Washington State is a land rich in early American history, bringing up images of pioneers, sea captains, and adventurous explorers. This inspiring history is especially evident in the Southwest corner, where rivers meet the ocean. The communities of Southwest Washington have kept their connection to the past by preserving landmarks and local parks, while still creating space for progress and modern life. The area has won many hearts, and it could easily become the home you’re looking for. In particular, here are several communities you should check out.
Featured Image – Vancouver, Washington
With a population just under 20,000, Battle Ground, Washington is brimming with small town charm. While its name might sound fierce, Battle Ground has a peaceful atmosphere and idyllic scenery, cozied between the coastal and cascade ranges. It has numerous parks and easy access to the nearby Gifford Pinchot National Forest, so you can get fresh air and see wildlife without traveling far. If you love wine, you can also stop at one of the three wineries on your way home. Battle Ground is at the center of the county’s growing wine industry, so you’ll be able to try some of the region’s best wine.
Although relatively small, Battle Ground is far from boring. It has an active community with fun events, like the annual Harvest Days. During this celebration, you can watch a festive parade, sample amazing local wine and beer, and admire over 400 classic and custom cars in a Car Cruise. There’s a geocaching challenge, too, along with a talent show, a scooter competition, and a kickball tournament, giving your whole family something to enjoy. Community events like these help you to connect with people in the area, so you can quickly build a social circle even as a newcomer.
View of Columbia River from a Vancouver, Washington Condo
Of course, no tour of Southwest Washington would be complete without Vancouver. Located in the southern curve of the Columbia River across from Portland, the city was originally a fur trading outpost named “Fort Vancouver,” after the sea captain George Vancouver. As a fort, Vancouver was a military stronghold and an important meeting point for trade. Ships came from London to trade supplies like blankets and tobacco for furs, which they then took to China and England. Later in the 19th century, as the area developed, the outpost also offered lumber, salmon and agricultural produce for trade.
Fur is no longer the foundation of Vancouver’s economy, but the shipyards have remained a vital part of the city’s life and history. In WWII, they produced ships 24/7 and brought the city around 36,000 new jobs, causing a huge population boom. The city has since overtaken surrounding towns and communities, turning them into vibrant urban neighborhoods with great restaurants, parks and local art.
Vancouver has become a city that’s full of possibility for anyone, not just soldiers and traders. It has interesting art galleries and historic landmarks like Pearson Field and Marshall House, as well as beautiful walking paths like the Waterfront Renaissance Trail. There’s enough to keep you busy in Vancouver, but you can also explore key treasures in the area, such as the Columbia River Gorge, the nearby Willamette Valley, and the mountains of the Coastal and Cascade ranges. Portland, Oregon is also right across the river, so you can take advantage of the tax-free shopping and cultural events there. Once just a trading post, Vancouver is now an ideal location to own a home.
Historical Camas, Washington Home
Just east of Vancouver, Camas is close enough to the city to enjoy urban amenities, but far enough to form an independent, close-knit community. Camas started as a paper mill town, producing paper for the newspapers of Portland, but it now has a diverse economy with thriving businesses and technology companies. Downtown Camas has maintained its historical feel, though, with beautiful tree-lined streets and unique stores. With excellent schools, about 60 miles of trails, and a variety of recreational activities, it’s an especially great town to raise a family. You have the safety and friendliness of a smaller town, without missing out on the advantages of a city.
To read more about other areas around Southwest Washington and find some great homes for sale, check out our communities page.