7.7 out of 10

Columbia City

Ranked 22nd best neighborhood in Seattle
47.5557836988989 -122.280664338431
Great for
  • Internet Access
  • Lack of Traffic
  • Cost of Living
  • Public Transport
  • Clean & Green
Not great for
  • No ratings yet
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian

Reviews

4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+
Editors Choice

"A Neighborhood That Oozes Character"

A historic icon, spilling over with diversity. The infamous Columbia City is a sight to behold, especially on foot. Just taking in the sheer number of businesses and restaurants along Ranier Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way (MLK) can make any head spin. Located between Hinds Street (north) and Kenyon (south), with MLK and Ranier squeezing in tight on the south side. In the northern half, it spreads eastward along Alaska Street.

History

Formerly a dense conifer forest, named with exploration in mind, and annexed to Seattle in 1907, Columbia City is now considered one of Seattle’s most economically and ethnically diverse neighborhoods. The boom in wartime industry not only brought jobs, but a large influx of African Americans. As a result, the 1960s and 1970s suffered financial and racial hardship. The late 1980s ushered in an era of rebirth, as new blood moved in to take advantage of inexpensive housing.

Demographics and Income

Ethnic diversity is the buzzword here, with Whites nearly a minority. The Blacks and Asians dominate the cultural landscape with almost 40% being single. However, out of the 45% that are married, one-third of them have children at home. Income levels drop significantly, especially in the northwest section of the community. Closer to Lake Washington, contrasting the homes near Beacon Avenue, are mansion-like estates with beautiful vistas of the Cascade Mountains.

Culture

The cultural diversity of Columbia City may make it feel less like a typical Seattle coffee-saturated neighborhood and more like an overseas immersion experience. Just like the income levels, the cultural feel shifts from west to east, with the darker-skinned residents residing closer to Martin Luther King Jr Way (MLK) and the whites near the water.

Real Estate

From a residential standpoint, having the opportunity to own in this area is a win-win situation. No need to travel the world for cultural enrichment, when it is right at the doorstep. Diversity doesn't stop with the people, but also extends to the architecture. Homes, typically, were built in the 1920s, with the average size being around 1,500 square feet. Roughly half of the residents are homeowners, many of whom have beautifully restored their residences. Values have dropped considerably, with the average home being around $300,000.

Local Business Tour (Restaurants, Pubs, Coffee Houses, Shops and other Amenities)

Standing on the podium, claiming a medal for one of the most diverse zip codes in the nation, it truly is the melting pot of Seattle. If one were to eat out at a different ethnic restaurant each night in this community, they would be busy for about half of the year! MLK Way and Rainier Avenue are packed with eating establishments, and many Seattleites dip into this section of town for entertaining evenings.

A running list of some eating establishments: Hoanlan Restaurant (http://bitly.com/fkjke4) - Serves Bun Bo Hue; The Cajun Crawfish (http://on.fb.me/hMZyb9) - An inexpensive way to explore the tastes of Lousiana; Thai Palms (http://thai-palms.com) - Authentic Thai and Laos Cuisine; Mawadda Cafe (http://mawaddacafe.com) - Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine that is home to some of the best Falafel in Seattle; Afrikando Afrikanda (http://afrikandoafrikando.com) - West African cuisine; Tutta Bella (http://tuttabella.com) - The Northwest’s first and most celebrated authentic Neapolitan pizzeria; Kallaloo (http://kallalooseattle.com) - An authentic Caribbean restaurant featuring weekend performances; Roy’s B-B-Q (http://royscolumbiacity.com) - Georgia-like BBQ, featuring tasty pulled pork; Verve Bistro and Cellar (http://vervewinebar.com) - Wining and dining experience every evening, along with champagne brunch on the weekends; Island Soul Caribbean Cuisine (http://islandsoulrestaurant.net) - Tender chicken dishes worth savoring; Geraldine’s Counter (http://geraldinescounter.com) - Breakfast served all day; and Flying Squirrel Pizza Company (http://bitly.com/hi2TPo) - A casual, yet funky vision to pizza served with mainly organic ingredients and featuring Stumptown coffee (http://stumptowncoffee.com).

