Saying “Walla Walla, Washington” makes for a great conversation starter. But this charming little city is far more than just a fun phrase — it happens to be packed with everything a foodie and wine lover’s heart could desire. Wine tasting is merely one of many things to do in Walla Walla, but it’s a big thing — the city has been named the top wine destination in the country for the last three years in a row by USA Today.
But even if you go for the wine, you’ll want to stay for the fascinating places steeped in history, stunning nearby nature, top-tier restaurants, and one of the best farmers’ markets on the planet (thanks to the abundance of crops grown nearby).
Depending on the time of year, you may even be tempted to stick around for a hot air balloon ride or play a few rounds of golf while surrounded by rolling hills. One thing is for sure, Walla Walla is small, but it is never dull.
Walla Walla gave us actor Adam West, those telltale sweet onions, and friendly locals…in fact, it’s known as “the town so nice, they named it twice.” In reality, its unique name comes from the Nez Perce tribe, and it means means “running waters” or “valley of waters.”
It’s a perfect name for an area where several rivers flow across the valley into the Walla Walla River, eventually joining the Columbia River. The indigenous people told Lewis and Clark that the place was called “Wallah Wallah.”
The area soon turned into a French Canadian fur trading post, earning it the name “Frenchtown.” You’ll see odes to the area’s indigenous history, fur trading past (especially in the Frenchtown red wine blend at L’Ecole No 41. winery), and sinister stories all over town and in its multiple museums.
But while it always pays homage to its history, Walla Walla is redefining itself as a premier food and wine destination of choice for anyone in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. If you’re planning a romantic escape, a girlfriend’s getaway, or a family vacation, you’ll have all kinds of options for your itinerary.
- Most significant landmark – Whitman Mission National Historic Site
- Best park – Pioneer Park
- Best free activity – Downtown Farmers Market
- Best activity for kids – Children’s Museum of Walla Walla
- Best activity for adults – The 120 wineries to choose from
- Best food – Hattaway’s on Alder
- Best nightlife – Green Lantern Tavern
- Best all-around accommodation – Eritage Resort
Best & Fun Things to Do in Walla Walla, Washington
Your favorite things to do in Walla Walla will depend on your individual tastes. You don’t have to be a fan of wine tasting to appreciate this city, but it certainly helps.
There are over 120 wineries and tasting rooms in the Walla Walla Valley, for which we can thank the valley’s ideal growing conditions and agricultural landscapes. But even if you’re not a fan of vino, visiting as the designated driver will give you quite a glimpse of the local history and culture — and fear not, for there are plenty of other fantastic things to do here.
Start with this list of some of the top tourist attractions and hidden gems, then do your own exploring to find your favorites.
1. See where it all began at Seven Hills Winery
Address: 212 N 3rd Ave, Walla Walla, WA 99362
Seven Hills Winery got its start in 1988, making it one of the founding estates of the Walla Walla Valley. As the site of Walla Walla’s only historic working winemaking facility, tasting here is a one-of-a-kind experience. They’re also quite popular, which is why their wine tours are available by appointment only.
While Seven Hills Winery produces both whites and reds, their focus is crafting Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines, a reflection of their place of origin. The red wines are all made from fruit grown on Seven Hills’ private estate or from other noteworthy vineyards in Walla Walla and the nearby Red Mountain.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Seattle, Washington
2. Stroll Around Pioneer Park
Address: 940 E Alder St, Walla Walla, WA 99362
Established in 1902, Pioneer Park is the oldest park in Walla Walla. The park is conveniently located in the middle of town, about a mile from the city’s downtown shops, restaurants, and tasting rooms.
There’s certainly a lot to love about Pioneer Park. There’s playground equipment for the little ones, soccer and softball fields, pickleball courts, plenty of walking paths, a rose garden, and even a century-old wedding fountain that has been lovingly restored.
When you visit, don’t forget to check out the Pioneer Park Aviary. The aviary is a labor of love that began with some generous donations, both from the community and private donors. This is where dozens and dozens of local birds (mostly rescues) happily and safely live out their lives.
See Related: Washington’s Hoh Rainforest: What to See & Do
3. Wander the Downtown Farmers Market
Address: 106 W Main St, Walla Walla, WA 99362
Walla Walla’s beloved Farmers Market is held each Saturday from 9 am – 1 pm. From spring until fall, it takes place outdoors, taking over parts of Main Street. In November and December, the market moves indoors at the Showroom on Colville before taking a little break until spring.
