Living in Magnolia, Seattle, WA: Neighborhood Guide

Magnolia Seattle

Overview

Magnolia is a Seattle neighborhood located on a peninsula that is adjacent to Queen Anne and is surrounded by the Puget Sound. The neighborhood offers a relaxed and laid-back lifestyle despite being located within 3 miles (or 10 minutes) from Downtown Seattle. Magnolia is also a diverse neighborhood, filled with people of various backgrounds 

Magnolia is accessible via three bridges that cross Interbay. Notably, Magnolia is surrounded on three sides by water. You’ll find Elliot Bay to the south, Puget Sound to the east, and the Ship Canal to the north. All of the surrounding water ensures that there is no through traffic in the neighborhood, which produces a very quiet and serene aesthetic. 

But the lack of through traffic does come with a cost: accessibility. Magnolia is essentially an island. Traveling in and out of Magnolia will require patience because there are only two exits to the community: 15th Ave to the north and Magnolia bridge to the south. These exits create inconvenient choke points that make it more time consuming for residents to leave Magnolia. It also doesn’t help that the neighborhood only features only a handful of shops and restaurants. 

Magnolia is extremely tight-knit and even features its own Chamber of Commerce that holds regular community meetings and attempts to improve the neighborhood. 

Discovery Park

Discovery Park

The massive 534-acre Discovery Park makes up around 25% of Magnolia and is Seattle’s largest park. Discovery Park features 12 miles of trails and serves as an access point to the beach. There’s also a surprising amount of wildlife within the park, such as hawks and owls. There are a variety of notable attractions within Discovery Park, like Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center, Fort Lawton, and the West Point Lighthouse. 

The Magnolia Village

Magnolia features a small urban center called The Village. In The Village, you’ll find local pubs, coffee shops, bakeries, grocery stores, and various cuisines like Italian, Japanese, and Thai. There are some basic amenities offered here, like a grocery store and pharmacy. While the Village does offer a few shops and restaurants, many of Magnolia’s residents travel elsewhere for many of their errands.

Magnolia Real Estate

Real Estate

In Magnolia, there are plenty of different housing options. Along the neighborhood’s borders, you’ll find apartments, townhomes, and condos, while the bulk of the neighborhood is made up of single-family residences. Some of the largest (and most expensive!) homes in Magnolia are larger estates that offer picturesque views of Elliot Bay, Puget Sound, or Downtown Seattle. 

But be warned: Magnolia’s real estate prices are some of the highest in the Seattle metropolitan area. Magnolia’s stellar views, low density, and easy-going lifestyle contribute to its high real estate prices.

Magnolia Views

Verdict

While Magnolia is an exclusive and tight-knit neighborhood, there are some downsides. Let’s run through the pros and cons of living in Magnolia:

The Good:

  • Magnolia is a quiet and primarily residential neighborhood that isn’t located far away from some of Seattle’s top attractions. Its small-town feel attracts people who are looking for an idyllic place to live not too far away from a big city.
  • Magnolia is located on a hill and features some of the nicest views of Puget Sound in Seattle. Its hilly terrain also ensures that you can get a great cardio workout in!
  • The neighborhood also features easy access to Ballard and Queen Anne, two other top Seattle neighborhoods.
  • Discovery Park is an incredible green space that is even larger than Central Park!

The Bad

  • Living in Magnolia may create a longer commute due to its somewhat isolated location. In fact, locals have even given it the nickname of “Mongolia” due to its perceived isolation from the rest of Seattle!
  • There are train tracks on its western borders, so you may be exposed to train noises if you decide to live in that part of Magnolia.
  • While the Magnolia Village is a modest urban village, it simply does not provide the breadth of options that many would like.

Fun Facts

  • Various environmental hazards over the years have made Magnolia’s residents partially landlocked. In 1997, a landslide shut down Magnolia Bridge for four months. The bridge was closed again in 2001 due to an earthquake.
  • Fort Lawton used to house over 20,000 troops during the Vietnam War. The land was sold to the City of Seattle after the war, thus creating Discovery Park!

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