What do you know about Olympia, Washington?

I’ve heard “it’s the water – and a lot more” but that’s all I know. I’ve been to Seattle a lot, but never to Olympia. So, PNW Dopers, tell me about the town: good? bad? ugly? Is it a good place to live, or would you just visit, or would you avoid it at all costs? What’s there, anyway (besides the Capitol)? Please fill me in.

I went to college on the outskirts of Olympia. If you’re doing any sort of research, also check the towns Lacey and Tumwater, they’re close enough that they’ve really all run together. It wasn’t a bad place, and I’ve heard some better things about it over the last decade, but none of my friends were tempted enough to stay there after we graduated. It’s a hybrid of state capitol and small town. There are some good wilderness areas nearby if you like hiking and camping. Seattle or the coast is an easy day trip. My friends and I even went to Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon once a quarter. I think there was a small gay and lesbian film festival, but I don’t know if they still hold that. Depending on what you like, the music scene has improved since I left. The band Sleater-Kinney is from Olympia.

Any other specific questions I can answer?

Olympia is a great little town, only an hour away from Seattle. I have friends there so I visit all the time. There are lots of “hippies” either going to or graduated from Evergreen College hanging around there, so be warned! (Dang hippies!) They have a thriving rock music scene, galleries, etc, plus the State Government offices.

All in all, very nice.

I’m living here right now, and enjoying it. Small town flavor, but not provincial. A nice amount of cultural experiences: good community and professional live theater, some great art galleries, symphonic music, several good places for jazz/blues/rock, (and I’m sure a healthy alternative music scene as well), a great used bookstore (Orca’s), various lectures, a film festival. It also has “small-town” festivals–Lakefair Days (complete with princesses, and a queen!), art-walk, a Dixieland jazz festival, a parade prosession of the species (where children and people from various community organizations dress as animals real and fantastic, and all celebrate th Earth), a farmer’s market (a bit wimpy), and various holiday events.

In Olympia proper, you’ll still find neighborhoods from the turn of the century on up, not just cookie-cutter housing developments. And houses are still afordable, at least compared to closer to Seattle! Downtown has some great stores, locally owned gift and clothing stores. the mall isn’t great, but you’re close enough to Tacoma or Southcenter if you really want the “mall experience”. Ditto with movies–the local movie-plexes play mostly Hollywood favorites, but Tacoma has a good art house for more intelligent movies.

There are several very pleasant neighborhood parks (and lots of trees around, in general), plus a few lakes and larger parks with trails both for walking and biking.

Traffic to the north can be brutal–I find it faster to go to Portland when I want a day in the “big city”. Portland is a little over 100 miles from Olympia, but time-wise, it can often take longer to drive to Seattle. It’s also only about an hour from the ocean, always a plus, and not much farther from skiing.

Wow, maybe I should get the Chamber of Commerce to pay me–I didn’t realize I was such a town rah-rah!

Kennewick, WA

Good but very ugly. Not much but basic steppe environment. We have the Columbia River which is nice. And two noisy neighbors a mile or two away, Pasco and Richland. Biggest week of the year is the Columbia Cup where the Unlimited Hydroplane circuit comes to the “Tri-Cities.” We have some great HS football teams. Pasco HS took the title in 1998 and 2000 and Richland HS took it in 1999.

That is about all I can think of for now. It is great living here, but you do need a change of scenery after a while.

Sleater-Kinney are from there. There’s also a highway exit by the same name.

This has happened before. Am I not expressing myself clearly?

You should type louder.