What is it about Fremont that has locals wanting to stay indefinitely and visitors coming back repeatedly? Fremont is a funky, creative and artsy Seattle neighborhood filled with good food, hip bars, local shopping, and plenty of unique landmarks. Whether you’re a Seattle local or visiting from out-of-town, there are plenty of fun and quirky things to do in this part of the city. Here are ten of the best things to see and do in Fremont, Seattle.
The Fremont Troll is located underneath the Aurora Bridge on N 36th Street. It stands 18 feet high, weighs 13,000 pounds, is made of steel rebar, wire and concrete and is one of Fremont’s most visited landmarks. The idea of having a sculpture of a troll living underneath the bridge stemmed from an art competition launched by the Fremont Arts Council in 1990, in effort to clean up the area underneath the Aurora Bridge that had become populated with trash and drug dealers. The troll concept was inspired by Scandinavian (Norwegian) folklore through the four local artists who sculpted the troll: Steve Badanes, Will Martin, Donna Walter, and Ross Whitehead. The sculpture itself consists of a larger-than-life, shaggy haired troll holding onto a Volkswagen Bug, crushing it in its hand, as if it had just been snatched from the highway above the bridge. Originally the car had California license plates, which were intentional by the sculptors. The crushing of the car with out-of-state plates was their way of protesting outsider development to the city. In 2005, the portion of Aurora Avenue N underneath the Aurora Bridge, from the Troll to North 34th Street was renamed “Troll Avenue” in honor of the sculpture.
Statue of Lenin
Another unique Fremont landmark is the statue of Lenin that stands at the intersection of Fremont Place North, North 35th Street and Evanston Avenue North. The bronze sculpture of communist revolutionary Vladmir Lenin stands at 16 feet high and is often decorated and vandalized. The statue was sculpted by a Bulgarian sculptor, Emil Venkov and was originally completed and put on display in Czechoslovakia in 1988. In 1993, an Issaquah man by the name of Lewis E Carpenter found the abandoned and hollow statue laying in a scrapyard with a homeless man living in it. Carpenter bought the statue for $13,000 and shipped it back to Washington state, in hopes of using it to attract customers for the ethnic Slovak restaurant he wanted to open in Issaquah. Carpenter mortgaged his house to fund the shipping of the statue but died before he was able to put the statue on display. Since 1995, the statue has been held in trust, waiting for a buyer while it stands “temporarily” at its current Fremont, Seattle location.
Gas Works Park
Located on the north shore of Lake Union, Gas Works Park is known by many as the strangest park in Seattle. This 19.1-acre public park opened to the public in 1975. Originally, this was the site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant that operated from 1906 to 1956. In 1962, the City of Seattle bought the defunct plant for park purposes. Pieces of the original plant still exist to this day as both fenced off ruins as well as parts that have been reconditioned, repainted and incorporated in a children’s play area. Gas Works Park features an artificial kite-flying hill with a built-in, sculptured sundial at the top. In 2013, the park was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Gas Works Park is also a Seattle City Landmark, a Washington State Landmark and has been in movies such as Singles and 10 Things I Hate About You.
The Fremont Bridge is a double-leaf bridge that connects the Fremont neighborhood (Fremont Avenue North) to the Queen Anne neighborhood (4th Avenue North.) This bridge was the first of the four city bascule bridges to cross the canal, with the other bridges being the Ballard Bridge, University Bridge and the Montlake Bridge. The Fremont Bridge first opened in 1917 and cost $410,00 to build. On any given day, the Fremont Bridge will open an average 35 times, making it the most frequently opened drawbridge in the United States and one of the busiest bascule bridges in the world. Even though federal law gives marine traffic the right-of-way over vehicular traffic. The Fremont Bridge is closed to most water traffic during commuter hours. In 1982, the Fremont Bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places and was designated as a city landmark. The bridge’s blue and orange color was chosen by voters at a 1985 street fair.
Theo Chocolate Tour
Fremont residents and visitors are often seduced with the incredible scent of chocolate in the air. That’s because Fremont is the home of Theo Chocolate, an award winning, bean-to-bar chocolate maker. Located in the historic Red Hook brewery in Fremont, Theo Chocolate is the first organic and fair-trade chocolate factory in North America. For $12 per person, visitors can get an inside view of the factory and see where all the magic happens as they taste their way from the cocoa farm to the chocolate bar. During an hour-long, interactive tour of the Fremont chocolate factory, visitors will learn about the origins of cacao, how the chocolate is crafted from scratch and the partnerships Theo has built with the farmers they source from. Free samples of the award-winning chocolates are offered throughout the tour. For more information about the Theo Factory Experience, visit the Theo Chocolate factory tour page.
