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The Apple Capital
About two and a half hours away from Seattle, in north central Washingon, you will find the city of Wenatchee. 300 days of sunshine, apples, and its recreation destination neighbors, Lake Chelan and Leavenworth, are the basic three things the majority of Western Washington residents know about this little town, if they know anything at all. I know I had never heard of it before my parents made the move a couple of years ago. Well, I'm here to inform fellow Seattleites and other potential visitors that there is just a bit more to this town than meets the eye.
With scenic views, plenty of local wineries, and activities for all seasons, there are plenty of things to do and places to visit in Wenatchee. Whether you are looking for a new vacation destination or are just passing through, here is a brief history and list of places to go in this small north central city that you may or may not have actually heard of before.
Where is Wenatchee?
Have you ever been to Wenatchee?
Wenatchee is located in north-central Washington in Chelan County. Established in 1811, it is the largest city in Chelan County, with about 32,400 residents in 2012, according to the estimate from the Office of Financial Management. Wenatchee sits on the west side of the Columbia River, across from East Wenatchee.
One common mistake visitors make is distinguishing between the city of Wenatchee and the city of East Wenatchee. For many newcomers, they assume that they are one and the same. On the west side of the Colulmbia River, Wenatchee sits in Chelan County. Cross the river to the east side, and you are immediately in East Wenatchee, in Douglas County. They are two separate cities, in two separate counties, even though their names are somewhat similar.
Like many cities in Washington state, Wenatchee was named after a Native American tribe. The Wenatchi (or "P'squosa") were not given reservation land by the federal government, so they primarily live on the Colville and Yakima Reservations. The term "Wenatchi" is a Sahaptin word, meaning "river which comes [or whose source is] from canyons" or "robe of the rainbow."
While Wenatchee shares its name with forests, rivers, and even its neighboring city across the Columbia River, it has a couple of nicknames that help make it memorable to visitors. The most popular nickname for this city is the "Apple Capital of the World" because of the many orchards in the surrounding valley and within city limits. Its lesser known name, the "Buckle of the Power Belt of the Great Northwest," refers to the series of hydroelectric damns along the Columbia River, with the Rock Island Damn lying right in its center.
According to Weather.com, on average:
- July is the warmest month.
- In 1941, temperatures reached 110°F, the highest on record.
- The coolest, wettest month is December.
- In 1968, Wenatchee reached it's coldest temperature at -19°F.
Additional Things to do in Wenatchee
- Go kayaking
- Rent a boat
- Antique shopping
- Shop downtown
- Wine tasting events
- Visit local farmers markets and food stands
City of Wenatchee
Would you visit Wenatchee?
What to do in Wenatchee
The city of Wenatchee may not have a big mall or major attractions to visit, but there are still plenty of activities to do, most of which enable you to enjoy the great outdoors and scenic views the Wenatchee Valley has to offer. Here is a list of just ten things to do in Wenatchee:
- Visit the Rocky Reach Dam: For those with a tight budget, visiting the Rocky Reach Dam is a great activity because it is free and has a lot to offer. Take a peek at the fish crossing through, watch a documentary, or just browse through the cool items on display. Rocky Reach Damn not only serves as a great place to learn, but it also offers a cafe and a beautifully landscaped park to wander through or have a picnic.
- Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort: One of the most popular attractions for both visitors and residents, Mission Ridge is known for its beauty and the light, dry powder that falls there. In the Apple Capital, don't be surprised to find many decorative apples throughout the city as well as many huge fans of this resort.
- Ohme Gardens: For the garden-lovers out there, the Ohme Gardens are only $7 for admission for adults. Ruth and Herman Ohme bought the land in 1929 and cultivated it into a gorgeous botanical garden just minutes from the city of Wenatchee. Be prepared for at least an hour of walking through the narrow pathways.
- Pybus Public Market: Off of Worthen Street in downtown Wenatchee lies the brand new Pybus Public Market. This is a great thing to do in Wenatchee for those who love to shop and especially love to support small businesses and local farmers. Here, you will find delicious foods, art, music, and other specialty shops, open at 8:00 AM daily.
- Apple Capital Loop Trail: No list of things to do in Wenatchee would be complete without at least a trail or two to get you out in the sunshine and enjoy the beauty of the Wenatchee Valley. For the experienced bikers out there, the Apple Capital Loop trail is an 87.9 mile, overnight trip. For those who aren't much for biking or long trips, you can walk the trail and visit other destinations, like the Pybus Public Market. Some visitors are able to walk from hotels straight to their favorite destinations.
- Riverfront Park: Right along the river, the Riverfront Park of Wenatchee offers yet another beautiful place to stroll and enjoy the scenery. The occasional bench and table allows for picnics, which are very common there, as well as just a chance to relax. Don't be surprised if you see a bald eagle in a tree nearby, which wouldn't be the only bit of wildlife you are likely to see on your travels.
- Wenatchee National Forest: For those who enjoy hiking, camping, rock climbing, or horseback riding, the Wenatchee National Forest may be the top destination for you in Wenatchee. With an area of 1,735,394 acres, the forest lies in Chelan, Kittitas, and Yakima County and is known for its scenic views and peaceful atmosphere.
- Wenatchee Museum and Cultural Center: The Wenatchee Museum and Cultural Center is located on Mission Street in Wenatchee. For only $5.00 for adults (the first Friday of the month is free admission for everybody), visitors can enjoy local art and learn about the history of the city of Wenatchee and the culture of local Native Americans. They even provide plenty of fun programs annually, such as the Fiestas Mexicanas.
- Columbia Cascade Winery Association: For many visitors to this part of Washington State, it is the wineries that they have come to see, with their breathtaking views of the valley and their delicious wines. Lucky for these visitors, many winemakers have banded together to form the Columbia Cascade Winery Association, which provides tours that can be found here.
- Washington State Apple Blossom Festival: On the last weekend of April through the first weekend of May, Wenatchee holds its annual Washington State Apple Blossom Festival. Parades, golf tournaments, food fairs, carnival rides, and live music draw in visitors from all over. The best part is that most of what is offered is free.
© 2013 LisaKoski