Holidays

 

This town, built on vineyards and wineries, is also known for tasty Thanksgiving dinners. If you prefer to dine out on the big day, visitors to Yakima have plenty of options. Mel’s Diner is a classic in downtown, opened in 1982 and famous for the incredible holiday menu. The classic American diner usually serves burgers, shakes and fries worthy of your drool, but on Thanksgiving you’ll find the classic menu on hand.

Other dining options include the local Shari’s and Apple Tree, and Legends Casino dishes up their famed Thanksgiving buffet spread. Carved meats including turkey, smoked ham and prime rib are right next to the Bistro Bar with soups, salads and a selection of breads. Your favorite sides, plus decadent desserts including cobblers and pies, make this a tasty pick for Thanksgiving.

The Day After

Don’t get too stuffed on Thursday, because starting on Black Friday the wineries and vineyards go all out. Thanksgiving weekend is a biggie for locals with the Wine Country Thanksgiving. Most wineries are open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on the three days following Thanksgiving and offer seasonal specials including food and wine pairings with holiday twists.

It’s one of the biggest events in the Valley, and there are too many events to make it to all of them. Start plotting your itinerary now, perhaps with a dabble of Black Friday shopping, and discover some new wines that make perfect holiday gifts.

Where will your long weekend begin?

 

 

Can you Catch the Crush? Now’s your chance on October 14 – 15 at Wine Yakima Valley where a bevy of wineries celebrate the harvest season at this annual event. Every winery has its own festivities from grape stomps to crush activities, live music, wine tasting (of course) and free-run juice. Get a premium pass and you’ll enjoy VIP benefits reserved just for pass-holders during this epic weekend. It’s just $30 when purchased online.

This time of year, you’ll need a jacket and good walking shoes to triumph in Yakima wine country. Keep in mind that wineries always run out of glasses. Keep yours from your first stop, or bring one. A designated driver and identification is required. Some wineries waive tasting fees for premium pass holders, so make sure to check out the details as you plan your itinerary.

Who’s Pouring?

In the Yakima Area, check out AntoLin Cellars, Treveri Cellars, Owen Roe and many more. Zillah Area wineries include Cultura Wine, Dineen Family Vineyards and Agate Field. Agate is retiring, which means fantastic pricing on retirement deals—get ready to stock up!

There’s also Sunnyside/Grandivew/Prosser area wineries including 14 Hands, Co Dinn Cellars, Thurston Wolfe Winery and Chinook Wines. Head to the Red Mountain area for Chandler Reach Vineyards, Cooper Wine Company and Purple Star Winery. Get your pass online now and save!

 

The Fairgrounds is home to the best Fourth of July celebration in wine country, with admission free from noon until 11 p.m. The Yakima Transit Park and Ride offers free shuttles to the fairgrounds all day, so it’s easy to get the party started. Park at the Gateway Center, Eisenhower High School or Wide Hollow School with shuttle service every 15 – 20 minutes from 3:30 – 11:30 p.m.

A nostalgic Fourth of July celebration brings the community together at this old-fashioned event with carnival rides, face painting, classic contests and much more. Food vendors dish up American favorites as well as locally sourced ingredients for truly Pacific Northwest specialties.

Celebrate Summer with a Bang

The fireworks display is the biggest in the region, taking place at dusk and lasting 20 minutes. Seating is available at the fairgrounds, but some visitors prefer to bring their own lawnchairs and relax while taking in the celebratory environment.

Come hungry and ready to showcase your patriotism at the biggest party of the summer. Of course, being wine country, vineyards will also be representing with options to pick up your favorite bottle or two to take back to your guest room.

 

 

If you’re visiting the Yakima area during Martin Luther King Jr. Day, you’ll have many opportunities to celebrate Dr. King’s teachings. The annual MLK Jr. Day Parade begins with an 11 a.m. Peace Walk at North 2nd Street and MLK Boulevard, followed by an MLK Presentation at the Yakima Convention Center. A service at Foursquare Church at 3 p.m. welcomes all. You can also head to the Lower Valley 20 minutes from downtown Yakima for a Peace Walk at W. First Street at 10 a.m.

