Ellensburg, WA
Photo: Sergey Novikov/Fotolia

Snuggled in the beautiful Kittitas Valley and protected by the magnificent Cascade Range, Ellensburg, WA is a charming town with a beautiful downtown full of historic, elegant 19th century buildings. Central Washington University gives the city a lively atmosphere with student events and cafes. On the first Friday of every month, the downtown turns into the Ellensburg First Friday Art Walk.

»Wild Horse Renewable Energy Center

Wild Horse Renewable Energy Center

Central to the success of renewable energy in Washington State is the practice of harnessing the area's wind and solar power. The Wild Horse Renewable Energy Center sits high on a ridge, and daily tours offered April through November provide guests with an up-close look at the facility's nearly 150 wind turbines.

Consisting of displays and a 45 to 60-minute walking tour, the Renewable Energy Center tour invites visitors to explore the 52 kw solar array, wind turbine blade, turbine generator and even to see inside the base of an active wind turbine. Visitors will also be afforded 360 degree views of the Columbia River Basin, Mount Hood, Mount Rainier, and Mount Adams.

25905 Vantage Hwy, Ellensburg, WA 98926, Phone: 509-964-7815 Photo: Wild Horse Renewable Energy Center

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»Kittitas County Historical Museum

Kittitas County Historical Museum

The Kittitas County Historical Museum is a must-see collection of historical facts and exhibits housed in the 1889 Caldwell Building. This building is one of the oldest in the area and was built after a historic fire in 1889. The museum has six themed rooms of history to explore. The business, military, and car rooms explore the local connection to those subjects.

The parlor room features an exhibit focused on home life. The entry and main rooms invite visitors to enjoy numerous eclectic collections such as hats, Native American heritage items, gold mining tools, and a rock and mineral collection. The museum is free and is open Monday-Thursday from 10am to 4pm.

114 E 3rd Ave, Ellensburg, WA 98926, Phone: 509-925-3778 Photo: Kittitas County Historical Museum

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»Clymer Museum of Art

Clymer Museum of Art

Ellensburg native John Clymer is famous for his beautiful renderings of a simpler life. As an illustrator for the Saturday Evening Post, Clymer became known particularly for his detailed and vivid renderings of the beauty of Northwestern America. The Clymer Museum of Art is a permanent display of Clymer's art. It is the mission of the museum “to collect, preserve, research, and interpret the art and life of John Clymer.”

The museum also boasts an extensive gift shop with comfortable seating, a calming atmosphere and Clymer items that can only be found in Ellensburg. Museum hours are 11am–5pm, Monday through Friday. The museum closes at 4 on weekends.

416 N Pearl St, Ellensburg, WA 98926, Phone: 509-962-6416 Photo: Clymer Museum of Art

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»Ellensburg Rodeo

Ellensburg Rodeo

What started in 1923 as a local ranch hands competition, the Ellensburg “old rodeo” has grown into the professional annual event with more than 600 contestants who compete for prizes of more than $400,000. The best riders, wrestlers, and ropers from all over the country compete in one of the best rodeo arenas in the States.

The opening performance starts on Friday afternoon and finishes under the stars. Tensions continue to build on Saturday and Sunday afternoon under the clear blue sky to culminate on Labor Day Championship Finals on Monday. The Ellensburg Rodeo is considered one of the best professional rodeos in America today

609 N Main St, Ellensburg, WA 98926, Phone: 509-962-7831 Photo: spiritofamerica/Fotolia

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»Olmstead Place State Park

Olmstead Place State Park

In 1875, young farmer Samuel Bedient Olmstead and his family crossed over Snoqualmie Pass into the wide, sparsely settled valley around modern day Ellensburg. The subsequent years found the Olmstead family creating a robust and dynamic farm that stayed in the family for three generations.

In 1968, granddaughters of Samuel deeded the entire farm to the Washington State Parks, and today it is a217-acre day-use park. Guests can enjoy pioneer artifacts and interpretive activities that are plentiful in the park, and picnic spaces and walking trails interweave the historic gardens. Throughout the year, the park sponsors old-time special events. Photo: Zack Frank /Fotolia

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»Gallery One Visual Art Center

Gallery One Visual Art Center

With its historic roots in the fall of 1967, the Gallery One Visual Arts Center has been providing the residents and visitors of Ellensburg with a beautiful space in which to create, exhibit, and appreciate the visual arts of Central Washington for over four decades. The center offers a dynamic schedule of rotating exhibits, including ten unique offerings for 2016.

In addition to this rotation, the center also offers a variety of quarterly classes, a gift store featuring regional artisans, a full ceramics studio available for rent, and inexpensive studio spaces for artists. General Admission is always free.

