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15 Things to do in Yakima from Gardens to Rock Climbing

15 Things to do in Yakima from Gardens to Rock Climbing

Post created June 2, 2023

Yakima, Washington, is a beautiful and vibrant city nestled in the heart of Central Washington. With its easy access to outdoor recreation and diverse cultural attractions like museums and galleries, Yakima offers something for everyone! 

From outdoor adventures to unique shopping opportunities, there’s something for everyone in Yakima. Here are 15 of the best things to do when visiting this exciting city.

1. Explore Historical Artifacts at Yakima Valley Museum

The Yakima Museum is a must-see for anyone who visits the city of Yakima. Located in the heart of downtown Yakima, this 65,000-square-foot facility offers visitors a wide range of historical exhibits to explore. 

From the area’s natural history to its American Indian culture, pioneer life, early city life, and the roots and development of the city’s fruit industry, the Yakima Valley Museum offers an immersive experience of Yakima’s past.

When you enter, you’ll be welcomed by a diverse selection of artifacts, photographs, and interactive displays. The museum also has plenty of educational programs and hands-on activities you can explore. 

The admission prices are affordable, costing $8 for adults, a discounted rate for kids, and $18 for families of any size. 

Overall, this museum is a great way to spend an afternoon learning about the city’s past and discovering the history of the Yakima Valley.

2. Stroll Around Yakima Botanical Garden

Yakima Area Arboretum (Image Credit: iStock / Michelle Baumbach)

Venture into the heart of Yakima and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Yakima Area Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Spread around 46 acres, the garden is a beautiful place with over 1,000 native and exotic plants.

You’ll gain a new appreciation for nature’s beauty as you wander through these beautiful gardens, such as the Joyful Japanese Garden and the Xeric Garden Demonstration Site. The volunteers are exceptionally helpful, offering detailed information about the arboretum’s history and its vibrant flora.

With its brilliant colors, fall is a fantastic time to visit. Your explorations can extend to the Greenway walking path, providing an additional nature retreat.

Admission is free, with donations accepted to support this garden. 

3. Do Wine Tasting at Bonair Winery

Bonair Winery is the place to go for fine wines. It’s located in the heart of Yakima Valley’s Rattlesnake Hills region, with a rich history dating back to 1985.

During your visit, indulge in a delightful wine-tasting experience guided by friendly and knowledgeable staff. They’ll help you navigate the variety of wines, ensuring a memorable tasting experience tailored to your preferences. Tastings are free with any wine purchase.

The winery’s environment includes a duck pond and a beautiful three-tier patio, providing the perfect backdrop for having a glass of wine while basking in the warm sun. The picturesque setting of Bonair Winery makes it an unforgettable destination for wine enthusiasts and casual tasters alike.

Whether you’re a connoisseur or simply curious, Bonair Winery promises an enriching experience that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the art of winemaking.

4. Camp and Fish at Yakima Sportsman State Park with Family & Friends

Yakima Sportsman State Park is in the heart of Yakima, a serene 247-acre retreat tucked along the Yakima River’s floodplain. This park is a public recreation spot, offering a wealth of outdoor fun.

The park’s large campground provides campsite rooms perfect for a family camping trip. It’s a bird paradise here, with over 140 different bird species calling this park home.

This is a great place for family fun. The park has many green spaces for games and a fun playground for kids. The friendly staff is always ready to help, enhancing your overall park experience.

The park boasts two miles of hiking trails that wind through diverse habitats. Along these trails, you might spot wildlife like beavers and deer. Despite being occasionally windy, the park’s natural beauty is breathtaking. 

5. Explore Nature at Cowiche Canyon Trails

Cowiche Canyon Trail in the Yakima Valley (Image Credit: Shutterstock / Michelle Baumbach)

Step into nature at Cowiche Canyon Trails. These trails stretch over 5,000 acres, with 30 miles of visitor-accessible paths that allow you to appreciate the diverse landscapes in the Yakima region.

