In Washington Wine Country’s small towns, you’ll find the only hops museum in the U.S., quirky events like apple-bin races and a street painting and chalk art extravaganza, and of course, a long list of wineries and tasting rooms to choose from.
Read the other articles in our series about Washington small towns, organized by region (in no particular order): Metro Seattle, North Cascades, The Islands, Peninsulas & Coast, The Gorge, The Volcanoes, North Central, Northeast and Southeast.
The first Naches residents arrived by wagon in the late 1800s, opting to set up in the lush valley rather than push on over the Cascades. The orchards they planted flourished — so did their little town on a river of the same name. Things really get hopping during Sportsman’s Days in mid-September, where you’ll find apple-bin races, a lip-sync competition, chainsaw carving and a fishing derby. Discover more events in Washington >>
This town lives up to its quirky name. Main attractions include a teapot-shaped building inspired by a presidential oil-for-bribes scandal in the 1920s and the Church of God, Zillah, a house of worship inadvertently named after a colossal Japanese lizard. They’ve even run with the pun and erected a replica of the creature behind the church.
Located just across the Yakima River from Zillah, Toppenish boasts the American Hop Museum, which is fitting seeing as the Yakima Valley produces more than 75 percent of the hops in the country. The town is also home to The Northern Pacific Railway Museum.
Named for its views of Mounts Rainier and Adams, this little community is situated just about halfway between Yakima and the Tri-Cities. Every August, the town hosts the Yakima Valley Fair & Rodeo, a rowdy four-day event that includes steer wrestling, wild cow milking and barrel racing. There’s also a cowboy camp where kids can learn how to lasso a cow, saddle a horse and even pan for gold.
Homesteaded by a Union colonel way back in 1882, Prosser is now surrounded by more than 30 wineries and has grown into a riverside destination. During one busy September weekend, the town simultaneously hosts a hot air balloon rally, a street painting and chalk art extravaganza and a harvest festival. Stroll past food vendors and artists hawking their wares to enjoy the small-town vibe.
This city of 3,000 became a green spot in the desert with the arrival of irrigation in the middle of the last century. Wedged in a bend in the Yakima River, it’s a known fishing spot for hooking bass and salmon. If you’re looking for adventures of the Old West sort, visit any of the 30 nearby horse-roping arenas.
Where to Find Tasting Rooms in Washington Wine Country:
Stop and sip around Naches, Yakima, Zillah, Prosser, Red Mountain, the Tri-Cities (Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick) and Walla Walla. Find tasting rooms & wineries in Washington >>
Photo Credit: Teapot Dome Building in Zillah, Flickr/Orin Blomberg