I have no idea why I love the Ballard Locks (officially the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks) as much as I do. When I moved here over a decade ago and heard about the locks, I thought they sounded boring. Then I worked at a café a mile or so away, and I’d run over there often after work.
First of all, the grounds are incredible. Even with a thousand people around, walking through feels somehow peaceful, or maybe just homey.
And then WHY, oh why, is watching a huge receptacle slowly fill with water SO enrapturing?!? I have no idea, but it is. Thinking about how the locks were built and why is really interesting. And then it seems archaic somehow, so un-technological, so hands-on. I love that.
And I won’t lie — it’s also fun to people-watch the folks who come through. Some on enormous, super fancy boats or yachts; some on humble fishing boats; some filled with families who are sun-burnt and wind-blown. You can see why they all love being on the water.
The funny thing is, these are the only photos I have of the locks. LOL. You’ll have to go see it for yourself. 😉
After you’re bored of the locks, there’s the salmon ladder. It is surprisingly exciting to watch giant salmon through the windows, trying desperately to jump or push their way to freedom.
If you stand in there and watch people watching the fish, you’d think they were secretly watching a Seahawks game on their phones. All of a sudden, salmon #1,863 jumping over the wall is somehow as exciting as Beast Mode pushing over the line. (I am TOTALLY right there with them, btw.)
Besides all that, there are sculptures to play on and around, and old, unused train tracks that lead to the locks. The kids loved playing train with Aunt Emily, and I won a $5 bet that I couldn’t balance-beam the length of the track. Booya!
FINALLY, if you go, have dinner at Chinooks, and sit outside if it’s nice. Brunch there is my favorite, but it’s pretty amazing overall. And if you have one, bring a grandpa. They’re the best. 😉