It’s almost always bright and sunny in Eastern Washington during the summer. And with more than 300 days of sunshine on average per year, the Tri-Cities — Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland — is the perfect place to escape to when it’s gloomy at home. The region is well-known for its wine, and there are more than 200 wineries, and plenty of breweries, scattered throughout the area. But this eastern pocket of Washington offers much more than booze. Located around the confluence of the Columbia, Snake, and Yakima rivers, the Tri-Cities offers a lot to explore along the water. There’s also plenty to do outside when the average temperature in August is about 89 degrees. So grab your hat, sunglasses, and swimsuit and take a quick trip.
Ride the Gesa Carousel of Dreams
The Gesa Carousel of Dreams is no ordinary merry-go-round. It was originally built in 1910 for Silver Beach Amusement Park in Michigan. The creator, Charles Carmel, carved the horses out of Linden wood — each with its own distinct details. Eventually the horses were delicately packed into a truck and driven to Washington. For 12 years, the Tri-Cities community worked to bring the carousel back to life with new additions to the circling herd. Tri-Cities native Michael Thornton carved a Washington State University Cougar to ride. But he’s got competition. There’s also a University of Washington Husky carved by the Missoula Carousel Carvers. You can ride around this community gem for $3. Kennewick
Eat Messy Barbecue
Warm summer nights call for sizzling barbecue. Shrub Steppe Smokehouse Brewery’s brisket and pulled pork are coated in a signature dry rub and smoked for 12 hours over hickory, mesquite, and alder woods. Order it with a side of sliced peaches and macaroni and cheese. Slather on any of the sauces (or not). The crafted brews are made to pair perfectly with all those sticky, sweet, and smoky flavors. Richland
Stroll through Columbia Park
The Columbia River cuts through the Tri-Cities area. Stretch your legs with a stroll along its banks at Columbia Park. There’s a pretty view of Pioneer Memorial Bridge (also known as Blue Bridge) that stretches across the water. There are also trails, a soccer field, horseshoe pits, picnic areas, and a skate park. Kennewick
Kayak along the Yakima River
The Tapteal Greenway is a 35-mile corridor along the Yakima River. There’s a collection of hikes to try (trail maps are posted at trailheads). But in summer, it’s fun to take a kayak down its water tail. You can paddle for more than 30 miles along the lower Yakima River, exploring beaches, islands, and rapids along the way. If you have a birding enthusiast in tow, there’s sure to be lots of feathered friends to seek out. Richland
Splash Around at Memorial Pool
Cool off with a dip in Memorial Pool. The site has a 50-meter lap pool, leisure pool, spray grounds, and two giant water slides. This year there’s an inflatable Aquaglide Aquatic obstacle course you can climb! Pasco
Pick a Tee Time
With all the beautiful sunshine, it’s hard to find a bad day to visit the golf courses around the Tri-Cities. There are about 10 courses in the area. Canyon Lakes Golf Course in Kennewick is a poplar place to putt. Stretching 12,000 square feet, its greens are perfectly kept and surround ponds and gardens. Columbia Point Golf Course is owned by the city of Richland. It offers challenging courses with rolling fairways. Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco is a Robert Muir Graves-designed course that was first opened in the ’60s.
Be a Cowboy
In August, it’s Tri-Cities tradition to strap on your cowboy boots and head to the Benton Franklin Fair and Rodeo in Kennewick. There’s a grand parade and carnival with rides and games. There’s Mutton Bustin’, where kids ride sheep, and the main rodeo events, where cowboys show off their skills. This year, Boyz II Men and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts will be performing. The fair is Aug. 19-26. Kennewick