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These Are The 10 Most Exciting Places In Washington

If you’re bored, we know which places in Washington will keep you from falling asleep.

David Cross

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As part of Movoto Real Estate’s efforts to find the best spots in every state, whether that be for retiring or stretching your dollars, we’re turning our Saturday Night Science on Washington to find which places there will really get the heart pounding. What did we find? The most electrifying, exhilarating, and yes, the most exciting city in The Evergreen State is Seattle. Still, Seattle wasn’t the only horse in this race. The city faced stiff competition to stand atop our pump-up podium. Here are the 10 most exciting places in Washington:

1. Seattle
2. Bellingham
3. Olympia
4. Mill Creek
5. Pullman
6. Vashon
7. Snoqualmie
8. Anacortes
9. Bremerton (tie)
9. Redmond (tie)

Not surprised with our No. 1 choice? What made Bellingham more exciting than Olympia? We know you have questions; we have answers. So, pull on your hiking boots, because we’re going to traverse the great state of Washington. First, however, you’ll need to know how we made our ranking—the secret knock to our ranking club, if you will.

How We Did It

To come up with our list of the most exciting places in Washington, we started by finding all places (cities, towns, and Census-Designated Places) with a population of more than 10,000. We ended up with 110 places that matched our parameters. However, we used 85 places for our list, as we were unable to locate the necessary data for a large number of Census-Designated places.

Once we had our list of places, we ranked each locale across seven criteria from 1 to 86, with the lowest score being the best. Afterward, we took the aggregate rank across all our criteria. The city with the lowest rank, in this case Seattle, was named the most exciting city in Washington, the place where you want to be when you just gotta get out of the house. Here are the things we think make a city exciting:

  • Nightlife per capita (bars, clubs, comedy, etc.)
  • Crime per 100,000 people
  • Live music venues per capita
  • Active life options per capita (parks, outdoor activities, etc.)
  • Fast Food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better)
  • Percentage of restaurants that are fast food (the lower the better)
  • Percentage of young residents ages 18 to 34 (the higher the better)

Now that you know how we created our list, prepare yourself for a wild ride through the most exciting places in Washington. If you don’t see your homestead on the list, speed to the bottom of this post where you will find a detailed list of places in the state, including those those at the very bottom (no, we didn’t call them boring).

1. Seattle

Seattle, WA

Source: Flickr user jbhthescots

Were you surprised Seattle came in at No. 1? We were. Typically, big cities have a lot going for them, but can get dinged on our rankings because, while they might have a lot to offer, there are more people fighting for one thing. So, we are happy to announce that, yes, Seattle, a city that has graced our Big Deal Lists numerous times, is in fact the most rip-roaring place to be in Washington, beating out Bellingham. Where did Seattle really shine? It took the No. 1 spot for the number of nightlife establishments per person. So, as the locals will tell you, if you plan on visiting, prepare for a late night.

2. Bellingham

Bellingham, WA

Source: Flickr user kquaas

The 12th largest city in Washington, Bellingham is home to the Whatcom Museum of History and Art, Whatcom Falls Park, and the Bellingham Farmers Market, the latter we are told is a must-visit. Other than these three places, what pushed Bellingham to the top of our list? Look no further than its high number of music venues (No. 3) and its young population (No. 5). Some 39 percent of people in this city are 18 to 34 years old. We don’t know for sure, but we bet the dating scene is exciting, too.

3. Olympia

Olympia, WA

Source: Flickr user PatCastaldo

The state capital, Olympia, is a major cultural center in the Puget Sound region. It also happens to be the third most exciting place in a state known for exciting outdoor adventures. What makes Olympia so fantastic for those looking to escape the ho-hum of an everyday routine? Chalk it up to numerous active life establishments (No. 3) and a lot of places to spend the evenings (No. 4).

4. Mill Creek

Mill Creek, WA

Source: Flickr user Don Nunn

There was no single thing that made Mill Creek make our top 10. Instead, this city in Snohomish County had respectable ranks across most of our criteria, neither placing too low nor too high. In this case, if consistency is exciting, count Mill Creek in. Where Mill Creek ranked the best was for its nightlife per capita (No. 12) and high number of non-fast food restaurants (No. 12). How could this community climbed to the pinnacle of our list? It could start by bringing some young blood. The number of 18 to 34 year olds make up just 22 percent of its population.

5. Pullman

Pullman, WA

Source: Flickr user telepathicparanoia

Pullman is the home of Washington State University, meaning its had at least one of our criteria in the bag: a young population. According to Census data, 67 percent of the population is between the ages of 18 and 34. This percentage was high enough to garner a No. 1 spot for our young population criterion. Pullman’s next best rank across our criteria is for its low crime. According to the most recent data, there were 1,678 crimes 100,000 in the most recent year. Low enough for the No. 8 spot.

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6. Vashon

Vashon, WA

Source: Flickr user Vaquero Rey

Vashon, a Census-Designated Place, sits on the largest island in Puget Sound. This means it has a natural defense against everyone who might flock to place looking to beat back boredom. So, what makes Vashon so fashionable among the movers and shakers? Take as an example the area’s low crime score, which is 1,401 per 100,000. In other words, Vashon is the third-safest place on our list.

7. Snoqualmie

Snoqualmie, WA

Source: Flickr user Nicola since 1972

The filming location for a chunk of David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks”, Snoqualmie is the next stop on our all-nighter through Washington. This city made our top 10 thanks in part to three high scores across our criteria: low fast food joints per capita, a high number of music venues per capita, and low crime. When it came to fewest fast food places, Snoqualmie walked off with the No. 1 spot. Hot dog! (Sorry, it was too easy.) As for our music venue and crime ratings, the city took the No. 2 spot for each.

8. Anacortes

Anacortes, WA

Source: Flickr user roseannadana

This city in northwest Washington earned the No. 8 spot thanks to its music venues per person and active lifestyle establishments per person, No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Other than these two high ranks, Anacortes needed to improve in three areas to help it move high in our ranking. The cities lowest rank came for its population. Only 16.81 percent of Anacortes’ population is between 18 and 34 years old, low enough to earn the No. 79 spot.

9. Bremerton (tie)

Bremerton, WA

Source: Flickr user Masonite Burn

The first of two places in the No. 9 spot, Bermerton, the largest city in Kitsap County, earned a spot on our top 10 thanks to its nightlife. For this criterion, the city took the No. 5 spot. Additionally, Bermerton’s young population (35 percent) was high enough to earn the No. 6 spot for this criterion.

9. Redmond (tie)

Redmond, WA

Source: Flickr user CoffeePartyUSA

With a nickname like “The Bicycle Capital of the Northwest,” Redmond was bound to make its way onto our list. Located near Seattle, Redmond had two top 10 finishes across our criteria. Its highest rank came for our number of active lifestyle establishments per capita. Here, the city took the No. 6 spot, which is surprising for a place known for biking. The city’s next-highest rank was for its population: 29 percent of which are 18 to 34 years old.

Where In Washington Do You Take A Nap?

If you’re into watching paint dry or grass grow, we have five more places for you, the locations where fun might not have gone to die, but certainly went to catch a cold. In descending order, here are the bottom five places on our list: Marysville (No. 81), Longview (No. 82), Bonney Lake (No. 83), Kelso (No. 84) and Covington (No. 85).

(click to enlarge table)

Most Exciting Places In Washington

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posted on: February 26, 2014
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