20 Things to do in Yakima

- This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure.

Yakima, Washington, in the Yakima Valley, is known for its great vineyards and there are a ton of other things to do in Yakima, from exploring the nearby canyon to checking out the agricultural museum. Yakima is a family-friendly destination with easy access to Mount Rainier National Park and only around a 2.5-hour drive from Seattle. Here are the top things to do in Yakima.

Yakima, Washington

20 Things To Do In Yakima

yakima aerial view with mountains in the background
Looking for things to do in Yakima WA? Check out our list of top 20 items.

1- See The Displays In The Yakima Valley Museum

One of the best things to do in the city is visit the Yakima Valley Museum, which is a 65,000 square-foot museum that has a whole lot of things waiting to be discovered.

The museum focuses on Yakima’s natural and cultural history as well as the surrounding area.

Some of the main topics you can learn about at the museum include pioneer life, indigenous populations and the early economic development in the area.

Permanent exhibits include the ‘Making a Home 1869’ and ‘Making a Mark Beyond the Valley’.

There’s also the Yakima Memory collection which features more than 9,000 digitized photographs about the culture and history of the area.

Yakima Valley Museum is at 2105 Tieton Dr, Yakima, WA 98902.

2- Walk Or Bike The Yakima Greenway

things to do in yakima bridge
The Yakima Bridge.

If you are searching for outdoor spaces in Yakima, then why not head to the Yakima Greenway.

This greenway stretches for more than 20 miles (32 km) and allows you to see many of the city’s top attractions.

There are many water bodies along the greenway including Lake Aspen, Myron Lake and Willow Lake.

There’s a lovely river that flows nearby and the greenway is surrounded by trees and beautiful plants and flowers.

This 20 mile (32 km) trail is a point to point trail meaning you will have to turn around if you want to finish where you started.

Though you may prefer to walk, biking could allow you to see the greenway in its entirety.

3- Relax In The Yakima Area Arboretum

The Yakima Area Arboretum is more than 40 acres (16 ha) of immaculately manicured gardens and open green space.

One of the best times of year to visit the arboretum is in July when the flowers are in full bloom.

Some of the best places in the arboretum to see include the buttery garden, the wetland trails and the ornamental fruit tree collection.

There are more than 1000 different tree, flower and plant species at the arboretum.

This is a super peaceful place to visit and although it’s just off Interstate 82, the trees surrounding the arboretum create a shield of silence.

A top tip for visiting: you are allowed to pick the fruit from the trees!

Yakima Area Arboretum is at 1401 Arboretum Dr, Yakima, WA 98901.

4- Explore Yakima River Canyon

Storm Clearing Over Agricultural Land Yakima River Central Washington
Relaxing on the Yakima River is one of the things to do in Yakima.

The river canyon meanders its way between Yakima and Ellensburg through a striking desert and basalt cliff landscape.

Instead of traveling on Interstate 82 why not head out along the more scenic Yakima River Canyon route.

Along the River Canyon there are a few recreational stops to enjoy.

There are four recreation sites that include Big Pines, Roza, Umtanum and Lmuma Creek.

Here you can go camping, access the river and go boating, tubing, swimming and fishing.

5- See A Show At The Capitol Theater

Yakima has a vibrant art scene and there’s no better place to visit for a taste of it than The Capitol Theater.

This downtown theater puts on Broadway musicals, classic productions and even rock concerts.

There’s even a local series that brings in expert speakers to discuss topics in various fields.

Check out their website to see what productions are on when you are in Yakima.

The Capitol Theater is at 19 S 3rd St, Yakima, WA 98901.

6- Visit Johnson Orchards

Rainier Cherries With Long Stems
Tasting Rainier Cherries is one of the popular things to do in Yakima, WA.

If you are in search of some of the best local produce then head on down to Johnson Orchards.

This family-owned orchard opened in 1904 and it is still many peoples favourite place to pick up juicy fruit and other supplies.

The best time to visit the orchard is between mid-June and August.

If you love cherries, you can purchase them by the pound between mid-June and late July (the perfect road trip snack).

They have a variety of other seasonal fruit like apricots, peaches, nectarines and you can purchase other sweet treats from the Little Bake Shop.

Johnson Orchards is at 4906 Summitview Ave, Yakima, WA 98908.

