May 24, 2023

48 Hours in Walla Walla | Spring Forward

userBy Gwen Dildine user0 Comment

New Kid on the Block, Outdoor Recreation

Spring is the season that invigorates my sense of adventure. I haven’t met a New Year’s resolution that lasted until Ground Hog’s Day, but spring in the Walla Walla Valley feels like an ideal time to start fresh (meet Gwen). I ride my bike again. Time in the yard is precious and rejuvenating. I bug every single person I see downtown who looks like a tourist (yes, it is obvious) and ask them about their hometown and what made them pick Walla Walla as a destination, although I can’t blame them. I don’t want to leave, so it makes sense why so many people want to visit.

Let’s say you have a weekend. What would you do? Wine, wheat, and onions—yes, our respected elders. The new kid on the block is outdoor recreation. You know, the sector that hasn’t quite figured out what it needs to move out on its own. It has a part-time job but is definitely still in school, learning how to better serve its community. Luckily the northern Blue Mountain region has a lot to offer, and Outside Walla Walla is working on writing the textbook.

Bennington Lake (Photo Credit: Gwen Dildine)

We were honored to receive the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce Member of the Year Award for 2022. In true Outside Walla Walla fashion, we took the award on a bike ride. Bennington Lake is the perfect place to get ready for summer. Start hiking. Ride a bike or catch a fish. Everything is waking up, and it won’t be long before the valley is lush and green.

A Day in The Life (of a local)

It is Friday night. The journey to Walla Walla from any number of Pacific Northwest metropolitan centers is beautiful and easily accomplished after clocking out for the week. The sun sets around 9 p.m. this time of year, so a stroll along a walking paths or quick jaunt around Bennington Lake sets the tone for balancing in-town activities and outside adventures.

On a Friday night, there is no need to worry about where to eat. We do food well here. From a local perspective, our strategy is to meet up with friends and hop around from place to place sharing an appetizer or ten. Tranche offers local entertainment, food trucks, and plenty of room to get your wiggles out from the drive or just chaos of the week. The kids can play soccer and tag. The adults can relax and listen to live music, taste wine, eat, and connect with each other. Guess what? All this magic happens with one of the best views in town setting the mood—the Blue Mountains at dusk.

Eat, Play, Love Love Walla Walla

As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm. Worm in Walla Walla means no wait at our breakfast mainstays on a Saturday morning and a belly full of Texas Eggs to fuel, say, birding along the Mill Creek Recreation Trail. Why not have a full circle moment?

I love that outdoor recreation can mean so many different activities, a walk amongst giants or a stroll through history or a wander through outdoor sculptures all close to town. Conversely, within an hour, endurance is challenged, skills are put to the test, and those precious calories from that glorious bowl of Texas Eggs are burned. Did you bring your bike? Allegro Cyclery and Team Walla Walla put together gravel routes for your pedaled adventure. Roads rolling through the farmland and into the mountains offer cycling excursions with big views and even the opportunity to stop and enjoy a few wineries along the way. You are here, right?

The airport district is a jog, walk, or a pedal away from Bennington Lake, offering options from sunup to sundown. The Walla Walla Roastery infuses plenty of energy to tackle all the interesting and fun things to do around town—walk Main Street, pop by the Farmers Market, catch a show, visit a farm. Quirk Brewing and Burwood Brewing often wind down the day with bands playing outdoors, food trucks tempting the senses, and brews that showcase the local collaborative spirit.

Cycling the Northside of Town (Photo Credit: Gwen Dildine)

We love collaboration! A local bike shop and cycling team are contributing to the site, building road and gravel routes. Enjoy the ride!

Sunday Wander

Steve named the business years ago during a brainstorm session. His comment went something like this: Outside Walla Walla…because you literally have to get outside walla walla for outdoor recreation. This isn’t a knock on our community. I think all seasoned people who enjoy the outdoors realize there is an investment of time, effort, and energy to reach these wild places. It also makes me appreciate in-town opportunities as well as dream about ways to develop infrastructure around town to improve access—more on that later!

That being said, a quick jaunt out of town offers an opportunity to appreciate the scale of agriculture happening throughout the valley, not to mention the wonderful towns that sprinkle the area. Head north through Waitsburg and Dayton making sure to fill up your mug at Ten Ton Coffee or enjoy lunch at the Moose Creek Café. The Touchet River Levee Trail is perfect for families with strollers, while the Middle Point Ridge Trail will definitely stretch the legs.

As a general reminder, just because it is tank top weather in the valley does not mean the roads are clear of snow. The South Fork Walla Walla River Trail is still closed due to severe flood damage sustained a few years ago. I miss this trail so much, but it is not safe to explore. Don’t chance it. Advocate for restoration work or volunteer when the opportunity presents, but don’t even try to make it to the trailhead.

The Journey Continues

Spring off the couch and enjoy a season outside—at least start with 48 hours in Walla Walla. It is an exciting time of year, and it just feels like it gets better and better from here. Relax. Unwind. Recreate. Come back soon or do it all over again next weekend. There is so much to do and see, not to mention really awesome people to meet. Summer is just around the bend. Go outside Walla Walla!