408 N Pearl St, Ellensburg, WA 98926, Phone: 509-925-2670 Photo: Gallery One Visual Art Center

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»Thrall & Dodge Winery

Thrall & Dodge Winery

Though wineries and vineyards are now popping up all over the Northwest, Thrall & Dodge Winery has stood the test of time. The oldest commercial operating winery in the Kittitas Valley, Thrall & Dodge is located north of the Yakima Valley near Ellensburg. The Winery is perched on Manastash Ridge near the intersection of Boylston and Saddle Mountains in what is known as the fruit basket of Kittitas Valley.

In addition to award-winning wines, the winery enjoys spectacular views of the Valley and the Stuart Mountain Range. Guests can enjoy a private tasting room, bocce ball court, and picnic area. For visitors looking to stay a little longer, two suites are available for rent.

111 Dodge Rd, Ellensburg, WA 98926, Phone: 509-925-4110 Photo: Thrall & Dodge Winery

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»The Museum of Culture and Environment

The Museum of Culture and Environment

Located on the campus of Central Washington University, the Museum of Culture and Environment is dedicated to creating a dynamic and inclusive space where ideas, perspectives, and the newest research are shared. This approach results in an eclectic collection of exhibits available for free admission Wednesday through Friday from 11a.m. to 4p.m. On Saturdays, the museum is open 10am to 3pm, and parking is also free.

Visitors can expect exhibits with focus on diverse topicssuch as Mexican Folk Art, the Planet Pluto, Tapestries of Hope: Human Rights and the Arpillera Movement in Chile, and a locally discovered Mammoth fossil.

1200 D St, Ellensburg, WA 98926, Phone: 509-963-2313 Photo: The Museum of Culture and Environment

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»Red's Fly Shop Fly Fishing Classes

Red's Fly Shop Fly Fishing Classes

What better place to learn how to fly-fish than Central Washington with its confluence of five rivers and many creeks?Red's Fly Shop in Ellensburg is dedicated to teaching its students how seriously fun fly-fishing can be, and they do so in an uncomplicated, straightforward manner.

The Introduction Series is composed of Fly Fishing 101, 201, and 301. Students do not need their own gear as fly rods and reels are provided, but they should bring a sack lunch. After the Introduction Classes, guests may wish to continue on to one of the Destination Outings or take a Specialty Classes to expand their skills. All classes are offered with a satisfaction guarantee. Photo: Red's Fly Shop

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»Gard Vintners

Gard Vintners

Visitors to Central Washington who are interested in locally, sustainably produced wines will enjoy a visit to Gard Vintners' tasting room in Ellensburg. Founded in 2006, Gard Vintners is a family-owned and operated winery located just 50 miles from Ellensburg on the Royal Slope. Gard, meaning "farm,” is a tribute to the family's Scandinavian heritage and farming tradition.

The vineyards wines are highlypraised and have won numerous awards. The Gard Vintners host special events such as First Friday Art Walk & Live Music, Third Friday Live Music, and the Paint & Sip Event held with a local artist.

311 N Pearl St, Ellensburg, WA 98926, Phone: 509-925-1095 Photo: Gard Vintners

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»The Yellow Church Cafe

The Yellow Church Cafe

For about 40 years, the little yellow church called the Good Hope Lutheran Church took care of the spiritual needs of its congregation in Ellensburg. Today, still yellow and cozy, it helps with different kinds of needs as a popular cafe that satisfies cravings and hunger for good, wholesome American food. Warm-colored dining room with spacious round tables is welcoming and homey.

The chef/owner Oscar Guitron offers fresh and seasonal food with ingredients from local suppliers such as D&M Coffee, Glondo's Sausage Company, Iron Horse Brewery, and Cloudview Farms products. The menu changes seasonally, but you cannot go wrong with excellent clam chowder, bison burger, and a range of sandwiches. Read more

111 S Pearl St, Ellensburg, WA 98926, Phone: 509-933-2233 Photo: The Yellow Church Cafe

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»Ellensburg Angler

Ellensburg Angler

Visitors to the Kittitas Valley who wish to take advantage of its proliferation of rivers and creeks are invited to contact Ellensburg Angler. With six professional guides and trips on five rivers and numerous creeks, this organization has a trip location, type, length, and price point for every would-be fisherman. Full Day trips include rods, reels, and flies, and all tackle Waders and boots are provided if necessary.

Also included is a gourmet riverside BBQ lunch, snacks, and non-alcoholic beverages. Half-Day trips include all of the above with the exception of lunch and snacks. A riverside lunch can be added to a Half Day trip for $15 per person. Photo: Ellensburg Angler

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»Cornerstone Pie

Cornerstone Pie

A lot of research and careful consideration went into designing the new Cornerstone Pie building: reclaimed timbers, recycled doors and surgical lights from the old hospital, LED lights everywhere – all point toa strong environmental philosophy. On the other hand, the giant 8,000-pound wood stone oven promises the best Northwest Neapolitan pizza you can possibly get in Ellensburg.

