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.
1. 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, Washington 98926, Phone: 509-964-7815
2. 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. Admission is free.
114 E 3rd Ave, Ellensburg, WA 98926, Phone: 509-925-3778
3. 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.
416 N Pearl St, Ellensburg, WA 98926, Phone: 509-962-6416
4. Ellensburg Rodeo
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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
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5. Olmstead Place State Park
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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. More Places to visit in Washington State
6. 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
7. Things to Do in Ellensburg, WA: 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
8. 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
9. Red's Fly Shop Fly Fishing Classes
© Red's Fly Shop
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. More day trips from Seattle
10. Places to Visit: 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
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11. Things to Do in Ellensburg, WA: Brightside Vintage Farm
© Maria Sbytova/stock.adobe.com
Brightside Vintage Farm is a gorgeous venue in Ellensburg that offers unique vintage venues for wedding ceremonies and receptions, located just a short scenic drive from the greater Seattle area within the beautiful Kittitas Valley region. The venue is great for couples looking for minimalistic, romantic venue space, featuring stunning outdoor ceremony spaces with scenic natural backdrops, including a lush rose garden and orchard. A private grove features a party tent for covered receptions, showcasing a large dance floor and window views. More than 41 acres of pasture land is showcased throughout the facility, along with a century-old dairy barn, a Bride's Bungalow, and a vintage Airstream trailer that serves as a groom's quarters.
511 Moreau Rd, Ellensburg, WA 98926, Phone: 425-417-4716
12. Oyama Japanese Steakhouse
© Oyama Japanese Steakhouse
Located in downtown Ellensburg, Oyama Japanese Steakhouse is spacious and modern and does not look much like a Japanese restaurant, until the food comes. Sushi is fresh and imaginative and presented in a fun and artistic way – The Scorpion is one of the most popular. The menu has pretty much everything one would expect in a Japanese restaurant but the star of the show is hibachi chef who prepares food in front of the guest. Knives are flying, meats are sizzling and the result is fabulous. Oyama serves sake, beers and wines and popular Japanese sodas. Warm red walls create pleasant romantic atmosphere for those who come for a romantic evening.
506 S Main St, Ellensburg, WA 98926, Phone: 509-933-3389
13. Activities Near Me: 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.
14. 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
15. Things to Do Near Me: 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
16. Things to Do Near Me today: 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.
17. Japanese Garden
© Courtesy of ogawaay - Fotolia.com
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.
18. Things to Do in Ellensburg, WA: Colockum Wildlife Area
© Colockum 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.
19. 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.
20. Things to Do in Ellensburg, WA: 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
21. Umtanum Creek Canyon
The Umtanum Creek Canyon is an outdoor wonderland that is perfect for nature lovers thanks to the wealth of recreational activities it has to offer. Visitors can take a 6.5-mile hike up Umtanum’s glorious canyon, which boasts magnificent basalt formations in addition to a relaxing creek, and rolling plains littered with Balsamorhiza sunflowers. Attentive hikers may even catch a glimpse or two of the canyon’s native bighorn sheep which roam through the fields and along the cliffs. In the spring, the canyon’s native wildflowers become a colorful sight to behold as flowers like blue larkspur, pink geranium, and white serviceberry start blooming. While exploring the trail, hikers will also find the remains of an old homestead and farm, a waterfall, and can reach elevation gains of 500 feet with the canyon’s highest point being 1800 feet.
22. Iron Horse Brewery
© Iron Horse Brewery
There’s nothing conventional about the Iron Horse Brewery. The brewery’s history, much like its beer and its owner, Jim Quilter, is best described as unconventional. Founded in 2004, Iron Horse Brewery was officially opened in October of 2006 and has been a proud Washington establishment since then. Each of the brewery’s offerings features distinct flavors alongside eye-catching can designs, making the brewery’s quite memorable and easy to spot. Try local favorites like the Aloha Death, a smooth dark ale that is uniquely brewed with coconut, or the Cozy Sweater, a vanilla milk stout that features chocolatey notes that complement its vanilla flavor base. Other offerings include the Send It Pale Ale, Mid-Light Crisis, Timothy Hay-Z, and the High Five Hefe.
1621 Vantage Highway, Ellensburg, Washington 98926, Phone: 509-834-7838
23. Dick and Jane’s Spot
Who would have thought that what started as a regular residential yard would become what is now one of Ellensburg’s most visited public galleries? Well, this is exactly what happened in the case of Dick and Jane’s Spot, a whimsical art gallery owned by the husband-and-wife duo of Dick Elliot and Jane Orleman. Both Dick and Jane are passionate artists who started decorating their home with a unique selection of art like folk-art sculptures, patterned light reflectors, and bottle trees among other things in 1978. Today, the gallery is home to a glorious array of artworks by Northwestern folk artists, alongside Jane’s own sculptures and paintings, and Dick’s colorful geometric creations.
101 N. Pearl Street, Ellensburg, Washington 98926, Phone: 509-925-3224
24. Dakota Cafe
© Dakota Cafe
Dakota Café in downtown Ellensburg shows that you can have fine dining in a casual unpretentious atmosphere. Bright modern space has large windows overlooking the street for people-watching, the chairs are comfortable and encourage lingering and the décor is tasteful and understated, with beautiful photos of life in the West. The food is world-class. The cuisine is modern American, focusing on consistently high quality of dishes. Most dishes are comfort food, recognizable but prepared to perfection. The focus is on light dishes – sandwiches, paninis, salads and pastas. Dinner is a more serious and more elaborate affair, offered four days a week. The wine list is respectable and includes mostly Washington wines with some from Oregon and California.
