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Easy Washington State Living

Updated on April 29, 2013

Find your favorite Retirement Residence in Northwestern Washington State right here

Choose an urban high rise or secluded cottage, with some or all of your optional amenities for carefree and active living. Washington State is full of gorgeous mountain scenery, the largest sound in America - magnificent Puget Sound.

Take a ferry ride with your car and enjoy the water-based scenery, looking back at the Seattle waterfront.

Take a Princess Cruise to the Canadian city of Victoria on Vancouver Island, or take the relaxing ferry to the beautiful San Juan Islands. Washington state has it all, including a vibrant cultural life around the sound and in the large cities and on the Eastern side of the Cascade Mountains.

I was a high school senior when the Space Needle opened to the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. That's it, as seen from the street level on the northeast side. This shot makes it appear to have massively wide legs, but you are likely familiar with the standard photographs that show it's usual side view.

The Space Needs sits on the Seattle Center grounds, one of the city's showpieces. Enter the Space Needle Visitor Center and ticket area, shown at the bottom, and ride to the Viewing Platform.

Get a ticket for a ride to the top, where you will find a newly reconstructed revolving restaurant that provides a different view of the city on the sound, even the Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier, and the Olympic Mountains, if you go on a sunny day! The new restaurant sports Northwest cuisine, a treat for connoisseurs.

Retire in Seattle - The Emerald City

Seattle's Library Wins Acclaim

Seattle has it all - great sweeping vistas of mountains, cityscapes, and grand expansive waterways - swooping around Elliott Bay, on Puget Sound.

The Sound brings an abundance of waterborne activity and edges Seattle's urban spaces with deep blue waves peppered with tiny craft, tourist boats, cruise ships, and the Northwest's Grand Old Ladies of the seas, the Washington State Ferries.

Viewed from downtown, across the Sound are the snowcapped majestic Olympic Mountains. Freighters and container shipping up and down the north-south seaway corridor punctuates the blue water with activity.

Seattle produces cultural affairs like symphonies, Broadway shows, local theatre and ballet performances. Great universities offer post-graduate and continuing education classes, and teaching opportunities. Downtown living is as refined or as casual as you choose - a truly unique home-base for retirement.

Water sports, golf, and racket sports offer options for the physically active senior. You'll find it all in Seattle!

Seattle is known for it's reading populace. Seattle has 128 libraries, including a magnificent downtown structure shown above. Formerly Art Critic for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Regina Hackett describes the Central Library:

“Crouching tiger, leaping building: If Rem Koolhaas' new library were a movie, it would come as no surprise, but as a building taking up space in the world, it's amazing. It marries European avant-garde architectural theory to populist, Northwest purposes, and that's just for starters.”

Architecture Digest presents a beautiful description of the description, selection steps with many photographs of the dynamic spaces and shapes in the building. Architecture Week

Seattle's Landmark Architectural Marvels

nearby GoldenYearsRetirementInns 2

This sleek structure, at 1201 Third Avenue, in downtown Seattle, is a grand example of Seattle's enticing city center architecture, added after zoning 1988 change implementation.

Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and the McKinley Architects, it was known for headquartering Washington Mutual, a financial company that no longer exists, but formerly much loved by the community.

It participated visibly in numerous community events, both through generous financial donations to nonprofit and civic organizations, and personally through hands-on involvement in work projects. My personal nickname for the building is the "Tin Hat."

From the I-5 freeway, the waterfront, or down at street level, the vistas including this building are beautiful. It boats enough blue colored glass to coat the whole building in a warm blue. Other nicknames are both the Washington Mutual Tower, and the Spark Plug.

Paul Goldberger, New York Times writer, wrote:

“The new 1201 Third Avenue building has an importance that goes far beyond Seattle itself, for like Helmut Jahn's recent One Liberty Place in Philadelphia.

This is one of those rare instances in which a downtown office tower big enough to transform a city's skyline is actually a good piece of architecture. Unlike the Philadelphia building, the Seattle tower is not taller than anything else in its city, but this is something of a technicality, for 1201 Third Avenue is in every other way downtown Seattle's most prominent building.

While it does not push the art of skyscraper design in new directions, it summarizes, perhaps more neatly than any other building, much of what is going on in skyscraper design today....”"

