Jump into Summer Break with a visit to Walla Walla
Walla Walla is the perfect location for your family summer vacation. Average summer temperatures hover in the 80s, and rain is a rarity. The range of accommodations, from well-known hotel chains to friendly bed and breakfasts, make it easy to find a comfortable place to recharge within any budget. Best of all, family-friendly activities abound in Walla Walla. From self-guided tours of Fort Walla Walla Museum and Whitman Mission, picnics in our charming well-kept parks, farmer’s markets to farm tours, vacationers of all ages will find something delightful to do in Walla Walla.
Where to stay
Downtown Walla Walla is a perfect launchpad for your family summer vacation, with plenty of activities and restaurants within walking distance. Consider the playful and modern The FINCH, staffed by a team of recreation-lovers, wine aficionados, and foodies who also act as your area guides. The FINCH boasts a uniquely Walla Walla feel inside and out: information-filled local artwork has been thoughtfully created for each guestroom, and there are oversized sitting areas and an outdoor wood-burning fireplace where your family can spread out and relive each day’s highlight reel before heading to bed.
Family-Friendly Activities in Walla Walla:
Pioneer Park is the oldest park in Walla Walla, established in 1902. Designed by relatives of Frederick Olmsted – the landscape architect responsible for New York City’s Central Park – Pioneer Park is a truly magical getaway just a short walk away from bustling downtown Walla Walla. Stop by Walla Walla Sub Shop for sandwiches, enjoy a short walk to the park, and set your blanket up under one of the many large shade trees for your picnic. After lunch, Pioneer Park offers plenty to see and explore for all ages. Little ones can get their wiggles out on the playground or play make-believe in the historical Band Stand. Challenge your older kids to a friendly game of pickleball. Pioneer Park also has a free outdoor aviary, historic cannon, rose garden, and ponds.
Another great way to work out some energy with your family is taking an afternoon to explore the Mill Creek Sports Complex and Rooks Park. There are paved trails along Mill Creek to explore, several playgrounds for all ages to enjoy, and a dirt BMX track for daredevils to test their biking skills. If you didn’t happen to bring your bikes from home, Allegro Cyclery offers daily rentals on everything from mountain bikes to cruisers and tandem bikes.
Outdoor activities abound for the family who prefers to opt-outside, and they don’t all have to sports-related. Old Homestead Alpacas is another delightful hidden treasure in Walla Walla. Time your visit just right, and you can take advantage of one of the joint events they host with their other farm business, Gholson Gardens (think “Pedals and ‘Pacas“). They also offer a natural dyeing workshop, giving you the opportunity to learn a new skill and leave with enough freshly-dyed yarn for a future project. The Old Homestead opens for a yearly Open Barn event where visitors can meet the herd, take in a curated selection of historic documents chronicling the farm’s settlement 150 years ago, witness live fiber dyeing demonstrations, and tour their cut flower garden. Since Old Homestead Alpacas and Gholson Gardens are working farm operations, drop-in visits are not accommodated. However, their wares can be discovered at the downtown Walla Walla Farmer’s Market, and their Harvest Collection of hats, cowls, gloves & mittens can be purchased online when available.
Walla Walla Wine & Beer
Just because the kids are along doesn’t mean the parents can’t take advantage of the many Walla Walla wineries and breweries. L’Ecole No. 41 is one of Walla Walla’s most established wineries and is housed in an old Frenchtown schoolhouse. The kids can enjoy recess on the swingset in L’Ecole’s lawn while the parents enjoy recess in the form of wine tasting on the patio.
If you’re curious about Walla Walla breweries, Burwood Brewery is a great stop on your family summer vacation. Their spacious fenced yard is set up with picnic tables, cornhole and other outdoor games. Inside, there is a shelf loaded with a variety of kid-friendly games to take to your table and keep everybody entertained. Order the kids a rootbeer to enjoy while you discover the Burwood Hop Locker IPA or Pale Ale. Burwood Brewery also regularly hosts food trucks onsite for when time gets away from you and dinner-right-now is a necessity.
Historic Fun in Walla Walla
Walla Walla’s rich history comes to life at a variety of museums and historic sites. Bring your family to Fort Walla Walla Museum for an afternoon exploring indoor and outdoor exhibits. The military cemetery memorializes soldiers from the Civil War, the Indian Wars, and more. Displayed on the Fort Walla Walla lawn are cannons used in France by the 146th Field Artillery which was made up mostly of locals who trained at Fort Walla Walla.
The Whitman Mission National Historic Site is also worth a visit. You and your family can walk the grounds of the mission at weyiiletpuu, or stop by the visitor center to watch the park film and stroll through the museum. Before you leave, be sure and climb to the top of Monument Hill to take in an unparalleled view of the Walla Walla Valley.
Shops and treats
Downtown Walla Walla offers several family-friendly shops for parents and kids to peruse. Younger children will enjoy watching the model train at Inland Octopus, playing with on-display “Calico Critters” and wooden train sets. Right next door is Bright’s Candies, where your family can order rootbeer floats, build the perfect ice cream cone, or select a mixed bag of delicious candy. You may even get a chance to watch the candy-making process in action. And Book and Game offers a wide selection of books and (you guessed it) games for you and your kids to bring home.
Family-Friendly Annual Events
Time your visit around Wheelin’ Walla Walla weekend, when Walla Walla’s downtown is overrun with classic cars, trucks and motorcycles. This free, family friendly event gives you and your budding car enthusiast an opportunity to view over 500 classic vehicles, participate in prize drawings, and listen to live music. Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival and Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days are two other yearly summer events in Walla Walla that are well worth the extra maneuvering to time your visit just right.
A Family Summer Vacation in Walla Walla is Sure to Be Fun
Your family summer vacation in Walla Walla can be as jam-packed or as laid back as you choose. Walla Walla’s outdoor recreation activities are diverse and accessible, while indoor fun can be had at a host of museums, shops and more. Plan your trip around one of our annual summer events or make an impromptu road trip to Walla Walla for a mid-week getaway. Either way, your visit to Walla Walla is sure to be the highlight of your family’s summer.