Issaquah earns spot on Outside magazine’s Best Towns list

September 20, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Issaquah, long lauded in the Puget Sound region for trailheads and salmon, earned a spot on Outside magazine’s Best Towns 2011 list for abundant outdoor recreation opportunities.

“Adventure amenities make a lot of towns seem dreamy,” notes the article. “What sets these 19 burgs apart is their nod to reality: affordable homes, solid job prospects and vibrant nightlife. Start packing.”

Issaquah is the only Evergreen State city on the 2011 list.

Outside’s Best Towns 2011

The list includes outdoor-recreation destinations from coast to coast, some obvious and others less so.

  • Portland, Ore.
  • Issaquah
  • Boulder, Colo.
  • Missoula, Mont.
  • Charleston, S.C.
  • Wilmington, N.C.
  • Santa Fe, N.M.
  • Durango, Colo.
  • Madison, Wis.
  • Traverse City, Mich.
  • Tucson, Ariz.
  • Flagstaff, Ariz.
  • Ashland, Ore.
  • Chico, Calif.
  • Portland, Maine
  • Hardwick, Vt.
  • Burlington, Vt.
  • Ithaca, N.Y.

Best Town Ever
Chattanooga, Tenn.

“When you combine all of those recreational opportunities with excellent schools and other things within in our community, it really makes us a desirable place to be,” Mayor Ava Frisinger said after the Outside issue arrived last week.

The city attracted attention for close proximity to Puget Sound and the Cascade Mountains.

“And for good reason: a 20-minute drive can put you in downtown Seattle or the oyster flats on Puget Sound,” Outside notes. “An hour away, there’s skiing in the Cascades, kayaking and rafting on the Class IV Skykomish River, and access to a half-dozen steelhead streams.”

Issaquah also earned points for a lack of pretension.

“Even better,” the magazine concludes, “Issaquah hasn’t been totally yuppified. The biggest party of the year is Salmon Days, a two-day festival in October celebrating the return of the spawning fish.”

In describing Issaquah’s recent population boom — “a surge in out-of-towners in the past few years” — Outside misstated the city’s population as 23,200 residents. The population crested 30,000 people in the 2010 Census.

In addition to Issaquah, the list includes some obvious destinations for outdoor recreation — Boulder, Colo., and Missoula, Mont., for instance, plus Portlands in Maine and Oregon. The magazine also named Chattanooga, Tenn., as the Best Town Ever in the October issue.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment at

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One Response to “Issaquah earns spot on Outside magazine’s Best Towns list”

  1. bryan on September 26th, 2011 5:36 pm

    having lived in portland for 8 years before moving to issaquah, i can vouch for it being the better place to live in terms of the “outdoorsy” things that there are to do, but also for the better entertainment and diverse cultural experience. it’s a well put together town, well thought-out with great transit and wonderful friendly people. we make a trip back down there at least 3 times a year just to experience the city of books, the river, the views and the food – especially the food.

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