Enjoy the quirky local landmarks along this stimulating urban walk.
View Walking Downtown Fremont in a larger map
Start at N 34th St and Fremont Ave just on the north side of the Fremont Bridge. The area is well served by several bus routes, including the 26, 28, 30, 31, 17, and 46 (weekdays only). If you’re driving, there is some garage and street parking in the area – click for driving directions.
We start by Waiting for the Interurban, a piece of public art that’s always changing based on the clothes that residents put on it. This aluminum sculpture was created in 1979 and is named after the Seattle-Everett Interurban railway that ran along Fremont Ave. The sculpture is on a large concrete median that separates the eastbound bicycle lane and westbound car traffic from eastbound car traffic coming from Fremont Ave N.
Walk south along Fremont Ave N toward the Fremont Bridge. The Fremont Bridge opened in 1917, the same year as the Lake Washington Ship Canal. The bridge does not open for boat traffic during rush hour, but otherwise is raised 35 times per day on average. The blue and orange colors for the bridge were chosen as a result of a poll taken in 1985. Continue across the bridge and enjoy the view to the left toward Lake Union and the George Washington bridge.
Once you reach the intersection, notice the 1930s transit stop at the SE corner of the intersection at Westlake Ave and Dexter. Cross Fremont Ave N (you’ll have to cross two separate roadways).
Head back north along the west side of Fremont Ave N. From this side of the bridge, you can look west along the tree-lined ship canal. There are trails for walking and biking on both sides. After crossing the canal, look for the stairs on your left that will take you down to the popular Burke-Gilman Trail.
Head west along the trail and be careful to keep to the right so that bikers can pass. While you could take this trail all the way to the Ballard Locks, stay on it for only two blocks before turning right on Phinney Ave N. The cross streets aren’t easy to identify from the trail, so just pay attention to the parking lot that the trail goes beside – the parking lot will curve toward Phinney Ave, which is where you want to turn.
At the intersection with N 35th St is the Theo Chocolate factory, which is the “only organic, fair trade, bean-to-bar chocolate factory in the United States.” The factory offers public tours 7 days a week.
On the opposite side of Phinney Ave is a large wall painted with the likeness of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, stars of the classic film Casablanca.
This is the Fremont Outdoor Cinema, which shows outdoor film screenings in summer.
Continue for another block and turn right at N 36th St. This is a busy arterial street, but has street parking and buildings along the sidewalk that make this a comfortable place to walk. It’s also a long block, so there won’t be any motor vehicles crossing your path for a little while. The houses to your right were built in the early 1900s and have been converted to commercial use. You’ll pass the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, whose office was built in 1901. Many of the more industrial looking buildings were built in the 1920s. Continue walking on this side of the street – you’ll see some coffee shops and places to eat on the opposite side of the street as well.
At the next intersection you’ll see the Statue of Lenin. After the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia, this statue was almost melted for its bronze. However, a resident from the Seattle area who was teaching English nearby managed to have it shipped back to the US. The statue is for sale, but has been displayed in Fremont since 1995 and has become a local landmark.
Communist Vladimir Lenin towers over this intersection in Fremont
Continue along the main road, which changes names to Fremont Pl N. There are many places to eat around here. You’ll see the Fremont directional sign to your left as you cross 35th St.
Continue on to 34th St. Turn left and cross Fremont Ave N along 34th St. Then reverse direction and head north along Fremont Ave N.
There are more places to eat and shop as you head up the hill. At N 36th St, turn right. This section of Fremont is mostly residential, though you’ll pass Fremont Baptist Church, which was built in 1924. Troll Ave N is at the next block, and to your left is the famous Fremont Troll, which was built in 1990 to help clean up the area under the bridge, as it had become used for illicit activities.
Turn right and head downhill along Troll Ave N, which runs under the Aurora Bridge. Cross N 35th St when you can and turn right toward the west. On your left will be the Fremont Public Library, which was one of several Carnegie Libraries in Seattle and opened in 1921. Just past the library is A. B. Ernst Park, which opened in 2004. Go through the park and stroll back down to N 34th St.
At 34th St, just across the street is the J.P. Patches statue, dedicated to popular local clown J. P. Patches. Turn right at N 34th St to head back to our starting point at Fremont Ave N. Or, if you’d prefer, from here you can start our Fremont Walk along the Burke Gilman Trail.
highlights: quirky local landmarks; places to stop to eat, drink, and shop; historic architecture; Burke-Gilman Trail; public art; not many interactions with vehicles; vibrant urban environment
lowlights: sidewalk can get crowded; some backtracking; crossing busy street along Troll Ave N