Olympia, WA waterway

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 61
Demographics 41
Economy 59
Education 70
Health 66
Housing 61
Infrastructure 43

#31. Olympia, WA

A mid-sized city in the Puget Sound region with a population just over 55,000, Olympia, WA is the state capital of Washington. It’s got the quintessential Pacific Northwestern amenities — things like top-notch coffee and a notable farmers market. But it also has several only-in-Olympia amenities, like a glittering mosaic bench outfitted with a spout that delivers cool artesian water and an all-night horror film screening that happens every fall called “All Freakin’ Night.” 

Top Colleges/Universities: The Evergreen State College

Top Industries & Employers: State government, health care, retail, natural products and agriculture are among the leading industries. Olympia also gets a boost from tourism. Providence St. Peter Hospital is a major employer in the area.


Weekend Plans: Shop fresh-cut flowers, seafood, organic fruits and veggies while enjoying live entertainment at the Olympia Farmers Market, the second-largest market in the state next to Pike Place Market. Then, enjoy a picnic lunch at Percival Landing, a waterfront park on the southernmost tip of Puget Sound, and walk along the boardwalk. 

Favorite Place to Feast: FishTale Brewpub, which was featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and is known for its deep-fried fish n’ chips. 

Beloved Beverage: Award-winning java from Olympia Coffee, which has fresh-roasted coffee subscriptions.

Outdoorsy Activity: Pack some binoculars and go birdwatching at Grass Lake Nature Park, home to 100 species of birds.

Why Your Pet Will Love It, Too: The area has plenty of pet-friendly hiking trails that offer plenty of shade. A favorite is Mima Falls, a year-round waterfall hike. 

Remote Work Perk: Coffee shop culture is strong here in the Pacific Northwest. Break up your workdays at iconic coffee shops like Dancing Goats or Burial Grounds Coffee Collective, known for their spooky latte art.  

One More Thing … A “sprayground” with water features at Woodruff Park is a great place to cool off on hot summer days.

– Brittany Anas

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