Night life is no stranger to Columbia City, and the restaurant list above features certain venues with doors open past 10pm. Other establishments to seek out after the sunset include: The Bourbon Columbia City Theater (http://columbiacitytheater.com) - Featuring a wide selection of whiskey and specialty drinks, all the while, enjoying quality performances; and Columbia City Ale House (http://seattlealehouses.com/ColumbiaCity) - A British Pub with extensive history in the Seattle area.

A couple of cafés to savor include Columbia City Bakery (http://columbiacitybakery.com) - Featuring the coffee of True North Coffee Roasters, while specializing in delicious pastries, cakes and bread; Empire Espresso Bar (http://empireespressobar.blogspot.com) - A community-based and community-oriented wine, beer and espresso bar; and Both Ways Cafe (http://bitly.com/hunv0f) - A laid back environment with tasty biscuits.

Food and beverages are just the beginning, as a wide variety of local businesses have found solace here. Here are a few: Bike Works (http://bikeworks.org) - An organization that makes bicycling accessible and affordable to people from all walks of life; Retroactive Kids (http://retroactivekids.com) - Vintage accessories for children; Books4Cars (http://books4cars.com) - Find the correct auto repair manual and book for every automobile; Lucky Dragon Tattoo Parlor (http://luckydragontattooparlor.com) - Respect and understanding back this state-of-the-art studio, featuring thousands of flash art choices; and Viet Wah (http://vietwah.com) - A large Asian grocery importer, wholesale distributor and retailer.

Accommodations

A neighborhood packed with restaurants, pubs, coffee houses and shops has not overlooked the overnight stay. However, only one place exists to be reviewed, The Shirley Marvin (http://shirleymarvin.com). A vintage hotel situated on Edmunds Street, with quick access to Seattle’s light rail. The goal is to provide a relaxed and home-like ambiance, virtually hassle-free. It features four fully-furnished one-bedroom suites, with vintage furnishings.

Schools

Education choices abound here, starting with Hawthorne Elementary (http://seatteschools.org/schools/hawthorne) - An inclusive, collaborative learning environment, rooted in strong family partnerships. Other notable institutions are: Zion Preparatory Academy (http://zionprep.org) - Students who know themselves, what they can become, and understand implications of serving God and walking in His will; Rainier Valley Cooperative Preschool (http://rainiervalleycooppreschool.org) - Adults and children have equal roles in the learning environment—a place where parents are highly involved; Saint Edward Parish School (http://saintedwardseattle.org) - Quality Catholic education that is nationally accredited; and Magic Lantern Montessori (http://magiclanternpreschool.org) - A rich curriculum that touches on many life experiences.

Recreation

Eating venues are not the only items on the menu for Columbia City; a large community center (http://bitly.com/dWE5Xk) with plenty of activities and sporting facilities occupies the center of the populated area, which blends, almost seamlessly, into Genesee Park (http://bitly.com/eaeFnW), then leads north to Sayres Memorial Park (http://bitly.com/geXWsb) and a boat launch area. More waterfront green space emerges further south, approaching Seward Park (http://bitly.com/huK5hU). A bike ride along Lake Washington Boulevard is a Mecca-like experience for any rider. Even the smaller, inland, Lakewood Park (http://bitly.com/gE731J) is a solitary experience within this already enriched demographic area.

Peruse the streets and use all senses to absorb the days gone by, being occupied with modern enhancements. Days off will never be the same when committed to explore Columbia City, bringing almost unending satisfaction to any curious tourist or local.

My family and I had the opportunity to attend a picnic with several friends at Genesee Park, further digesting (no pun intended) the depths of natural beauty and cultural mixing that occur so peacefully here. Even blocks from the water, Columbia City has not left out any fun, with the addition of Brighton Playfield (http://bitly.com/eN44Nc). Many hours of sports-related activities are to be had here, including a play area for the small ones. One more activity-filled green space is on the south side, Othello Playground (http://bitly.com/evlEoQ), featuring basketball courts and a play area with a large slide.

Medical and Wellness Facilities

Following closely on the recreational, knowing someone is bound to get hurt, is the medical component. Here’s what can be found: Rainier Beach Medical Clinic (http://bitly.com/hnImNU) - Part of a chain that features quality medical and dental care, along with many other services; Columbia City Acupuncture (http://columbiacityacupuncture.com) - Featuring the services of David McGraw, who believes in widely accessible harm-free medicine; Elderhealth (http://elderhealth.org) - Providing care for frail adults, enabling them to remain at home with their families; and Group Health Rainier Medical Center (http://ghc.org) - A consumer-governed, nonprofit health care system.