Get Up Close to Seattle's Architecture - tours with maps and histories

Seattle Architecture: A Walking Guide to Downtown
Seattle Architecture: A Walking Guide to Downtown

9 Tours of the core of Seattle, through its remarkable architecture! You'll get maps for walking or bussing it. Highlights of specific featured buildings are provided, including architect names and significant dates, and inclusions on local or nation historic registers. This is a fascinating resource.


Seattle's Water Scene is Retiree Rich

Washington State abounds with fresh water and salt water boating venues for Active Seniors. Charter a boat for salmon or fly fishing on Puget Sound.

Visit the Center for Wooden Boats, on the southern shore of Lake Union, where you can explore the history of these fine craft, sail in them, or volunteer to share you boating knowledge with newcomers. A great way to establish ties to other boaters in the Puget Sound area.

It's easy to take your boat from Seattle's gorgeous Lake Washington, past the University of Washington via the Lake Washington Ship Canal, over the north end of our downtown lake, Lake Union, and further west along the canal to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, pictured above.

These locks that connect Seattle's line of freshwater lakes and the ship canal to Puget Sound's vast playground for boaters, as well as for charter boats and fishing boats, were built in 1911.

The Locks are a popular tourist attraction, for varied amenities, such as underwater-level fish viewing stands where one can watch migrating fish travel upstream along a fish ladder.

Landscaping is lush and the venue hosts weddings and flower shows, among other events. Visitors can walk out over the Lock's doors, which partition off sections of water to raise/lower boats from the Sound level to the Lake level. Children of all ages never tire of this adventure. photo from

Travel on Seattle Waterways Papier Pick

Watertrail: The Hidden Path Through Puget Sound
Watertrail: The Hidden Path Through Puget Sound

Incredible photography illustrates this book that prompts the water-lover in all of us to get out and explore this wonderland on the water. You'll relish the appetite for wandering and steadfast adventure.

Wooden Boats: From Sculls to Yachts
Wooden Boats: From Sculls to Yachts

Grand, large format book enhances your desire and your excellence in appreciation of the wooden boat. Runs the whole gamut from small to large.

The Complete Sea Kayakers Handbook, Second Edition
The Complete Sea Kayakers Handbook, Second Edition

The first edition of The Complete Sea Kayaker's Handbook received immediate acclaim with its selection as the Best Outdoor Instructional Book by the National Outdoor Book Award group. Now this book boasts 352 pages with changes throughout to reflect the growth of kayaking as a sport. This book is your first step to adventure on the water, with everything you need to know, from buying a kayak to dressing for the water.

Welcome to Washington
Welcome to Washington

Thoughts to consider and celebrate when contemplating a move to our wonderland of Puget Sound, bordered Canada on the north, the Pacific Ocean on the east, the Columbia River and Oregon to the south, and Idaho to the east.

Boatless in Seattle: Getting on the Water in Western Washington Without Owning a Boat
Boatless in Seattle: Getting on the Water in Western Washington Without Owning a Boat

Make your own way around Seattle on the Lake Washington Ship Canal, from Lake Washington to Lake Union thtough the Chittenden Locks and on out to Puget Sound. Rent or charter the boat of your dreams, from little hand powered pedal boats (foot powered) and kayaks and canoes, to river rafts, and all ranks of sailing boats, and then powerboats.


Seattle's Center for Wooden Boats

sailing classes, workshops & free sailing

The Center for Wooden Boats lies at the south end of Seattle's Lake Union. Come on down for a city sailing experience. Workshops and Classes are taught by trained CWB volunteers, with a real passion for sailing.

SailNOW! is the Center for Wooden Boats' introductory program for sailors. The series includes six classes, beginning with a 2-hr classroom session that covers terminology and sail theory.

Dates and times can be customized within the weekend and evening framework. Families are encouraged to come as groups - with two accompanying adults the cost for youth is nearly cut in half!

Classes continue with new weekly sessions at the intermediate level, with water-ready skippers and novice crew. Learn the basics of racing rules and racing strategy in the classroom, where you can takes notes, and then move outside onto the water to put your new learning in practice.

Excellerated team-course over three-days, for two people only, Three four-hour sessions make this an intensive and smart method of learning to sail.

Membership has double bonus points - learn with your hand-selected teammate & save money on the deal!

