You guys all probably know this, but towards the top left of the United States is an awesome (often overlooked) state called Washington. I clarify, because, we are not D.C. — they're the District of Columbia, and we are Washington. And proud of it! Washington is a fine and majestic state filled with a rocky coast, rockier mountains, smooth plains, the Canadian border, and more sounds and inlets than you can imagine. We're the home of Microsoft, the birth place of apples (at least I like to think so), and no, Seattle is not our capitol, Olympia is.
If I sound defensive of Washington. It's because I am. My state is the best and I've believed it forever. And it finally seems like everyone else is catching on and taking note. We offer a little bit of everything for everyone, and Washington is a great place for raising kids. It may not have the bright lights, big city feel of New York or hold the Hollywood glamour of a city like Los Angeles, but Washington state is rustic, real, and ridiculously cool when it comes to starting a family. You'll have tons of places to travel to, dozens of sights to see, ample kid-friendly destinations, and amazing food.
No matter how far I've traveled, I always ache to come home. Even more so now that I'm a parent. Washington wins when it comes to raising kids, and if I ever have to leave my heart might literally shatter.
Our Kids Get Tons Of Nature
As an undergrad, my sister majored in Environmental Science. Her final project focused on nature-deficit disorder — a real thing in our tech-induced lives. Kids suffer the most and really, it's not hard to see why. Washington literally begs families to head outside and fulfill the need kids have for nature.
Within just a few miles of our home we have gorgeous walking trails, a national forest, waterfalls, and the Puget Sound. One hour west and we're at the beach. Another hour east and we find ourselves in the mountains. Cross the pass, and Eastern Washington boasts endless plains filled with agriculture. I can only imagine the benefit my children receive from being daily immersed in nature. Plus, Washington gets all four seasons — that's a big win in and of itself.
Washington Is Great For Everyone, No Matter Your Politics Are
I lean a little conservative in my own personal beliefs, but Washington has long been a liberal state. And guess what? That doesn't bother me one bit. like being a fish out of water in some sense and raising my kids in a diverse climate because it provides learning opportunities.
Our family can hold steadfast in our beliefs as we all grow through conversations that expand our worldview. As parents, we put our kids in environments that question, affirm, and expand their perspectives. By living in Washington, we have the chance to do just that with wonderful regularity. Being in a bubble of "people just like me" never helped anyone.
We Love The Arts
Everywhere I turn I feel like I'm hearing about a new theater group or after-school program available to expand my kids' experiences, and thus, learning opportunities. In a season where budget cuts are making many things disappear all over the country, knowing my kids are getting new programs added to the roster in our home state makes me so, so happy.
Last month my daughter and I popped into a pay-what-you-can family night at the downtown theater and next year we're exploring a subsidized Montessori school for kindergarten. I'm so thankful Washington is full of folks investing in experience education rather than aiming to make a profit at all they do.
Washington Brings The Heat (Uh, Not That Heat)
I'm sure many coastal states are proud of their international flair, but here in Washington, I can't help but think ours is extra, extra strong. Seattle sits right on the big, wide ocean, and our imports have not only helped broaden our perspectives, they've add culture and community to our cities! (It doesn't hurt that getting to try all these new kinds of foods is an added bonus, either.)
My daughter and I are both curry obsessed these days and it's all thanks to some of the families we've been fortunate to meet and call friends.
It's Double The Fun
The mountain range is both a perk and a disservice to Washington. Because it is so vast, Washington residents often feel separated in to two very distinct halves: West and East. In fact, there has even been talk of becoming two states in the past. We vote differently, live differently, work differently, and our weather patterns are quite different as well. It's crazy, but mostly awesome. Having such different perspectives gives Washington a diverse atmosphere that's wonderful for raising a family because of the balance it provides.
Raising a family somewhere is so much more than the available attractions. It's about the heart of the land and the people. And I promise Washington's heart is as good as gold.
Images: Rose Braverman, Denise Cross, Emran Kassim, hi_west, David Herrera/Flickr