With Yakima’s thriving hops, wine and agricultural industry, the city is growing fast with events and Seattle-style businesses setting up shop.
The town of Yakima was originally founded at the south end of the valley where Union Gap is now. In 1885 the Northern Pacific railroad situated its station a few miles north of the town, prompting many businesses to relocate around the new rail hub. This community was known as “North Yakima” at the time, but shortly after became just “Yakima.”
The original community took on the name of Old Town, and eventually became Union Gap, which denotes the nexus between the Yakima and Lower Valleys.
Yakima County leads the nation in apple and hops production and is a huge player in sweet and tart cherries, plums, prunes, nectarines, peaches, pears, apricots and more. The county is the state’s No. 1 producer of melons, a leading producer of squash and peppers and has more than 3,600 acres of sweet corn. Other available vegetables in season include asparagus, onions, snap beans, cucumbers and tomatoes. The growing berry industry features blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and more.
Yakima County grows more than 20,000 acres of grapes, including juice and wine grape varieties, and the Yakima Valley is home to the state’s highest concentration of wineries. The county is also No. 1 in the state in dairy, milk production, cheese production, cattle and calves, sheep and lamb production and meat goats.
Farms range from large-scale orchards to small-scale family growers, many of which offer U-pick options. Be sure to check out the roadside fresh fruit and produce stands in Yakima, Union Gap, Selah, Naches and the Lower Valley.
Dining opportunities are available to please any palate, offering fare made from locally-sourced foods and beverages. A full range of ethnic choices, including Italian, Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Greek can be enjoyed. You will also find barbecue, seafood, pizza and hamburger options, delis, bakeries and mobile eateries plus national chains.
With the sun comes plenty of sports, including the ever-popular annual Gap2Gap Relay, Hot Shots 3-on-3 basketball tournament, soccer at the SOZO sports complex, and more.
Yakima also is home to semi-professional sports clubs, including The Yakima Valley Pippins baseball team (West Coast League) and the Yakima United men’s and women’s soccer teams (Northwest Premier League).
Golf with public nine- and 18-hole courses are available in town and in other Valley communities.
Fans of live action can catch roller derbies, drag racing, rodeos, and more.
One of the best-kept secrets of Yakima is its many large parks, which offer rolling greens, beautiful large shade trees, swimming and spray pools, nature trails, playground equipment, tennis courts, multi-purpose courts, picnic tables, softball fields and off-leash pet areas.
The Yakima Greenway features a miles-long walking and cycling path, which runs beside the Yakima Arboretum. In town, Randall and Kissel parks offer paved loops for visitors to take a stroll with their dogs. Hiking trails in the Valley are plentiful, or you can take a short drive westward on U.S. Highways 12 or 410 to find more, plus camping, rock climbing and water sport opportunities. For sport fishing, try your cast at the Yakima River Canyon for fly fishing, and check out the large selection of still water lakes and ponds all throughout the Valley.
Interested in history? From Yakima to Grandview, several museums highlight the cultural, artistic, and technological progression of life in the Valley. Find working examples of local history at the Yakima Valley Trolleys, Central Washington Agricultural Museum in Union Gap, and the Yakima Valley Rail & Steam Museum in Toppenish.
Car aficionados can view or participate with various car shows from April to September, such as the Vintiques NW Nationals Rod Run.
State Fair Park provides space for a huge Fourth of July celebration and other annual events. It is also home to the SunDome, which hosts concerts, trade shows, sporting events, rodeos and more. For more information visit statefairpark.org.
Central Washington State Fair
The annual Central Washington State Fair attracts around 300,000 people every year for food, music and fun for all ages in late September.
More than 100 commercial vendors participate each year, with some setting up tents around the park. Others fill the SunDome with booths selling outdoor supplies, furniture, hot tubs, handmade candies and crafts.
Entertainment is a main draw, as the fair attracts local and regional acts at several different venues and stages throughout the park. Every night, the fair features a big-name singer, comedian or musical group. The fair also features an action-packed carnival. Thrill-seekers of all ages enjoy 10 acres of midway attractions, including hair-raising rides and challenging games.
For more information on this year’s fair entertainment lineup, visit fairfun.com.
Live music and professional theatre can be enjoyed at the Capitol Theatre, and you can take in intimate performances of all genres of music at The Seasons Performance Hall. Or visit Franklin Park for the free Outdoor Summer Sunset Concert Series, on Fridays in July and August. There are also plenty of music festivals downtown and around the Valley.
Festivals around the Valley include community celebrations and events showcasing the best food and drink the Valley has to offer.
Live community theatre, movies, gambling, bingo, and bowling round out the indoor entertainment available here.