Spiritual Centers and Churches

The diversity trend continues with religion. Here is a wide swath of the churches and spiritual centers within Columbia City: Greater Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church (http://greatermtmoriahseattle.org) - A diverse congregation led by Sherman and Ruth Walker; Bethlehem Lutheran Church [Recently renamed to “Columbia City New Start”] (http://bethlehemseattle.org) - An ELCA church with eyes to social justice; Columbia Lakewood Community Church (http://columbialakewoodchurch.com) - A multi-racial and multi-generational congregation related to the Church of Brethren and the United Church of Christ; Damascus Baptist Church (http://damascusbaptistchurchwa.org) - Led by Rev. James P. Broughton, III and Tammi Broughton, with a “New Beginnings” theme; and Bikur Cholim Machzikay Hadath (http://bcmhseattle.org) - A synagogue with a 120 year history.

Transportation Access and Tips

Commuting via arterial streets and public transport are the way to go in Columbia City. Access to the Interstate involves several minutes of residential jockeying. With the addition of Seattle’s light rail in 2009, traveling to downtown and the airport are commonplace. The bus runs along MLK, Rainier Avenue and Wilson Avenue. Arterial streets like MLK and Rainier Avenue can provide efficient commuting parallel to Interstate 5.

Summary

This neighborhood should either be at the top of the list for sightseeing, or a near second if Pike Place Market (http://bitly.com/fYYXms) takes precedence. Regardless of the visitation plan, this collection of people, homes, businesses and parks should not be missed.
Pros
  • Fascinating architecture
  • Ethnically diverse
  • Good parks
  • Interesting historic sites
  • Proximity to downtown
  • Unique dining choices
Cons
  • Further access from Interstate
  • Limited accommodations
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
4/5
Feb 18, 2016

"Columbia City Theater"

One of my favorite music venues in the city is the Columbia City Theater. It’s a nice break from some of the places downtown that are too focused on status. This place is all about the music. It’s hard to imagine how one place can have so many shows. Seriously, it’s like 5-10 shows a week, every single week. Lots of smaller bands and local groups just getting started play here, so it can be hit and miss, but it’s also good to find new bands you would have never heard of. I’ve been to Thursday open mic night once, which was actually not bad. You never know with open mic nights.

They also have a recording studio, “The Bani Love,” with decent rates, which makes it (kind of) affordable for new artists. You can do a 10 hour day for $600 or $70 an hour. That’s pretty good.

Before a show, I like to have a drink at Columbia City Ale House. It’s just your typical pub. They brew their own beer, like a lot of places in Seattle.

The Royal Room down the street also does some shows, but definitely not as many as CCT. And they do a lot of jazz, which isn’t really my style.

The only downside is that getting here from any direction you have to go through a bunch of stop lights. It's not that bad though as long as it's not rush hour.
Pros
  • Columbia City Theater
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
Feb 06, 2016

"Free summer music for all"

We’ve only explored Columbia City twice so far, for Columbia City Beatwalk. We enjoyed it both times.

Columbia City Beatwalk is a free, small music festival the second Sunday of the month all summer. The music is hosted all over the neighborhood, in many stores, not just in the bars, which makes the setting more appropriate for families. You can walk from place to place enjoying the music. We plan to attend at least once this summer. I also recommend taking time to have a meal at one of the many restaurants. However I would not recommend driving to Columbia City from North Seattle until rush hour is completed.
Pros
  • Free music
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Jan 31, 2016

"Excellent restaurant selection"

Columbia City is a lovely neighborhood in Seattle. It’s a beautiful mix of people; in fact, it is one of the most diverse places not just in Seattle, but in the entire country. This also means that there is a delicious selection of diverse food as well.

It would be an ideal neighborhood to explore for those moving to Seattle from out of the country, because you’re more likely than not to be able to find a meal from home. Unless you’re from India, that is. The closest Indian restaurant is to be found north, in the Mount Baker neighborhood. But if you’re not seeking Indian food, your options vary from Vietnamese to East African to Italian to Thai to local seafood.

As a vegetarian, my options are more limited than most, but there is still an abundance to try. A few that I can personally recommend are:

1. Island Soul (Caribbean) makes delicious “little islands," which are small, crunchy salad and bean cups. Brunch is my top recommendation for this eatery, however.

