Things To Do In Walla Walla In The Winter
By Kirsten Telander:
Get Your Culture On
The performing arts marquees in Walla Walla read more like those of world-class metropolitan areas than a sleepy hamlet. Transplants often comment that they’ve attended more events since moving here than in their former culturally-rich cities.
Perhaps the most talked about venue in recent years is the GESA Powerhouse Theatre. A defunct utility station converted into a state-of-the-art theatre, the venue is used for everything from film screenings, dance, music, and comedy acts to Shakespeare Walla Walla performances.
The Walla Walla Chamber Music 2016 Winter Festival will be held January 14 – 17th – get your tickets early as these shows sell out quickly. This is an opportunity to see world-renowned acts including the Grammy nominated Prism Quartet, and Grammy winner, Timothy McCallister, in intimate venues such as Foundry Vineyards (pictured here where Mendelssohn will be paired with Syrah).
The Little Theater of Walla Walla, is a gem of a live performance space run entirely by volunteers, but with performances by seasoned directors and actors.
The venues at the three colleges alone could keep you plenty busy. Whitman College’s Harper Joy Theater showcases student talent, and Cordiner Hall offers author readings, lectures, film screenings, dance, and concerts in a number of genres. A huge draw is the Walla Walla Symphony, conducted by the renowned Yaacov Bergman, and known as the longest continually operating symphony orchestra west of the Mississippi River. Check out Walla Walla Community College’s China Pavilion and Walla Walla University Drama Department for a variety of performances through the winter.
For other live entertainment without even stepping off Main Street, check out Main Street Studios and Sapolil Cellars – both venues are known for booking acts you’d never expect to see in Walla Walla.
Get Your Snow On
The joke –based on reality – is that everything in Walla Walla is just five minutes away. When snow sticks, winter fun is no different. Kids and adults alike head to Pioneer Park, the Veterans Memorial Golf Course, or the BMX track near the Fort Walla Walla Museum for sledding, tubing, snowman building, and perhaps even a good old-fashioned snowball fight.
When the snow doesn’t stick in town, take to the hills where there’s typically plenty of powder to be had. You won’t find Gucci goggles or Chanel apr`es-ski boots here: Ski Bluewood is a low-key, family- friendly, price-friendly ski and snowboard area located just 20 miles outside of Dayton in the gorgeous Umatilla National Forest. With 24 runs over 400 skiable acres, and fantastic tree skiing, Bluewood boasts the second highest base elevation in the state and tops out at close to 5,700 feet.
For extreme sledding and tubing, head to Andies Prairie Sno-Park, the only designated winter camping and sledding park in the Blue Mountains. Be prepared to catch some serious air on jumps formed in this massive rock pit that has been shaped for sledding runs. This area is also filled with trails for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.
If you want to extend your Walla Walla winter adventure, the nearby ABC Mountain Retreat is about an hour away and has a number of rustic cabin rentals to choose from or make your way back to Walla Walla for a hearty dinner and to snuggle in for the night. Set on over 82 acres of heavily-forested private land, the property has a couple of sledding areas and plenty of trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing right outside your cabin door.
Get Your Downtown On
We’re told again and again that winter is a time to slow down and simplify, to stop and smell the roses even as they sit dormant – this can come in the form of a walk through our idyllic downtown. Bundle up, grab a hot chocolate, and stroll past the boutiques, tasting rooms, and restaurants dressed up for the season. Or grab a ride with AJ Carriages and have their horse-drawn carriage drop you off for a winter warmer in front of a fire – The Vineyard Lounge at the Marcus Whitman Hotel or Public House 124 are just a couple spots that will be waiting for you.