The area is a huge ecosystem, from sage and grasslands to oak-lined woods, beutiful cliffs, and meadows filled with native wildflowers. You can even spot beavers, great blue herons, and salmon and crayfish in the rivers.

This is a hiker’s paradise. But there’s more. For horseback riding enthusiasts, the Snow Mountain Ranch trails provide an additional avenue for exploration.

The Cowiche Canyon Trails offer a relatively easy and peaceful hike, making it a great outdoor activity for families. The trail is well-maintained, with sturdy bridges over the creek and opportunities to observe fascinating rock formations.

6. Do Rock Climbing in Cowiche Canyon

Cowiche Canyon, located close to Yakima, offers a unique experience for rock climbing enthusiasts. The East End Wall in the canyon provides short and easy climbs. All routes can be top-roped with access to the top with short walks. Cowiche Canyon provides convenient hiking options in Yakima. 

Beginners in climbing will find it an excellent location to experience rock climbing. Additionally, its south-facing aspect makes it an excellent place for climbing on sunny and colder days.

7. Pick Fruits at Johnson’s Orchards

Immerse yourself in the rich farming heritage of Yakima at Johnson’s Orchards, a historic fruit orchard dating back to 1904. The orchard, run by the fourth-generation Johnson family, offers plenty of fruits, including cherries, apples, apricots, peaches, pears, and nectarines. 

The visit to Johnson’s Orchards is not just about fruit picking – it’s an entire sensory experience. You can indulge in the orchard’s fresh pastries and pies prepared in their commercial kitchen, or taste the unique flavor of their Copper Pot Caramels. 

Their friendly staff and the quality of their products make it a must-visit stop for both locals and tourists. 

8. Take Instagram-Worthy Pictures at Yakima River Canyon

The Yakima River Canyon, located between Yakima and Ellensburg, is a great place to go known for its beautiful landscapes, making it a perfect place for photography enthusiasts. The river, carving its way through the basalt cliffs and rolling desert terrain, offers a great opportunity to take a photo.

The location is not just about picturesque views but also a hub for various summer activities like oating, tubing, fishing, and swimming.

The canyon, largely overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), houses four designated recreational sites. Camping facilities welcome tents and trailers.

9. Enjoy a Ski Trip at White Pass Ski Resort

Just west of Yakima, White Pass Ski Resort is a favorite among locals and visitors. The resort offers a variety of winter activities suitable for everyone, from beginners to experts.

Spanning 1,500 skiable acres, the resort has six chairlifts to accommodate the weekend crowds. The resort offers ski lessons for beginners, while advanced skiers and snowboarders can enjoy the challenges on their own.

The resort is a paradise for hiking and mountain biking when the snow melts. But, it’s important to note that parking can be limited during peak times, and on heavy snow days, you might need to bring a shovel to dig out your car after the snow plows pass.

10. Watch a Live Performance at the Capitol Theatre

Capitol Theater (Image Credit: Shutterstock / Capture 11 Photography)

The city’s primary performing arts venue, Capitol Theater has roots dating back to 1920. This historic theater, originally known as the Mercy Theatre, is a testament to the city’s enduring love for the arts.

The Capitol Theater was once the largest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. After a complete restoration in the 1970s, the theater reopened its doors to the public, continuing its tradition of staging live performances. 

Today, the 1,500-seat venue hosts more than 175 performances annually, including touring Broadway musicals, community concerts, and the Yakima Symphony Orchestra home performances.

From its stunning exterior design to the breathtaking ceiling mural inside, every corner of the Capitol Theater is steeped in history. Whether you’re a newcomer or a long-time resident of Yakima, visiting this theater promises an enchanting evening of fine arts. 

11. Shop For Goods at the Yakima Farmer’s Market

Experience the local flavors of Yakima at the Yakima Farmer’s Market, a weekly event that takes place every Sunday from May to October. Located conveniently in the Valley Mall parking lot, this market has served the community with fresh, locally sourced produce for over 20 years.