7- Hike The Cowiche Canyon Trails

The Cowiche Canyon Trails offer some of the best places to go hiking in Yakima.

There are around 20 miles (32 km) of hiking trails in the canyon all with something beautiful and unique to discover.

It’s not just for hikers, horse riders and mountain bikers can hit the trails too.

The Cowiche Canyon Trail is 5 miles (8 km) and takes you to the canyon floor past wildflowers and by the side of streams.

There’s also the Cowiche Canyon Uplands which is a three-mile (4.8 km) trail which provides visitors with shrub-steppe (a unique natural grassland) scenery.

So, pack plenty of water and put on your hiking boots and see what Yakima has to offer in terms of hiking.

8- Shop In The Downtown Yakima Farmers’ Market

Farmers markets are great fun and the Yakima Farmers’ Market is no exception.

On Sundays between May and October right outside the Capitol Theater you will find the farmer’s market.

Head to the market for local produce, artisan crafts and handmade confectionery.

They also serve up hot food, coffee, and sandwiches.

There are more than 20 vendors at the market so there’s plenty to see and choose from.

There is also usually live music playing to add to the atmosphere.

Downtown Yakima Farmers’ Market is at 15 W Yakima Ave, Yakima, WA 98901.

9- Visit The Yakama National Museum and Cultural Center

The Yakama National Museum and Cultural Center is run by the National Park Service and is part of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail.

The center offers a variety of exhibits designed to showcase the history and culture of Yakima as well as educate both locals and visitors.

At the museum you can find archeological, photographic, art, media, ethnographical and paper collections to explore.

Yakama National Museum and Cultural Center is at 100 Spiel-yi Loop, Toppenish, WA 98948.

10- Explore Yakima Sportsman State Park

If it’s nature you are looking for on your trip to Yakima then you must add a visit to the Yakima Sportsman State Park to your itinerary.

This 266-acre park is just outside of the city over the Yakima River.

One of the most popular activities in the park is bird watching as there are more than 140 species either calling the park home or migrating through.

If you want to find a wonderful camping spot then there are plenty of spots hidden among the trees.

Another of the park’s best activities is freshwater fishing.

You will need to obtain a license before fishing (for 15 years of age and older) but it’s easily done online or in town at a variety of stores including Walmart.

Yakima Sportsman State Park is at 904 University Pkwy, Yakima, WA 98907.

11- Hit The Slopes At White Pass Ski Area

If you are visting Yakima in winter and want to hit the slopes then you must head to White Pass Ski Area.

The White Pass Ski Area is 53 miles (85 km) west of Yakima and it offers a little relief from the crowds compared to Washington’s more well-known ski resorts.

Whether you ski or snowboard, are a beginner or a complete novice you will feel welcome at White Pass.

There are six chairlifts, ski rentals and plenty of runs for all abilities.

White Pass Ski Area is at 48935 US-12, Naches, WA 98937.

12- Drive The White Pass Scenic Byway

Horsetail Falls, Yakima, Washington, USA
Visiting Horsetail Falls is one of the things to do in Yakima WA.

If it’s scenic drives you are looking for, try the White Pass Scenic Byway.

This route is on U.S. Route 12 and is best accessed from Chinook Pass at the intersection of Route 410 and U.S. Route 12.

The views from the byway are impressive but just off the road are an array of stunning landscapes from waterfalls, to volcanoes, and wild backcountry.

Some places just off the byway include Mt. St. Helens Windy Ridge and Mt. St. Helens Johnston Ridge.

13- Visit The Central Washington Agricultural Museum

Another of the best places to learn about the local area is the Central Washington Agricultural Museum.

This museum is actually in Union Gap rather than Yakima but it’s just 7 miles (11 km) south of downtown.

At the museum you can view a large collection of farming equipment.

From vintage tractors to old fashioned plows this is a wonderful place for history lovers and agricultural enthusiasts.

There’s an epic Farm Equipment Yard which features hundreds of tractors which have been donated over the years.

Throughout the year there are many activity days to enjoy, including Civil War reenactments and the Annual Old Steel Car Show.

Central Washington Agricultural Museum is at 4508 Main St, Union Gap, WA 98903.

14- Enjoy Wine Tasting

Table For An Outdoors Wine Tasting
Enjoying wine tasting is one of the fun things to do in Yakima, Washington, today.

Yakima is not nationally known for its wine but locally it’s an excellent food and drink spot.

