View from Kerry Park in Queen Anne

Seattle Neighborhoods: Exploring Beyond Downtown

(Last Updated On: April 10, 2020)

Seattle’s neighborhoods are just as fascinating and worth a visit as the city proper is. Seattle is a great city, no doubt about it. I love the rain as much as I love the coffee. Iconic attractions such as the Space Needle and Pike’s Place Market are places I always enjoy visiting while in the Emerald City.

However, when you’ve visited over a handful of times you start to crave seeing new stuff. A few of my most recent trips to Seattle allowed me to finally be a bit more adventurous and seek out what the neighborhoods of Ballard, Fremont, Green Lake and the University District have to offer.

If you are thinking of planning a visit to Seattle in the near future, I encourage you to see the highlights of downtown, especially if its your first time visiting, but also highly recommend weaving in some of the attractions outside of downtown.

Ballard Neighborhood

Seattle neighborhoods, such as Ballard provide a hip vibe. Just six miles north of downtown Seattle, this is an easy spot to incorporate to your next visit.

Ballard is best known for attracting visitors to the popular Ballard Locks, where ships and salmon pass through to its brand new Nordic Museum. The Nordic Museum pays homage to the areas Scandinavian roots.

Photo c/o Instagram @myballard – Nordic Museum, Ballard, Seattle, USA

In addition to the super cool Ballard Locks and Nordic Museum locals and visitors can enjoy a wealth of shopping at small local shops that line Ballard Avenue and nearby streets as well as partake in visiting a number of breweries, most notably Peddler Brewing Company, Stoup Brewing, Reuben’s Brews – The Taproom and about 10 more breweries. One could easily spend an entire day just on brewery tour.

I really enjoyed watching the ships pass through the locks as well as spot some salmon. If you are lucky you can also see some seals. Entrance to the Ballard Locks property is completely free. There is a gift shop and restrooms on site as well as a park to stroll through.

While I didn’t get a chance to visit any breweries I was happy to grab a nitro cold brew coffee from Ballard Coffee Works. This coffee shop brews up the popular Seattle Coffee Works coffee beans. The space is bright and airy and provides plenty of seating options, encouraging patrons to linger for as long as you desire.

Fremont Neighborhood

The Seattle neighborhoods are very close from the city center. Take the Fremont neighborhood, it is only a three mile drive north from downtown. The vibe here is largely bohemian and artsy. But in addition it is also very techie, due in large part to Google’s Seattle headquarters calling the Fremont neighborhood home.

The top attractions in Fremont include visiting the popular troll statue that is nestled under the Aurora Bridge. Definitely worth a photo-op. The troll was said to be erected under the bridge to deter people from hanging out and lingering under the bridge. But in a way, it has seemed to just attract visitors.

Photo c/o Instagram @visitseattle – Fremont Troll – Seattle, USA

In addition to the troll statue, visitors also come to Fremont to visit the Theo Chocolate Factory. A few visits ago, I toured the factory with my mom. It costs about $10 for the tour, which is reasonable for all the information you learn about how chocolate is made as well as getting plenty of chocolate samples along the way.

Theo Chocolate, Seattle
A sample of Theo Chocolate’s during the tour.

Seattle neighborhoods also attract visitors to their large breweries. Take the Fremont neighborhood with over 10 breweries and growing in this cute little piece of Seattle. The most popular is the Fremont Brewing Company.

Photograph c/o @visitseattle Instagram – Fremont Brewing, Seattle, USA

The Fremont neighborhood sits along Lake Union and the Fremont Cut bodies of water, making it very picturesque for taking a walk along the Burke-Gilman Trail. There are many opportunities to rent bicycles in Seattle from companies such as Lime Bike, where you can pike up a bike and drop it at another location throughout the city.

Green Lake Neighborhood

Next up on the list is Green Lake. Seattle Neighborhoods such as Green Lake provide a nice retreat from the bustling downtown life, but are just a stone’s throw from the city center.

From downtown Seattle Green Lake is only a six mile drive, which will take about 15 minutes without traffic. The neighborhood is very residential, built up around a beautiful lake named Green Lake (of course).

My husband and I recently stayed in an Airbnb (affiliate) in the nearby University district which is a neighborhood right next to Green Lake.

Side note: use this link to get $40 off a home booking, or $15 off an experience!

We enjoyed a fun run around the entire lake, which is a great way to start the day. The total mileage around the lake spans about three miles.

Photo c/o Instagram @visitseattle – Green Lake, Seattle, USA

Green Lake is home to some wonderful shops and eateries. One standout is the Seattle institution 24-Hour diner known as Beth’s. We ate here one morning and really enjoyed the classic diner food. Fun fact – hash browns are unlimited, sort of like how the coffee keeps flowing at diners, well here its also the hash browns, and who doesn’t love hash browns?

Beth’s has hosted numerous celebrities from Nirvana band mates including the late Kurt Cobain to Scarlett Johansson, Ryan Reynolds, and Man vs. Food host Adam Richman who also filmed an episode here for the Travel Channel.

University District

Last but not least is the University District. Its here where my husband and I called home from our Airbnb for a few nights. We enjoyed this location, on University Avenue as it was really youthful and vibrant due in much part to the large campus of the University of Washington nearby. In less than a 10 minute walk from our Airbnb we could get to a wealth of coffee shops, restaurants and independent stores as well as the big brands such as Urban Outfitters and Target.

Photograph c/o Instagram @visitseattle – University of Washington Campus – Seattle, USA

If you are a fan of New York style pizza, I highly recommend going to Supreme on University Avenue where you can buy pizza by-the-slice. Also, the prices here are reasonable, at just $5 for a slice the size of your head, its totally worth it.

One morning we went to breakfast at another iconic Seattle spot called Voula’s Offshore Cafe. It’s a Greek diner located on the water on the edge of the University District. A family operated diner since 1984 and famously visited by Guy Fieri of the hit Food Network show Diners, Dives and Drives. The menu even has a section dedicated to Guy Fieri’s top choices.

I hope this article provided you with a glimpse into some of Seattle’s fun neighborhoods to the north of downtown, and has intrigued you to explore them.


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