Another town on the Dozen Distinctive Destinations list, Friday Harbor is a charming, historic seaport located on the east side of San Juan Island in Western Washington. Built on a hill, the area, which is a great destination for exploring by foot, is brimming with picturesque scenes at every turn from gorgeous waterfront views to the century old buildings that line the streets.
A great place for a weekend getaway, La Conner is a beautiful historic waterfront village located between Seattle and Vancouver, British Colombia, on the Swinish Channel. Guests of this charming town can visit various specialty shops, tucked inside restored historic buildings before strolling outside to take in the beauty of the village’s surroundings.
With so many things to do and explore, visit during the springtime Skagit Valley Tulip Festival where area fields burst into color, it is easy to see why La Conner is a popular destination. A popular year round tourist destination, Leavenworth is an attractive, small town nestled in the gorgeous Cascade Mountains.
No matter which season tourists visit, they will find many things to capture their interest whether sampling delicious, authentic German cuisine, participating in festivals, such as the Manifest, a Bavarian celebration of spring, or engaging in outdoor adventures, including mountain biking, skiing, and hiking. In addition to the wonderful restaurants, galleries, and shops found in Port Townsend, the town also hosts many events throughout the year, including the Victorian Festival and award-winning theatrical productions at Key City Public Theater.
Often referred to as Little Norway on the Fjord, Polls is a lovely town found on Liberty Bay in Western Washington. The historic downtown is perfect for roaming and discovering bakeries, art and craft galleries, murals and specialty shops.
The surrounding area has lush parks where visitors can enjoy a relaxing picnic and a scenic waterfront that can be explored via kayak, canoe, or paddle boat. Visitors can meander along cobble sidewalks illuminated by old-fashioned light poles in the historic downtown area where they can eat tasty food, shop for gifts, take a walking tour of the town’s historic homes, or visit the region’s lush vineyards to sample a variety of wines.
A mining and logging town once known as Eureka Gulch, Republic is a delightful, small place with a distinct early 1900s look located in Northeast Washington. In town, guests can seek out murals or visit historic sites, including the Kaufman Cabin, built in 1896 and the oldest structure in Republic.
They may also visit the Republic Cemetery, which is believed to offer one of the most breathtaking, panoramic views found in Washington, as it overlooks the valley below, Spoil River and the Kettle Range. Stunning National Forest lands, lakes, and rivers surround the town as well offering up even more scenic beauty that one will never forget.
There is a charming downtown area with historical buildings dating back to the 1850s with shops and cafés where guests can take a leisurely stroll. Situated in the heart of Method Valley on the North Cascades Scenic Byway, Winthrop is the town to visit if travelers want to feel as though they have stepped back into the Old West.
Featuring shops, galleries, and restaurants showcasing the area’s bounty, Winthrop is also a great place to experience the scenic outdoors with many summer and winter activities, including over 120 miles of cross-country skiing trails, which are the largest in the nation. Numerous events happen throughout the year as well, including the stunning Balloon Roundup and the lively Rhythm and Blues Festival.
Washington is a breathtaking wonderland of perfectly landscaped beauty, and it is not that surprising to know its wilderness is rumored to be a favorite hangout spot for Bigfoot, with over 600 Sasquatch sightings reported. It has more glaciers than the other 47 contiguous states put together, with a classic Pacific Northwest terrain marked by the Cascades and a treasured coast.
And it comes with the added bonus of making significant savings on your energy bills as the electricity rates in WA are the third cheapest in America. This is a state you may want to relocate to if you are well loaded because the overall cost of living is a bit steep, with housing prices that many will consider to be above the roof.
Here then, are the 15 best places to live in Washington State based on crime rate, school system excellence, home affordability, and growth and prosperity. Source: Kyle_Graph / shutterstockRedmond, Washington Tech enthusiasts will recognize Redmond as the home of Microsoft, the largest employer in town.
It sits at a very convenient location that is just 16 miles from the state’s largest city, Seattle, and a home here will set you back $485,100 on average. Apart from Microsoft, other notable tech firms include Nintendo, Solstice, AT & T and Genie Industries.
The town also has a distinguished school system which has made the AP District Honor Roll several times. Source: Dan Lewis / shutterstockSammamishSammamish is a city in King County bordered by Lake Sammamish where 50,200 people call home.
The town has evolved from its rural roots and into a booming suburb that is within convenient location of Seattle (25 miles). The Sammamish Commons area guarantees acres of outdoor fun, with wetlands and hiking trails, golf courses and grounds for festivals such as Shakespeare in the Park.
As with most suburbs in King County, the public school system is outstanding, from elementary right through 12th grade. That’s LOW for an area that has won numerous national awards and received honorable mentions for its beauty.
If you are looking for a town that is affordable and has a college vibe with dozens of parks and natural areas, Pullman is an excellent choice. Source: Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Issaquah Issaquah is a suburb of Seattle that is a popular hiking destination, thanks to its rich network of mountains and lakes.
Source: Bildagentur Guitar GmbH / shutterstockBainbridge IslandLocated in Kitsap County, Bainbridge Island is the definition of Pacific Northwest scenery. The isolated suburb of Seattle continues to live up to its billing with a wealthy diversity and bustling online business community.
Bainbridge Island has an A-one public school education system and promises a range of family-friendly outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, sailing, Little League baseball and many more. Home values are reflective of the state’s high cost of living, averaging $548,100 (with some even breaching the $3 million-dollar mark.
Snoqualmie may be small, but it has an award-winning school district that continues to grow as more and more residents are lured to its scenic surrounds. You will find it in King County near Lake Washington, a popular tourist destination that offers plenty of parks (a minimum entry amenity in Washington), beaches, outdoor activities, art exhibits, unique shops, bars and restaurants with live entertainment, and more.
