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Authentic Agritourism in the Cascade Mountain Region of Washington State

Nestled in the heart of Washington State in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Wenatchee is a charming city that offers an authentic agritourism experience. With its picturesque landscapes, diverse agricultural heritage, and a wide range of activities, Wenatchee has become a celebrated destination for those seeking a blend of natural beauty and cultural exploration.

Climate and Topography of Wenatchee

Wenatchee is the best destination for agritourism in the West because of its semi-arid climate. It receives an average of 10 inches of precipitation annually. The United States average is 38 inches of rain per year. The summers are usually hot and dry, with temperatures often hitting the mid-90s in July and August. The winters are milder than other parts of the country, with temperatures seldom falling below freezing at night.

The area’s diverse topography can cause significant temperature fluctuations from day to night. Even though Wenatchee receives less rainfall than many places in the United States, it’s an excellent location for outdoor pursuits like biking and hiking due to its sunny weather and limited rainy days.

When my husband and I made Wenatchee a destination on our road trip through the Pacific Northwest in August, it was time well spent. We enjoyed seeing all the roadside U-Pick signs and the bountiful fresh produce.

Visit Wenatchee hosted us, but all opinions are my own.

Why is Wenatchee famous?

The Valley is recognized for its holiday getaways, guided tours, leisure activities, ski trips, snowboarding adventures, thrilling whitewater rafting, apple orchards, fresh fruit, conventions, popular attractions, exciting events, live concerts, and sunshine-filled days. While I didn’t participate in all these activities, there were enough to entertain us.

Importance of Agritourism in Wenatchee

Agritourism plays a vital role in Wenatchee’s economy and community. It allows visitors to experience the region’s rich agricultural heritage and supports local farmers and small businesses.

Wenatchee is known as the “Apple Capital of the World” because of its endless apple orchards. Visitors can tour these orchards, learn about apple cultivation, and even help pick the apples during harvest.

We were too early for apple picking, but we shopped at the Stemilt Retail Store, which is the fresh fruit outlet of Stemilt Growers. The store sells fresh fruit and local products, including gigantic jars of honey.

The newest apple that people can’t stop raving about is called RaveÒ. They claim it’s outrageously juicy and has a refreshing snappy zing. They are right! I ate one like no other apple I’ve had before.

Crates of Rave Brand Apples on Display Under a Rainbow of Balloons.

Stemilt Growers is a family-owned grower of apples, pears, cherries, and stone fruits based in Wenatchee and is a leader in organic fruit production.

According to Stemilt Growers, organic farming takes three consecutive years before an orchard is inspected and certified organic. It takes commitment to farm this way, and they have help from Mother Nature with central Washington’s arid climate.

Popular Outdoor Attractions in Wenatchee

Wenatchee is blessed with numerous attractions and activities that cater to agritourism interests.

Mission Ridge offers open slopes and scenic trails for outdoor hiking, skiing, and snowboarding enthusiasts.

Lake Chelan, located just a short drive away, provides a taste sensation with its vineyards and wineries.

The Japanese Garden, situated in the heart of downtown Wenatchee, offers a serene escape from the bustling city life.

The River Walk boasts Art in the Park. The City of Wenatchee presents an extraordinary public art collection with over 100 pieces on this walking tour alongside Riverfront Park.

The Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail is a prime recreation asset of the area. This 10-mile loop offers natural habitat, scenic overlooks, and opportunities to see wildlife. The west side of the Columbia River and the east side of the Wenatchee waterfront park system connect at the confluence of the Columbia and Wenatchee Rivers.

Ohme Gardens

On a rocky outcrop overlooking stunning views of the Columbia River and Cascade Mountains, Ohme Gardens is a wonderful opportunity to explore tree-shaded pools and gardens and search for gnomes on the manicured grounds.

In the early to mid-1900s, Herman and Ruth Ohme transplanted small evergreen trees from the nearby mountains, created pathways from native stones they hand-carried from the river, and hand-watered the gardens with five-gallon milk cans. Their dream to create alpine meadows, shady evergreen pathways, and shimmering pools was a labor of love and hard work.

The Gardens were initially a family retreat until the community and friends urged the Ohmes to open the Gardens to the public. Herman and Ruth tended the gardens for 42 years until Herman died at 80. Their son, Gordon, and his family took over caring for the Gardens until 1991, when the Ohme family sold the Gardens to Washington State Parks. The Gardens are now managed and owned by Chelan County.

