There’s a lot more to Washington tourism than just the bustling city of Seattle. Tucked away in a rugged valley where the Wenatchee and Columbia Rivers meet, this outdoorsy and family-friendly destination is a hidden gem in the Pacific Northwest. Wenatchee is an ideal place to visit or live for outdoor enthusiasts, families with kids, craft beer and wine lovers, and anyone who enjoys experiencing the seasons of nature. Here are our picks for the best things to do in Wenatchee, Washington.
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Hike in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is a magical place filled with over 3,000 miles of trails and spanning at least four million acres of land. This national forest is home to some incredible orange mushrooms and offers everything from hiking to camping, rock climbing, and horseback riding. Some highlights of the forest include the Icicle Gorge Loop Trail #1596, Echo Ridge Summer Trails #1290-1291, and Boulder Cave Trail. There are more than 150 campgrounds and picnic areas here, and you can take your pick among the cabin rentals, RV sites, tent sites, group campsites, and undeveloped/disbursed camping opportunities to really get off the grid and out in nature.
Bike the Apple Capital LoopTrail
One way to explore Wenatchee’s natural and city attractions is on two wheels via the Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail. This is a paved multi-use path that is perfect for taking a bike ride and seeing what the city has to offer. It runs along the Columbia River and dates back to the early 1990s. Start your journey in Riverfront Park and check out the Wenatchee Confluence Park and other parks and nature areas along the way. You can also hop off the trail to head into town for some refreshments or to explore the area on foot.
Sip Beers Outside at a Local Brewery
After all that fun and challenging outdoor recreation, nothing satisfies the thirst quite like a local craft brew in Wenatchee. There are some great breweries in town, including the Columbia Valley Brewery that is dog-friendly, serves food, and has an outdoor patio to enjoy the nice weather. Other Wenatchee breweries include Badger Mountain Brewing, Wenatchee Valley Brewing Co., and Saddle Rock Pub & Brewery. In addition to craft beer breweries, Wenatchee is also in a wine region of Washington with quite a few wineries that offer tastings, tours, and overnight accommodations.
Rock Climbing at Nearby Peshastin Pinnacles State Park
If you head about 20 minutes outside of Wenatchee, you can visit the incredibly beautiful Peshastin Pinnacles State Park. This is a popular rock climbing area with sandstone towers and slabs that overlook the Wenatchee Valley apple orchards. Some climbing routes here are West Face, Potholes, Lightning Crack, and the Tunnel. If you’re not a climber, this is also an excellent place to go for a hike and enjoy the scenic views. The trails are dog-friendly and feature a series of switchbacks with views of the Cascade Mountains and rolling hills. This is a day-use park that does not have overnight camping, but it does have picnic facilities.
Check out the Pybus Public Market and Farmers Market
It’s also fun to check out the Pybus Public Market when you’re in Wenatchee to explore all of the local vendors here. Come here to browse and shop for local foods and gifts and see who’s offering free samples while you’re walking around. This is also where the Wenatchee Valley Farmers’ Market takes place from May through December. The farmers’ market runs in the afternoons on Wednesdays and from 8am to 1pm on Saturdays to offer locally produced fruits, cheese, breads, and kids’ activities.
Pitch a Tent at Lincoln Rock State Park
There are lots of great camping opportunities in the Wenatchee area in other places besides the national forest as well. One popular spot is Lincoln Rock State Park, an 80-acre park by Lake Entiat. There are tent spaces and RV hookup sites here, as well as restrooms with showers, boating opportunities, and miles of trails for hiking and biking.
Attend the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival
Wenatchee is also a great place to be if you enjoy attending festivals, with the most popular one being the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival that takes place in the spring. This festival brings out the whole town and region too with a parade, golf tournament, food fairs, and live concerts. Wenatchee is also home to quite a few local runs and races, which are great ways to get in shape and set healthy goals for yourself.
Experience the Winter Sports Scene
Wenatchee enjoys a more moderate and pleasant climate than many other places in the Pacific Northwest, but this is also a fun destination to visit for your winter sports fix. When the snow starts falling, head to the Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort, which is about 12 miles from Wenatchee and has lots of sunshine to go with all that snow. Another fun place to check out in the region is the Leavenworth Winter Sports Club for tubing, skiing, and snowboarding.
Explore the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center
To learn more about Wenatchee and the greater valley region, the best place to go is the Explore the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center. This museum is located in the downtown area and features lots of exhibits that tell visitors about the region’s history with growing apples, the railway, ancient civilizations, and photographs from throughout the ages. This museum spans two buildings and covers natural sciences, regional history, and the arts through children’s programs and special events.
Take a Drive on the Cascade Loop Scenic Highway
If you’re looking for your next great road trip with a stop in Wenatchee along the way, plan to take a drive along the Cascade Loop Scenic Byway. The byway extends hundreds of miles through Washington and really highlights the state’s natural beauty. Other essential stops on this road trip include Everett, Snohomish, Leavenworth, Chelan, Winthrop, Anacortes, and Coupeville.