2. Thai Savon is a family-run Thai and Laotian restaurant that has extensive vegetarian options and excellent flavor. Most dishes can be made with tofu rather than meat.

3. Another favorite eatery is called “Carnivores, Herbivores and such,” south of Columbia City on Martin Luther King Junior Way. My husband enjoys American barbeque, but as I am vegetarian, we don’t often frequent barbeque restaurants. This eatery managed to please us both, however, with a full vegan menu alongside the meat dishes.
Pros
  • Excellent restaurant selection
  • Ethnically diverse
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Jan 30, 2016

"Good amenities catered towards locals"

I’ve taken my dog to the Genesee Park in Columbia City a few times, which is a nice place to walk when it’s sunny. Make sure to go all the way to the Lake Washington waterfront. There’s also an off-leash area for the dogs!

The Columbia City Farmer’s Market, one of many in the city, is also worthwhile, based on the 2 times I’ve been. The produce selection is excellent, as well as the food trucks. The only problem is that it takes place on Wednesdays from 3 to 7. This can make it hard to get to if you don’t live nearby, because rush hour only dies down around 6 or 6:30. So I generally prefer the markets closer to home.

A big draw for people to live in Columbia City is the light rail. I have to admit, I wish we had something similar where I live. Though buses can also work well, they also change routes frequently, and are unpredictable. The comfort of knowing your mode of transportation can’t suddenly skip half the stops or go on a completely different route simply because it’s rush hour, understandably puts your mind at ease.
Pros
  • Ethnically diverse
  • Good parks
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Dec 19, 2015

"Still up and coming, but not for long!"

Columbia City sits just south of Seattle and was labeled as one of the 10 Hottest Neighborhoods according to Seattle Met magazine; in fact it was branded as “the next hot ticket”. What makes Columbia such a hot ticket? Well its mix of old and new a melting pot of culture. Columbia City has a great walkable main drag that has a host of restaurants and bars. There is a Light Rail station which lets riders go south to the airport and commute easily to downtown; and soon the U-District. According to the last census the Columbia City zip code of 98118 was one of the most diverse zip codes, with 59 different languages spoken throughout the neighborhood.

With the convenience of the light rail, noteworthy restaurants, and cute craftsman homes Columbia City has been hot for a few years and like most trending Seattle neighborhoods home prices and rent is (quickly) on the rise. In fact home prices in 2015 rose 15% from the previous year and inventory is low according to Zillow, the real estate website. The current average home price is $440,000. The neighborhood is split nearly down the middle with slightly more renters than homeowners. Columbia City has a bit of everything housing wise, from little bungalows to high-rise apartments and million dollar modern homes.

Outside the home there is a lot to see and do around Columbia City. Seward Park and Lake Washington are right down the hill. Genesee Park stretches through the neighborhood down to the lake. The Jefferson Park Golf Course is nearby and downtown is 10 minute ride on the light rail. Some of my favorite things in Columbia City are:

Geraldine’s Counter – come here for brunch or eat breakfast anytime of the day
Island Soul – yummy Caribbean restaurant
Tagla Café – Ethiopian fair
La Teranga – The only Senegalese food in the city, its West African style dishes
Tacos El Asadero – I love a good taco truck

Who should live in Columbia City? Anyone who is looking for a small neighborhood feel with easy access to the city. Columbia City is a great area for those looking to buy their first home, but like many hot Seattle neighborhoods inventory is low and homes often sell for above asking price. As each year passes prices rise and finding a home to buy or rent become more and more competitive. In my opinion the neighborhood is best for couples and families, or singles looking to live away from the congestion of the city. If living in a neighborhood with a cozy walkable core, diverse residents and food, and easy access to public transportation, Columbia City would make a wonderful home.
Pros
  • Ethnically diverse
  • Good parks
  • Proximity to downtown
  • Fascinating architecture
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Dec 09, 2015

"Diverse and trendy South Seattle neighborhood"

The most common words locals use when talking about Columbia City are “trendy,” “up and coming” and “gentrification.” Like so many places in Seattle, there’s tension as the city is growing. South Seattle, including Columbia City, has historically been very diverse. But as the city’s population and rent prices rapidly increase, that’s changing. So we’re seeing things like new, expensive apartments being built in what were traditionally low or middle-income areas, and a pricey PCC Natural Foods market opening where before there was only a Safeway.