Waiting for the Interurban Sculpture
In addition to the Fremont Troll and the Statue of Lenin, another quirky landmark Fremont, Seattle in known for is the Waiting for the Interurban sculpture. Located in the southeast corner of North 34th Street and Fremont Avenue, just east of the north end of the Fremont Bridge, the Waiting for the Interurban is a sculpture consisting of six people and a dog, which stands underneath a shelter as the wait for the bus, specifically the Seattle-Everett Interurban. The interurban railway ran through Fremont from 1910 to 1939. Created in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Fremont neighborhood’s founding, the cast aluminum sculpture was created by Fremont resident, Richard Beyer. The Waiting for the Interurban was erected in 1978 and dedicated during the Fremont Fair during the same year. The face of the dog of the sculpture was sculpted by Beyer to resemble Fremont political leader and Seattle’s “godfather of recycling” Armen Napoleon Stephanian, someone whom Beyer had political disagreements with in the 1970’s. The Waiting for the Interurban is often dressed by locals and residents in the Fremont neighborhood in apparel appropriate to the season, a current event or special occasion.
Waterways Cruises Dining Cruise
For those looking for a new view of Seattle from a unique part of town, Waterways Cruises gives guests a chance to get on the water and see the city from a different perspective. Founded in 1994, Waterways Cruises provides distinctive cruising experiences on Seattle’s Lakes and Puget Sound, with cruises starting at the north shore of Lake Union, close to Gas Works Park. This family owned and operated business has grown from a single yacht for private charters to four beautiful dining and entertainment yachts, accommodating over 60,000 guests per year for weddings, corporate events, special celebrations and public dining cruises. Standard public dining cruises include the Weekend Brunch Cruise, Sunday Supper Cruise and Seattle Dinner Cruise. Special events and holiday cruises are also offered, in addition to wine, beer and spirit pairing dinners cruises for the 21+ crowd. For rates, cruise calendar and a detailed description of the current cruises available, please visit our website.
Fremont Brewing Company
Whether you’re a Fremont local or just visiting, if you are a beer enthusiast or just enjoy drinking the hoppy stuff, you’ll want to make a stop at the Fremont Brewing Company. Located on N 34th Street, not to be confused with the production facility located off of Leary Way less than four miles away, the Fremont Brewing Company is a family-owned and the creator of small-batch artisan beers. Founded in 2009, the tasting room has expanded from only a few tables to a lively, urban beer garden with communal tables both inside and outside of the brewery. This local brewer produces 250,000 barrels of beer each year, making it one of the top producing craft breweries in the United States. The only food options available at the brewery are pretzels, but Fremont Brewing encourages guests to either bring their own food or order food from one of the many local Fremont eateries located less than a mile from the brewery. The Fremont Brewing Company’s urban beer garden is kid and pet-friendly. For hours of operation beers on tap and current events, please visit the Fremont Brewing website.
Fremont Sunday Market
Located on the corner of 3410 Evanston Ave North, the Fremont Sunday Market is a fun, European-style street market that happens year-round, rain or shine, 365 days of the year. Founded in 1990, the outdoor market features up to 200 vendors who offer a unique spread of art, antiques, hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind items, clothes, tools, flowers, fresh produce and street food. The Fremont Sunday Market is free to the public, pet-friendly and bike accessible. For more information, visit the Fremont Sunday Market website.
Fremont Solstice Parade/Fremont Fair
The Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade is the biggest, largest and most energetic annual celebration of the Fremont community. The official start of summer in Seattle begins during Solstice weekend with six city blocks in the Fremont neighborhood are taken over by the annual fair with most activities taking place west of Fremont Ave North on North 35th Street and North 34th Street. The Fremont Fair features two stages of live music, 300+ craft vendors, beer gardens, art cars, one-of-a-kind parades and delicious fair food. The Fremont Solstice Parade runs in conjunction with the fair, beginning at the intersection of North 36th Street and Leary Way, travels through downtown Fremont and ends at Gas Works Park. The annual celebration of Seattle’s most unique, artsy and funky neighborhood is known for its free spirit and eclectic nature and is famous for body-painted, clothing-shy cyclists. For more information about the fair and event dates, visit the Fremont Fair website.