The sun soaking into the fertile soil of the Yakima Valley has created sweeping vistas of vineyards, operated by passionate local vintners who together form one of America’s most innovative wine scenes. A wide array of grape varieties give rise to a diversity of hand-crafted wines, which can be sampled at one of the many tasting rooms situated in the town of Yakima itself.
Yakima is situated in the upper part of the valley, west of the Cascade Mountains, and there are lots of good hiking and biking routes through the surrounding meadows and hills. The area also has an interesting history, which is explored at a handful of well-conceived museums and cultural centers. Yakima is a two-hour drive southeast of Seattle, and the nearest major airport is Seattle-Tacoma International.
Visit the vibrant and varied Yakima Valley Museum
This wide-ranging museum takes a broad look at the history of the Yakima Valley. There are a handful of permanent exhibitions, including a model 19th century town that children can touch and clamber round, a reconstructed pioneer cabin and an exhibition on famous Yakiminians. And there are an inventive array of special exhibitions, with recent topics featuring 15-million-year-old fossilized trees that once formed part of a Miocene forest and an exhibition on the Japanese pioneers who were among the first to settle the Yakima Valley.
See what visitors have to say about the Yakima Valley Museum:
Visitors can learn more about Yakima’s history at these diverse museums:
Sample the produce of the Yakima Valley’s famous vineyards with Gilbert Cellars
This family run winery owns a varied portfolio of vineyards in the Yakima Valley and across Washington state. It also has a great tasting room in Yakima itself, where you can try each of the firm’s ten hand-crafted wines by the taste, glass, or bottle, optionally accompanied by an excellent cheese board (although who would decline a cheese board?). The owners are friendly and enthusiastic vintners, and put on live shows and exhibitions in the tasting room every Friday and Saturday night.
Take a closer look at Gilbert Cellars:
The Yakima Valley’s superb wine culture can be sampled further at these other local wineries, all with tasting rooms in Yakima:
Hike through the hills, fields and exposed basalt canyons of the Yakima Valley
Two sharp ridges, Ahtanum and Rattlesnake, divide the Yakima Valley in two, while the Yakima River winds through the heart of the valley. The town of Yakima is located on the banks of the river in the upper valley, and there are a plethora of hiking trails threading through the varied terrain that surrounds the settlement. Take narrow pathways curving up hills of various steepness, across meadows of sun-baked golden grass, past exposed basalt columns and through phalanxes of fir trees. Further to the west rise the snow-capped peaks of the Cascade Mountains. The City of Yakima has developed a great app for charting and recording your favorite routes.
Specific sites to walk and relax in the great outdoors include:
Drop into Yakima’s venerable fast-food diner, Miner’s Drive-In
Miner’s Drive-In is Yakima’s bespoke fast-food joint, which has been frying up and dishing out hearty portions of fries, burger and soft drink since 1948. Their signature slab of meat is the Miner’s Burger, a vast beef patty sandwiched in a bun that’s overflowing with sauce and crunchy green goodies. Diners at Miner’s can follow their burgers with equally enormous and incredibly thick milkshakes for dessert.
Take a closer look at Miner’s Drive-In:
Yakima has a good range of eating out options:
Sleep and eat in luxury at the Birchfield Manor
Birchfield has a selection of 11 gorgeous guest rooms spread across its 1910 manor house and neighboring newly built cottage, decorated in a mix of vintage and modern styles. Handmade almond and dark chocolate squares are gifted to every guest, while the B&B also boasts Yakima’s best fine dining restaurant, with a sublime menu of beautifully crafted meat and fish dishes.