One of the reasons that Columbia City is becoming so popular is due to the light rail, which opened a few years ago, with a stop just at the northern tip of the neighborhood. It’s not the quickest train you’ll ever take, but it is nice to just be able to relax and know you’re not on a bus that’s going to change routes (which has been happening a lot lately). However, some people find it a bit nerve-wracking to be in a train car with no conductor late at night when it’s mostly empty.

The light rail is important because Columbia City is about 5-6 miles out of the city center. The bus takes at least 40 minutes to get to downtown, 60 if there’s traffic. Rainier and Martin Luther King Junior Way are the two main North-South arterials, and they can get clogged during rush hour.

One of the best things about Columbia City is being close to Seward Park. It’s not technically in the neighborhood, but it’s not far, and it’s full of trails and has beach access to Lake Washington. It’s a great place for trail runners—you feel like you’re not in a city because of all the trees. You’ll notice though, as you get closer to Seward Park and Lake Washington, that the houses grow bigger and bigger, in contrast to the smaller apartments and homes that are closer to Rainier Ave.

Rent is (for now) relatively affordable in the neighborhood. To find out what's available, the best way is to drive or walk around the neighbhorhood on a weekend and look for signs, because a lot of the vacancies aren't posted online. It's a good way to get to know the neighborhood too!

For coffee, you’ll find your usual Starbucks on Edmunds Street, and across the street is Empire Espresso, which is much more expensive, and does latte art. Empire is a little too crowded and noisy if you have to get some work done. For restaurants, the downtown area is fun to walk around and try new places. Columbia City Bakery is amazing, and Kezira café is good for Ethiopian food.

And of course we can’t forget the Royal Room. This is a concert venue that had more than 700 bands play there this year. 700!!! A friend of mine just had her band's album release party here. It's safe to say that you always have a live music option in the neighborhood.

I’m a bike commuter. So one of my favorite shops is Bike Works, which is a nonprofit community bike shop that sells bikes, does repairs, and has classes. When you walk in, there are buckets of parts that you can dig through to find what you need for cheap, and then repair your bike yourself or hire them to do it for you.

Speaking of bikes, bike commuting is not ideal from Columbia City. The main thoroughfares don’t have bike lanes, so you have to find your own route through the neighborhoods. Though there is bike storage on the light rail, people often use it for luggage (the light rail goes to the airport), so then you just have to hold your bike on the train, which is awkward.

One more thing before I go. I've heard white folks from Seattle say that they feel unsafe in Columbia City. Now, I would never want to discount how someone is feeling, because that's real for them. But I also want to tell you a story about the opposite. Two weeks ago on Thanksgiving, my very close friend was walking down Rainier on his way home. He was approached by a man with a big, friendly smile who held open his arms and asked “would you like some food?” My friend was confused for a moment because it didn’t look like this person had any food. But the man gestured to a little store across the street, where he had set up a huge buffet thanksgiving dinner, a real feast, and he was offering free meals to anyone and everyone. He welcomed my friend into the store and packed up a big meal for him in a to-go box, even including a piece of pumpkin pie and a drink. “Why are you doing this?” asked my friend. “Because,” the man answered, with his African accent, “America has given so much to me, I want to give back and share my love with America.” He then smiled again and sent my (white) friend on his way with his meal.

How amazing is that?
Pros
  • Great music venue
  • Ethnically diverse
Cons
  • No bike lanes
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
2yrs+

"Creative Charm and Small-Town Style"

Columbia City is a hidden gem, right on the outskirts of Seattle. For young professionals who are tired of the grunge and grind of Capitol Hill, Columbia City will seem a welcome relief.

Nestled on a hill, the Columbia City library first greets you as you drive south along Rainier Avenue. If you take a left, you’ll find yourself driving past the Rainier and Genesee playfields—the latter of which is home to an off-leash dog park.

Keep going straight and you’ll find a bustling strip along Rainier Avenue—boutiques and fitness centers, local coffee shops and restaurants. At a glance you’ll see Caribbean, Italian, Mexican, Vietnamese, Thai, and Japanese cuisines—and that’s just to name a few. A couple of new apartment complexes have sprouted up in the last year, and with them a new PCC Market has also expanded the dining selection.

