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Washington’s Fertile Valley provides a remarkable escape from the typical dreary weather of the Pacific Northwest. Warm weather and rich soil feed rolling hills filled with wineries and endless crops. The aptly-named, Fertile Valley is a paradisiacal destination for wine-lovers and adventurers.
Three miles north of I-90, is the Herb Farm, featuring 639 varieties of herbs, along with 17 gardens and greenhouses. There are even edible flowers. Free: (206) 784-2222.
Another seven miles north of town is Remlinger Farms with something delicious to pick every season. June is strawberry month and July is the Raspberry Festival. Information: (425) 451-8740.
On your way back to I-90, turn on SR 202 to Snoqualmie Falls Park. This small town packs a big recreational punch.
Snoqualmie Casino: Fast-paced gaming floors to upscale lounges and bars. If you’re looking for a good time and endless entertainment, this is one of the best places in the region.
Snoqualmie Valley Railroad: For another view of the falls, take this steam train ride through Snoqualmie and North Bend. The restored depot is on the National Register of Historic Places. Admission: (425) 888-3030.
Snoqualmie Falls: It’s a steep drive to the falls, but worth it. The Snoqualmie River cascades 268 feet through a spectacular rock gorge – it’s 100 feet higher than Niagara Falls. Information: (425) 888-1555.
This is the town where the television series Northern Exposure was filmed. The Roslyn Museum displays historic documents and pioneer relics; Donations. Chamber of Commerce: (509) 674-5958.
Meaning “swift water,” the town of Cle Elum takes its name from the river that tumbles down from Lake Cle Elum. Begin your adventures in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
One local favorite is a raft trip down a 16-mile stretch of the Yakima River. For fun, check out the Telephone Museum, (509) 674-5702. Chamber of Commerce: (509) 674-5958.
Every Labor Day weekend the town celebrates its early days with the Ellensburg Rodeo and Kittitas County Fair. Home to Central Washington University, Ellensburg is also a known center for the National Western Art Show & Auction. Kittitas County has plenty to do for those who also love the outdoors. Chamber of Commerce: (509) 925-3137.
Clymer Museum: Features include changing exhibits of western themes. Admission: (509) 962-6416.
Drive 35 miles south on I-82 to Washington’s wine country in the Yakima Valley. Nearby Zillah begins your tour of four local wineries and the El Ranchito tortilla plant, or come to the Yakima Valley Museum – featuring two floors of artifacts. Admission: (509) 248-0747.
Of interest to those with green thumbs, the Yakima Area Arboretum features 40 acres of natural riparian wetland and exotic plants. Free: (509) 248-7337. Yakima Visitor’s Bureau: (800) 221-0751.
Spirits & Hops Trail: Yakima Valley produces over 75% of the nation’s hops. Combine this with the over 100 wineries in the area and you’ve got a never-ending trail of spirits and hops.
Enjoy sunny rural America at its best thanks to agriculture, hunting, fishing, and numerous other outdoor recreation activities. Enjoy area history at the Sunnyside Historical Museum, or take in a round at Black Rock Creek Golf Course.
Taste Washington State’s finest wines, and partake of the abundance of the land in Sunnyside. Chamber of Commerce: (509) 837-5939.
Venture farther into wine country along I-82 and discover tranquil vistas of the lower Yakima Valley, just south of Prosser on SR 221.
Come the last two weeks in September during harvest season in the vineyards, and attend the Prosser Wine & Food Fair and Prosser's State Day Celebration. Chamber of Commerce: (509) 786-3177.
Columbia Crest: South on SR 221, is Washington’s largest winemaking operation, with underground cellars, European antiques, a cobblestone courtyard and a sweeping view of the Columbia River. Free tours: (509) 875-2061.
Travel 25 miles east of Prosser on I-82 to the Tri-Cities area of Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick along the Columbia River.
Located at the south entrance of the Columbia River Basin, Pasco was founded in the late 1800s as a base camp for the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Visit Sacajawea State Park, (509) 545-2361, or Ice Harbor Dam on Lower Snake River for tours, fish ladders, and a powerhouse. Fee: (509) 547-7781.
