Whatcom Magazine

In the news: Bellingham, Western in the spotlight

Here’s a roundup of recent Whatcom County ratings and reviews:

Bellingham rates high

Fitness-minded: Bellingham is the second most fitness-friendly city in America, trailing only Boulder, Colo., according to SmartAsset.com. Bellingham was praised for its easy access to such outdoor activities as kayaking, canoeing, mountain climbing, skiing and bicycling. Bellingham also ranked high for its bounty of fitness professionals.

Great downtown: Bellingham’s downtown was rated eighth best in the country by Livability.com. Bellingham scored points for its residential emphasis downtown, its “buy local” movement, for Bellingham Farmers Market, and for its large number of arts-related businesses.

Good place to retire: Bellingham landed on Forbes Magazine’s 2014 list of the 25 best places to retire. Positives cited by Forbes include the presence of Western Washington University, access to the Alaska ferry, the city’s good economy, plus clean air, low crime and the city’s general walkability. Negatives included the higher-than-average cost of living, especially housing, and the poor state tax climate. Bellingham was the only Washington city on the list.

Western reaps attention

Liberal students: Western ranks 98th in the country among the most liberal campuses, according to a survey for Niche.com. The Evergreen State College in Olympia was rated America’s most liberal campus.

A high ranking indicates that many students identified themselves as being or leaning liberal, and they perceived the campus community as being liberal politically. Also making the top 100 were Seattle University, at no. 64, University of Puget Sound (78), Whitman College (79), and the University of Washington (97).

One Northwest school, Whitworth College (59), make the list of the 100 most conservative colleges.

College farmers: The “Outback” at Western Washington University is the 13th best college farm in the country, according to Best College Reviews. The farm and wetland restoration site by Fairhaven College features garden plots, greenhouses, specialized plantings, and workshops and other opportunities to learn about habitat restoration, organic farming, and green building.

Student magnet: Western was named the 11th most beautiful place to attend graduate school, according to Grad School Hub. It’s easy to guess why. Lush green setting, Bellingham Farmers Market, Fairhaven district, and proximity to Vancouver, Seattle and, of course, Mount Baker.