If you’re looking for entertainment, the Ark Lodge Cinemas is a great spot to catch a flick, while the Columbia City Theater, a music venue, is sure to have a spectacular line-up. Dance the tango at GymSmithy or get an evening massage at BodyGood. Want to head into Seattle? The light rail is only a couple of blocks away—you can be there and back in no time.

As for nightlife, several local watering holes await, including the Columbia City Ale House, Rookie’s Sports Bar & Grill, the Hummingbird Saloon, and the Flying Lion Brewery. Both the Royal Room and Lottie’s Lounge are fun places to have a late-night bite and a drink—often with live music in the background.

In the summer, Columbia City really comes alive. Edmonds Street bustles on Wednesday afternoons with the Columbia City Farmer’s Market, and one Sunday each month, the Columbia City Beatwalk encourages artists and musicians to shimmy out to the streets, instruments in hand.

With its creative charm and small-town style, Columbia City is truly one of Seattle’s best-kept secrets.
Pros
  • Ethnically diverse
  • Good parks
  • Proximity to downtown
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
2yrs+

"I love living here"

My husband and I bought a house in Columbia City about a year and a half ago and we love it here. We are a ten minute walk from the light rail, five minute walk to all the shops, restaurants and farmers market and a 20 minute walk to Seward park. Not everything is perfect here as we live closer to MLK than Rainier and to the south but we have an overly alert dog and alarm system so we feel pretty safe.
In the summer evenings we like to walk down to Full Tilt ice cream which is phenomenal and general hang out for people with and without children. It seems like every couple months we get a new restaurant or shop and a new environmentally friendly apartment complex is currently being built.
All in all Columbia City is an ideal place to live if you are looking for a house (prices are much more affordable than anywhere else in the city that we looked at) or reasonably priced apartment. We take the light rail to work and enjoy the neighborhood events. Transitional is the best word to describe the area but it is transitioning into something great. Within a 5 block radius you can eat something from almost every corner of the world. Who doesn't love that?
Pros
  • Lots of great food
  • Reasonable home prices
  • Ethnically diverse
  • Good parks
  • Proximity to downtown
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Affordable and Engaging"

Columbia City is an area known for diversity (for both income and ethnicity) and history, but with subtle undertones of upward mobility or the inklings of gentrification to come. The availability and quality of housing are demonstrative of the people who live in this area, and a little research reveals a market that runs the gamut from public housing works to multimillion dollar homes. To a degree, Columbia City can be taken as a representation of Seattle at large in as far as culture is concerned. Suffice it to say, it’s harder to find barista here than a line cook, and you can save the money you might spend on a designer coffee drink and instead grab some authentic Mexican food (for slightly fewer calories, too).

There’re definitely some improvements coming to the area which may bring property values up—a welcome change for residents, but a definite barrier to entry for people who are interested in moving in. A Link Light Rail station was added and began service last year, which connected the neighborhood to both SeaTac airport and Downtown Seattle. A noted part of that development included the redevelopment and organization of Rainier Vista, a housing project turned mixed-use (subsidized, rental, owner occupied) community built around the light rail station.

Columbia City definitely a place to consider settling no matter your income, but get in early or you might not have another chance.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
2yrs+

"Stick to Rainier Ave and You’ll Not Want for Activities"

Columbia City is a diverse section of Seattle in its people and their incomes. But Rainier Ave is the place to be when visiting Columbia City, the Columbia City Cinema is pretty spectacular, once a lodge it’s been refurbished into something more than the multi-plexes you can find at any and all strip malls.

Also on Rainier Ave is the Columbia City Gallery which host works my local Seattle artists. The collection is diverse, like the area, and doesn’t limit its displays to those just into canvas arts. Some great jewelry can be purchased here so that you can wear a one-of-a-kind piece by a local. Once you’re done drooling over all the great art your pick of entertainment is just down the street or next door. Columbia City Theater host live music and cabaret shows on Friday nights, big in Seattle, this act is pretty up there with the best the city has to offer.

But the greatest event in Columbia City happens of the second Friday of every month with BeatWalk where for a small fee you can visit several area locations to watch several bands performing.

