participate in Clicklist). When I found out that he would not be able to come for our adventure I was disappointed about not having him over, but also the fact that I would have to actually grocery shop. I hatched a brilliant plan, since it was going to be a Saturday I decided to schedule my grocery pickup for the Ballard grocery store about 45 minutes away and make a day of it.
While researching what there is to do in Ballard besides Greenlake (I had been there and was wanting to do something new) I came across several fun things to do there. We ended up choosing the Ballard Locks and Golden Gardens Park.
I had always heard about the Locks and had a vague notion of what happened there, but not really understanding how any of it would work.
If you are unfamiliar with the Locks, they transfer boats from Lake Washington at the top of a dam to the ocean, at the bottom of the dam. It was so intriguing to see how the whole transfer worked. Plus you can learn the history of the Locks in the great visitor center they have there too. For instance, did you know the Locks started because of a guy, a shovel and a plan? It’s a great educational trip for the whole family!
I would recommend giving yourself at least a half day there. There are huge grassy areas for picnics, there was live entertainment when we were there, the locks, salmon viewing (*Hint: if the locks for the large ships aren’t in use, check there for salmon viewing too. Nobody was there when we went except a fish counter. She was happy to answer all of our questions), the visitor center with loads of information, and a gift shop (a penny squisher if you like to squish them). The grounds also feature a botanical garden. I absolutely loved this little surprise in our trip and took lots of pictures.
Did I mention the Locks are free to visit? The only downside to the Locks is the parking is difficult, arrive early in the morning and that should help alleviate it. It costs to park here but prices vary depending on where you park. You can find the official website for the Ballard Locks here.
Golden Gardens Park
We went to Golden Gardens Park five minutes away from the Locks. The parking here was very bad and I would recommend splitting these two excursions into two days. This would be a good place to arrive early. We spent so much time at the Locks that we had about an hour for our visit here. We found a parking spot and my boys headed for the playground. This is a nice two section playground that is full of ropes and a pirate ship. The park has swings located over a little hill making them inconvenient with more than one child to watch.
The beach here was gorgeous! It had the good kind of sand that squishes between your toes, a view of all the sailboats and sea life was plenty. My boys found a crab and a sea anemone of some kind. Plus, they saw a Tegu Lizard on a leash! Now this probably won’t be there all the time, but he told us he does like to take him to the beach because the lizard loves it. He let us pet it and it was very nice. This beach is very popular though, making it hard to find a spot in the sand if you come in the afternoon. I recommend bringing a sunshade because there is no shade on the beach. You will find a popsicle stand and other snacks there that only take cash. The official website for the Golden Gardens Park is here.
Lastly, and the main reason for our trip, was Clicklist! I was so excited to try this out that I could hardly wait. They allow you to schedule a one hour window for pickup. I had chosen 3-4 so we could spend our day in Ballard before pick up since we would have to head home after. When we arrived we parked and called the number on the sign. A few minutes later a gentleman walk out to ask if we had coupons and went in to calculate our total. He returned a few minutes later with our groceries and loaded them in our van. I couldn’t believe the ease of this service! He was quick and efficient and personable at the same time. I want to shop like this all the time, I may need to plan trip around another Clicklist location and explore another new place!
I highly recommend spending time in Ballard and discovering all of these wonderful places! Have you been to these locations? Any recommendations for where I should go next?