People say “when in Rome, live as the Romans do.” I say, “when in Walla Walla, drink wine.”
Ever since moving to Washington State in 2016, I’ve had a passion to explore. Many people always shared stories of hiking Mt Rainier, visiting the top of the Space Needle, and seeing a Seahawks game as must-do’s when in Washington. However, many don’t take time to explore the hidden gems, such as Walla Walla.
I’ll admit, I’ve always loved seeking more secluded places to visit, but Walla Walla was never brought to my attention.
Walla Walla is about 300 miles from Seattle, tucked away in southeastern Washington, close to the Oregon border. It boasts over 120 wineries, many world-class. Several vineyards stretch out across the city, paired with wheat, asparagus, strawberries and sweet onions, giving an understanding as to why Walla Walla has been long known as one of the most fertile agricultural areas in the nation.
What really opened my eyes during my visit was the ambiance. Everything, from the smell, to the historic buildings, to the restaurants and people. It was so beautiful to get away from the city life, to escape the noise and just relax and feel welcomed.
Of course, Walla Walla has many locals that enjoy keeping up with festivities and that’s why Walla Walla also has much to offer in the way of adventure. It seems daily, there is something fun and engaging going on in this small town. Whether it be live music, a festival, game night or a family movie night, this spot has much to offer in the way of entertainment.
There was truly so much to enjoy even with a bit of rain in the forecast during our short time there, but it was still such an enjoyable and pleasant experience.
From our evening stroll downtown, to winetasting at many of the historic wineries, to visiting the Oregon Trail mission site, to participating in some of the festivities such as the Dia de los Muertos “Day of the Dead” parade, we had a jammed packed itinerary with many tasty food, elegant wine and a Fall scenery to fall in love with.
One of my favorite eateries was the Walla Walla Bread Company, which is located downtown. When we first stepped into town I noticed the crowd outside the restaurant, and I wondered what makes this establishment so special. However, during our Sunday Brunch reservation, we were quick to find out.
We started with the bearclaw and danish, then moved on to french toast with some golden potatoes and bacon. I also enjoyed a chai latte, all of which were delicious, warm, and a hearty portion to keep your tummy happy. For reservations call: 509.522.8422 or visit them online at www.w2breadco.com.
However, there were many different restaurants that we enjoyed. Here are just a few that really made me hoping to come back for more.
Whoopemup Hollow Cafe: This Southern regional cuisine restaurant recently opened its doors in downtown Walla Walla. It serves a wide variety of tasty southern comfort food. This restaurant cooks with almost every ingredient locally sourced and is definitely tasty. During the visit I was able to try the new Blue Mountain cider, which has been a bit hard to find in the stores. For dinner I chose the mac and cheese with the grilled romaine salad, and my partner decided on the steak. Both meals were very well-made and cooked to perfection. The restaurant also has many desserts to offer, and we picked out the mud pie, which is chocolate goodness!
www.whoopemuphollowcafe.com / 509.525.5000
Andrae’s Kitchen: This tiny establishment, which is tucked away in a gas station and also has a mobile food truck, really stuck out for us. One thing that really made us curious about what made this eatery special was that Andrae’s was voted the 2016 Food Truck Restaurant of the Year and named one of Food and Wine Magazine’s “Top 10 Gas Station Restaurants in America” for its creative take on Mexican cuisine and barbecue. I must say that they were awarded these honors because their food is amazing. From hand cut fries fried to perfection, to clam chowder, shrimp tacos and a cheese burger with melt in your mouth capabilities, this establishment has a lot going for it. I must say, I wish we had a bigger stomach to try more of the tasty food Andrae has to offer.
www.andraeskitchen.com / 509.572.0728
Now, lets not forget about the wineries. After all, there are over 120 of them. So, to keep things simple for the visitor mind, let me point out a few that really caught my eye.