The Southeast Community Center hosts an annual MLK Jr. Day Soup Kitchen which welcomes volunteers. Contact the center early if you’d like to volunteer, and keep in mind that last minute cancellations means it’s always possible to get added from any wait lists.

How Will You Celebrate?

The Toppenish Market Place grocery store in the Lower Valley offers a remembrance at 10:30 a.m., with proceeds benefiting the local middle school. Stop by for speeches, commemorations and shopping.

Business travelers who have the day off can reflect on Dr. King’s work with a peaceful stroll through the Yakima Area Arboretum, a visit to the Cascade Garden, or slip into one of the local libraries to enjoy works by MLK Jr.

 

 

Ring in 2017 in style. In Yakima Valley, almost all of the wineries, vineyards and restaurants are offering holiday specials with champagne toasts and seasonal fare. The annual New Year’s Bash at the Seasons Performance Hall is always a blast with live entertainment, party favors, and dancing until the wee hours.

Wilridge Winery and Vineyards is always a popular choice for NYE, where you can enjoy sweeping canyon views, or cozy up on the wraparound porch with a glass of mulled wine while you sample flights. Gilbert Cellars is also in demand, with their complementary tapas that pair perfectly with a bold red or refreshing white, perfect for the new year.

Party Planning

Carousel French Cuisine is an upscale establishment offering New Year’s Eve specials, so if you prefer fine dining over hours of dancing, make your reservations early! Of course, all meals can be paired with a local or French wine, helping you slide into 2017 with ease.

This year, New Year’s Eve falls on a Saturday, which means partiers and revelers will be out in full force. Book your table or tickets early, and start designing what’s sure to be the best New Year’s celebration yet.

 

 

 

Nothing is more romantic than the holidays in Yakima where many of the vineyards are covered in snow, and you can warm up with a cup of locally-made cider, mulled wine or hot cocoa. The downtown Yakima Winter Wonderland events include a lighting of the enormous community Christmas tree, tours of downtown on horse-drawn carriages, performances by local artists, and of course, a visit from Santa—just in the first week of December!

Free horse-drawn carriage rides are available throughout the month, as merchants in the historic district host a holiday open house on some special Saturdays. Check out the ornament-making workshops at Yakima Maker Space, and don’t miss the performances by the Yakima Youth Symphony which take place throughout the holiday season.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside …

Enjoy the Sunnyside Lighted Farm Implement Parade on December 3, and don’t miss the Toy Train Christmas that takes place until December 17. Also on December 3, there’s the Holiday Crafts and Antiques Bazaar at Mighty Tieton, where you can pick up gifts, decorations and more from local artists.

On December 3 and 4, A Christmas Pops Spectacular is featured by the youth symphony, and bars and restaurants throughout town are offering holiday specials. Slip into one of the many tasting rooms for some seasonal pairings, and make this December one to remember.

 

 

There’s no better place to be than wine country for Thanksgiving, where you can pair a glass with turkey, dressing, potatoes and pumpkin pie! Every November, Wine Country Thanksgiving takes place throughout the holiday weekend, and this year there are over 50 local wineries participating. Check out the debut releases before anyone else, taste them paired with autumnal cuisine, and enjoy this beloved tradition that includes scenic drives.

Wine-makers and T-day chefs are on site to help with sauce pairings, seasoning and bringing out the flavors of the holidays. Every participating winery is offering something unique, so be sure to check them all out during your long weekend. Hop from winery to vineyard, sampling tasty treats and glasses of vino along the way. You’ve never enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast like this before!

Bottoms Up

Prefer a more traditional feast for Thanksgiving? A number of local restaurants are open on the big day. Mel’s Diner is a favorite, laidback family-owned restaurant serving traditional sides and, of course, juicy turkey cuts. At Legends Casino, you can enjoy a fantastic meal in between your favorite table games.

