Every once in awhile someone will ask me why I love Kent. Sometimes it is someone far away from Washington who has no idea where Kent is or what it has to offer. Other times it is someone who visited Kent long ago and remembers it as a not-so-special place they wouldn’t go back to.
I’ve lived here for five years, but every week I discover something new to love about Kent. Here are 10 things I love about Kent, Washington!
- People: Despite the fact that Kent is the fourth largest city in King County, it retains its small town feel. Everywhere I go I am greeted with a smile. People in Kent are some of the nicest I’ve ever met. They are open minded, welcoming and good natured.
- Parks: Kent, Washington has a handful of beautiful-but-small lakes that are serene and peaceful. Most are adjacent to a city-owned park with almost every amenity you can imagine. There are specialty parks as well like Arbor Heights 360 and Wilson Playfields, encouraging outdoor recreation for kids and adults. Some of my favorite parks include Clark Lake Park, Lake Meridian Park, Fennewick Park and Town Square Plaza.
- Entertainment: There is always something to do in Kent. We have everything here from Kent Station and ShoWare Center to a Historic District and Kent Historical Museum. We also have a wealth of arts programs and school drama programs that provide dozens of performances, plays and other opportunities every year. What’s even better is that many outlets offer free or affordable things to do. Who doesn’t love free?
- Shopping: Kent does not have a mall, per se, but we have much more shopping than most people know about. In addition to the always-popular Kent Station, there are locally-owned stores like Marie Haggin Accessories, Fig & Feather, Cheryl’s Unique Boutique, Titusville Antiques and more. There are also little niche areas like the “International District” on 104th and the shopping plaza on 104th and Kent-Kangley Road (Joann Fabrics, Linda’s Apparel, etc.) No matter where I go, I can find something special that fits my taste and my budget. See our Shopping page for more stores.
- Dining: No matter how picky or broad your tastes are, there are multiple restaurants, cafes and diners to suit everyone. For American diner-style food, Maggie’s on Meeker is a favorite. For Thai, I recommend Archa Thai in downtown Kent. For Indian, I love Punjab Sweets on the East Hill. Proud to display its diverse heritage, Kent has a little bit of everything. Visit our Dine page for more suggestions.
- Diversity: It is politically correct to say you embrace diversity, but not everyone truly does. In Kent, though, I believe we have a diverse population as well as a culture of inclusion and acceptance. We have several areas of town and specific businesses that cater to particular populations (e.g., Indian, Ukrainian, Hispanic, etc.), but we are eager to learn from each other as well. With more than 120 languages spoken in our schools, for example, most schools have English-learning programs as well as International Days where students can share their culture. This year the city of Kent partnered with a group of citizens to put on the 2nd annual Kent International Festival in downtown Kent. As a more personal example, my daughter goes to Dr. Na of the Mountlake Acupuncture Clinic on Central Avenue. He was born, raised and educated in China. When we go for my daughter’s weekly treatments, we exchange stories about our respective cultures. I think we learn as much about Chinese culture as we do about acupuncture and healing!
- Accessibility: When I say “accessibility,” I mean that people and government in Kent, Washington are accessible to the average resident. I truly believe that anyone in Kent can send an email to the mayor or place a call to the police chief and get a prompt, personal response. I feel very comfortable that are our local leaders are accessible as well as eager to listen.
- Entrepreneurial spirit: I love the fact that people in Kent, Washington have an entrepreneurial spirit about them. This includes business owners who passionately build their own companies, but also teens and young adults in the area who want to make a difference. People in Kent don’t accept that we have to do things the way they’ve always been done. They say, “I don’t like this. Let’s change it.” One local citizens group, for example, wanted an off leash dog park on the East Hill. Recognizing that the city didn’t have the funds to build one, they created the park in cooperation with the city, raising money on their own and turning their dream into a reality. In another case, a group of teens calling itself Project U(th) formed this summer to create opportunities for work and leisure for their peers. In Kent, we are not afraid to work hard or to pave our own way. We are a spunky bunch!
- Community pride: Kent has been called many derogatory names over the years, but those who love Kent remain proud of their city. We show up in the thousands for events like Kent Cornucopia Days, Seattle T Birds and Predators’ games and concerts like the Backstreet Boys and REO Speedwagon. We work together to show our spirit and to shout Kent’s strengths to the world. For example, Kent’s neighborhood program brings residents together to solve mutual problems, to beautify neighborhoods and to clean up graffiti. Call us what you want – we will love Kent anyway!
- Beauty: While I’ve touched on this a bit in #1 through 9, I love the beauty of Kent which includes its parks, lakes and mountain views but also its historic buildings, its public art work and, most of all, its people.
Those are just 10 of the reasons I love Kent, Washington. Tell me some of yours! Post them here or email them to us at iLoveKent.net, and we’ll post them online.