America's Best Cities: Seattle, Washington

No. 2

Paddlers on Lake Union     Photo: courtesy of Lauren Curtin

KEY STATS
3.3 million: Population (metro)
$315,000: Median home price
B+: Multisport grade
80: Percentage of Seattleites with a library card

Forget about the rain already. No place in the U.S. marries urban cool with a healthy lifestyle like the Emerald City. It's got world-renowned restaurants, outstanding theaters, and a bevy of museums, all tempered by the signature Northwest flavor of weekend farmers' markets, artist sanctuaries, and aggressively wireless coffee-house culture. The recession arrived late in Seattle, thanks to future-trending corporations like Amazon, Micro­soft, and Boeing, and unemployment leveled off in March, helping the city avoid a major collapse in housing prices. Leaving nature-hungry urbanites free to conduct business as usual: There's Discovery Park, a 534-acre trail runner's dream that overlooks the Cascade and Olympic ranges, and kayak-filled Puget Sound. There's the I-5 Colonnade, a 7.5-acre mountain-bike park with rock chutes, switchbacks, and ladder bridges.There are four ski resorts within two hours, while Index crag, an hour and a half northeast, is perfect for sport and trad climbing. The Skykomish and Snoqualmie rivers are both within 90 minutes of town, and there's ample fishing, hiking, and camping at Mount Baker SnoqualmieNational Forest, 42 miles to the east. A little rain never hurt nobody.

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