Get to know some of the small cities and towns in each region, from hamlets of 100 to those with up to around 10,000 residents. These destinations offer visitors a more laid-back alternative to bustling cities. Read on to find out why these small towns are worth exploring.
Originally named Has-Hu-Tin (a Nez Perce word for “eel”) for the freshwater eels that used to run in a nearby creek, the riverside hamlet of Asotin along the Washington-Idaho border still boasts steelhead, sturgeon, bass, and more in the Snake River. The Asotin County Museum tells the story of the town’s early days, while Buffalo Eddy in Nez Perce National Historical Park offers the chance for visitors to see sacred petroglyphs and learn more about the tribe.
Located a short drive from scenic Steptoe Butte State Park and the ghost town of Elberton, Colfax makes a great base for visiting interesting attractions, including the Codger Pole, a 65-foot-tall wooden pole with the wrinkled faces of 51 football players carved into it. The pole commemorates the 1988 rematch of a 1938 high-school rivalry game. Visitors can also explore the Perkins House, a restored Victorian built by one of the town’s founders in 1887.
Old-time Dayton, with its 100-plus historic buildings, is a little slice of the Columbia County of yore. The town holds a beautifully restored depot and the Boldman House Museum, an 1880 Victorian that’s been brought back to its former glory. A significant example of the Queen Anne style, the artifact-filled house serves as a time capsule of life in early Dayton.
Named for the region and the river that runs through the middle of town, Palouse offers an abundance of outdoor activities, from driving the Palouse Scenic Byway and paddling the Palouse River to exploring Kamiak Butte State Park. Step back in time and explore the evolution of the news industry at the Roy M. Chatters Newspaper and Printing Museum. The Bank Left Gallery, housed in an old bank, showcases regional artists in a sunny space adjacent to a Euro-style tearoom.
Founded in 1888, Ritzville sits in the heart of Washington’s wheat country. The wheat-shipping business brought prosperity to the town, and today the downtown area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. History enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the Railroad Depot Museum with its restored Northern Pacific caboose and the Dr. Frank R. Burroughs home. For families, the Ritzville Water Park provides an inviting place to cool off during the summer months.
Tucked at the base of a mountain of the same name, this town of under 800 marks the end of the 300-mile Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail that traces a former railway from the Cascades to the Idaho border. In the middle of town is the Empire Theatre, a restored 1940s art deco space that now functions as a performing arts center hosting live music, comedy shows, and dance recitals.
Incorporated in 1879, tiny Uniontown is especially winsome with its early 1900s buildings in downtown. The gorgeous St. Boniface Church, built in 1905, was the first consecrated Catholic church in the State of Washington. The convent next door has been converted into a quaint B&B.