5. Snoqualmie, Wash.

Snoqualmie
Joan Pliego/Courtesy of the City of Snoqualmie
AT A GLANCE
Population 11,268
Median Income $122,004
Job Growth 10.7%
Median Home Price $467,475
Property Tax $4,639

This stunning spot near the Cascades has long been known for Snoqualmie Falls, a symbol of the natural beauty that surrounds the onetime timber and railroad town. These days Snoqualmie is getting traction for other reasons: top-ranked schools, a superb network of bike paths, and residential cul-de-sacs teeming with kids (more than a third of locals are under 18).

The shift began nearly two decades ago with the development of Snoqualmie Ridge, a planned community a few miles from downtown. Today the Ridge is home to 85% of the city’s population and a host of amenities, including a shopping district, office park, library, and community center. Improvements throughout town have followed: a beautification project in the historic district, a new hospital, and an extensive renovation of the only high school.

The changes helped land Snoqualmie in our top 10 for the first time. It’s the perfect home base for Cisco Systems engineer and avid mountaineer Brian Dickinson, 41, and his family. “When we moved here,” wife JoAnna, 40, says, “I don’t think we even realized what a gem this place is.” — Sarah Max

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