Posts Tagged ‘Ellensburg’


Downtown Yakima

I’ve been to Yakima a few times, but never for longer than a week. Hence, for this post I thought I’d get my recommendations from my awesome friend Amelia, someone who actually knows what she’s talking about in terms of the city. Enjoy her suggestions below. But first I’ll share a fun fact about Yakima that I actually knew: in the Nickelodeon  show iCarly, the title character’s grandfather is from Yakima – though the characters rarely pronounce the name correctly (According to the City of Yakima site). In fact, here’s an excerpt from one of Carly’s blogs, entitled, “I Was Almost a Yakimite!!!”: “This week was ALMOST the worst week EVER! OMG, I thought I was gonna have to move to YAKIMA! Try saying “Yakima” out loud — it sounds like a person vomiting (no offense to the nice people who live in Yakima!)”


But despite how Carly makes it sound, Yakima actually offers a lot of great – and free – activities. Here are some of Amelia’s ideas.


Weeping Cherry Tree and Daffodils at the Yakima Area Arboretum

Amelia’s Favorite … 

Freebie: Yakima Area Arboretum. This 46-acre arboretum is a colorful feast for the eyes and boasts over 2,000 species of flora along the Yakima River. Looking for a particular flower? Check their web site to see what’s currently in bloom. The arboretum, which is open daily from dawn to dusk, is also the site for Yakima’s Relay for Life luminary walk.

Inside the kitchen at Mercedes & Family

Restaurant: Mercedes & Family Food to Go. In a city with a myriad of Mexican restaurants, both Amelia and her boyfriend Mike assure me that this is the real deal. They recommend the tamales. Aside from the meals being the tastiest in town, most of them are also under $10, including a $3.99 burrito.

View from inside a cave at Boulder Cave National Recreational Trail

Outdoor Activity: If you’re willing to drive a little outside of town, head over to Boulder Cave National Recreational Trail, in the Okanagan-Wenatchee National Forest. The trail is about 1.5 miles round trip and Amelia says the waterfalls alone are worth the trip. If you choose to stay all day, the Boulder Cave Campground is available nearby.




Yakima Quick Facts:

Founded: 1883 as “Yakima City” (City of Yakima web site)

Population: 85,832 (2009 U.S. Census estimate)

Name Origins: The most popular theory of Yakima’s etymology is that a Native American chief’s daughter fled from her home after breaking tribal rules and made her home on the Yakima River. The word Yakima in this legend means “runaway.” (City of Yakima web site)

Driving distance from:

Ellensburg: 40 minutes

Seattle: 2 hours, 24 minutes

Portland: 3 hours, 11 minutes

Spokane: 3 hours, 21 minutes



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Bird's Eye View of Pasco

Central Washington is labeled by some as “middle of nowhere” status. But the Tri-Cities – which consist of Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland – have plenty to offer. In fact, the cities have received a number of accolades in the last few years. Last year Kennewick was named one of the top 10 American cities to raise a family in by Yahoo! Richland is home to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford Reservation. And Pasco is the hometown of novelist Chuck Palahniuk, poet Ron Silliman, and Detriot Tigers pitcher Jeremy Bonderman.

For this post, I’ve solicited the help of my wonderful friend Chris, who has spent most of his life in Kennewick.

Chris’s Favorite …

Brick House Pizza in West Richland

Restaurant: In Kennewick, Chris recommends The King & I, a Thai restaurant. But beware, this extremely spicy food is not for the faint of heart. If you’d rather opt for non-spicy food, try Brick House Pizza in Richland. Chris says their pickle and pepperoni pizza is one of the best pizzas he’s ever had.

Columbia Point Marina





Outdoor (and Free) Activities:

In the summer:

  • Try boating in the Columbia River or Snake River
  • If you’d rather fish, head over to the Ice Harbor Lock and Dam area on the Snake River, McNary Lock and Dam area on Lake Wallula, or Two Rivers Park. At Columbia Park, the family fishing pond is stocked with fish for kids.

For most of the year:

  • For bikers and joggers, Chris recommends a 14-mile trail in Kennewick that starts at Columbia Point Marina, goes through Howard Amon Park, and ends just past WSU Tri-Cities.
  • You can also try the trail between the Blue Bridge (in central Kennewick) and the Cable Bridge (in downtown Kennewick). The path stretches along the Columbia River and is about six miles round trip. If you start at the Cable Bridge and take the trail west, you can cross over the Blue Bridge and end in Pasco.
  • If you’re up for a serious jog or bike ride, try the Sacagawea Heritage Trail Loop (19-24 miles) or the Yakima River Loop (45 miles).