This part of Washington grows some of the finest produce in the country, and the market always has a fantastic selection from local vendors. You’ll also find freshly cut flowers, crafts, artisan items, local honey, and so much more. The market not only brings the community together but attracts plenty of out-of-town visitors.
Although you’ll surely be tempted to buy a few things, perusing and people-watching are always free. And if you do end up coming away with some treats and trinkets, you can drop them off at your room at the Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center.
See Related: Best Things to Do in West Seattle, Washington
4. Take the Kids to the Children’s Museum of Walla Walla
Address: 77 Wainwright Dr, Walla Walla, WA 99362
In need of things to do in Walla Walla with kids? The Children’s Museum of Walla Walla is the perfect place to encourage creative play. The museum’s goal is to provide visitors of all ages and cultural backgrounds with a place to learn, grow, explore, and imagine.
The indoor attractions include a climbing wall, the Nature Room, a faux doctor’s office, a Light Room that will make every 1980s child think of their beloved Lite Brites, a Farm Produce Room, and even a space that’s dedicated entirely to toddlers. Step outside and row your boat, play in the sandbox or fire truck, and check out the cozy clubhouse. The outdoor area even has a stage where your kids can put on a show.
Admittedly, there aren’t a lot of attractions that cater exclusively to children in Walla Walla. Luckily, this attraction more than makes up for it. Your little ones will sleep soundly after spending some time here.
See Related: Washington’s Robot Hut Museum
5. Explore Frenchtown Historic Site
Address: Frenchtown Historic Site 8364 Old Hwy 12, Walla Walla, WA 99362
The Frenchtown Historic Site is another great spot for history buffs, just down the road from Whitman Mission National Historic Site. This is where the Battle of Walla Walla was fought between the Oregon Mounted Volunteers and members of the Walla Walla, Cayuse, Palouse, and Yakama tribes in 1855.
This battle followed years of tension after Christian missionaries had ignored sacred Native American customs, and almost half of the local native population died from diseases brought to the area by settlers. During the Battle of Walla Walla, the better-armed and physically healthier volunteers killed Walla Walla leader Peo-Peo-Mox-Mox as well as up to 100 natives.
Along with being a grim reminder of some of the nation’s darkest chapters, the site pays homage to the early French Canadian fur trading days. It’s home to “Prince’s Cabin,” the oldest example of French-Canadian construction in the state and a great photo op.
See Related: Tourist-Friendly Native Indian Reservations to Visit
6. Eat Some of the Best Food You’ll Ever Have!
There’s no doubt about it, Walla Walla is a food lover’s paradise! An old-school steak and potatoes dish at Walla Walla Steak Company? Can’t miss. Craving tacos and tortas from AK’s Mercado? It’s always Taco Tuesday here. There’s no shortage of tasty restaurants, and choosing where to dine can almost be a chore. Eating is among the best things to do in Walla Walla — it’s a true pastime.
For breakfast, it simply doesn’t get better than the Maple Counter Cafe. Founded by a couple with three generations of restaurant experience in the family, this breakfast and lunch restaurant embraces the lost art of slow cooking. The preparation begins at dawn each day as the team makes batters from family recipes (never from packages) and crafts syrups and toppings from scratch.
The Maple Counter Cafe pretty much always has a wait, especially on the weekends. But rest assured, no matter how long it is, it’s worth it.
And if you’re starving while you wait for your table, you can always nibble on a blueberry waffle from the Waffle Truck in the parking lot — it’s owned by the same family.
Breakfast at the Maple Counter Cafe can leave you full all day, so you might want to try dinner at Hattaway’s on Alder on a different evening. Hattaway’s is owned by a sweet Southern couple who are inspired by the local ingredients of the Pacific Northwest.
The result is a creative rotating menu that combines the cooking traditions of the Southeast U.S. and rural America with local cuisine — and it’s phenomenal. And of course, they’ll have the perfect local wine to pair with your meal.
See Related: Best Restaurants in Downtown Seattle
7. Enjoy Walla Walla’s Laid-back Nightlife
Walla Walla is known more for its wine scene than bar scene — in other words, it has an early bedtime. However, it’s also a college town, so there’s still plenty to do after dark, especially on the weekends.
The Green Lantern Tavern is where thirsty locals go for beer and companionship. On any given evening, you’ll spot farmers, students, couples, sports fans, and plenty of hungry patrons ready to socialize over nachos and pizza. The rough-and-tumble vibe only adds to the Green Lantern’s appeal.
