Part of the reason I started this website was to explore local getaways to share with all of you, so I’m excited to write about a new area – Yakima Valley! It’s the perfect weekend trip from Seattle when you want to get away for a few days, and there are plenty of things to do in Yakima to keep you entertained.
Yakima has everything you could want in a vacation – craft beer, Washington’s first AVA for wine, a fun art scene, and plenty of outdoor adventure. Regarding wine, almost half the state’s wine grapes are produced here, so it really is the best place to go for wine tasting in Washington.
I last visited Yakima about seven years ago, so I wanted to go to this area again to explore different places and write a more thorough guide. That’s why I was happy to work with Visit Yakima on this trip to help highlight the newest happenings in the area.
This guide to Yakima will give you helpful tips on how to plan your stay there as well as ideas of what to do in Yakima.
Yakima Travel Tips
Here are some tips to help you plan your trip to Yakima, whether you live close or are coming from a road trip from Seattle.
How to Get to Yakima
Yakima is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a quick weekend trip where you can leave after work on Friday and get back by Sunday night. It’s a little over two hours to get to Yakima when coming from Seattle or three hours from Portland, so you can get into plenty of activities during your time there.
Where to Stay in Yakima
There are a variety of hotels and vacation rentals to stay at in the area. You’ll want to consider how many people are coming with you on your trip and how much room you need.
I stayed at Oxford Suites Yakima, which was right on the river, so I had a beautiful view from my balcony. It was also close to the highway, making it easy to get around Yakima Valley, and a pool to enjoy at night.
10 Things to Do in Yakima
Here are some of the best things to do in Yakima during your time there.
1. Go on a Hike
You all know how much I love hiking, so I was thrilled to check some new hikes off my list when I visited the area. The ones I did were great for beginner hikers or those traveling with kids.
Tieton Nature Trail
This beautiful trail follows the Tieton River and has minimal elevation gain. There’s a small parking lot at the trailhead, and you’ll cross a small bridge to choose from several different ways to go. If you follow the trail, there’s a suspension bridge that makes for great pictures.
I loved this trail because you could make it into a longer hike at over six miles if you’re feeling adventurous, or you can cut it shorter. I advise going early in the morning because there is minimal shade here. You should also be aware that rattlesnakes are prevalent in this area (I didn’t see any but heard them).
I’ve had this hike on my list for years, so I was thrilled to be able to check it off finally. I did this early in the morning (again, I highly recommend this due to no shade at all) and loved greeting locals walking their dogs on the trail. It’s one of the best things to do in Yakima when you’re looking for scenery and exercise.
Cowiche Canyon is a network of trails, so you can make it as short or as long as you want. I was there during the summer, but I’ve seen pictures of both spring and fall, and they look beautiful with wildflowers and fall foliage. You can also snowshoe here in the winter (just make sure to pack your winter hiking clothes).
There is a portable toilet in the parking lot (something I always like to be aware of either way).
2. Pick Your Own Fruit
I drove by Washington Fruit Place at Barrett Orchards and was planning on getting some fruit to go, but I saw they offered U-Pick and jumped at the chance to do that. It’s been years since I picked my own fruit, and cherries were in season when I was there. This is one of the best things to do in Yakima with kids, as they can get excited about picking the fruit and learn where it comes from.
You can buy a bag if you don’t have one, and a guide will walk you through the orchards to explain what color fruit you’re looking for to know if it’s ready, what types of fruit they have (there were a variety of cherries), and exactly how to pick the fruit off of the tree.
You’ll pay for your fruit by the pound at the end, and you can buy prepicked fruit as well as a variety of local goods in the store on-site. They also sell lemonade and ice cream for hot days.
3. Go Wine Tasting
I could write a whole article on all the different wineries in Yakima Valley, as they have a vast variety (over 90). I stopped at Freehand Cellars to do a sampler and loved the winery.
They had a beautiful tasting room with huge windows overlooking the area and air conditioning, as well as an outdoor area with picnic tables that I chose to sit at.
4. Check Out the Local Beer
Don’t like wine? No problem, as Yakima is also a hotspot for breweries and taprooms!
The Kiln Taproom
The Kiln Taproom was the first place I stopped for food after getting to Yakima and it was perfect. They had dozens of beers on tap, a full food menu (I got pizza), and a large outdoor area with umbrellas.
Public House of Yakima
They have two locations in Yakima, and one was conveniently right by my hotel. This restaurant had a big menu with appetizers such as pretzels, flatbreads, and more in addition to the dozens of beers on tap.
5. Check Out the Art
In addition to all the beer, wine, and food that Yakima offers, they also have a big art scene.
I got to check out Mighty Tieton while I was there, which is an artisan incubator that houses numerous artists. The photo above was from a studio that makes tiled art for places all over the state.
I also saw the studio of Trimpin, a famous sound artist and kinetic sculptor who has been featured in numerous Washington galleries.
You can visit the studio on an appointment basis only, but there are various studios around the region to visit. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
6. Try the Local Food
There are so many places to check out when you’re hungry, but here are the ones I can personally recommend!
HopTown Wood-Fired Pizza
This restaurant had such a fun vibe to it – there was indoor seating with a bar and TVs, but also plenty of outdoor seating. I chose to enjoy the cool indoors since it was a hot evening, but I would love to come back and enjoy the outdoor area next time.
There were plenty of original pizza combos to choose from or you can make your own. I was so hungry that I almost forgot to take a picture there!
Cowiche Canyon Kitchen
This upscale restaurant offers tasty cocktails that you can enjoy in the bar if there’s a wait. They had a wide selection of food, from Asian coconut rice bowls to trout with apple chutney. I promptly ate all of my meal here because it was so delicious.
Los Hernandez Tamales
This might sound crazy, but I’d never had a tamale before coming here. I picked the right place to have my first one – these are so popular that people order by batches and come as far as California to take them home! I had the veggie ones with asparagus that were in season.
7. Visit a Local Farm
You can stop at one of the many roadside stores such as Thompson’s Farm Market to quickly grab some local goodies when looking for things to do in Yakima. This one was conveniently located on US-12 so you can grab some items on your way out of town.
8. Stroll Through Randall Park
This was an ideal park to take a mid-day break at, as there was plenty to do here. Dozens of trees lined the paths in the park so I could stay shaded while getting some exercise in. They also have a playground here so it’s a fun thing to do in Yakima for kids when they need to get a bit of energy out.
9. Stop at the Apple Tree for Breakfast and Golf
Many golfers will instantly recognize the apple-shaped piece of land at the Apple Tree Golf Course, making it a bucket list place to golf at. While I’m only a beginner golfer, I hope to come back here another time to play the course as it’s a unique thing to do near Yakima.
However, you don’t have to be a golfer to come here. You can stop at the restaurant for brunch and enjoy the beautiful views of golfers playing their games in the morning while enjoying a delicious breakfast.
10. Recharge With Local Coffee
I do stop at Starbucks sometimes when I travel mainly out of convenience, but I highly prefer to support local coffee shops when I can.
That’s why I was excited to visit The Planted House, and even more excited when I saw that it was a half-coffee shop, half-plant shop (both things I love!). If I lived in Yakima, you can be sure that I’d be here weekly buying new plants (I sadly had no room in my car for them this trip).
Which one of these things to do in Yakima are you most excited for?