Many head to the Clarion for their holiday feast, and picking up a pie from Shari’s (or dining there late night!) is a popular pick when those pie cravings hit. However you want to celebrate in Yakima, you can rest assured locally owned vineyards, restaurants and diners have you covered.

 

The State Fair Park hosts the biggest Fourth of July celebration in Yakima, where the family-friendly event features a full carnival with rides for all ages. The celebration culminates in a 20-minute firework display at dusk. Fireworks are illegal in Yakima, and many parts of Washington, making this one of the rare opportunities to see an explosive display while diving into hand battered corn dogs and cotton candy.

You can also bring your own picnic to share, or put together a goodie basket from the numerous on-site vendors. The party starts at noon, and free bus transportations at the Park & Ride stations are at the ready. Shuttles are available at the Gateway Center, Eisenhower High School and Wide Hollow School.

Plan Your Trip

Shuttles run every 10-15 minutes, and you won’t want to miss Independence Day “the community way,” which spans for over 10 hours with endless fun and games. Patriotic dress is encouraged, and getting a full-day ride pass ensures you’ll have hours of fun.

Other options include the Sunnyside’s Old Fashioned 4th of July, with a parade at 11am on Waterhouse Avenue with food vendors, hot dog and pie eating contests, a talent show, pageant, and chili cook-off. Check out the Prosser Old Fashioned Fourth festivities at City Park with a car show, obstacle courses, sack races, kiddie parades and pageants.

If you really want to wow Dad this Father’s Day, book a reservation at one of Yakima’s top ranked steakhouses. Black Angus features holiday specials like the fire-grilled fresh artichoke, jumbo shrimp cocktail, wagon wheel sample platter and, of course, your favorite cuts from filet mignon to New York strip. Their peanut butter cup pie, sky high mud pie and chocolate chip cowboy cookie are just a few of the delights on their separate dessert menu.

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Kyoto Sushi and Steakhouse gives you the best of both worlds if you can’t decide between great steak and Asian flavors. With a massive lunch and dinner menu, it can be hard to decide! Do you want to start with miso soup or fried scallops? The hibachi dinner special offers filet mignon, lobster, scallops and more while dessert ranges from fried banana ice cream to chocolate lava cake.

Big Steaks!

Creekside West Bar and Grille is a local staple where Thai chicken nachos, bacon gorgonzola fries, killer clams,  and steak burgers are sure to please. Try the blue buckle BBQ burger, battered steak fries, or their famous mac and cheese.

George’s Steakhouse is a little known, best kept secret where the locals flock for fresh ingredients, locally sourced cuts, and some killer secret recipes! Where will you book this Father’s Day?

For most public swimming pools in Yakima, Memorial Day weekend is the grand opening of the year. Franklin Pool is especially popular, and locals wait throughout the cold winter months and spring blossoms for their favored swimming spot to be filled. A small slide makes it great for families, and day passes are always affordable. Located on Tieton Drive, the new expansion ensures there’s enough room for all.

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Others head to campsites, located conveniently close to your Yakima suites hotel. If you want to rough it for a day or two before heading back to your spacious room with kitchens, it’s easy to enjoy the best of both worlds in wine country. Camp spots on the hillsides are often on a first come, first served basis, so you can spend a night roasting marshmallows and sleeping under the stars before going back to the luxury of your two room, 550 square foot suite.

First Weekend of Summer

Wine tours are what draw many to Yakima, where there are over 70 wineries (many of them with accolades). Maryhill Winery, close to Goldendale, is lovely and holds a Memorial Day weekend event annually with special tastings, a barbeque and live music. Check out what other wineries have in store for you and mom, such as pairing chocolates with dessert wines or offering special activities for kids.

Whether you choose to spend the holiday hiking one of the many local trails, treating yourself to the best breakfast in town, or getting away for a day of kayaking or scenic drives, it’s easy to make Memorial Day weekend special in Yakima. The only question is what to do first.