One of my favorite ways to spend a weekend is by exploring a new part of the Pacific Northwest. A quick vacation to go on is a weekend in Wenatchee, which is a town over the mountain pass that’s less than three hours east of Seattle. That means it also gets warmer there sooner in the year than Seattle does, making it a perfect long Seattle weekend trip. I was surprised at how many things to do in Wenatchee there were during my first time.
While I’d spent many weekends in Leavenworth in the past, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t headed gone a little further south to visit Wenatchee before. I was last here in 2018 during the winter and loved being able to snowboard during the day and explore the town at night. I also loved their focus on local food, outdoor activities, and breweries.
This gem of a town will offer you a genuinely unique experience that you can add to your Washington State bucket list. Here are all the things to do in Wenatchee, WA, that are not to be missed on your next visit.
1. Shop at Pybus Public Market
Once you’re settled in, walk or drive over to Pybus Public Market, which is one of my favorite things to do in Wenatchee. They have a live band playing every Friday night which you can listen to while you walk around the market. There are over a dozen different stores, from local artists displaying their work to local produce, honey, and even cheese. The selection was amazing, so it’s not surprising that they were named “Best Farmers Market in 2015 and 2017.”
You’ll be able to browse antique shops, try local cuisine, and purchase Wenatchee-themed gifts. I also recommend visiting the Wenatchee Valley Farmers’ Market which is open from May to December each year, so check that out if you’re visiting during that period.
The market sells locally produced fruits, cheese, and bread. You’ll also find a host of kids’ activities that make the farmers’ market a pleasant family excursion to add to your Pacific Northwest family vacation.
There are several restaurants in here to grab dinner at, including a bistro, Latin food, and pizza and pasta. When you’re done, grab gelato to end on a sweet note. You don’t even have to leave the market to go to a brewery – Wenatchee Valley Brewing Company is also in here! You could easily spend a whole evening in this market.
2. Hit the Slopes at Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort
There are many things to do in Wenatchee Valley and the surrounding areas. The area’s climate is relatively moderate compared to other areas in the Pacific Northwest, but in the winter months, this is a destination you can visit to hit the ski slopes! This is the perfect activity if you’ve just come from a few days of exploring winter activities in Leavenworth.
Twelve miles outside of Wenatchee, you’ll find the Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort, where the Cascade Range meets the high desert of eastern Washington. When looking for what to do in Wenatchee during winter, these snow-covered peaks offer skiers and snowboarders over 2000 acres to explore.
There is a wide variety of terrain you can expect to ride, including groomed runs, open bowls, glades, and narrow chutes. An added benefit to the incredible terrain on offer is the weather.
During the winter months, Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort receive a great mixture of sunshine and snowfall, so there’s bound to be perfect bluebird powder days during your stay!
Mission Ridge is a smaller resort but ended up being one of my favorites I’ve been to in the state. There are four chairlifts and over 35 different runs to explore. There was hardly a line the entire time I was there, which meant I could actually spend most of my time snowboarding instead of standing around.
I love when I’m on a mountain and discover something completely unexpected. On one of the runs, you can see part of an old bomber plane that crashed in the mountains in 1944. Locals go up and tap it for good luck each time they go by.
The main lodge is at the base and has a coffee shop, cafeteria, and sit-down restaurant with a bar. It’s a good place to take a break and get your energy back before heading out for the afternoon. I also liked the Midway Lodge, which is halfway up the mountain and has snacks, beer, and wine. Having a beer while sitting outside in the sun was one of the best things to do near Wenatchee.
3. Cycle Along the Apple Capital Loop Trail
The Apple Capital Loop Trail is a paved path that is excellent for killing two birds with one stone and exploring the town of Wenatchee and the surrounding natural attractions.
The trail hugs the Columbia River, boasting many spectacular views for you to take in. You’ll start your ride in the Riverfront Park and explore the Wenatchee Confluence Park, among others, as you make your way along the trail.
There are also plenty of spots to stop off in town for refreshments and chances to explore other attractions in town on foot.
While you can bring your own bike, there are plenty of places in town to rent them as well. Some of these include Trek Bicycle Wenatchee and Arlberg Sports. I recommend calling in advance, especially in the summer, to make a reservation if this is something you really want to do while you’re there.
4. Attend the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival
The popular Washington State Apple Blossom Festival occurs over spring and is definitely on the list of fun things to do in Wenatchee, WA. For 2021, it’s running from June 3-13, so plan accordingly. During this time, you’ll enjoy a parade, golf tournaments, food fairs, and live music concerts.
If you’re an active person, there are local runs and races held over this period (although that’s postponed for this year). There will be plenty of other things to do in Wenatchee during this time, though!
5. Explore the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center
If you want to learn more about Wenatchee’s rich history and culture, then the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center is a must-visit. Located in Wenatchee’s downtown area, you’ll find exhibits of the history of the town’s apple farms, railway, first-nations tribes, and historical photographs of the city and its surroundings.
