Toppenish & Its Murals
Before or after visiting wineries around Zillah, you may want to drive into Toppenish, which was just a quiet little cow town until someone got the great idea of enlivening a few town walls with historical murals. Today, on walls all over town, there are more than 60 murals depicting aspects of Toppenish history. If you stop in at almost any store in town, you can pick up a map to the murals. Though some murals have taken as much as a month to paint, each year on the first Saturday in June, crowds descend on the town to watch a new mural being created in just 1 day. One of the best ways to see the murals is on a horse-drawn trolley tour with Toppenish Mural Tours (tel. 509/697-8995; www.toppenishmuraltours.com). The 1 1/2-hour tours cost $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $4 for children ages 12 and under.
Toppenish is within the boundaries of the Yakama Indian Reservation, which operates the Yakama Nation Cultural Heritage Center, Buster Road (tel. 509/865-2800; www.yakamamuseum.com), on U.S. 97 just outside town. This large building, designed to resemble a traditional Yakama winter lodge, contains a museum, library, gift shop, and restaurant. Exhibits in the museum present the history and culture of the Yakama people. The Yakama are well known for their beadwork, and you'll find pieces for sale in the gift shop. The center is open daily from 8am to 5pm; admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students, and $1 for children ages 10 and under.
Several other attractions in town provide glimpses into the area's history. The most entertaining is the Northern Pacific Railway Museum, 10 S. Asotin Ave. (tel. 509/865-1911; www.nprymuseum.org), which is in the town's 1911 railway depot. It's open May through October Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm, and Sunday from noon to 4pm (closed Nov-Apr). Admission is $3 for adults, and $2 for children ages 17 and under accompanied by a parent. The Yakima Valley is one of the world's main hops-growing regions, and at the American Hop Museum, 22 S. B St. (tel. 509/865-HOPS; www.americanhopmuseum.org), you can learn about this crucial beer ingredient. The museum is open May through September, Wednesday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm and Sunday from 11am to 4pm; the cost is $3 for adults and $2 for students.
Fort Simcoe, 27 miles west of Toppenish in the Cascade foothills, was established in the late 1850s because of conflicts between Indians and settlers. Today, the fort is preserved as Fort Simcoe State Park (tel. 509/874-2372; www.parks.wa.gov) and is the site of surprisingly elegant quarters that were used for only a few years before becoming the Indian Agency headquarters and school. The park's buildings are open April through September, Wednesday to Sunday from 9:30am to 4:30pm. However, the grounds are open daily.
Attractions & Activities in the Yakima Area
Local history is chronicled at the Yakima Valley Museum, 2105 Tieton Dr. (tel. 509/248-0747; www.yakimavalleymuseum.org), where a collection of restored horse-drawn vehicles is on display. There are also displays on the Yakama tribe and on former Supreme Court justice and environmentalist William O. Douglas, who was a Yakima resident. The museum's most enjoyable exhibit is a functioning replica of a 1930s soda fountain. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday from 11am to 5pm; admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students. The museum also operates the H. M. Gilbert Homeplace, an 1898 Victorian farmhouse, at 2109 W. Yakima Ave. This historic home is open by appointment; admission is $2.50.
Extending between Union Gap and Selah Gap, the Yakima Greenway follows the banks of the Yakima River, with 10 miles of paved pathways within the greenway. The easiest place to access the path is at Sherman Park on Nob Hill Boulevard. In summer, kayaking, rafting, and tubing are popular on this section of the river, and the bird-watching is good year-round.
If you'd like to see another scenic river stretch, head north to Selah and take Wash. 821 north through the Yakima River Canyon. The river has been around longer than the surrounding hills, which have risen as the river sliced through them.
Of Apples & Birdies -- Golfers take note. Here in Yakima, you'll find a golf course with the world's only green on an apple-shaped island. The Apple Tree Golf Course, 8804 Occidental Ave. (tel. 509/966-5877; www.appletreegolf.com), on the west side of town, is rated among the best golf courses in the state but is most noteworthy for its unusual apple island. Greens fees are $24 to $63.
Attractions & Activites in the Tri-Cities Area
If you're interested in learning more about the science, technology, and history (including the nuclear history) of this region, pay a visit to the Columbia River Exhibition of History, Science & Technology, 95 Lee Blvd., Richland (tel. 877/789-9935 or 509/943-9000; www.crehst.org), adjacent to the attractive Howard Amon Park in downtown Richland. Be sure to ask to watch the video on the great floods that scoured this landscape during the last Ice Age. The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday from noon to 5pm. Admission is $3.50 for adults, $2.75 for seniors, and $2.50 for students.
Upriver from the Tri-Cities area are the Hanford Site (where the plutonium for the first nuclear bombs was made) and the Hanford Reach National Monument, which preserves eastern Washington's last free-flowing stretch of the Columbia River. Some remote areas of the monument are accessible by vehicle, but the best way to see it is on the jet-boat tours offered by Columbia River Journeys (tel. 888/486-9119 or 509/734-9941; www.columbiariverjourneys.com). The 4-hour tours run May through mid-October, and cost $54 for adults and $39 for children. Along the way, you see the wild shores of the Columbia River, as well as the nuclear reactors of the Hanford Site.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.