Walla Walla is a great town to visit and experience wine and culture unlike any other place in the World. But surrounding Walla Walla are other cities and destinations that will contribute to a positive experience in the Pacific Northwest. The neighboring farm community of Waitsburg is becoming a mecca for fine dining.
Just a 20 minute drive from Walla Walla, Waitsburg is the Walla Walla wine industry’s secret get-away featuring unique dining experiences and surrounding rural wineries. Set amidst bountiful rolling hills blanketed with wheat, barley and peas, Waitsburg was pioneered in the early 19th century. Lewis and Clark passed through this area in 1806 on the return from their historical expedition. The territorial legislature issued a charter to the City of Waitsburg on November 25, 1881. Under it, Waitsburg was incorporated with the usual powers for the creation of a police force, fire department and water works. Public improvements were undertaken and amenities provided. Main Street was straightened, graded and graveled. Uniform wooden sidewalks were constructed and street lamps were installed. In 1888 alone, 20 or more Victorian-style residences were built and some half-dozen brick commercial buildings, including the Waitsburg Times Building, the Odd Fellows Temple, and the new Loundagin Building (Royal Block), all standing today, including many of the beautiful Victorian homes. For more information, call (509) 337-6371.
30 minutes east of Walla Walla is Dayton, which has a total of 117 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Lewis and Clark, who used the location as a campsite in 1806, were the first white settlers who explored Dayton. Before their arrival, Dayton’s “Main Street” was a racetrack for Indian Tribes living in the region. By 1859, settlers in the region used the land for grazing. However, by 1861, Dayton would become primarily a farming town. It wouldn’t be until 1872 when Dayton officially became named and had its first post office built. Unique to Dayton are buildings that are still present from its founding days. Located in Dayton is the Columbia County Courthouse, Washington’s oldest operating courthouse. The Dayton Historical Depot is also located in Dayton, which was built in 1882 and was used until 1971. Dayton has had a rich history from being explored by Lewis and Clark to becoming a homestead in 1859 to having a fire destroy the city in 1881. For those visiting Walla Walla, a drive to Dayton is an excellent trip to add to your calendar for unique shopping and dining experiences on their historical Main Street. To get more information about Dayton, call (509) 382-4825.
For those who want to visit Washington’s neighbor to the south, Milton-Freewater, Oregon is the first place that should be in their itinerary. Located a close ten miles south of Walla Walla across the Oregon border, Milton-Freewater offers visitors a chance to visit an area that was settled by pioneers over 100 years ago. Nestled at the foot of the Blue Mountains, this town is considered the “Apple Capital of Oregon” which is immediately evident by the numerous roadside stands selling fruits and vegetables, and of course, apples. Most recently Milton-Freewater is becoming an excellent source for vineyards and wineries and considered part of the Walla Walla sub-appellation. Milton-Freewater is a relaxed town that offers vacation-goers many activities including golfing at the Milton-Freewater Municipal Golf Course. The 18-hole course offers a stunning panoramic view of the Walla Walla Valley, and maintains its relaxed reputation with a majority of the holes being par 3 or par 4. Milton-Freewater is also home to one of the areas more unique festivals. In August, the Muddy Frogwater Festival is depicted by more than 40 frog statues located around the city. For more information about the town, call (541) 938-5563.
Another town nearby that should be on everyone’s itinerary is Pendleton, Oregon. Located approximately 30 minutes south of Walla Walla, Pendleton offers visitors the chance to visit tunnel homes and underground businesses of Chinese railroad workers. These sites, which were used over 100 years ago, are guaranteed to give you an experience you couldn’t get anywhere else. However, Pendleton is best known as “The Round-up City.” Pendleton is rich in heritage and world famous for the original Pendleton Woolen Mills, along with the Pendleton Round-Up and Happy Canyon. In 1910 local attorney Roy Raley, who had an excellent flare for theatrics, decided to have a rodeo after harvest and the famous Pendleton Round-Up was born. The show was such a success that property was purchased and permanent buildings and grounds were constructed to hold the annual event. The slogan “Let’er Buck” was adopted as the Round-Up byline. The traditional event is held annually in the second week in September and now draws over 50,000 people. For more information about Pendleton, call (800) 547-8911.