Yakima, located in Washington State’s Yakima Valley approximately 60 miles southeast of Mount Rainier, rests in the heart of Washington Wine Country. Along with wine production, the area yields apples and three-quarters of the nation’s hops. Yakima visitors will find that in addition to being a rich agricultural region, Yakima offers historic sites, public art, restaurants and outdoor recreation.
Most of the dozens of family-owned-and-operated Yakima Valley wineries welcome visitors to stop in for wine-tasting. Maps and tours are available for those who want to spend a day enjoying wine country’s open roads and natural beauty, strolling through vineyard landscapes, chatting with winemakers and wine-tasting. With over 70 vineyards, visitors may want to plan to spend several days traveling through the region to sample local vintners’ trademark wines.
When wine-tasting time is over, travelers can head to the city’s downtown area to explore the variety of things to do in Yakima. Begun as a ranching outpost in the mid-19th century, the city maintains an old-town atmosphere, the result of successful preservation efforts, while offering a variety of contemporary, up-to-date attractions. Tourists can stroll down North Front Street to Northern Pacific Depot and buy souvenirs at the Track 29 Mall. Along with shops and restaurants, the mall area has an old-time wooden boardwalk and plenty of benches for train-watching.
Other things to do in Yakima include taking in a concert or play at the lavish 1920s-era Capitol Theatre, once home to stage shows and silent films, and enjoying downtown’s Millennium Plaza, dedicated to water’s role in Yakima Valley development. The Yakima Valley Museum located in Franklin Park displays artifacts and exhibits of early pioneer life, including a collection of horse-drawn vehicles. The Yakima Greenway attracts walkers, joggers and cyclists to its site along the Naches River where more than ten miles of paved paths provide a setting for outdoor recreation.
Yakima visitors looking for a place to eat can find establishments with local flavor. The Barrel House, built as a hotel and saloon in 1906, offers historic atmosphere with its tin-pressed ceiling as well as a menu featuring special selections, a Yakima Valley wine list and local microbrews. MaMa Vallone’s Steak House and Inn in Cle Elum, a former early 20th century boarding house for teachers, is well-known for its Italian cuisine, with some patrons traveling several hours to enjoy one of its legendary entrees such as spaghetti puttanesca, a favorite dish made with red pepper flakes and Italian herbs.
Those staying overnight will find a selection of lodging options, ranging from national names to locally-owned and operated choices such as the Oxford Inn. The Birchfield Manor, a Victorian Manor House and newer modern cottage with six guest rooms, gives those wanting a Bed and Breakfast experience an alternate choice. Established in 1910 as sheep farm, the property has rooms with views of its pond and tree grove which make it a one-of-a kind lodging option.