Free Sailing

Explore Washington State's Puget Sound - armchair adventure for the retiree's move to Washington

Seattle's Golden Gardens & Shilshole Marina - sailing on Puget Sound, view from Shilshole Marina

You will find stunning vistas from land and sea at Golden Gardens Park. On shore are accessible wetlands where you will be up close to small wildlife amid park-like natural settings.

Turn around and the view of boating life on Puget Sound will whisk you away from trials and stress. This small sailboat is seen from the sandy beat, where you will find shore life all around.

Watch for little straw-sized holes in the sand, and just know that deep below lies a clam or goeduck - the giant clam that can make a family feast.

Look even more deeply and you might find a starfish (oops! don't touch starfish, as they and many others animals and things are protected by law). Then notice tiny critters, little land crabs and all sorts of minute life.

Enjoy the beach grass as it sways in the usual breeze and don't lose your balance when your gaze follow the calls of colorfully active seagulls.If you step into the always cold water of the sound you might be lucky enough to see a fish, or even a jellyfish. In areas where the shore slopes only slightly into the water, the Sound does warm up enough for frolicking and maybe a short swim too.

Golden Gardens is a Seattle Park, long and narrow, but boasting a huge, long grassy space for multitudes of small sports activities. Pathways are paved and wide and benches abound. It is fun to walk along the marina to visually inspect any number of boats.

photo credit: Seattle

Top Your Water Cruising With a Boater's Hat

Bellingham on Puget Sound I-5 Corridor

Bellingham has amenities for the retiree in Washington State

Bellingham, Washington offers a small-city welcome to retirees of all ages. Scenic views from downtown and the hills. Western Washington University sits above the Fairhaven community, with its established old buildings and charm.

The Whatcom County Museum offers culture with regular exhibitions and programs. The American Museum, of Radio & Electricity will bring the history of America's experiments and successes to delight the viewer's imagination.

Bellingham sits close to the Canadian Border and the Peace Arch, an easy drive to the north.

Mt. Baker, with thrilling vistas, sits majestically to the east of the city. Take a drive, take a tour and stay for an afternoon or longer. Ski at world renowned courses.

Nearby, the Bellingham city park, Whatcom Falls, pictured above, lies on 241 acres of prime landscape. It boasts not only one of the WPA's finest park works, but trails, bridges, creek, and on the eastern side, even a fish hatchery.

Take the grandkids fishing in a children's pond. One of the highlights for the daring adventurer is a 60' jump from a cliff - nonsupervised, of course, but plunging into the cold water pool below. Photo above highlights Whatcom Falls.

photo credit Falls

Explore Bellingham's Virtues for Retirement - pacific northwest at the far northern range of I-5

Spunky Una Spenser's intellectual journey celebrates life with gusto - Perfect Retirement Reading on Your Trip to Washington State

Set in the 1800s, covering the distance from Kentucky to a Lighthouse off Cape Cod, this novel is filled with the gorgeous adventures of a brilliant spunky woman. Famous historical figures interact in surprising ways with this woman who captivated and challenged the mythical Captain Ahab.

Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer: A Novel
Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer: A Novel

Published in 1999, it took me 9 years to find this epic enthralling novel that introduces the wife Sena Jeter Naslund gave to Herman Melville's Captain Ahab --- with a punch. It is an intellectually rewarding tale, grounded in a factual historical 19th Century.


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    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 

      6 years ago from Topeka, KS

      Great article! I worked for about 15 years in the tan building just behind the Washington Mutual tower photo you have above. Was great coming across your lovely article. :)

    • gypsykitschpres profile image


      6 years ago

      I've never been to Seattle but it's on my bucket list and your wonderful lens just moved it up the list. Thank you.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 

      6 years ago from New York

      When my mother isn't traveling she spends her summers in Seattle and I have a sister that moved there too. I myself haven't been back there in a long time and it certainly has built up since the last time I did visit. I can see why a lot of seniors have decided to retire there.

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 

      6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Living for quite a while in Vancouver and then in Victoria, I had the opportunity to visit your Seattle many times. We loved to ski on Mount Baker. Such scenery! Now we live inland but we still go to Seattle once in a while and travel down to a summer home in Oregon. Your lens has justice to Seattle and area and your daughter is lovely.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image


      7 years ago

      Great information. Thank you.

    • profile image


      8 years ago


      I like your lens, very useful and inspiring. thank you.


      Shokz Guide Review


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