How to Spend a Day in Walla Walla


"So good they named it twice", Walla Walla, Washington is perhaps best known for its sweet onions and wine — and rightly so. The onions are sweet indeed, and the capital of Washington Wine Country does not disappoint. But there's more to this eastern Washington town than meets the tongue.

Surrounded by the natural beauty of its namesake "many waters", Walla Walla is well worth the 4-5 hour drive from Seattle, Portland, or Boise. Need a quiet getaway from the big city? Make a road trip out of it. Here's how to spend a day (or two) in Walla Walla.

Stock Up
Home to two farmers markets, Walla Walla celebrates its bountiful produce seasonally from May to October. Check out the Downtown Farmer's Market and Walla Walla Valley Farmers' Market on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm. Stock up on local produce — including those famous sweet onions during summer — along with berries, melons, local honey, and a whole lot more.

Get Out

The nearby Blue Mountains are calling, and you must go. Opt for a scenic drive, hike, or ride in the Blues, and you'll likely come across wildlife in the form of birds, snakes, and maybe even a bear. Hikers can take a leisurely stroll at Bennington Lake, or a longer ramble at Sawtooth Ridge. During winter, head out to Ski Bluewood to explore their 21 runs. Check out Visit Walla Walla's site for more recreation ideas.

Wine and Dine

There are many worthy places to dine in downtown Walla Walla. You'll likely want to pair some food with all that vino, so listen up.

With Italian influence, T. Maccarone's offers an assortment of locally sourced choices — from classic minestrone to salmon served over butternut squash risotto and herbed, housemade potato fontina gnocchi. Yes, the food is as classy and delicious as it sounds. Expect attentive service, thoughtfully prepared meals, and of course fine Walla Walla wine.

For something a little different, try the Fat Duck Inn. Nestled in an inviting neighborhood outside downtown, this inn offers much more than your traditional bed and breakfast. Chef-owner Rich Koby prepares simple, beautifully presented meals using local, seasonal ingredients. A large table in the dining room awaits, perfect for family-style dining. Come for dinner, or spend the night — overnight guests receive a complimentary glass of local wine upon arrival.

Get Around


Walla Walla may not offer Uber yet, but they've got something far more enjoyable. After dinner, hit the town in style with AJ Carriages — a local horse drawn carriage company. "The most fun you'll ever have at three miles an hour", these charming, leisurely carriage rides are a great way to experience Walla Walla and get around town.

Entertainment


Head on down to the historic Gesa Power House Theater for your nightly entertainment. This 120-year-old building was formerly a gas plant and literal powerhouse, generating electricity from steam. Since 2011 it has operated as a 300-seat performing arts theater, welcoming live music, comedy, and more. With design inspired by William Shakespeare's Blackfriars Theatre in London, Gesa Power House Theater is simply beautiful inside. Check their site for upcoming events.

Brandon Fralic is a Bellingham-based freelance writer. With a focus on the outdoors, travel, and craft beer, he contributes to a handful of publications including Washington Trails, WhatcomTalk, and Outdoor Project.

All photos courtesy of the author.