Living in Washington County
Officially established in 1849, Minnesota’s Washington County is actually relatively small in terms of total area, only spanning about 423 square miles, which makes it the state’s fifth smallest county in terms of area. Even still, well over 200,000 people call Washington County home today, which ironically, also makes it the fifth most populous county in the state. Stillwater acts as the county seat in Washington County, which is also one of the area’s most recognizable cities as well. Known for its stunning natural beauty and historic downtown, Stillwater in many ways is the perfect community to represent this thriving part of Minnesota, not to mention a pretty fun place to visit too, just in case you’re not quite ready to make a move.
Life in Washington County largely revolves around a few major lakes and of course the picturesque St. Croix River over on the state’s western edge. Truly offering home owners some of the best fishing, boating, and outdoor recreation in the entire Midwest, there’s certainly no shortage of things to do when living in Washington County, even despite a large portion of it being little more than wide open country and farmland.
Most of the towns around White Bear Lake like Dellwood, Birchwood Village, Mahtomedi, and the actual city of White Bear Lake have a unique, resort-town-like feel that’s clearly evident during the summer months of the year. Although summer homes and cottages make up a huge part of the local real estate market around these parts, each of these communities have since developed into terrific places to live all year long as well. The same can be said for a number of cities along St. Croix River, although to a bit lesser extent due to this part of Washington County being a bit further from both St. Paul and Minneapolis. But with still so many opportunities to enjoy being out on the water, real estate in places like Stillwater, Bayport, and Lakeland is still highly sought after by local home buyers, and especially to those who value a low-key, laid-back waterfront lifestyle.
Other attractions and regional destinations in Washington County include Afton Alps Ski Area, which is widely considered to be one of the best ski resorts in the Midwest, and both Afton State Park and William O’Brien State Park, which both feature plenty of hiking trails, picnic areas, bird watching stations, and even some equestrian trails for anybody who enjoys horseback riding. The Gateway State Trail also runs through much of Washington County, which is a paved mixed-use trail that’s perfect for the avid bicyclist, runner, or jogger.