Instead of fighting your way downtown to fill up your holiday goody bag, treat yourself (as well as the lucky ones on your gift list) to a day in Ballard. That's right, Ballard.
The once working-class, Nordic neighborhood, best known by some as the place to spy salmon swimming through the Ballard Locks, offers unexpectedly chic shopping in a community that feels wonderfully removed from the rest of the city.
We've canvassed the neighborhood for you, mapping out a trail of trendy boutiques, most of which are concentrated on Ballard Avenue Northwest and Market Street. Both streets are home to designer-and artist-based businesses where you can buy everything from buttery-leather slides to quirky handmade greeting cards and tastefully alluring lingerie.
Stock up on one-of-a-kind holiday gifts, then treat yourself to a pedicure, and cupcakes and coffee. Because let's face it: Giving may be its own reward, but holiday shopping's a lot more fun when there's something in it for you.
Cugini Cafe. Ballard Avenue's local espresso shop. 5306 Ballard; 206/784-2576.
Cupcake Royale. Get a buttercream-frosted cupcake ($2). 2052 N.W. Market St.; 206/782-9557.
Habitude at the Locks. Book a manicure, pedicure, or express facial at this earthy salon and spa. 2801 N.W. Market; 206/782-2898.
Portalis Wine Shop & Wine Bar. Fresh market cheeses and "small bites" items accompany wines by the glass. Closed Mon. 5310 Ballard; 206/783-2007.
Volterra. High-style weekend brunch, or dinner daily. 5411 Ballard; 206/789-5100.