You’ll find a few places with live music throughout the year, including Marcy’s Bar & Lounge in the summertime. But if you’d prefer to be the entertainment yourself, head to Ming Court for the best karaoke in town. Ming Court’s restaurant closed in 2022 when the owners retired, but they wisely left the bar open and let the show go on.
You can have some wild nights here. Karaoke at Ming Court is not only a rite of passage for all young Walla Walla locals and college students, but it’s also an absolute blast for anyone of any age whether you can sing like an angel or sound like a car crash.
I wouldn’t come in and expect VIP treatment. This place is a bit of an anomaly in Walla Walla, as you’ll see more buckets of beer than bottles of wine – along with the occasional Jell-O shots. But the service is friendly, the crowd is energetic, and the song selection is always on point even if the talent isn’t.
See Related: Seattle CityPASS Review: Should You Buy?
8. Treat Yourself to Some R&R at Eritage Resort
Address: 1319 Bergevin Springs Rd, Walla Walla, WA 99362
The much-anticipated Eritage Resort recently opened in 2017, sprawling across 300 acres and surrounded by rolling wheat fields and vineyards. The property is located just a few minutes from downtown Walla Walla, but you’ll truly feel like you’re in your own world here…and you’ll be in no rush to return to the fast-paced hustle and bustle.
With 20 luxury suites to choose from, most with views of Lake Sienna or the Blue Mountains, this is an ideal place to come for a couple’s escape or a small girlfriends’ getaway. Amenities range from white fluffy robes to high-end bath products, and some of the suites have lavish soaking tubs.
But what really sets Eritage Resort apart from the rest of the city’s accommodations is the on-site restaurant. Best of all, it’s open to the public, but guests are more likely to get walk-in service and take advantage of the daily happy hour.
The resident chef, Arturo Tello Jr., is a lifelong local and graduate of Wine Country Culinary Institute. After a meal here, you’ll be craving the food for months.
Other amenities include an outdoor saltwater pool, cruiser bikes, lawn games, and in-room massages. Eritage also has its own signature wine, which you can only purchase at the resort.
See Related: Best All-Inclusive Family Resorts
9. Learn about Walla Walla’s History at the Kirkman House Museum
Address: 214 N Colville St, Walla Walla, WA 99362
From the conflicts that arose between the area’s native peoples to the award-winning winery powerhouse it is today, Walla Walla has a rich and storied history. For anyone interested in learning more about this history, be sure to stop by the Kirkman House Museum.
William Kirkman was a British immigrant and an adventurous spirit who tried his hand at many different careers over the years. He eventually settled in Walla Walla, which was seeing extensive growth following the disintegration of the Gold Rush. It was here that he built Kirkman House in 1876, using the wealth he had amassed as a cattle farmer.
Today, the Kirkman House Museum is open to the public, filled with beautifully preserved furniture and trinkets that illustrate daily Victorian life and the Kirkman family history. Not only that, but it’s also a fantastic resource for learning about Walla Walla’s history, as well as a stunning piece of architecture that has well earned its place on the National Register of Historic Places.
If you’re looking for a place to stay nearby, consider booking a room at The FINCH, which might be the coolest joint in town.
See Related: Washington’s Triangle of Fire: What to Know When Visiting
10. Sip the Day Away (and possibly spend the night) at Abeja
Address: 2014 Mill Creek Rd, Walla Walla, WA 99362
Resorts are all very well and good, and touring wineries is fine and dandy, but what about those seeking a real retreat?
Situated on a lovingly restored century-old farmstead in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, the Abeja winery sits about four miles east of Walla Walla. Abeja means “bee” in Spanish, which is appropriate given the picturesque lavender and bright flower gardens you’ll see.
Along with making some of the best wine in Washington, the team maintains The Inn at Abeja, the winery’s bed and breakfast. Each guest accommodation has a unique theme, based on the property’s rich history.
We can’t imagine a more restorative experience, sipping wine in the lavender fields and then falling asleep to the kind of tranquil silence you only experience in the country. Best of all, overnight guests get treated to a gourmet breakfast each morning.
See Related: Best Things To Do In Washington State
11. Go Back in Time at Whitman Mission National Historic Site
Address: Whitman Mission 328 Whitman Mission Rd, Walla Walla, WA 99362
While this was once the site of a brutal massacre by the Cayuse people, it also played a key role in America’s westward expansion. The Whitman Mission was the first Christian mission ever established in the Pacific Northwest, led by Marcus and Narcissa Whitman.
The Whitman family did not succeed in establishing a positive relationship with the local indigenous people. Tensions were already high when a measles epidemic spread through the area in 1847, killing a large number of Cayuse.
