Walla Walla Getaway
Nestled in the heart of the Walla Walla Valley in southeastern Washington State, the city of Walla Walla is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. With its charming downtown, world-class wines, and rich history, Walla Walla is a destination unlike any other.
Founded in the mid-19th century by European settlers and members of the Cayuse and Walla Walla tribes, Walla Walla has a rich and diverse history. In the early days, the region was known for its fertile soil and abundant agricultural resources, and it quickly became a hub for farming and ranching. In the late 1800s, the city began to emerge as a center of education and culture, with the establishment of Whitman College and the arrival of the railroad.
Today, Walla Walla is a vibrant and thriving community, with a thriving wine industry, a growing food scene, and a wealth of cultural and recreational activities. Whether you’re a wine lover, foodie, or simply looking for a charming town to explore, Walla Walla has something for everyone.
Located in the southeastern part of Washington State, this small city is known for its world-class wines, delicious food, and stunning natural beauty. For wine lovers, this is a must-visit destination, with over 140 wineries and vineyards scattered throughout the region. From the rolling hills of the Walla Walla Valley to the picturesque vineyards of the Blue Mountains as the perfect backdrop, there is no shortage of breathtaking views and delicious wines to discover.
If you’re planning a trip too soon, here’s a suggested itinerary for a weekend full of wine, food, and fun:
Day 1: Friday
Start your day and get out of the house with a visit to one of the many Walla Walla wineries. The Walla Walla Vintners is a great place to start, with a tasting room located in the heart of downtown. For a more intimate experience, head to one of the smaller, family-owned wineries like Balboa Winery or Waters Winery. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, sign up for a guided tour of the Walla Walla Valley’s wine country and visit multiple wineries in one day.
After a morning of wine tasting, it’s time to explore the city’s thriving food scene. Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen is a local favorite, serving up delicious Mediterranean-inspired dishes using locally sourced ingredients. If you’re in town during the summer months, be sure to check out the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival, an annual celebration of the region’s famous sweet onions.
In the evening, head over to the Marcus Whitman Hotel for a night of live music and local craft cocktails. Located in the heart of downtown, this historic hotel is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike.
Day 2: Saturday
On day two, it’s time to take to the sky and explore this wanderlust city from a new perspective. Take a hot air balloon ride with Seattle Ballooning at their Walla Walla Location and soar over the working farms, acres of vineyards, and many wineries throughout the valley. Bound to be the “special event” of your trip, the Walla Walla’s the perfect eastern Washington backdrop for a once-in-a-lifetime experience on a hot air balloon.
After your hot air balloon flight, it’s time to hit the road and explore all there is to do around the town.
Start off with a visit to the Walla Walla Roastery, a local coffee shop that roasts its own beans on-site. Then, take a drive through the rolling hills of the valley, stopping at one of the many farms along the way. The Walla Walla Valley is home to a thriving agricultural community, with a wide variety of crops grown in the region.
The Farmers Market is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the city. Held every Saturday from May through October, the market features a wide range of local produce, artisanal food products, and handmade crafts. From fresh fruits and vegetables to locally made cheese and bread, there is something for everyone at the Farmers Market. In addition to the delicious food and unique crafts, the market is also a great place to meet the locals and learn about the region’s rich agricultural history. So if you’re in town on a Saturday, be sure to make your way over to the best Farmers Market in Washington and discover all that this charming community has to offer.
In the afternoon, head over to Whitman College, a small liberal arts college located in the heart of downtown. Founded in 1859, the college is home to a beautiful campus with charming brick buildings, manicured lawns, and towering trees. Take a stroll around the campus and check out the various art exhibits and events happening throughout the year.
If you’re still in the mood for wine, make your way over to one of the downtown wineries for a wine tasting. Buty Winery is a popular spot, known for its stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Day 3: Sunday
On your final day in Walla Walla, take a drive through the stunning Wine Country region. The Walla Walla Valley is home to three distinct wine regions – the Walla Walla Valley AVA, the Yakima Valley AVA, and the Columbia Valley AVA – each with its own unique character and flavor profiles. Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or just starting to explore the world of wine, there is something for everyone in these beautiful wine regions. The drive alone will spark your curiosity as explore the different scenes, agriculture, and outdoor experiences.
If you’re in town during the peak wine season (Annual Events: Fall/Spring Wine Release), be sure to take advantage of the many wine tastings and events happening throughout the region. Many wineries offer special tastings and events during this time, giving you the opportunity to sample a wide range of wines and learn about the winemaking process from the experts.
As the evening approaches, make your way back to Walla Walla for a final dinner at one of the city’s many restaurants. The Kinglet is a great option for a farewell dinner, with a menu featuring a variety of flavorful dishes inspired by a fine dining take in this small town. Sit at the Chef’s Counter for a one-of-a-kind experience as you watch in awe of the chefs at work.
How to get here?
To drive to Walla Walla from Seattle, you can take the I-90 East and continue on to the I-82 East. The drive from Seattle too is about 215 miles on the road and will take around a 4-hour drive. From Portland, you can take the I-84 East and continue on to the I-82 East. The drive from Portland is about 280 miles and will take around 4.5 hours without traffic. From Spokane, you can take the US-195 South to the I-90 West and continue on to the I-82 West. The drive from Spokane is about 150 miles and will take around 2.5 hours without traffic. All of these routes will take you through the beautiful landscapes of eastern Washington making the drive more enjoyable.
