Bellingham, WA sunset over the Marina

2021 Top 100 Best Places to Live In America Sponsored by: See homes for sale on Movoto by OJO

liv score
How We Calculate Our Data
Civics 54
Demographics 23
Economy 54
Education 65
Health 68
Housing 58
Infrastructure 50

#37. Bellingham, WA

Situated between Vancouver to the north and Seattle to the south, Bellingham, WA offers an unparalleled quality of life for its 93,000 residents. This supportive, business-friendly town is right on the water of Bellingham Bay and has a wide array of outdoor recreation opportunities, both on the water and on land. Bellingham also has an eclectic downtown, tons of farm-to-table restaurants and breweries, and a thriving arts scene, complete with massive murals and thought-provoking sculpture gardens.

Top Colleges/Universities: Western Washington University & Whatcom Community College 

Top Industries & Employers: Health care, higher education, K-12 education, local government and grocery

Weekend Plans: Do a little shopping in the historic Fairhaven district (which dates back to 1853!), then create your own brewery crawl and ride-share or bike to a handful of the 17 craft breweries that call Bellingham home. 

Favorite Place to Feast: Saltine Bellingham, an intimate local restaurant located downtown specializing in chef-driven New American cuisine. Dishes like prosciutto-wrapped chicken and house-made malted ice cream make this the spot for a meal to remember.

Beloved Beverage: The organic craft beers made by Aslan Brewing Company, a certified B Corporation, which is a rigorous environmental and social standard for businesses. 

Outdoorsy Activity: Go camping at Larrabee State Park. Then, in the morning, explore the 18 miles of trails, catch some fish, go clamming or crabbing or just explore the beach.

Rooftop Bar: Fat Pie Pizza makes satisfying deep-dish pizza and offers irresistible sunset views of Bellingham Bay.

Why Your Pet Will Love It, Too: You and your pooch will both enjoy spending time at Paws for a Beer, an off-leash, dog-friendly tavern. The bar also hosts free training courses, partners with local rescue agencies and just all-around supports dogs in the Bellingham region.

Remote Work Perk: If you’re working remotely but the rest of your team is based somewhere else, living in Bellingham is the perfect home base for occasional travel. It’s located between Seattle and Vancouver, which both have well-connected airports. Bellingham also has its own international airport, with commercial flights to a handful of cities.

One More Thing … Since 1973, Bellingham has hosted its Ski to Sea race — which is as intense as it sounds. Teams of three to eight racers compete in seven different sports — cross country ski, downhill ski/snowboard, running, road bike, canoe, cyclocross bike, and sea kayak — as they race from the Mt. Baker Ski Area to Bellingham Bay.

– Sarah Kuta

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