Summer in the Yakima Valley is the perfect time to get out and experience nature and enjoy fresh produce and patio weather at the multitude of outstanding wineries and breweries in this slice of Washington’s Wine Country.
To make the most of your time in the Yakima Valley, plan to stay in the area for at least three days, leaving plenty of room for day trips. With so many things to do in the Yakima Valley, here’s a suggested summer itinerary that combines outdoor adventure, dining, culture, and world-class beer and wine.
A car is recommended to make the most of your time in the Yakima Valley. The drive from the Seattle area takes between 2-3 hours. For even more convenience, fly directly into Yakima and pick up a car rental from the airport. Drive the Yakima River Canyon Scenic Byway, head east to explore small communities, and stop at roadside farm stands for fresh cherries and other local fruit.
Yakima Valley Summer Itinerary
With so much to do, here’s how you can spend three full days exploring the Yakima Valley during summer.
Day 0: Evening Arrival
Whether you’re flying or driving, you’ll likely arrive in the late afternoon or early evening. Once you get into town, drop your bags at your hotel and then head out for dinner and drinks. The Yakima Valley is part of Washington’s expansive Wine Country region and also produces 75 percent of the nation’s hops. Freehand Cellars boasts sweeping views of the surrounding orchards and a menu of shareable appetizers and flatbreads. Get the local peach caprese drizzled with balsamic glaze and enjoy it at a picnic table on the lawn.
If beer is more your speed, head to Bale Breaker Brewing. This family-owned brewery celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2023 and brews its beers using hops from the family’s fourth-generation hop farm. Grab a beer and a bite from the on-site food truck (the selection rotates) and settle in at one of the outdoor picnic tables.
Breakfast at MAK Daddy Coffee Roasters
Fuel up for your day at MAK Daddy Coffee Roasters in downtown Yakima. Named after the first initial of the founder’s three daughters, this coffee shop and local roastery offers avocado toast, breakfast burritos, and more quick bites, making it a great choice before you hit the road to enjoy some outdoor adventure.
Float the Yakima River
After breakfast, head out to float the Yakima River through the scenic Yakima River Canyon. Marvel at the basalt cliffs and rolling hills as you lounge on an inner tube. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you can arrange a guided float tour or shuttle service. Yakima River Tubing offers guided floating trips with transportation to the Umtanum Creek Recreation Site, while Red’s Fly Shop can provide gear rentals and shuttle service if you choose to drive yourself and float without a guide. The drive takes about 30 minutes from downtown Yakima. Aim to budget at least 4 hours for this experience.
Tip: A Discover Pass or $5 fee is required to park at the Umtanum Creek Recreation Site. Cell phone reception can be scarce, so plan accordingly and download offline maps. If floating the river, be sure to come prepared with proper sun protection, water, and gear.
Lunch at Outskirts Brewing Co.
After your float, you’ve earned a relaxing lunch. Head to Outskirts Brewing Co. in Selah to relax on their outdoor patio or expensive lawn while you enjoy your meal. Try the signature bison burger or a seasonal salad with a side of truffle fries.
Explore Downtown Yakima
Back in Yakima, head out to explore downtown. Browse fine jewelry, art, and a well-curated selection of crystals and stones at The Alignment Co., or check out locally made soaps at The Little Soapmaker. Find other shopping spots here.
Dinner at E.Z. Tiger
Wrap up the first full day with dinner at E.Z. Tiger in downtown Yakima. This well-appointed dim sum and noodle house offers an extensive food menu as well as scratch cocktails and non-alcoholic options made with fresh juices and house syrups. Try the pork soup dumplings, sticky shiitake steamed buns, or spicy peanut noodles. The spacious interior is great for larger groups.
Related: Yakima Valley Spring Itinerary
Breakfast to go at Essencia Artisan Bakery
Located in the heart of downtown, this locals’ favorite bakery is the perfect spot to grab a fresh artisan pastry before you head out to explore the trails in Cowiche Canyon. Closed Sunday-Monday.
Explore Cowiche Canyon
With breakfast in hand, make your way to the stunning Cowiche Canyon area, which is managed by the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy and boasts around 20 miles of connected trails. The Cowiche Canyon Trail (2.9 miles one way) winds through the canyon surrounded by steep sagebrush slopes. From the east or west trailheads, you can choose to walk the entire trail or branch off to explore other areas. The Winery Trail, which climbs the north side of the canyon to the tasting room at Wilridge Winery, offers sweeping views. The winery opens at noon and offers small bites such as hummus and veggies if you need a post-hike reward.
Tip: Temperatures can heat up quickly in summer and shade can be sparse, so bring sun protection and plenty of water. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes.
