When visiting Issaquah for the first time, one is struck by the awesome natural beauty encircling this quaint, yet bustling town. Located just east of Bellevue, 16 miles from Seattle, Issaquah is surrounded by three towering mountains - known as "the Issaquah Alps" - and the clear blue waters of Lake Sammamish.

Founded more than 100 years ago, Issaquah maintains a charming village atmosphere with its art galleries, specialty boutiques, antique shops, live theatre, and popular restaurants. There's even a chocolate factory for residents and visitors looking to satisfy their sweet tooth. Yet it's also known as a thriving business center for the region's growing high tech, retail, manufacturing and professional services firms.

In addition to a myriad of hiking, biking, boating and other outdoor activities, Issaquah also offers some rather unique attractions. The downtown Washington State Salmon Hatchery provides a truly Northwest experience, complete with jumping salmon as they head upstream during their fall spawning migration. Each October, more than 200,000 residents and visitors - as well as 30,000 salmon - celebrate Issaquah's annual Salmon Days Festival, featuring a parade, some 400 food, arts and crafts booths, live entertainment and a host of family-oriented activities. There's also a zoological park featuring animals from the Northwest and other locales. If you're looking for small-town atmosphere with the conveniences of a flourishing suburban community, charming, historic Issaquah is a destination worth a look.

Founded: 1862
Square miles: 5.6
Parks: 24
Average commute time: To Seattle: 20 minutes; To Bellevue: 10 minutes

Sources: 1990 Census figures, 1997 King County Annual Growth Report, Northwest Multiple Listing Service, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1998 Greater Seattle InfoGuide.

Issaquah Chamber Web Site