If you’re an outdoor enthusiast who is looking to relocate soon, Washington state may be your heaven on earth. It’s known as the Evergreen State for a reason: Washington has more state parks than any other state, diverse recreational options, towering, old-growth forests, and beautiful beaches and lakes. Plus, we have a unique climate and geography that runs the spectrum from a west coast marine climate to snow-capped mountains to high desert.
Washington’s deep connection to nature continues through its cities and towns. Seattle, its largest city, is ranked one of the fittest in America, with high walking scores, lots of parks, and a robust culture of fitness.
As you explore the rest of the state, you’ll discover more outdoorsy communities that will give you the connection to nature that you crave. Many are also extremely attractive thanks to a low cost of living (something Seattle can’t quite claim) and family-friendly atmosphere.
Here, we look at the top six Washington communities for outdoorsy families:
As part of Tri-Cities, Kennewick is ideally located near the confluence of three beautiful rivers: the Yakima, Snake, and Columbia. Tri-Cities boasts a population of about 80,000, with lots of job opportunities and a low cost of living. This area in the southeastern part of the state is dry desert-like, with more than 300 days of sunshine and big, open spaces. The combination makes Kennewick a popular area for outdoor recreation, such as road cycling, hiking, fishing, kayaking, and more. Winding around the rivers, you’ll find incredible mountain-biking trails, like the popular Sacagawea Heritage Trail, a 23-mile paved loop along the Columbia River. Best of all, Kennewick’s activities are kid-friendly, so it’s a great place to instill a love of nature in your little ones.
2) Mount Vernon
In far northwest Washington, this city of about 32,000 residents was once rated the Best Small City in America and is still popular with outdoor enthusiasts and tourists. Mount Vernon is known for its idyllic climate and the millions of tulips that grow throughout the Skagit Valley. The city is nestled between the gorgeous northernmost Cascades and Padilla Bay, creating plenty of opportunities to bird watch, enjoy water sports, hike, and visit wildlife preserves. As far as cost of living, Mount Vernon’s modest economy keeps things affordable. And the last two censuses have shown an uptick in families moving to the area, making it an up-and-coming destination for homeowners with children.
3) North Bend
This community of about 7,000 residents boasts convenient proximity to Seattle, but in a quiet, picturesque area at the base of the Cascades. It’s known for its bike trails and paths and world-class hiking, including the state’s most famous hike, the eight-mile Mount Si Trail, which boasts an elevation gain of more than 4,000 feet. Nearby, there are too many state parks and forests to count. And if you feel like spending the day on or near the water, Lake Sammamish and Lake Washington are only a short drive away. Since the beauty of North Bend was popularized in the TV show Twin Peaks, it has become a leading bedroom community for Seattle. However, its community vibe and lower cost of living make it a destination in its own right.
In South Puget Sound, Olympia is a growing city of about 50,000 people that is known for its natural beauty and burgeoning economy. Because it’s tucked at the southern tip of the sound, Olympia offers endless outdoor activities, including hiking, sailing, kayaking, and birdwatching—not to mention stunning views of Mt. Rainier. Olympia also has ample work opportunities and great schools, which attract families from throughout the U.S. each year.
Located in the West Puget Sound area, Silverdale is an unincorporated community of about 20,000. This charming area is on the Kitsap Peninsula, west of Seattle, which means it’s in the heart of some of Washington’s best forests, beaches, and waterways. Silverdale is also a fantastic location for bird watching, because the area is on a common migration path from Alaska to South America. The median age in Silverdale is 32, so it’s no surprise that the area is full of active, adventurous families. And because it’s just outside of Seattle, it provides big-city conveniences without the steep prices of living there.
6) Spokane Valley
The Spokane area is one of the jewels of the Inland Northwest, and Spokane Valley is a fantastic place to call home. The city motto is “Near Nature, Near Perfect,” so you know you’ll be able to get outdoors often. The population is around 100,000, with plenty of job opportunities and lots of families. There are nearly endless recreational areas to explore, including the nearby Coeur d’Alene National Forest, one of the region’s top destinations for camping, fishing, and hiking.
Interested in learning more about any of these incredible Washington communities? Visit one of our local Adair Homes offices to discover more about the area and explore your options for building a new custom home in the Evergreen State.