417 N Pearl St, Ellensburg, WA 98926, Phone: 509-925-4783
25. Palace Cafe
Located in the historic 1908 Pearson Building in downtown Ellensburg, Palace Café has been the town icon for the last 100 years. It changed location and it changed hands a few times, went through ups and downs with changed times, but it remained true to itself and continued to serve superb, honest American traditional cuisine to this day. The dining room looks like it has not been touched since its opening, with dark wainscoting, pressed zinc ceiling, exposed brick and old photos on the walls. The place is a trip into the past of Ellensburg and as much loved today as it was when it originally opened in 1892. The menu is large and covers just about anything guests feel for, from hot fresh soups, sandwiches and salads to prime rib, charbroiled meats and fantastic desserts. There is a full bar.
323 N Main St, Ellensburg, WA 98926, Phone: 509-925-2327
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Unique Venues in Ellensburg, WA:
The American Homestead
The American Homestead is a family-operated wedding venue in Nahces, originally established in 1896 and overseen by the Forgey family. The venue is a great choice for couples looking for rustic wedding settings, featuring a beautiful restored cabin that overlooks the stunning Naches River. Five bedrooms sleep up to 10 guests, with unique decor theming and amenities such as a wraparound deck and walled fire pit. A newly-added bunkhouse also features twin and queen bed accommodations, along with a fully-stocked kitchen and outdoor dining space. Couples can book either space for wedding ceremonies or honeymoon overnights, making use of the resort's trusted list of professional vendors for their special day. In-house catering is provided by Cascade Catering, with cakes provided by local companies Christie's Cakes and Kerri's Cakes.
5872 WA-410, Naches, WA 98937, Phone: 509-658-2514
Ritter Farms is a rustic special event venue that has been serving the Kittitas Valley area for generations, set amidst a charming mountain farm setting complete with modern amenities. The venue is located within the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, which provide a dramatic backdrop for memorable wedding photos. Couples can host their wedding ceremonies and receptions at the venue's historic timber barn, which can accommodate up to 150 guests. The venue's grounds can also be used for reception festivities, including its comfortable patio and outdoor fire pit. Professional wedding planning services are included with all rentals, along with use of the venue for engagement photos prior to the chosen ceremony date. In-house catering and bar services are available for an additional charge.
24 Lund Lane, Cle Elum, WA 98922, Phone: 509-656-2564
Stonehouse101 is a stunning Italian-style sandstone building in the heart of Roslyn that dates back to the late 19th century, originally operated as the Piedmont Saloon. Today, the recently-remodeled historic building has been converted into a special event venue, offering modern amenities in an intimate, rustic, setting. A warm reception area and large great room are available for wedding ceremony and reception rental, featuring a mobile bar that allows for flexible event configuration. All couples who book the venue for their special day also receive access to a private yard area, which is home to a seasonal fountain, scenic pergola, and beautifully-landscaped gardens. Tables crafted from custom wood and wine barrels can be placed throughout the yard, making it a great location for outdoor wedding receptions.
101 N Second Street, Roslyn, WA 98941, Phone: 509-649-2442
Places to Get Married: Swauk-Teanaway Grange
Swauk-Teanaway Grange is a grassroots nonpartisan organization that focuses on advocacy for rural America, serving the local Kittitas County community through its #984 chapter and community hall venue. As a community-focused organization, the Swauk-Teanaway Grange Hall is available for special event rental for local resident weddings and other private special events. The lovely hall was recently reconstructed in 2006, replacing the former 1904 one-room schoolhouse and event hall that was lost to a fire in 2004. Today, the unique historic venue overlooks the Swauk Prairie once again, widely recognized as one of the Cle Elum region's most photographed landmarks. Flexible hall configurations and decor are available to match the size and theme of any couple's reception needs.
1361 Ballard Rd W, Cle Elum, WA 98922, Phone: 509-857-2580
WThe Cattle Barn
The Cattle Barn is a rustic 1,000-acre working cattle ranch and wedding venue, located in Cle Elum within the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in the Swauk Creek Valley. The venue is home to a gorgeous central barn that features a built-in wooden dance floor, a spacious upper balcony, a cozy fireplace, and a bar area. Outside, a stunning garden alcove overlooks the mountain landscape, perfect for intimate vows or unique wedding photography scenery. In all, up to 400 guests can be accommodated within the venue's indoor and outdoor spaces. All couples also receive access to the property's 19th-century-era ranch house for the day of their wedding, which offers bride and groom dressing suites, a small catering prep kitchen, and guest use restrooms. A dry camping and RV area is available for wedding parties and guests to stay at the property the night of the event.
980 Burke Road, Cle Elum, WA 98922, Phone: 509-304-9050
Buzz Inn Steakhouse
The Buzz Inn Steakhouse is a chain of restaurants that sells great steaks a long Highway 2 and in Everett, Ellensburg and Wenatchee in Washington State. Their Ellensburg spot is a popular local gathering place where folks come not only for their famous Angus steaks produced from Midwest corn-fed cattle and cooked to perfection but also for a line of flat-screen TVs ready for the ongoing game, plenty of games, great beers on tap and just about anything else folks might need for a good time. The place has fun and nostalgic atmosphere of an old-fashions roadhouse tavern, cozy and welcoming and soft lights make it also romantic for a dinner for two.
2202 Canyon Rd, Ellensburg, WA 98926, Phone: 509-925-3922