The Cable Bridge Run

Annual Events: Check out the Cable Bridge Run the Saturday before Christmas. Or if you’re there in the summer, go to the Columbia Cup Tri-City Water Follies hydroplane races. These races take place on the Columbia River during the last weekend of July.




Quick Facts about the Tri-Cities:


  • Kennewick: 1904
  • Pasco: 1891
  • Richland: 1905

Populations (2009 U.S. Census estimates):

  • Kennewick: 67,814
  • Pasco: 58,647
  • Richland: 47,527

Name Origins:

  • Kennewick is believed to be a Native American name for “grassy place.”
  • Pasco was named by Virgil Bogue after the Peruvian city Cerro de Pasco.
  • Richland is named after Nelson Rich, who in 1892 co-founded Benton Land and Water Company.


Driving distance from:

Yakima: 1 hour, 18 minutes

Ellensburg: 1 hour, 53 minutes

Spokane: 2 hours, 25 minutes

Seattle: 3 hours, 36 minutes


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Remember my wonderful housemate Caitlin from three posts back? Well, in addition to being an expert on all things Forks, she has also spent substantially more time in Leavenworth than I have. I’ve asked her once again to be our virtual tour guide of this Bavarian-themed town, which National Geographic  named one of the 50 best places to live and play in the U.S. 




Caitlin’s Favorite …

Restaurant: King Ludwig’s. Voted Restaurant of the Year by Leavenworth’s Chamber of Commerce, this restaurant provides a full Bavarian experience. Servers are dressed in their finest Bavarian get-ups, and live accordion music plays in the background while you enjoy your meal. Come here with your family or a large group of friends, and try Caitlin’s favorite dish, King Ludwig’s family-style platter. This feast, made for four or six people, consists of Schweinshax’n (rotisseried broiled pork hock), half a rotisserie chicken, Schweine schnitzel (breaded, pan fried pork cutlet), sausages, Leberkäse (Bavarian meatloaf), and much, much more. The food may be foreign to most Americans, but Caitlin advises to not judge the food before you taste it.

Kris Kringl

Places to Shop: Downtown Leavenworth offers a myriad of fun places to shop. Kris Kringl sells hundreds of Christmas ornaments year-round. Caitlin says the Hat Shop is a great place for those with kids, or if you’re immature yourself. Here you can find pizza hats, Viking heads, and basically any other hat you can imagine. The Hat Shop is also connected to the Leavenworth Wood Shop, a toy store. Have a sweet tooth? Get a caramel apple at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. And while there, get your picture taken with the bear outside the store.

Christmas Lighting in downtown Leavenworth

Seasonal Activity: Leavenworth’s annual Christmas Lighting. This event actually consists of an entire weekend of events, but the highlight is when the downtown businesses’ Christmas lights are turned on at once. Caitlin says the town is already beautiful as it is, but the lights add another dimension of beauty. In 2007, reporters from Good Morning America visited Leavenworth to help light the town.

When I told my boss I was writing about Leavenworth, she told me about the following YouTube clip, created by the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce. This music video takes an interesting twist on Bavarian life. Enjoy.

Quick Facts about Leavenworth:

Founded: 1890 (According to the City of Leavenworth web site)

Population: 2,347 (2009 U.S. Census estimate)

Name Origins: Leavenworth was named after Capt. Charles Leavenworth, president of Okanagan Investment Company, who helped found the town. (According to

Driving distance from:

Ellensburg: 1 hour, 7 minutes

Yakima: 1 hour, 41 minutes

Seattle:  2 hours, 9 minutes

Spokane: 3 hours, 20 minutes






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Driving distance from:Seattle: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Portland: 1 hour, 51 minutes

Ellensburg: 2 hours, 34 minutes

Bellingham: 2 hours, 39 minutes

The Washington State capitol building in Olympia



Founded: 1850 (According to the City of Olympia web site)

Population: 46,100 (2009 U.S. Census estimate)

Name Origin: Resident Isaac N. Ebey suggested the name in homage of the nearby Olympic Mountains. (City of Olympia web site)

Did you know … an Olympia Dairy Queen sold the world’s first soft serve ice cream (According to

Olympia is Washington’s capitol city, and as such often gets the most attention for its involvement in government. But if you just want to have some fun sans the political talk, check out my favorite spots to visit there.

Andrea’s Favorite:

Archibald Sisters in downtown Olympia

Quirky Store: Archibald Sisters. One thing’s for certain when you go into this store – you never know what you’ll find: jewelry boxes, handmade postcards, word magnets in various languages, dashboard Jesus bobble head dolls, buttons with political messages, basically anything you can fathom. I’m always surprised at least once by some merchandise whenever I visit. You’re bound to leave with something unique, or least have a good laugh.

