If you were visiting Yakima for the very FIRST time, where and/or what is something we locals would tell you that you HAVE to try? I could certainly give you a list a mile long filled with suggestions for activities and places to eat so I’ll break this article up into two pieces. In this article below, you will find my own personal recommendations of fun things to do from an “outsider’s” perspective.
First of all, just know that Yakima’s nickname is “The Palm Springs of Washington“. The city is split over this affectionate misnomer. I, for one, happen to LOVE it though!
Whether you’re in Yakima for a quick stop or you just moved here, stay tuned for part two of this series because I will share with you what some Yakima Valley locals and social media friends of mine recommend; their list has a bunch of other wonderful and unique places that my list doesn’t! My list today contains my favorite wineries, restaurants, fun activities for both kids and adults to indulge, some places around town to pamper yourself, and a host of other places I think are fun things to do the Valley.
I remember the early days when I first moved to Yakima in 2002. I was green behind the ears and had no clue what I was about to get myself into. Finding my favorite new haunts seemed like something of a challenge but my new Yakima friends quickly told me the places I needed to get to know. There was this weird older lady I met at church, for example, who told me that the best food in town was at a dive diner named the Four-Ten Restaurant (1606 Fruitvale Boulevard). Are they still around anymore? (I just did some quick research and apparently, the old Four-Ten is now a place that sells cannabis!) My co-workers had told me that the best places (to eat) in Yakima were Miner’s Burgers, Abby’s Legendary Pizza, and El Porton. Well, I only enjoyed two out of those three suggestions. Color me picky!
Now that I have become accustomed to living in Yakima for nearly two decades and have a lay of the Yakima Valley land, my favorite places to see and things to do have changed considerably. Whenever I have friends and family visiting from out of town, I love to tell them places they just HAVE to see and restaurants they NEED to check out.
Fun Things to Do in Yakima Valley That Every New Visitor Must Try: PART ONE
GREAT RESTAURANTS TO VISIT WHEN YOU’RE IN YAKIMA:
- Try a tamale from Mercedes Family Restaurant and the James Beard Foundation award-winning Los Hernandez Tamales.
- Get an International Harvester Burger from Cowiche Canyon Kitchen Restaurant.
Speaking of burgers, chomp your way into a cheeseburger and beer-battered fries from Major’s Restaurant. The burgers are as big as your head and they had me at beer-battered anything!
- Grab a tasty non-alcoholic beverage from Panaderia El Solecito in Yakima. They are TIK TOK famous with millions of likes, and people drive from hours and hours away just to come here for their family-friendly energy drinks, mochas, and assorted pastries!
- Load up on a to-go plate of jambalaya from All About BBQ & More!: Miz Dee’s Second Generation in downtown Yakima. You will walk away with a smile on your face from soaking in all of that love from Miz Dee! She’s only open three (3) days a week for a few hours a day, so check the lineup before you go!
RECOMMENDED WINERIES TO VISIT IN THE YAKIMA VALLEY:
- Sip on some Hand-Crafted Sparkling Wine that tastes as delectable as champagne from Treveri Cellars (join the wine club if you are a big spender because you get access to the VIP Lounge).
- Sit on the lawn with a picnic or relax inside what I am declaring the swankiest winery in the Valley! Drive out to Wapato and visit Freehand Cellars.
- Sample the decadent wines at Two Mountain Winery in Zillah (the Lemberger is in my not-so-humble-opinion the BEST red vino in the Valley)!
OTHER PLACES TO VISIT IN THE YAKIMA VALLEY
- Play a few fun games at Legends Casino Hotel in Toppenish; Go there on Thursdays for the seafood buffet!
- Visit these two museums: Yakama Nation Cultural Heritage Museum in Toppenish and the Yakima Valley Museum in Yakima.
FUN ACTIVITIES TO DO IN YAKIMA
- My 10-year-old daughter Willow says she would tell someone visiting Yakima for the very first time to go to the Yakima Family Fun Center (formerly Meadowbrook Family Fun Center) and get down with the arcade games, putt-putt miniature golf, bumper boats, go carts, and batting cage!
- Head down to Hop Capitol Brewing for a fun and hearty game of Cornhole on Monday nights. The folks are friendly and will even teach you the rules and give great tips on how to play the game. They use the official 27 ft. distance between cornhole boards, fair warning! They have the friendliest staff there, too!
- Mix it up with the locals at Drink ‘n Games Bar in downtown Yakima. There are tons of arcade games plus they have karaoke four (4) nights a week. If you’re lucky, you might even get to catch a special Drag Show Night!
- They say laughter is the best medicine, so every Wednesday night you can laugh your (REDACTED) off at the comedy open mic night at Bill’s Place (206 S 3rd Ave, Yakima). Here is another great way to mix in with the locals and have some good beer, wine, cocktails, and “Fritos Locos” from the bar!
- Are you a bookworm? If so, visit the cozy and popular hometown bookstore, Inklings Book Shop! They also have really cool greeting cards and unique gifts and toys for sale. Highly recommended!
- If you’re in the mood to try another great place to not only meet some extremely cool locals but also enjoy some delicious beer with a friendly staff, you have gotta go to Single Hill Brewing in downtown Yakima! Visit on the right night and you may just get to play Trivia Night or Bingo Night! Always a blast!
- Speaking of BINGO, they have “Not Your Grandma’s Bingo!” at St. Joe’s in Union Gap.
WED 6pm SAT & SUN 11am & 6pm
Doors open at 9:30AM and 4:30PM.
PAMPER YOURSELF IN YAKIMA
- Flowers make the world go round and there are two places that I strongly recommend to get your fix: Gasperetti Floral (say hi to the cat) and Kameo Flower Shop (say hi to Sydnee).
- Have a spa day at Energy Massage and Float Spa! Take 60 minutes out of your day to pamper your body and spirt by floating in a pod filled with healing minerals that detoxify you. Let your mind “float” to whatever thoughts come your way. Who knows, you might even figure out the answers to some of your most burning life questions!
- Bite into cocoa morsels and other opulent treats from Boehm’s Candies & Chocolates. Spoil yourself with chocolate, you’re worth it!