The city has been playing host to the Little League Junior Softball World Series in Everest Park for close to two decades now, going back to 1999. Source: RESTOCK / shutterstockBellevueBellevue is a French name that means “beautiful view”, and that is exactly what this city in King County is.
The city of 135,000 residents is set against the backdrop of Olympic and Cascade Mountains, and the natural scenery is one many neighborhoods in the area revel in, providing many hiking and bicycle trails for everyone to enjoy. Source: FloweringHearth at English Wikipedia / Wikimedia WoodinvilleWoodinville is another suburb of the big city, with a population of 11,400.
But even amidst the growth that has seen more and more schools and businesses pitch tent in the area, the town is keen to hold on to its small-town charm, and that can only be good news for anyone looking to live here. Case in point is the Joinville High School which has added a performing arts wing, with a technology and special education building opened in 2017.
Source: RESTOCK / shutterstockMaple Valley the outdoors are a special factor for you when choosing a place to live, then Washington’s Maple Valley will blow you away. Okay, the state’s topography makes the entire lot of it an outdoor haven, but some places like Snoqualmie and Maple Valley take it a step further.
Speaking of education, the public school district in Maple Valley is outstanding, just like every other entry in this list of 15. There are plenty of ways to get involved in the community through the various organizations that support creative arts, golfing, and of course, Lake Wilderness Park.
Kenmore promises an array of recreational pursuits for the outdoor enthusiast, spanning from biking trails to summer concerts. The city has also started planning an eco-friendly and walkable town square in the heart of downtown as it tries to retain its natural splendor amid the inevitable growth.
Source: John T Gallery / shutterstockOlympiaIf you are looking to secure a government job in Washington, your best bet would be to try Olympia. As with most cities, the crime rate in Olympia is wanting, but it is generally deemed a great place for not just young professionals, but families as well.
With a population of just about 50,000, the city based in Thurston County will appeal to anyone looking for an affordable place to live in the state of Washington. What else makes Olympia an appealing proposition is the presence of parks and forest reserves that are more than enough for the small population.
The Fish Brewing Company, the Olympia Family Theater and Centennial Station are other popular attractions in the capital, as well as the Washington Center for Performing Arts among a host of others. Seattle is not all roses and fairies, but there is a reason its larger metropolitan was ranked sixth on the 2017 Best Places to Live in America by the U.S. News & World Report, up one spot from the previous year.
Median home value in Seattle is $452,800, and the city remains desirable to both young professionals and families. A great school district, buzzing nightlife, outdoor activities, short commute times, an iconic public market, thriving art scene, shopping and restaurants are some of the biggest draws in the big city.
With its history rooted in trapping, fishing, logging, and mining, the small towns in Washington act like mirrors to the wealth of their respective pasts. This small town is known for Mount Erie, where hiking and walking on its scenic trails is prime for mountain and water views.
For some maritime history of the area, head to Anacortes Wt Preston Museum, complete with a rare and historical steamboat to explore. The beautiful Bainbridge Island has found fame in recent years as being the setting for scenes from the hit American TV series Grey’s Anatomy.
Bainbridge Island is the ideal getaway for outdoor lovers, with plenty of nature to lap up in the surrounding area. Renting a bike to pedal around the town and stopping off at one of Bainbridge Island’s many chic eateries is the order of the day here.
The beautifully picturesque North Bend is dominated by the imposing figure of Mount Si. Located on Whitney Island, Cookeville sits on the south shore of Penn Cove and is the second oldest town in Washington.
Named after Thomas Coupe, who settled the island in 1850, the town is abundant with historic buildings and nature. The town’s Front Street has a distinctly old-fashioned, laid back atmosphere and is home to numerous museums, shops, and cafés, making for a perfect area to stroll around.
Originally founded in the late 19th century as a coal mining town, Roslyn had to feature a watering hole to keep workers from going thirsty; thus, The Brick Tavern opened in the 1880s and is still going strong. The small waterfront town of Gig Harbor stretches for just a mile along a bay near Puget Sound.
Set in the shadow of majestic Mount Rainier, the town is located in proximity to many state parks and labels itself as “The Gateway to the Olympic Peninsula.” This unique climate also makes Sequin an excellent starting point for exploring some of the wettest temperate rainforests in the US (bar Alaska).
Founded in the 1880s by Jørgen Elias on, a Norwegian immigrant, Polls soon attracted waves of other Scandinavian settlers relocating from America’s Midwest. The small, quaint town of Langley is located on Whitney Island and covers a mere 0.8 square miles.
Founded in the 1800s, the town’s original bunkhouse for loggers remains today, as a museum dedicated to the history of the area. The town’s sunny waterfront and New England style architecture ha relaxed, liberal atmosphere and is home to a thriving arts community.
Notably, soon after women were given the right to vote, Langley elected its first female Mayor; its liberal attitude led it to become home to a vibrant hippie community during the 1960s and ‘70s. This laid back lifestyle lives on; now Langley’s lanes are home to studios and galleries displaying local arts.
After seeing the success of the Danish-themed town of Solving, California in 1965, Leavenworth became a popular tourist destination soon afterward, when it was rebranded and modeled on a Bavarian village. The officially designated Port Townsend Historic District is packed full of beautiful buildings, from the impressive County Courthouse to the picture-perfect St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, built in 1865.
For even more history, and a slice of natural beauty, head to the 1879 Point Wilson Lighthouse, which is also the place to go for scenic views overlooking Puget Sound. Officially dating back only to 1924, the town of Winthrop originally grew when gold was found in the late 19th century, prompting many a white settler to move here permanently to find their fortune.