It took us about an hour to explore the hillside and hunt for the gnomes. The gnome hunt changes monthly to make it exciting and challenging for members. Designed for children, we spent a considerable amount of time searching–they don’t make it easy to find them. It’s not just for kids!

You’ll need sturdy walking shoes because the pathways are narrow and rustic. The steps are uneven and prevent the use of wheelchairs, walkers, and strollers.

Pybus Public Market

The Pybus Public Market is a destination for quality goods, food, and services from local businesses. The Market is a platform for artisans, farmers, and non-profit organizations. Its goal is to honor history and provide an outlet for community arts, education, and charities. I found several ways to support the community at the Market.

Rocky Reach Chelan County Power

A unique way to experience the Columbia River is a visit to the Rocky Reach Discovery Center. While it’s educational for elementary school visitors with fun interactive exhibits, it is also eye-opening for adults.

We learned that the dam is clean power and one of 14 dams along the Columbia in the State of Washington. The salmon are protected, and we observed them on their journey through windows under the water level.

Water and power are essential, of course, to agritourism in Wenatchee. This hydropower project is clean power and reused several times as the Columbia courses down the state.

Watercore Cider and Taproom

From branch to bottle, Watercore Cider pays homage to the patient process of transforming an ordinary apple into a super-concentrated, glassy flavor grenade. Watercored apples may not be marketable or pretty, but in the hands of experts, they produce flavor-forward complex ciders without the need for added commercial juice or sugar.

I appreciated that I could participate in an agritourism activity like this with small-batch ciders from the heirloom and dessert apples that were ripened on the branch.

The local, tree-ripened fruit made a delicious cider with lots of sparkle and was not too sweet. We sampled a couple of ciders at the Visit Wenatchee Visitor Center & Tasting Room. Then, we followed up at Watercore Taproom for a cider float with huckleberry ice cream. Remarkable!

Making the Most of Your Agritourism Travel Experience in Wenatchee

  • To fully enjoy your agritourism experience in Wenatchee, consider visiting during the early months of April when the cherry blossoms bloom. I visited in the summer, at the height of berry season. I wished I had time to pick my own berries and relive childhood memories.
  • Visit local farms and orchards, learn about the region’s rich agricultural history, and even pick your own fruit.  
  • Take part in wine-tasting tours, as the region is known for its excellent wineries. I like the term “branch-to-table” for the unique experiences here.
  • Attend local farmer’s markets to buy fresh produce and handmade goods.
  • Participating in local festivals and events celebrating the area’s agricultural heritage can enhance your experience.
  • Take advantage of the picnic shelters and sports fields available in the parks for a fun-filled day with the whole family. Along the River Walk by our hotel, there are many outdoor activities that include horseshoes, basketball, and swimming in a river alcove.

Wenatchee Confluence State Park – Horan Natural Area

Where the Wenatchee River meets the Columbia River, the Horan Natural Area invites visitors to explore the gravel trails and immerse themselves in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Watch for Native American talks and e-bike rides hosted here.

Where to Stay in Wenatchee

We stayed in the perfect location to explore Wenatchee. The accommodations, a one-bedroom suite provided at The Residence Inn by Marriott, were spacious and comfortable. The outfitted kitchen and full-sized refrigerator stored our leftovers from great meals in town.

Our suite faced the Columbia River with the Apple Capital Loop Trail and Walla Walla Point Park at the doorstep. It was convenient for our morning walk right outside the door. Pybus Public Market and the Public Art Collection were a short walk away.

Orchard Bar + Bites made it easy to get adult beverages and small bites in the evening, take them outside by the firepits, and enjoy the spectacular river view.

Editor’s Note: If you’re looking for a winery stay in Wenatchee, check out Warm Springs Inn & Winery for a luxury bed & breakfast experience.

Final Thoughts

Wenatchee, Washington, gave us a captivating agritourism experience that combined the beauty of nature with the region’s rich agricultural heritage.

By supporting local farmers and businesses, we contributed to the sustainability of the community while creating lasting memories of our agritourism experience.

Julie Diebolt Price is an award-winning professional photographer, educator, author, and travel writer. She writes about photography and travel (including food and beverage). Julie educates and mentors aspiring photographers. As a journalist who loves to travel, she creates memorable experiences and shares them with words and pictures.

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