When visiting, you’ll find a variety of vendors offering a range of items from fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs to handmade confections and artisan creations. Noteworthy offerings include locally sourced cherries, apples, cheese, eggs, and peppers. 

The market is not just about shopping; it’s also a great place to enjoy local art and music. You might find yourself tapping your foot to a folk singer or admiring the beautiful chainsaw garden art. Just remember to bring a cooler for perishable items like goat cheese and milk.

12. Enjoy Historical Exhibits at the Yakama Nation Museum and Cultural Center

If you’re in Yakima, the Yakama Nation Museum and Cultural Center is a must-visit. Located south of the city, this 12,000-square-foot facility boasts a large collection of artifacts, art, and photographs that tell the story of the Yakama Nation’s past and present.

At the museum, you can explore life-size replicas of traditional dwellings, immersive exhibits with sound effects, and even take in the majestic view of Mount Adams on a clear day. The facility also houses the Heritage Theater and Yakama Nation Library.

Your visit will support the community and keep their culture and history alive, making the Yakama Nation Museum and Cultural Center an essential stop. No matter your interests – from history or culture to learning something new! – your visit here won’t disappoint.

13. Drink Beer at Bale Breaker Brewing Company

For all the beer lovers out there, Bale Breaker Brewing Company is a must-visit when you’re in Yakima. Established in 2013, this family-run microbrewery has grown to be one of the largest in the state. The company operates a 30-barrel brewhouse in a 27,000-square-foot space, which includes a taproom and a seasonal outdoor patio.

Here, you can enjoy their signature brews like the Field 41 Pale Ale, Topcutter and Leota Mae IPAs, and Bottomcutter Imperial IPA. 

They also offer a rotating selection of seasonal brews and host a variety of public events. You can even go on a guided tour to learn about the company’s history and brewing process.

For those who love IPAs, Bale Breaker is highly recommended. The unique experience of drinking beer made with hops grown right outside the taproom adds to its appeal. Whether you’re a beer lover or just looking for a fun place to unwind, Bale Breaker Brewing Company is definitely worth a visit.

14. Bike Through a Trail at Sarg Hubbard Park

Sarg Hubbard Park in Yakima provides the ideal environment for an enjoyable day trip, whether alone, with friends, or family. Conveniently located nearby amenities such as Burger King and Walmart make this park easily accessible for grabbing food for a picnic lunch.

This park is exceptionally well-kept, featuring a pond, river access, paved pathways, plenty of parking spots and benches, as well as trash bins for visitors to use during their bike or jog sessions. One standout feature of the park is its fitness stations dotted throughout; visitors can combine biking or jogging sessions with total body workouts!

For those who prefer a more laid-back day, it’s a wonderful place to enjoy the fresh air, beautiful fall leaves, and the sounds of nature. The park has restroom facilities, covered picnic areas, and drinking fountains.

15. Join Large Gatherings at the Yakima Valley SunDome

Yakima Valley SunDome is a centerpiece of the State Fair Park since 1892. This 85,500-square-foot facility is a popular venue for various events, from concerts and circuses to sports events and conventions.

Its distinctive concrete sectional roof design houses a multipurpose arena accommodating up to 6,195 attendees. 

The SunDome is particularly renowned for hosting major high school sports events, including several WIAA high school basketball state tournaments and dance and drill competitions.

Whether you’re catching a thrilling boxing match, enjoying the VIP experience at a Steppenwolf concert, or joining the annual excitement of the Central Washington State Fair, the Yakima Valley SunDome has something for you.

Ashleigh on ferry Island hopping.

Hi, I'm Ashleigh! Welcome to Seattle Travel, my little piece of beautiful PNW. This is home and I'm here to share all my experiences so visitors and locals alike can find the best experiences this part of the country has to offer. I started Seattle Travel in 2012 as a way to journal my experiences and over the years have been encouraged by family and friends to open up my adventures to everyone. I actively seek out the best food, activities, and day trips and give you a local perspective.  The Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful areas in the world and my goal is to let you explore it to the fullest. 

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