Pasco, one of the three cities in the Tri-Cities region in Washington State, is located at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia Rivers. What is Pasco known for? The Lewis and Clark Expedition spent some time in what is today Pasco’s Sacajawea State Park. The best place to learn about the history of Pasco is at The Franklin County Historical Museum. The town is part of the larger Columbia Valley AVA and is surrounded by spectacular vineyards. The Bechtel National Planetarium is located at Columbia Basin College. Lake Sacajawea was formed when Ice Harbor Dam was created about 12 miles from Pasco and is today a popular recreation destination.
1. Sacajawea State Park
Sacajawea Historical State Park is a 267-acre day park at the confluence of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. It is on this site that in 1804 Native American people met the Lewis and Clark Expedition on its iconic journey westward. The park’s Sacajawea Interpretive Center is home to a museum that offers interactive exhibits on the Corps of Discovery, their historic journey, and native tribes of the region. Around the center is a nicely landscaped green, shady space surrounded by trees, with the seven-story circle installations created by the artist Maya Lin. There is a trail leading to the beach perfect for swimming, boating, or watching hundreds of birds that live in this unique environment. There is one covered shelter with a barbecue grill, about 130 picnic benches scattered throughout the park, a dock, two watercraft launches, 1.2 miles of hiking trails, two horseshoe pits, a volleyball field, and many interpretive displays.
2503 Sacajawea Park Rd, Pasco, WA 99301
2. Franklin County Historical Museum
© Franklin County Historical Museum
The Franklin County Historical Museum features exhibits that portray the history and spirit of Franklin County. The museum was originally built in 1910 for the Andrew Carnegie library. After the library was moved to the new building in 1962 and after a few years of neglect, the beautiful structure with high ceilings and dark wood was renovated and converted into a history museum. The exhibits in the museum include a collection of historic artifacts, photographs, documents, a number of Native American artifacts, and exhibits on early agriculture and transportation. There is also an exhibition on the famous Leon Cuddeback’s 1926 flight, the podium President Harry Truman used in 1950 and more.
305 N 4th Ave, Pasco, WA 99301, Phone: 509-547-3714
3. Wahluke Slope
© Deyan Georgiev/stock.adobe.com
Established in 2006 the Wahluke Slope AVA Wahluke is an American Viticultural area located in south-central Washington between the Columbia River, Saddle Mountains, and Hanford Reach National Monument. The 80,490-acre region has more than 20 vineyards that cover 8,931 acres and three wine production facilities, almost 15 percent of the total wine grape acreage in Washington State. It is part of the larger Columbia Valley AVA. The most important grape varieties that grow in the region are Merlot, Syrah, Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chenin Blanc. The area is best known for its Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Wahluke Slope was named for a Native American word for “watering place.” The Wahluke Slope’s major distinguishing feature is its uniformity, soil type, and climate. It is located on a broad, south-facing gentle slope, which, together with the proximity to the Columbia River, minimizes the risk of frost.
4. Bechtel National Planetarium
© Bechtel National Planetarium
The Bechtel National Planetarium at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, Washington opened to the public in 2012. Its goal is to help share the wonder of science and technology with students of all ages. The planetarium uses the Spitz SciDome XD projection system and a hemispherical projection surface that displays life-like high definition images and sound. Its state-of-the-art projection system is the best in the Pacific Northwest. The 36-foot panoramic viewing dome is capable of simulating an incredibly lifelike 3-D effect. A typical show includes a 30-minute live presentation and a 30-minute movie. Presentation topics include tours of the solar system or constellations, the current night sky, and the latest news in astronomy.
2600 N 20th Ave, Pasco, WA 99301, Phone: 509-542-4515
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5. Ice Harbor Dam
© Ice Harbor Dam
Ice Harbor Lock and Dam is a hydroelectric concrete gravity dam on the Snake River located about eight miles northeast of Burbank and 12 miles east of Pasco. It is named by a tiny bay in the river where boats used to tie up while waiting for up-river ice-jams to break up. The dam provides navigation, hydroelectric power, recreation, and irrigation. It is 2,822 feet long and 100 feet high. It includes a 86 by 675 feet navigation lock and a 10-bay 590 feet long spillway with ten 50-foot tainter gates. On the south side of the river is a recently updated visitor center with a modern touch screen kiosk that provides information on the dam and recreation in the area. There is also a fish ladder viewing room with excellent view of migrating salmon, steelhead, and shad. Lake Sacajawea is formed behind the dam.
Near Burbank, Pasco, WA
6. Fiesta Mexican Restaurant
© Fiesta Mexican Restaurant
Very different from traditionally colorful and highly decorated Mexican restaurants, Fiesta is modern and spacious, with large dining room and a lovely outdoor patio. The food is much more traditional and you will find all your favorites: sizzling fajitas, authentic menudo, delicious nachos, super fresh guacamole, great burritos, and arroz con pollo. You can also find American classics such as juicy burgers and surf and turf. Fiesta has a large, well-stocked bar and their fruity margaritas are absolutely delicious. They also have all kinds of beers on tap and in bottles, with a large selection of Mexican beers. There is live music on weekends and the place gets pretty packed.
5210 N Rd 68 L, Pasco, WA 99301, Phone: 509-543-6884
7. We Ice
© We Ice
WE ice is a blast from the past: a superbly made, fluffy, delicious gourmet shave ice in more than 50 flavors and even more combinations you can make yourself. Sold from a cute yellow trailer that can be seen all over Pasco to the delight of kids and adults, We Ice is what is called “Southern shave,” made using a special recipe to be soft and light. There are absolutely no preservatives and their syrups are made fresh every day. There are also gluten-free and sugar-free options. Top it off with melted ice cream, chocolate, caramel, and a dollop of whipped cream for a full experience. If you do not want to search for them all over town, you can always find them at their permanent location at 6303 Burden Blvd in Pasco.
6403 Burden Blvd, Pasco, WA 99301, Phone: 509-430-8338
8. Crazy Moose Casino
Located on the majestic Columbia River near fantastic golf courses and famous wineries, Crazy Moose Casino is known as the Tri-Cities party headquarters. The casino offers Las Vegas-style gaming with the most popular table games and live poker with live play action every day of the week. The casino offers a fantastic viewing package with eight satellites and more than 70 monitors; there isn’t a bad seat in the house. All the major sporting event packages are available. Casino guests are also invited to enjoy superb food in its gourmet restaurant prepared by an experienced chef who uses only the freshest ingredients.
510 South 20th Street, Pasco, WA 99301, Phone: 509-542-8580
9. Swadee Thai, Pasco
© Swadee Thai
Swadee Thai is a family owned restaurant serving authentic Thai cuisine freshly prepared by their master chef Uvadee. The space is small but colorful and cozy. The menu is extensive and includes all the Thai classics: Pad Thai, green curry, fresh rolls, chicken satay, tom yum, fried rice, and much more. There is something for everyone, whether you like it spicy or not. The best deal is the lunch buffet on Friday, but hurry, it is very popular and the best goodies go fast. They also deliver and now you can order online. There is no alcohol, only sodas and teas.
5109 N Rd 68 B, Pasco, WA 99301, Phone: 509-412-1201