Our Top Wineries to Wine Taste at in Walla Walla
These are the top wineries our team thinks you should visit if you want a wine vacation:
- Yellow Hawk Winery and Resort is a winery located off the old Milton Highway, that offers delicious wine, amazing burgers, and a fantastic charcuterie plate. They also have the unique feature of Seattle Ballooning launching hot air balloons from their property.
- Doubleback Winery, just off of Powerline Road, is owned by former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe and co-owned by Stephen Amell of the TV show Arrow. They have a laid-back tasting room on Alder St. downtown and occasionally host hot air balloon launches at their winery. The grape vines on the property are even shaped like a hot air balloon and basket.
- Waterbrook Winery was established in 1984 and features an impressive winery with year-round events and hospitality. They produce wines representative of Columbia Valley’s best, particularly their mouth-watering Sauvignon Blanc.
- Northstar Winery, on George Road, was founded in 1994 and is known for producing full-bodied yet balanced Merlot wines similar to those found in France’s Bordeaux region. They offer an interactive experience where customers can spend a day with an in-house winemaker and create their own custom red blend.
- Pepper Bridge Winery, which can be found at 3978 Peppers Bridge Road, is owned and operated by three families and is a leader in quality winemaking, hospitality, innovative technology, and vineyard development.
- The Vineyard Lounge, located in the Marcus Whitman Hotel, is a wine bar with an extensive wine list and an onsite restaurant with a menu that offers everything from small plates to entrees. The Whitman is both a great hotel and a festive atmosphere for those looking to have an exciting weekend.
- The Winemakers Studio is a cooperative tasting room featuring a rotating selection of wines from small, locally-owned wineries. Get the chance to create your own red blend and share a glass of wine with your friends when you get home.
- Tero Estates, on Mill Creek Road a small, family-owned winery that focuses on producing single vineyard designate wines and blends from estate-grown fruit. Their tasting room is located in a historic schoolhouse and they also have a beautiful outdoor patio with views of the Blue Mountains.
- Walla Walla Vintners is a small, family-owned winery that produces a wide variety of wines made from estate-grown grapes. Their tasting room is located downtown and they offer seated tastings and winery tours by appointment.
Check out more of our favorite wineries we recommend here!
Annual Events in Walla Walla:
Walla Walla’s Hot Air Balloon Stampede
As the autumnal leaves begin to dance in the gentle breeze, the annual Walla Walla Balloon Stampede takes flight, beckoning thrill-seekers and wanderlusters to experience the unparalleled splendor of hot air ballooning.
As over 20 balloon pilots from across the Pacific Northwest converge upon the rolling hills and verdant vineyards of this idyllic town, adventurous revelers have the opportunity to take to the skies and behold the breathtaking vistas of the surrounding countryside from above. And with the fiery hues of autumn as a backdrop, the journey is all the more resplendent.
But the Balloon Stampede is more than just a chance to soar above the earth. The weekend-long festival also boasts an array of other events, including the highly-anticipated balloon glow, where hot air balloons are inflated and illuminated in the evening sky, creating a veritable tapestry of color and light.
For those seeking to participate in the Balloon Stampede, there are several options available. Pilots can join the ranks of their aerial colleagues, while those seeking a more leisurely experience can opt for a commercial flight with Seattle Ballooning the only company offering such services in the region. And with private and shared flights available, as well as multiple launch sites throughout the picturesque wine country, there is a journey suitable for every inclination.
So come October, take to the skies and let the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede inspire and ignite your senses. The beauty and wonder of hot air ballooning await.
Spring Release Weekend
Wine lovers, mark your calendars for May 5-7th, 2023, because it’s time for the annual Walla Walla Spring Wine Release Weekend! This premier event brings together some of the best wineries in the region to showcase their new releases and celebrate the beginning of the wine season.
During this three-day extravaganza, attendees can sample a wide variety of wines, attend winemaker dinners and seminars, and participate in other exciting events. You’ll have the opportunity to meet and mingle with winemakers and industry experts, and learn more about the wine-making process.
With over 100 wineries participating in the Walla Walla Spring Wine Release Weekend, there’s something for every wine enthusiast. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting to explore the world of wine, this is a can’t-miss event. So make sure to mark your calendars and join us in Walla Walla for this exciting celebration!
Fall Release Weekend
Get ready to raise a glass and celebrate the season at the Fall Wine Release Weekend! This annual event brings together some of the top wineries in the region to showcase their new releases and kick off the fall wine season.
From September 30th to October 2nd, 2023, wine enthusiasts can indulge in a variety of tastings, attend winemaker dinners and seminars, and participate in other exciting events. You’ll have the opportunity to meet and mingle with winemakers and industry experts, and learn more about the art and science of wine-making.
With over 100 wineries participating in the Fall Wine Release Weekend, there’s something for every palate. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting to explore the world of wine, this is an event you won’t want to miss. So mark your calendars and join us for a weekend full of wine, fun, and celebration!
Plan your Walla Walla Trip
Walla Walla has no shortage of activities and experiences to offer for a three-day weekend. From exploring the vibrant local wine scene and taking in the stunning natural beauty of the surrounding countryside, to enjoying a variety of outdoor adventures and soaking up the rich history and culture of the area, there’s something for everyone in this charming town.
Whether you’re a wine lover, foodie, or simply looking for a charming town to explore, there is something for everyone in this beautiful corner of Washington State. So pack your bags and head to Walla Walla for a weekend full of wine, food, and adventure with a weekend getaway.