Dancing Goats Espresso Bar near Olympia's Farmers Market

Coffee Shop: Dancing Goats Espresso Bar. While you’re visiting the farmer’s market, stop by Dancing Goats, which boasts coffee beans from all over the world. The shop also sells Fair Trade coffee, a company which ensures that the coffee beans were purchased from a farmer who was given a fair price for his product. I’ve never had a bad experience there, in terms of service or coffee.

Olympia's Farmers Market

Place to Shop: The Olympia Farmers Market. Sandwiched between the creatively named East Bay and West Bay, this market offers more than fruits and veggies. Here you can find restaurants serving foods of various nationalities, half a dozen bakeries, florists, seafood, and occasional live music. When you’re done shopping, stroll down the Olympia boardwalk, which, of course, is always free.

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Driving distance from:

Spokane: 1 hour, 29 minutes

Yakima: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Ellensburg: 3 hours, 20 minutes

Seattle: 5 hours, 4 minutes

Downtown Pullman, including part of Washington State University





Pullman/Moscow Quick Facts:


  • Pullman:1888
  • Moscow: 1877


  • Pullman: 27,619
  • Moscow: 24,338 (2009 U.S. Census estimates)

Name Origins:

  • Pullman was named after inventor George Pullman.
  • Samuel Neff filed for a postal permit under the name of Moscow because the area reminded him of Moscow, Pennsylvania, his hometown.

Did you know…

  • In a 2005 survey, Pullman was named the second-best city for business in Washington.
  • Moscow is the hometown of singer Josh Ritter.

Yes, I realize I’m bending my rules a bit with this post. Not only am I covering two towns, but (gasp!) one of them isn’t in Washington. But since the two are so close together (9.6 miles), I’m counting them as one. Both are also college towns, so finding student discounts and fun hang-outs for the college aged population is a breeze.

Andrea’s Favorite:

Sella's in Pullman

Restaurant: Sella’s Calzones and Pizza. If you’re looking for Italian food that’s a step up in quality from fast food pizza chains, Sella’s is for you. Personal nine-inch pizzas run from $10-$12 each and can easily make two meals. But this isn’t just a pizza place. Sella’s also offers pasta, salads, appetizers, and – of course – calzones. The restaurant can get a bit crowded on weekends, but that only shows its popularity with locals and students alike.

Sister's Brew in Moscow


Coffee shop: Sisters’ Brew in Moscow. This quaint coffee shop is filled with overstuffed arm chairs and vintage tables and desks. The staff is friendly and serves you with actual mugs rather than paper cups. I’d recommend the black and white mocha (made with dark and white chocolate) or, for non-coffee drinkers, their Mexican hot chocolate.

University of Idaho's Arboretum



Freebie: University of Idaho arboretum. This 63-acre botanical wonder was my favorite study spot the last time I was in Moscow (and its atmosphere is a refreshing change from a university library). Flowers are grouped together geographically into sections of Asian, Western North American, Eastern North American, and European segments. The arboretum is open daily from dawn to dusk.

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Driving distance from …

Coeur d’Alene: 39 minutes

Pullman:  1 hour, 28 minutes

Ellensburg: 2 hours, 55 minutes

Seattle: 4 hours, 53 minutes

I wasn’t very well-acquainted with Spokane until I moved here a few years ago, but I have quickly learned to love it. Spokane offers all the benefits you’d expect from the second-largest city in the state, yet it isn’t a giant urban sprawl like the Seattle area (no offense to West-siders; I’m one of you). Even the busiest Spokane streets are easy to navigate. On Spokane driving, my motto is, “All roads lead to Division.”

Quick Facts:

Andrea’s Favorite …

Student deal: The Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox. Symphonies, orchestras, Grammy-award winning singers, the Fox has it all. My fellow poor college students can’t miss out on student rush tickets. Typically, you can buy them two hours before the show, sometimes for only $7. And if you’re interested in forties’ music in the slightest, you cannot miss one of their big band tributes.

Coffee shop: The Service Station. In addition to its delicious coffee and food, this non-profit holds concerts and sells goods for humanitarian organizations like Krochet Kids. If you’re a Whitworth student, you will run into a friend here. Try their chicken chipotle panini if you’re into spicy food. Personal favorite drink: white chocolate Americano for under $3.





Freebie: Riverfront Park is a fun and free place to hang out, and it’s within walking distance of downtown. Slide down the giant radio flyer, stroll down Centennial Trail, run through the fountain on a hot afternoon, feed the ducks by the carrousel, or better yet, feed the garbage goat.




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