All ingredients are fresh and local whenever possible. Chef K.C. Camarillo will treat you with eleven variations of pizza, a number of appetizers, fresh salads, and desserts you have to leave some space for. You can wash it all down with Pacific Northwest bears and wine and local D & M Coffee.

307 E 5th Ave, Ellensburg, WA 98926, Phone: 509-933-3600 Photo: Cornerstone Pie

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»Wing Central's Roadhouse Grill

Wing Central's Roadhouse Grill

Lively, and spacious, Roadhouse Grill has an air of nostalgia with red Formica tables and old-style diner decor. It is the kind of place you can bring the kids, in-laws, or your business partner. The menu features standard all-American favorites with great wings and burgers and a range of salads for the health-conscious.

If you do decide to bring the kids, do it on Tuesday when they serve them for free. Roadhouse Grill is popular with the after-work crowd who come to unwind and get a drink.There are 16 craft beers on tap, and they come in an ice cold glass.

101 E Umptanum Rd, Ellensburg, WA 98926, Phone: 509-925-7200 Photo: Wing Central's Roadhouse Grill

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»Irene Rinehart Riverfront Park

Irene Rinehart Riverfront Park

Just outside of the town of Ellensburg is the Irene Rinehart Riverfront Park. This 117-acre park is nestled in a wide bend in the Yakima River. Amenities at the park include bathrooms, barbeques, a boat launch, a grass volleyball court, picnic shelters, trails, and of course swimming in the river.

The park is open May 16 to September 14, and there is no charge for its use. On occasion remote control boat races are held at the park and serve as a fun event for the family. The park is also praised for its bird watching opportunities and dog friendliness. Photo: Irene Rinehart Riverfront Park

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»Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden

Another gem to be found on the campus of Central Washington University is the CWU Japanese Garden. The garden is open to the public throughout the year and is a place where the natural beauty of Washington is brought together with the aesthetic traditions of Japan.

The garden includes cherry trees donated to the University by the Japanese Consulate General. Visitors will find old-fashioned Japanese buildings, lanterns, statuary, and a rock garden, all of which is brought together amongst the traditional flora of Japan. The garden represents the bonds of friendship and understanding that exist between people of Japan and those of the Central Washington Region. Photo: ogawaay/Fotolia

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»Colokum Wildlife Area

Colokum Wildlife Area

North of Ellensburg is the Colockum Wildlife Area. This area invites visitors interested in wildlife and ecology to visit its expanse of territory from sub-alpine and mixed forest at higher elevations to pine foothills, shrub-steppe ridge country, and prairie bunch grass closer to the Columbia River shore.

With a crisscross of primitive roads, it is suggested guests either take a four-wheel drive vehicle or visit the Colockum with mountain bikes, horses, or by foot travel. While in the area visitors, are likely to see the local elk herd, bighorn sheep, mule deer, and even coyotes. Birders will delight in the opportunity to interact with quail, chukar, grouse, partridge, hawks, and eagles. Photo: Colokum Wildlife Area

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»Suncadia Golf Courses

Suncadia Golf Courses

Suncadia Golf Courses lie just 40 minutes Northwest of Ellensburg. With two different courses open to the public and surrounded by rolling pine forests and granite peaks of the sunny, eastern slopes of the Cascades, this golf resort caters to everyone from the beginner to the advanced golfer.

Guests can sign up for a day outing, or they might wish to take advantage of the accommodations at the Inn at Suncadia or the Lodge at Suncadia. For those who do not have time for a full 18holes of gold, the Rope Rider Golf Park provides a relaxing, fun golf experience and also happens to be adjacent to the Switfwater Cellars winery. Photo: Suncadia Golf Courses

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»Ellensburg Pasta Company

Ellensburg Pasta Company

When you feel like having pasta in Ellensburg, where else would you go but the Ellensburg Pasta Company? Family owned, this cozy but elegant place downtown offers fresh, in-house made pasta, sandwiches and burgers for lunch, and steaks and salmon for dinner.

Local craft beers and wines are carefully chosen to provide a classy and family-friendly meal. They also offer a 50-person banquet room and full catering, and you can purchase their signature lemon-garlic dressing in many retail stores. There are no surprises on the menu, just good old Italian favorites and gluten-free pasta for those who have special needs.

600 N Main St, Ellensburg, WA 98926, Phone: 509-933-3330 Photo: Ellensburg Pasta Company

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20 Best Things to Do in Ellensburg, WA