I was underwhelmed by the selection of eateries in the areas, with the one’s I visited looking more like cafes. But all-in-all it’s a nice place to visit, just bring a sandwich with you.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
2yrs+

"Vibrant Community With Easy Access to Seattle"

If you're so fed up with Seattle traffic that you absolutely must get away, consider Columbia City, which seems worlds away from the high rises of the city. South of downtown and tucked into the Rainier Valley, Columbia City is found between Seward Park and Beacon Hill. While some describe it as “up and coming,” it is also seen as a neighborhood that is a little down on its luck. Full of modest homes and affordable apartments, Columbia City has a distinctly multicultural feeling. The neighbors seem to take a lot of pride in their community and have pulled together to make Columbia City a neighborhood in the truest sense of the word.

The area boomed due to World War II and postwar industries, bringing large numbers of African Americans to the community during the 1960s. Though the 1970s saw many empty storefronts, in large part the area has rebounded. Today, the entire business district is considered a Historic District. In recent decades, the area has experienced an influx of city residents looking for low-priced housing with easy access to the downtown area.

Columbia City is known for being one of the most walkable areas of the city. Everything in Columbia City, including a diverse array of shopping and dining options, is within walking distance of the new Columbia City Link Light Rail station and several bus lines. Its main streets are Rainier Avenue S. and Martin Luther King Jr. Way (both running North-South) and South Alaska Street, carrying eastbound and westbound traffic.

Seattleites come from all over the city for the Farmers Market, which takes place every Wednesday during the summer. The Columbia City BeatWalk, on the second Friday of the month, features live music from every corner of the world. The Columbia City Theatre is a popular hangout, and once hosted Jimi Hendrix. The community is also home to the historic Carnegie Library, located on the Columbia Green, a grassy spot in the center of the neighborhood. There are also plenty of shops and restaurants representing nearly every culture of the city.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Community where neighbors exhibit pride of ownership"

The local residents of Columbia City take some serious pride in their community. There is pride of ownership and also pride in what others own. Neighbors are good to each other and look out for one another. This is the type of neighborhood where you can ask your neighbor to watch your home while you are away and they actually will!

The area is located west of Seward Park and just southeast of Beacon Hill. The area is prime for activities like the Farmers Market and Beat Walk. There are numerous shops and restaurants that can be enjoyed by locals as well as tourists. Lottie's Lounge is a great place for live outdoor music (or indoor when it's raining). The Columbia City Theatre is located in the neighborhood and is a popular place for Seattle residents. This theatre is better known for Jimi Hendrix playing there back in the day.

The Farmer's Market takes place every Wednesday afternoon and early evening from the end of April until about the middle to end of October.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5
2yrs+

"A great little place to live"

Columbia City Seattle is an area in Rainier Valley that is “up and coming”. There are numerous great restaurants and shops and new construction taking place in the form of condos. Columbia City is such a small area of Seattle that if you’re not careful, you’ll blink while driving through it while going up or down Rainier Avenue. The neighborhood is surrounded by Hillman City, Beacon Hill, Genesee, and Lakewood.

There are well over 1,000 homes in the Columbia City area. Residences here include gentle ramblers, two-story shingled and box homes, and bungalows. The yards vary from being modest and minimalist to sprouting wild and care-free gardens. Streets are lined with tall leafy trees and rugged bushes. Along with a vibrant ethnic mix, is the sound of children playing in the streets.

There was a huge effort by the community approximately ten years ago which included nightly “dog walks.” The purpose was to reacquaint neighbors and keep the streets safe for kids. Nowadays, Wednesdays are dedicated to a Farmer’s Market. Other proud features include a beautiful colonial library, a new movie theater and venues that host reading series and live music. The neighborhood has really pulled together and provided its residents with a great homespun family atmosphere.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
MichelleWilliams
MichelleWilliams The area boomed owing to war II and postwar industries, transfer massive numbers of African Americans to the community throughout the Sixties. although the Nineteen Seventies saw several empty storefronts, in massive half the realm has rebounded. Today, the whole downtown is taken into account a Historic District. In recent decades, space|the world|the realm} has experienced AN flow of town residents probing for low-cost housing with quick access to the downtown area.
2yrs+
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Best Streets in Columbia City

1

45th Ave South

4.5/5
"Where we've raised a family...."
47.5533866206294 -122.276525204378
"Improving street and neighborhood in Columbia City area"
47.5605516489512 -122.278432168281

Unranked Streets in Columbia City

47.5661836155922 -122.292476201149
"Quaint Street Close to the Most Beautiful Parts of Seattle"
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"Ever changing, but not at the same time."
47.5370557675186 -122.277174766377

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