5.3 out of 10


47.044081365688 -122.899713041152
Great for
  • Eating Out
  • Internet Access
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Public Transport
  • Clean & Green
Not great for
  • Gym & Fitness
  • Neighborly Spirit
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Pest Free
  • Resale or Rental Value
Who lives here?
  • Singles


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

"The Hippy Capitol of the World"

Olympia may very well be the capital of the state, but it is most decidedly the hippy capital of the world! It shows in the dress of the downtown crew, the politics of the area, and the overall attitude of the town. What other capitol city do you know of where a city commissioner was arrested for protesting the use of ports by the military?

Sadly the heart of downtown [right around 4th and Capitol Way] is sliding downhill fast. The stores are closing due to lack of business. The parking is awful and the bums are even worse, getting more aggressive each month. There’s a sub-culture of punkish/gothic/shock-producing teens and young adults leaving everyone feeling less than safe who like to hang in the area with The Vault as their favorite music venue, or at least their favorite which avoids being shuttered on a regular basis.

The traffic lanes in this area are too narrow, causing the buses to take up enough of the second lane to make it unuseable. Combined with frequent stops and the general lack of bus pullouts makes for more of a mess than needs to be. In spite of this, they have been in the process of narrowing lanes here and in the surrounding areas in order to slow traffic down. Considering the high level of bike traffic which refuses to utilize the sidewalk, this is a disaster waiting to happen. Thankfully, come evening this is seldom a problem. For though it is a large sprawling town, come evening there are hardly any cars on the road.

They have better than average transit schedules. However, very few of the stops are sheltered in spite of the rain-forest like weather we tend to get. There are currently plans afoot to build a new Greyhound station at the downtown transit terminal. It would be a nice addition and a common sense transition point.

This town loves it’s bicyclists and we have a noticeable number commuting this way. The state offers incentives to those doing so. While bike lanes are often provided, it doesn’t seem to stop the conflicts between bikers and cars. The bikers have more ‘attitude’ as a whole and prefer to ride ON the white line rather than in their lane. Resentment and emotions runs deep and strong on both sides of the argument.

Bayview Thriftway offers an above average deli/short-order menu and an upstairs seating area with a view of the bay. Their prices are a bit high for weekly grocery shopping but they have developed a loyal customer base. Some come for the wide variety of organic foods, some for the post office/DoL offices, some for the wide variety of specialty foods, and some come because the owner has taken an unpopular stand on some moral issues. His stands have brought protest and boycott from some and drawn new customers in. There are two Thriftways in the Olympia area and both offer plug-ins for electric cars, the first businesses I’ve noted doing so.

Bayview is on the edge of Percival Landing, a long-stretching pier, or perhaps a series of piers, which service the marina as well as several businesses in the area. The pier itself is in need of replacing, with a few areas already closed off due to safety issues. It was scheduled to begin in 2009 but may be tabled due to budget crunches.

There are all sorts of small restaurants offering a wide variety of ethnic foods or healthy eating, but they seem to change out on a very regular basis. The area is well populated with coffee houses offering internet etc. There used to be lots of sidewalk seating but an ordinance aimed at controlling the bums took away the café’s ability to utilize the sidewalks. Slowly, some of the cafes are placing a few seats back outside, but it appears to be a slow and careful process as the ordinance in question sparked heated debates.

Housing is, for the most part, apartments above stores. There are a few apartment buildings but they seem to be run by slumlords. Oddly enough, if you head south, by the time you reach the south capitol area, you will find some of the nicer homes around. If you head East, you will find the Bigelow Neighborhood along Olympia Ave which is a destination for those in love with Victorian houses. But the largest of the downtown apartment buildings has long since been abandoned, though there is talk of building over-priced condos at the water front.

For the most part, this area seems best suited to the younger crowd. Those willing to deal with frequent traffic woes due to protesters blocking the road or even the occasional riot. In exchange you can enjoy free music in the park all summer at Sylvester Park or enjoy the Capitol Lake Park, that is as long as the tide is in. When the tide is out, the bay on the opposite side of the road becomes quite pungent and can force sensible noses to other locations. The annual Lakefair Festival occurs at Capitol Lake Park, as does the Hemp festival, fireworks, and any other number of events.

Though I rated ‘Neighborly Spirit” as low, this depends largely on who you are. If you are about college age, environmentally minded, have little respect for governmental authority, and enjoy shocking those around you, the community will embrace you and, no doubt, you will find a very tight knit community. However, for the rest of us, there is very little sense of safety or community around the downtown core group. It is, afterall, a hippy town. You are either reliving the sixities or you don’t fit in.
Recommended for
  • Singles

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