I recently received an email from far, far away:
So somehow this zany kayaking family found your blog and were wondering if someone such as yourself could shed some (sun)light? on why a crew with two little boys (4th and 6th grade) would love Olympia (or not). We're particularly interested in your opinions on the schools!Happy to, kayaking out-of-towners. I have many reasons to love Olympia. So I don't seem obsessed, I'll stick with just ten, keeping brand names out of it, and let others chime in as they wish.
Thanks for your help!
Friendly, laid back, passionate. Hippie-greener-preppy-hipster-wonk-logger-retiree-goth-punks dot the landscape.
Restaurants, galleries, wine shops, too many coffee bars to count, restaurants, antique stores, more restaurants, book stores, the fountain, the Ugly Building, more coffee bars.
Combines the best of 1 and 2. Art, local mostly, with food, music, and a cast of thousands. Walk from station to station on the tour, or just amble around aimlessly, people-watching all the while. On a successive Friday and Saturday, the April version is best; it includes the fabled Procession of the Species.
At sunset the boardwalk, with its view of the Capitol and the Olympics, as picturesque as it gets. Anytime, it's a perfect place for a stroll. It's especially entertaining during Harbor Days. Oh, and there's plenty of kayaking to be done, too.
Modeled after the one in D.C., our state capitol is beautiful inside and out. Gad about in the rotunda or on the grassy campus, then take a walk down the hillside toward Capitol Lake. (Ride The Dash back to your car, if your feet get tired.)
The Spaghetti Bowl.
The name comes from the spaghetti feed fundraiser that always precedes the contest. The game starts after seven, but people line up for hours to get good seats at one of the most exciting sports events in the South Sound. Crosstown rivals Olympia High and Capital battle it out in Ingersoll stadium in front of thousands of screaming fans. Goodwill always prevails in the form of blended marching bands and drill teams for halftime entertainment.
Batdorf and Bronson coffee.
Broke the rule. But Batdorf and Bronson coffee is the greatest in existence, and is available all over Olympia in its flagship store, associated coffee shops and stands, and whatever restaurants and cafes have good taste in caffeine.
Crave the city? Seattle's an hour north; Portland's two south. Pine for the cedars? National parks and forests, including Mounts Rainier, Adams, Saint Helens, and the magnificent Olympic range, are within easy driving distance. (Pictured: view from Mount Ellinor.) The coast is close, too.
You'll have to pardon my bias, since I teach at Capital High School and am a pretty big fan of the Olympia School District. Our neighboring districts--Tumwater, Griffin, and North Thurston--are nice, but I can only speak for the schools I know and love.
Like every district in the area, we're going through rough financial times, but the quality of an Olympia School District education is still excellent. We have great elementary and middle schools, with lots of options. Our high schools offer a panoply of challenging courses--AP at Olympia, International Baccalaureate at Capital--and choices, from Avanti to New Market to ORLA to Running Start at South Puget Sound.
The Evergreen State College
One of the nation's best, and best-known, progressive institutions. It's where I earned my master's in teaching and where my wife earned her bachelor's in American Studies / Anthropology / Spanish / Smartness. Tucked away in the woods on the west side of town, it's a haven for culture, weirdness, and life lived organically. The pulse of Olympia beats from the heart of Evergreen.
Odds and ends.
The Farmers Market rocks.
You'll never run out of patchouli.
The rain is endearing.
Traffic's never too bad.
Have your own reasons to love Olympia? Add them in the comments.