The museum is open from 10 am to 4 pm on Tuesdays to Saturdays. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and students, $2 for children between the ages of six and twelve, and free for children under the ages of five.
In addition, the museum doesn’t charge admission fees on the first Friday of each month, so be sure to grab this opportunity if you’re in town then!
6. Walk Along Wenatchee Riverfront Park
I stayed at Coast Wenatchee Center Hotel during my trip and loved having the park right across from my hotel. Cross the bridge from downtown Wenatchee to take a walk through Wenatchee Riverfront Park after you have coffee. It’s a peaceful place to walk around in the morning and a great place to take pictures of the sunrise or sunset.
You can also make it a workout by renting a bike and going around all 11 miles of the trail. This makes it one of the best things to do in Wenatchee with kids. You’ll see plenty of boats along the Columbia River as the day goes on, especially in the summer.
7. Visit a Local Brewery
If you like beer, this is one of the Wenatchee attractions you don’t want to miss. Wenatchee is known for its beer scene, so what better way to spend your evenings and nights than to go beer tasting? There’s nothing better than a hiking and brewery combination after a long day on the trail!
When looking for what to do in Wenatchee, you’ll have the option to choose between multiple top-tier breweries. Wenatchee Valley Brewing Company, Columbia Valley Brewing, Badger Mountain Brewing, and 509 Bierworks form The Brewer’s Row. You can walk to most of them as well, which is helpful if you’re staying downtown already.
The Brewer’s Row is a collaboration between breweries where events are co-hosted throughout the year. The breweries organize beer crawls that stop off at each brewery to taste their fine beer brewed in the heart of Wenatchee. Many of them are also kid-friendly breweries if you’re on a trip with your family.
After all that tasting you’ll be hungry, so head over to McGlinn’s Public House. They have an assortment of salads, burgers, pizza, and sandwiches. There are also plenty of local beer and cider available. I liked the variety of games they had to play while you waited for your food, including cards and Trivial Pursuit.
If you visit during September, check out the Leavenworth Oktoberfest that happens here and is considered one of the best Oktoberfests in Washington state.
8. Rock Climb Indoors or Outdoors
The beautiful Peshastin Pinnacles State Park is popular among rock climbers looking for things to do in Wenatchee. Twenty minutes outside of Wenatchee, you’ll find sandstone climbing routes that rise up and above the Wenatchee Valley’s apple orchards.
Popular climbing routes include Potholes, Lightning Crack, the Tunnel, and West Face. If you’re not a climber, this area is also great for hiking, bird watching, and observing wildlife.
Prefer to stay indoors or visiting during the winter? Riverfront Rock Gym is one of the largest indoor climbing gyms I’ve seen and is also one of the cleanest. There are dozens of different routes to go up, whether you’re a beginner or advanced rock climber. A bouldering wall is also available to work on your skills. It’s one of the best fun things to do in Wenatchee when it’s raining, as it was when I visited.
9. Hike the Trails in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
Visiting the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is another thing to do near Wenatchee. With over 3,000 miles of hiking trails available, the national forest is a must for those that love the outdoors. Whether you’re looking for winter hikes, wildflower hikes, or summer hikes, you’ll be able to find something at any time of the year.
Well-known hiking trails include Echo Ridge Summer Trails, Boulder Cave Trail, and the Icicle Gorge Loop Trail. Scattered throughout the area are over 150 camping sites, picnic areas, cabin rentals, and RV sites.
The national forest spans millions of acres that also has options for camping, rock climbing, and riding horses so you’ll have no shortage of things to do in Wenatchee. If you want to escape civilization and immerse yourself in beautiful outdoor surroundings, then the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is the destination for you.
10. Enjoy Latin Cuisine at South
When you’re looking for things to do in Wenatchee at night, check out South. Found within the Pybus Public Market area, this warm and welcoming Latin restaurant offers patrons a wide selection of cuisine from Latin American countries, like Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, and Argentina, to name a few. I found this to be one of the best places to eat in Wenatchee.
South restaurant sources all of its ingredients from local farms, and each item on the menu is cooked from scratch. The restaurant has many specialties, but prominent ones include burritos, tacos, enchilada, and nachos.
The bar is no different. You’ll also have a selection of over 50 mezcals and tequilas, rum, pisco, and cachaca to enhance your experience at South.
11. Dine at Bob’s Classic Restaurant and Distillery
In 2015, Bob’s Classic Restaurant and Distillery opened for business after acquiring Stock 21 Distillery and quickly became one of Wenatchee’s most famous night-time destinations.
The extensive menu covers any food you may be craving. That includes about a dozen different types of burgers, salads, wraps, and more, making it one of the best restaurants in Wenatchee. This is also complemented by the massive selection of beers, wines, and spirits. Combined, this makes Bob’s Classic Restaurant and Distillery a great evening excursion for just about anyone.
No matter how long you’re in town for, you’ll love all the things to do in Wenatchee! Whether you go during the summer for a warm vacation or take a quick winter break to ski, you’ll have no problem finding what to do in Wenatchee.