Visit a Fruit Stand
On your way back toward Yakima, stop by Precision Fruit and Antiques for seasonal fruit. In the summer months, you can find peaches, raspberries, cherries, and more. They also carry Yakima Valley wines, preserves, and antiques.
Enjoy Tacos and Tamales
For lunch, head to one of the many restaurants serving up fresh tacos and tamales. Los Hernandez, a tiny James Beard award-winning restaurant in Union Gap, serves up homemade tamales using a traditional family recipe. Specialties include pork and chicken tamales and seasonal asparagus tamales in the spring. Tammy’s Mexican Restaurant serves up classics, while JJ’s Birrieria and Antojitos showcases their succulent birria in queso tacos and ramen for a fun twist. Find even more restaurants on the Taco & Tamale Trail, which was created by Yakima Valley Tourism in partnership with the Central Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Visit the Yakima Valley Museum
Dive into the area’s history with a visit to the Yakima Valley Museum. Located in Yakima’s beautiful Franklin Park, this museum offers exhibits on the area’s natural history, culture, early city life, and the fruit industry. Collections include everything from agricultural equipment and horse-powered vehicles to curiosities collected by residents. Closed Sunday-Monday.
Dinner at Crafted
For dinner, head back to Yakima to dine at Crafted. Owners Dan and Mollie Koommoo source much of their ingredients from the Yakima Valley area. The husband-and-wife team bases their menus on the seasons. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Related: Farm-to-Table Dining in Washington
Breakfast at Caffe 11th Avenue
Head to breakfast at Caffe 11th Avenue for hand-dipped French toast, eggs benedict, or their house-made quiche. This spot has been a favorite with locals since it opened in 2018.
Explore Murals & Museums in Toppenish
Head east on Interstate 82 (about 25 minutes) to the town of Toppenish. This small town packs plenty to see. Visit the American Hop Museum, The Northern Pacific Railway Museum, or the Yakama Nation Cultural Center and Museum, which tells the story of the Yakama People. The city is also known for its impressive network of 79 murals (and counting) depicting its agricultural roots and the American West. Grab a map and take a self-guided tour.
Related: Where to Find Murals in Washington
See the Granger Dinosaurs
Next, head east to nearby Granger to explore the town’s resident dinosaurs. The town has been adding dinosaur creations built out of various materials since 1994 when the local Public Works Department was tasked with implementing a theme. As of 2019, 33 dinosaurs call Granger home. Take a self-guided tour and see how many you can spot!
Related: Explore Small Towns in Wine Country
Lunch and Wine Tasting
Head to one of Yakima’s stunning wineries for lunch and a wine tasting. The vineyards surrounding Yakima and Zillah offer plenty of options. Freehand Cellars offers scenic views and sharable small plates, while Treveri Cellars specializes in sparking wine and boasts a full menu with lovely views from their patio. If visiting more than one destination, be sure to designate a driver or consider arranging a guided winery tour.
Tip: A tour is a great way to safely and conveniently explore multiple wineries. Little Hopper, which also offers beer tours, runs guided wine tours to different regions of the valley. Explore the wineries around Yakima or Zillah or venture farther east to Prosser, which is home to large well-known wineries as well as standout smaller operations, Prosser is about 50 minutes east of Yakima, so a tour is recommended. Prosser Wine Excursions can provide transport from Yakima for an additional fee. For a more active wine tour, consider a guided e-bike tour with Kickstand Tours.
Dinner at Cowiche Canyon Kitchen
This contemporary American tavern in downtown Yakima sources local ingredients and serves up an extensive menu of classics. Try the tortilla soup, crispy chicken sandwich, or braised short rib. Their spacious interior is perfect for groups.
Enjoy Live Music at Downtown Summer Nights
If your visit includes a Thursday, you’re in for a treat, Every Thursday during the summer months you can enjoy an outstanding lineup of live music on downtown’s historic Front Street. This free, family-friendly event features two bands, a beer garden, and tasty eats.
Where to Stay
Hotel Maison Yakima Tapestry Collection by Hilton
The Hotel Maison Yakima Tapestry Collection by Hilton truly represents the history and character of Yakima. Built by the Yakima Masons to house their temple in 1911, this boutique hotel offers all the historic elegance with modern convenience.
Hilton Garden Inn Yakima Downtown
The Hilton Garden Inn Yakima Downtown is centrally located just one block from downtown attractions such as The Capitol Theatre. The Ummelina Yakima Valley Spa Retreat and Stems wine and gift shop are adjacent to the hotel.
Lodge at Canyon River Ranch
A 25-minute drive toward Yakima brings guests to Canyon River Ranch on the scenic Yakima River. This lodge is the perfect base for those looking for an extended stay and easy access to outdoor recreation.
Located along the Yakima River near downtown, the Oxford Suites is another convenient option. Families will appreciate the complimentary breakfast and indoor pool.