In 1944, this small hamlet was designated as a development site for the atomic bomb. Today it is a center of technological industries, as well as the Hanford Works of the Department of Energy. It also offers water sports, orchards, and beautiful parks. Visitor’s Bureau: (800) 254-5824.
Preston Winery: Tour the state’s largest family-owned and operated winery. Enjoy lunch on the lovely picnic grounds. (509) 545-1990.
McNary National Wildlife Refuge: This site is a resting place for migrating waterfowl. Free: (509) 547-4942. Near the confluence of the Columbia, Snake, and Yakima rivers, this “winter paradise” city is the departure point for boating and scenic cruises. Lake Wallula is a popular starting spot. Visitor’s Bureau: (800) 254-5824.
Oasis Waterworks: Get wet and wild with waterslides, a river ride, swimming pools, spa, basketball, and more at this nine-acre amusement park. Admission: (509) 735-8442.
Heading north on U.S. 97 is a valley with panoramas of Mount Hood and Mount Adams. The Goldendale Observatory features a 24.5-inch telescope for public viewing. Donations: (509) 773-3141. The Presby Museum displays a variety of pioneer items. Admission: (509) 773-4303.
Take U.S. 97 north 50 miles to the headquarters of the Yakima Indian Nation. Pow wows are held in June, July, and September, and the public is welcome. Information: (509) 865-2800. The town features colorful painted murals sprawled across many buildings, depicting pioneer life in the area.
Yakima Valley Rail & Steam Museum: The authentic telegrapher’s office displays vintage artifacts, including a special train potty. There’s an excursion train departing from the museum on a limited schedule, August through October. Chamber of Commerce: (509) 865-3262.
Yakima National Cultural Center: Dioramas, murals, exhibits and a 76-foot-high lodge act as storytellers for a culture rich in human drama. Admission: (509) 865-2800.
Gifford Pinchot National Forest: From I-5 follow U.S. 12 East for another exciting scenic drive. Information: (360) 891-5000.
Clear Creek Falls: Tumbling through a narrow canyon and plunging more than 300 feet, these spectacular falls make for thrilling photographs.
The Palisades: Nine miles west of White Pass on U.S. 12 is a magnificent viewpoint featuring this 486-foot-high canyon wall.
Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park: Near the junction of Highways 123 and 12, the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center is the perfect introduction to this area. It features exhibits on forest ecology and the history of the park. From Highway 123, drive west on SR 706 to see views of towering Mount Rainier, a 14,411-foot ice-clad volcano. Information June through September: (360) 569-2211.
Nisqually-Paradise Road: Once you reach Paradise you’ve climbed more than 3,000 feet from the Nisqually entrance. Stop by the Kautz Mudflow area and three waterfalls. The Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center features exhibits and an observation deck. This road is open year-round.
Stevens Canyon Road: You’ll have spectacular views of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, and the Tatoosh Range. Take the loop walk into the Grove of the Patriarchs to see old douglas fir, western hemlock and red cedar. The trail to picturesque Silver Falls starts here (closed winters).
Ohanapecosh Visitor Center: Return to Highway 123 and drive north to see the east side of the park and the hot springs well from this side of the mountain. Enjoy a loop walk to Silver Falls. (360) 569-2211, extension 2352.
Sunrise: The road to Sunrise opens around July 1st and closes the first week of October. Sunrise Point has a great view of the Washington Cascades. Serious hikers will want to try part of the 90-mile Wonderland Trail that encircles the mountain.
Leaving Mount Rainier on Highway 410 you will travel down a 40-mile descent into this pastureland area known for its horse-breeding, producing Thoroughbreds and Morgans. Stop by the Muckleshoot Casino just nine miles away.
The bingo-parlor is adjacent and the food is wonderful! Only six miles to top entertainment at the White River Amphitheater. Also shop the quaint little shops downtown. Chamber of Commerce: (360) 825-7666.
The community of Auburn is just a few minutes from the Puget Sound, and 40 minutes to the mountains. Enjoy views of Mount Rainier as you hit the Muckleshoot Casino and Emerald Downs for some gaming fun.
Don't miss concerts at White River Amphitheater, shopping at the SuperMall of the Great Northwest and Outlet Collection, plus other attractions like Wild Waves Theme Park, Pacific Raceway, Washington National Golf Course, and more. Chamber of Commerce: (253) 833-0700.