Vancouver, WA waterfront district

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 48
Demographics 50
Economy 71
Education 48
Health 61
Housing 55
Infrastructure 42

#10. Vancouver, WA

Tucked between the Cascade Mountains and the Pacific Ocean along the shores of the Columbia River, Vancouver, WA is postcard-perfect. Not only does this Pacific Northwest gem offer scenic hiking and biking routes (views of Mount Hood inspire oohs and ahhs), but it also has a diverse and friendly culinary scene which is an important aspect to any great place to live. The Fourth Plain corridor is an “international business district” with a melting pot of Latino and Asian markets, Eastern European bakeries and global fare. Just 20 minutes from Portland, residents appreciate the small-town, relaxed feel of Vancouver, and they have a love for local businesses. 

Top Colleges/Universities: Clark College & Washington State University Vancouver

Top Industries & Employers: Small businesses are the heart of Vancouver’s economy, representing 95 percent of businesses. Major industry sectors in the region include health care, business services, retail trade, leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing.

Weekend Plans: There’s always something going on at Esther Short Park, a charming 5-acre square that’s the oldest public park in the Northwest and a place where kids can splash around in a water feature. Residents gather in the park for farmer’s markets, summer concerts and unique events (think: A Recycled Arts Festival). 

Favorite Place to Feast: Vancouver has a burgeoning culinary scene, with chef-driven restaurants and cozy bakeries, including Bleu Door Bakery, a French-inspired spot with fresh-baked baguettes and pastries. 

Beloved Beverage: Mexican Mocha from Coffee Lab

Outdoorsy Activity: Kayak or paddleboard on Vancouver Lake. Or, for more adventure, go whitewater rafting on Sunset Falls in the East Fork Lewis River, with a grand finale waterfall drop.

Why Your Pet Will Love It, Too: In addition to having several dog parks, Vancouver has waterfront walking trails and pet-friendly patios. At the end of the outdoor pool season, Lake Shore Athletic Club holds a “Doggie Dive,” letting dogs swim in the pool. 

Remote Work Perk: Like its big city neighbors Seattle and Portland, “The Couve” boasts a remarkable coffee scene, so you can keep your energy up all day.

One More Thing … Vancouver was home to Washington’s oldest apple tree until it died at age 194. Planted in 1826, the tree is considered the “great grandfather” of the Washington State apple industry. 

– Brittany Anas

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