Extend Summer in Washington’s Tri-Cities

If you want to extend the heat of our spectacular summer past a bit, the Washington Tri-Cities invite you to south-central Washington. The average temperature in October hovers around a pleasant 66 degrees. All three towns (Richland, Pasco and Kennewick) offer family farming activities, wine tastings on cozy terraces, affordable meals, colorful hikes and quirky stops.

From Seattle, two main roads head south to the Tri-Cities after crossing the I-90 Pass (currently ablaze with fire-colored vine maples). You can film along I-82, which crosses mountains that rise up like rippling waves. But taking WA-243 south of Vantage rewards drivers with spectacular fall scenery. The two-lane road weaves its way between the Columbia River and dramatic basalt columns, sprawling vineyards and swirling sand, as fall turns nearby shrubs yellow, orange, and red.

The road ends at Richland, a good jumping off point for riverside accommodation, plenty of dining, and easy access to outdoor fall entertainment. Orient yourself to the landscape and ancient history with the 3.6 miles Candy Mountain Trail, with interpretation markers so you can learn your rabbitbrush mugwort. Watch for huge “irregularities” or rocks placed in place by ice age flooding. Rotate 360 ​​degrees along the ridge of the trail to take in the valley views and spot more strenuous hikes nearby at Badger mountain, as well as Horse Heaven Hills, and even Mount Adams and Mount Rainier on blue sky days.


Stop for lunch after the hike to Endive restaurant, a European bistro disguised as a shopping center for a café-pastry, brunch or lunch. Choose from daily fresh quiches at the cash register or order healthy vegan, vegetarian and meaty international dishes. The full menu includes several Benedict catches, sausage rolls, bowls, soups, salads and sandwiches. Creative salads and the Sexy Time sandwich (grilled chicken breast, bacon, caramelized onions, brie) are also available at Graze, with two locations in the Tri-Cities.

Then ride outside Uptown Mall, which is part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The low-rise mall opened in 1949, a comeback adorned with new mid-century-style murals and vintage neon signs. Loot chance finds amidst several antique malls, trendy boutiques and Underground adventures, a paradise for fantasy and sci-fi fans, tabletop game players, and parents of children who love all of the above. Bands of teenagers browse incense, t-shirts and quirky gifts at Octopus garden.


Dining options at the center range from donuts to dive bars and everything in between. Plan to queue (the next morning) at Spudnut Shop before the potato fritters sell out. TO Kagen’s coffee and pancakes, staff turn around and fill thin pancakes with savory and sweet toppings. For a delicious pizza, hot balloon-shaped pita served with hummus and other tapas, visit Dovetail joint, the mall’s most upscale resident with indoor and outdoor dining areas.

Then, get settled at your hotel. Affordable hotel chains line the streets of the Tri-Cities, but after the long drive, reward yourself with a stay right on the Columbia River. Richland offers the region’s only four-star hotel, the Lodge at Columbia Point, where you’ll find spacious rooms with river views and free continental breakfast, a sheltered but outdoor pool and hot tub, a small library, and a full-service restaurant and bar on-site.

The Marriott Courtyard Richland Point’s One bedroom adjoining suites can be a good choice for families requiring separate bedrooms. The Lodge and Marriott offer free bicycles, allowing guests to ride pedestrians and 11 km wide, flat and paved bikes Riparian path along the Columbia. Rest on a swinging bench facing the river and watch skunks, migrating birds, and other wildlife among the colorful fall trees and shrubs as the sun sets. You will also come across Howard Amon Park beach, playground and grassy areas, and Northwest art at Gallery at the park.


For dinner in Richland, dip into the ribs at Porter’s real barbecue, or hamburgers, banh mi and pasta Frost Me Sweet Bakery and Bistro. Near the seafront you will find The Bradley, which offers indoor and outdoor seating for a leisurely meal. Try the Nicoise salad, candied chicken wings in two rotating sauces (ask to split an order to taste both) and other Mediterranean-style tapas, served with wines and house cocktails.

On your second day in the Tri-Cities, explore the outdoors more. Families may want to head east towards Pasco, where amidst the cornfields, two big festivals take place throughout October. The Mercantile Country in Pasco offers more rides suitable for the youngest. Middleton Fall Festival the ticket price includes over a dozen old-fashioned activities such as a corn maze, train rides, giant slides, a climbing straw pyramid and more. Don’t miss the Middleton Apple Cider Donuts.


Families and adults might stop at the Pasco Flea Market dozens of outdoor stalls for toys, t-shirts and sweatshirts, mango and jicama, phone cases and religious icons. If you’re hungry, prepare to be overwhelmed by the tantalizing scent of freshly made tacos and brightly colored harina chicharrones.

For adults, outdoor options include plenty of golf courses, including Columbia Point, public tennis courts, hiking and bird watching at Chamna Nature Reserve. The area is home to clusters of vineyards offering tasting and beautifully maintained interiors and exteriors. Tagaris tasting room and tavern sets a fine example, with a sunny patio equipped with a fountain, Mediterranean cuisine and an extensive wine list. If you’re still thirsty, two other notable wineries are next door, J. Bookwalter and Barnard Griffon.

Red mountain trails (photo M3 Media)


Wine lovers may want to explore the Red Mountain AVA Wine Region just minutes west of Richland, where nearly two dozen wineries and tasting rooms dot the vineyards ablaze with fall colors. For a Wild West experience, Red Mountain trails takes visitors on horseback or wagon through the vineyards, as well as 3-hour guided wine tours by bike.

After you’ve finished your day, a tough choice must be made: return home to Seattle, head east towards the Walla Walla Vineyards, or just sit in the Tri-Cities sun a little longer.

Before you leave: Mask use is less consistent than in the Puget Sound area, but many store owners and restaurateurs request and enforce mask use. Be sure to follow local requests and stay home in case of illness so as not to overload regional hospitals with visitors. Restaurants may not have an outdoor patio heater, so bring extra layers if you’re hoping to eat outside and the temperatures drop or the wind picks up. Watch for rattlesnakes on the hikes.

Whether you are looking to make an eco-friendly choice with a hybrid vehicle or save money with our new car rental deals, Toyota Dealers in Western Washington State can help you find a new car that fits your lifestyle.

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