Offering great food and drink and friendly hospitality, Washington's Yakima Valley has become a well-regarded touring destination. The same sunny conditions that allow the vineyards and orchards to thrive also makes the region a great getaway for anyone who wants to spend some time outdoors.
Here are my recommendations for fun things to see and do during a visit to Yakima Valley:
Outdoor Activities in Yakima Valley
Set just east of the Cascade Mountain Range, the Yakima Valley is sunny and scenic. The Yakima and Naches Rivers run through the valley; both provide recreational opportunities.
This 15 miles of improved trail runs along the Yakima River, passing through parks and past ponds and boat ramps. Walking, running, biking, and wildlife watching are popular trail activities.
Golfing in Yakima Valley
The sunny terrain of Eastern Washington makes for some awesome golf courses and the Yakima area is no exception. Here are some popular golf opportunities available to the public:
Hillside Desert Botanical Gardens
This well-established botanical facility focuses on plants that will thrive in the Northwest's arid desert regions. After checking out the experimental gardens, you can also purchase plants for your own landscaping needs. Appointments are required for visits, call (509) 248-1742.
Yakima Area Arboretum & Jewett Interpretive Center
This "living plant and tree museum" covers 46 acres with gardens and natural areas that you can wander and explore. The Jewett Interpretive Center includes displays, a gift shop, and meeting rooms.
Food & Wine in Yakima Valley
You can spend days tasting your way around Yakima Valley, which is one of the richest agricultural areas in North America. Grapes, hops, and apples are major crops in the region, along with other produce and stone fruits. Over 70 wineries are scattered across the valley, many with tasting rooms and patios where you can relax and enjoy the fruits of the region. Pick up a selection of the season's fresh offerings at one of the local farmer's markets and farm stands. Food- and wine-themed festivals are popular reasons to visit Yakima Valley, including the annual Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Grande and the Catch the Crush event.
Museums in Yakima Valley
There are a surprising number of interesting museums and visitor centers in Yakima Valley, with most focusing on agriculture or local history.
Yakama Nation Museum & Cultural Center
The Yakama, the valley's native people, continue to make their mark on the region. Visit the Yakama Nation Museum to view exhibits and artifacts that illuminate their history, culture, and traditions. The facility includes a gift shop, movie theater, and library.
Yakima Valley Museum
Local history and culture are the focus of the Yakima Valley Museum, which offers an intriguing variety of exhibits. The permanent collection includes Native American artifacts, regional art, homestead era items, and natural history exhibits. The museum's special exhibition galleries change topics over time and can address all sorts of topics of local interest, from Sasquatch to bicycling to movie cowboys. A section of the museum facility includes a history soda fountain, preserved and now open as the Rooster Diner and Ice Cream Shop.
Northern Pacific Railway Museum
Located in Toppenish in the Northern Pacific Railway depot, built in 1911, this Yakima Valley museum preserves the glory days of the American railroad. An old steam engine and several vintage rail cars are part of the museum's collection.
American Hop Museum
The Yakima Valley is one of the world's premier hop-growing regions, producing over 75% of the hops grown in the United States. The American Hop Museum is located in the historic Trimble Brothers Creamery building in Toppenish. Their collection includes equipment, artifacts, and memorabilia related to the hops and the hop industry. This is a must-see for beer aficionados and anyone interested in craft brewing.
Music & Theater in Yakima Valley
After spending a day on the river or touring the countryside, relax and enjoy a live performance. Yakima performance venues include:
- The Capitol Theatre
This historic venue hosts a range of diversions, from Broadway-style musicals to lectures to performances by the Yakima Symphony Orchestra.
- The Seasons Performance Hall
Live music concerts, dinner shows, and other special events are hosted at this intimate performance space, located in a historic and eclectic church building.
Other Visitor Attractions in Yakima Valley
The Toppenish Murals
One popular mural spawned another and now the small town of Toppenish has over 70 colorful murals adorning its buildings. Most all of these huge paintings depict scenes from local history.
Yakima Valley Trolleys
Take a short trip on this vintage electric railroad, which runs routes between Yakima and Selah, and through a historic section of Yakima. The trolley runs on weekend and holidays from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and is available for charter.