Although Marcus Whitman was a doctor, it became apparent that he did not care much for his Hippocratic Oath, nor for loving his neighbor. Whitman only used his skill and medicine to save white children and looked the other way if Natives were in need of help.
On November 29, 1847, the Cayuse attacked the mission and killed Marcus Whitman, his wife, Narcissa, and 11 other people. The Cayuse also took some survivors hostage but later released them.
The Whitman Mission has been a designated National Historic Site since 1963. Although the Visitor Center and museum are closed in December and January, the site itself stays open all year…and it’s free to visit. This is one of the best things to do in Walla Walla for those passionate about history, though visiting is a bit of a heavy experience.
See Related: Where to Stay in Temecula Wine Country: Best Areas & Places
12. Book a Private Winery Tour
With its 120 wineries, it’s no wonder Walla Walla keeps winning awards for being a top wine region in the country. So what’s the best way to cram in as many of the surrounding vineyards into one visit? Booking yourself a personalized private winery tour!
There are several companies that offer wine tours that will shuttle you and your party between the area’s top wineries and vineyards of your choice. Depending on the size of your group and your budget, you can book minivans to ferry you around or even treat yourself to a luxury SUV.
These tours can run anywhere from three to eight hours. So sit back, relax, enjoy the ride and the scenery, and sip away to your heart’s content without worrying about driving.
13. Sample Award-Winning Wines on a Walking Tour
Limos, buses, and private cars are divine and all, but not all of us are made of money – and some of us who are might want to spend more of that money on wine instead of wheels! So if you’ve got a perfectly good pair of functioning legs, why not consider a Walla Walla walking wine tour instead?
While the surrounding countryside is awash with these world-class wineries, Downtown Walla Walla is where the cream of the crop can be sampled. Strolling through the charming downtown area, flitting between wine bars is a great way to taste some of the region’s most excellent wines and appreciate the historic architecture of downtown’s brick buildings.
See Related: Best Wine Tours in Burgundy, France
14. Get Frosty in the Blue Mountains
Being situated where it is, amidst rolling hills and just a short hop from the Blue Mountains, this part of southeast Washington State gets very popular around wintertime. Oh yes, Walla Walla has a whole lot more to it than just wine – it’s a winter sports paradise!
There are a few ski resorts nearby along with gear rental companies that cater to downhill skiers and snowboarders. The closest resort is the Bluewood ski area in Dayton, which is sizable, to say the least. There’s great sledding here for the kids too!
If you’re not a fan of tearing downhill, there are also plenty of opportunities for cross-country skiing (or Nordic skiing) and even snowshoeing around the designated winter recreation areas in the nearby Umatilla National Forest. While you’re working up a sweat, you’ll get to enjoy this pristine forest under carpets of snow at a leisurely pace and see how nature adapts to the winter.
See Related: Best Winter Destinations in Washington State
15. Embark on a Hot Air Balloon Ride
One of the best ways to enjoy Walla Walla’s gorgeous sunrises, warm summer evenings and the surrounding countryside is from above! If you’ve ever wanted to enjoy a hot air balloon ride, Walla Walla is an ideal place to do it.
Balloon Flights are available throughout the year for both sunrise and sunset flights. You’ll cruise over the rolling hills and vineyards, seeing the rural wine community in a whole new way. You might even want to stop by in October for the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede, which fills the skies with hot air balloons in a majestic display!
Will I need to rent a car if I fly to Walla Walla?
Yes, you will want to rent a car for Walla Walla. The valley is a bit isolated, as it’s nearly three hours from the nearest major airport, Spokane International Airport.
If you can swing it, private charter flights are available to Walla Walla Regional Airport, which is a short ride from the airport to the center of town. The good news is, if you fly out of Washington on Alaska Airlines, you can check a case of wine for free to take home with you.
What are some of the best wineries in Walla Walla?
With over 120 wineries in Walla Walla, finding the best ones is like trying to find the best stars in the sky. Some of our favorites include Foundry Vineyards, Northstar Winery, Kontos Cellars, Waterbrook Winery, Abeja, and of course, Seven Hills Winery.
When is the best time to visit Walla Walla?
Many of the wineries and attractions stay open all year, so there’s truly never a bad time to visit Walla Walla. Walla Walla Brewfest takes place each February, their Spring Release is in early May, and the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede is in October.
The area tends to stay unseasonably warm until November when you might find yourself tasting surrounded by a soft blanket of snow. However, most locals will agree there’s nothing quite like the Walla Walla Valley in early autumn.
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