Va Piano: Founded in 2003 by Justin Wylie, a fourth-generation Walla Wallan, Va Piano is set on a gorgeous estate and is known to craft some of the finest reds in the region. Upon walking through the tasting room and winery with one of the winemakers, Va Piano has a great selection to offer in the Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah category. Many of their wines have a very crisp and bold feel to the taste. Their Syrah is pretty unique and definitely stood out as one of my favorites in the batch. With very affordable tasting fees and wine costs, Va Piano is a must-stop on any Walla Walla wine tour.
Woodward Canyon: One of the oldest, original wineries in Walla Walla founded in 1981, Woodward Canyon has a beautiful family owned vibe that’ll make you want to stick around. The winery is owned and managed by Rick Small and Darcey Fugman-Small, their daughter Jordan follows in her parents footsteps with a heavy passion for winemaking and regaling the story of the property. We had the pleasure to speak with Jordan in the tasting room and she was quick to share her parents knowledge of the vine and what makes the Woodward Canyon special. I was most impressed by the Estate Sauvignon Blanc and Estate Reserve. Both boasted a very balanced and attractive taste. This winery sits miles off of the vineyards off of Hwy 12. It has a beautiful property for the tasting room and a cozy porch and garden for the tasters.
When it comes down to the trip, one of the most asked question is, ‘where do I stay?’ Walla Walla has a very lucky uniqueness to it when it comes to lodging. The reason I say that is because many of the residencies are older, beautiful homes that feature a backyard, full kitchen and multiple bedrooms. The best benefit, I feel, when staying at a home versus a hotel is that usually it is reasonably priced and can keep the whole family together.
Before looking for a corporate hotel, I always browse to see if there are any locals opening up their home to use during the stay. A gorgeous property that we had the honor to stay at was tucked away near Whitman College and about a mile drive or twenty minute walk from the downtown area, which offers many benefits.
This two story historic home built in the 1936, shares both beauty and space with 3 bedrooms on the second floor. The master bedroom, in which we choose to stay, has many windows that bring in natural light. It comes connected to a very spacious bathroom with an oversized tub-shower hybrid allowing for a nice relaxing bath or shower. The two other bedrooms share a jack and jill style bathroom that is also pretty spacious. The main level of the home has a fully stocked chef’s style kitchen with everything you could imagine needing and more, including a dining table for 8. In the living room, there is a television which features many streaming devices available to use in addition to standard cable. In the television room there is a small electric fireplace, and a cozy seating area. The den has a full size piano, large sitting area and many books to choose from for reading pleasure. In addition, there is a full size washer and dryer in the basement for those who need it, or for extended stays. The whole home has many large, open windows which gave a unique, outdoor openness while remaining in the comfort of the home.
On a nice day you can enjoy the private backyard which includes a beautiful setting with a BBQ, fire pit, and lots of seating area.
Our host Raffaele was very charming, and greeted us to show us around and made sure we made ourselves at home. He was very quick to answer questions and accommodate our needs. Raffaele has a Master in architecture and knows much about the town of Walla Walla. He takes pride in the area and is quick to offer good recommendations to make sure you don’t miss something important.
Our stay was beyond great because we had a nice, warm spacious place to come back to. I was happy to have met Raffaele and look forward to using one of his rentals in the near future.
Book your stay here: www.airbnb.com/rooms/20919260
As for our overall visit, I will say, I can’t wait to return. Walla Walla has some type of magic to it. Just thinking about it makes me smile. The Visit Walla Walla committee is hugely welcoming and is located in the heart of downtown and is happy to answer any of your questions during your visit. We were guided with them on places to eat, and recommendations of where to stay. The committee works hard to make sure the town keeps it historic feel, but also has much activities to bring people to the town.
Walla Walla is a very small town, however I truly feel it’s a place everyone needs to visit and explore. This short weekend getaway was so memorable and full of fun adventures and lots of amazing food. It’s a place where small town friendliness, world-class eateries and, historic beauty, all come together to create a one of a kind unique experience that will leave you wanting more.
For more information on Walla Walla visit www.visitwallawalla.com.