If you love wine and want to learn more about the local offerings, be sure to plan a trip to the Wildridge Vineyard, Gilbert Cellars, Treveri Cellar or Kana Winery.

Pick a favourite wine and drink by the glass or bottle, or choose a tasting flight if you aren’t sure which one you may like.

In the Yakima Valley there are 90 wineries so plenty of choice.

Visiting a winery after a day of exploring Yakima is the perfect way to relax.

15- Take A Brewery Tour

Fresh Cold Beer In Glass On Bar
Taking a brewery tour is one of the things to do in Yakima at night.

From wine to beer Yakima has something for all beverage lovers.

It might be that you have never heard of these Yakima breweries but you will have probably tried a beer with the hops they use.

Washington state produces 69% of hops grown in USA and most of it comes from the Yakima Valley.

One of the top breweries to visit in Yakima is the Bale Breaker Brewing Company.

The brewery has seven canned beers to try in the taproom as well as seasonal specials.

Visit the brewery to learn about its history, processes and of course sample some of its creations.

Bale Breaker Brewing Company is at 1801 Birchfield Rd, Yakima, WA 98901.

16- Join In The Fun At The Fresh Hop Ale Festival

From breweries to ale celebrations, you can check out the Fresh Hop Ale Festival.

This festival is a non-profit whose aim is to showcase Yakima Valley’s hops while supporting the arts and science organizations of the Yakima Valley.

The Fresh Hop Ale Festival is a wonderful weekend of conversation, live music, celebration, competition and of course good beer!

With more than 45 breweries, wineries and cideries showcasing at the event this is a go to place for good grub and even better drinks.

The Fresh Hop Ale Festival is held at the SOZO Sports Complex, 2200 South 36th Avenue, Yakima, WA 98903.

17- See Vintage Aircraft At McAllister Museum of Aviation

From cultural and agricultural museums another of the best educational places to visit in Yakima is the McAllister Museum of Aviation.

This museum has plenty of information on local and national aviation.

The museum might appear small but it’s crammed with information and plenty of things to see.

From vintage aircraft to aviation information from around the world, there’s plenty to see at the museum.

It is also one of those places that will keep the kids occupied but also allow adults to learn more about aviation.

McAllister Museum of Aviation is at 2008 S 16th Ave, Yakima, WA 98903.

18- Go Rafting and Kayaking on the Yakima River

Paddling On Strong River Rapids
Rafting on the Yakima River is one of the fun things to do in Yakima.

The Yakima River is an excellent place to enjoy kayaking or rafting.

The Canyon River Ranch is one such company where you can rent all the gear for a perfect morning or afternoon on the river.

They offer self-guided paddle rafting along a seven mile (11 km) stretch of the Yakima River.

River Rider also offers rafting trips from Leavenworth down river towards Yakima.

Take in the surrounding scenery of the Yakima Valley while enjoying your time on the waters.

Kayaking or rafting is an excellent outdoor activity.

19- Hike The Yakima Rim Trail

The Yakima Rim Trail is an out and back trail that’s 9.2 miles (14.8 km) in length.

It’s considered a moderate trail and has a 2,434 ft (741 m) elevation gain.

This trail leads you along the spectacular Yakima River before heading uphill for views of Selah Cliffs and Selah Butte.

There’s no doubt that this is a challenging hike but the views from the top are well worth it.

On a clear day you can see all the way across to Mount Rainer.

20- Attend Central Washington State Fair

The Central Washington State Fair is held annually in September and dates back to 1892.

If you are heading to Yakima in September there is no place better to bring the kids.

With so many family-friendly activities to take part in this is many young people’s highlight of a visit to Yakima.

With rides, slides, food stalls, music and entertainment it’s all happening at Central Washington State Fair.

Central Washington State Fair is at 1301 S Fair Ave, Yakima, WA 98901. 

Previous article20 Things To Do In Barbados
Next article20 Things To Do In Knoxville
harriet comley
Harriet Comley is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel writer and a lover of safaris. Since 2017 she has been travelling the globe living in the UK, Canada, Vietnam, China and now Zambia, where she is completing her PhD in Sustainable Tourism. For 3 1/2 years she taught English in Vietnam and China. Now she has turned her attention to writing, having contributed to a number of travel blogs and websites always focusing on what she loves most…exploring!