What’s New in Washington in 2019

Washington is filled with awe-inspiring stories, destinations to make your heart soar with the state’s exquisite beauty and diversity, and individuals striding out to make a difference in their fascinating businesses. We invite you to write prolifically about Washington! Check out what’s new this year and feel free to dive deeper for even more stories. For photos for the following story ideas, please contact Christina Pivarnik, [email protected], WTA Communications Chair, or go to the Media Room at www.experiencewa.com and click on the link for What’s New in 2019 photos.

Washington’s City Scene

Space Needle’s “spacelift” reveal continues

The Space Needle, one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks, is undergoing a 360-degree “spacelift” and the majority of renovations are now open to the public. Privately funded, the 56-year-old tower’s $100 million renovation, Century Project, has elevated the visitor experience by dramatically enhancing the view with more than 176 tons of glass. The Space Needle’s safety caging has been removed and replaced with eleven-foot-tall, open-air glass panels and titled glass benches called Skyrisers. With nothing but seamless glass between visitors’ panoramic views of the Pacific Northwest, guests can now sit back on the Skyrisers, and experience the intense feeling of floating above the Seattle skyline. The Space Needle’s renovation also includes the world's first and only revolving glass floor, known as The Loupe, showcasing a never-before-seen downward view of Seattle's iconic tower from 500 feet in the air. The Loupe opened to the public August 3, 2018 with overall renovations scheduled to be completed by spring 2019. For more information and updates, visit www.seewhatsup.space.

Media Contact: Dave Mandapat, 206.905.2164, [email protected]

The Port of Seattle wins at the UK Wave Awards 2019

The Port of Seattle was given the top award for Best Port at this year’s international Wave Awards—the “Oscars” of the UK industry—with the announcement made at the annual Wave Awards event in London on March 7. Over 400 distinguished and influential cruise industry executives, including managing directors and executive directors of cruise lines, leading tour operators and travel agencies, media and other major industry influencers were present. The judging panel is comprised of industry leaders, travel experts and representatives from the media with the awards run by Real Response Media. www.thewaveawards.com Media Contact: Patti Denny, 206.787.3394, [email protected]

The long-awaited McMenamins Elks Temple in Tacoma opens for business April 24, 2019, making it the only McMenamins hotel property north of Centralia and south of Bothell. And, as is standard with McMenamins, there’s a heavy focus on entertainment, good times and secret bars. True, it’s a 45-guestroom hotel, but the Elks Lodge experience will center around its epic live music venue (the 700-person-capacity Spanish Ballroom), the bars (all five, including the tiki bar with “interactive waterfall fountain” and the hidden bar), the beers (seven-barrel brewery with 16-tap tasting room) and the ambiance (the best collection of lighting fixtures on the West Coast). Media Contact: Matt Wakefield, 253.284.3253, [email protected]

Biking Beyond – Experience Olympia and Beyond

The newly launched self-guided bike tour, Biking Beyond, takes visitors along the Yelm-Tenino Trail. Available in both digital and print format, the guide was created to assist guests in way-finding. Points of interests range from recreation and family fun to top spots for sipping, exploring and dining. The scenic Yelm-Tenino trail stretches 14 miles through the rural communities of Yelm, Rainier and Tenino along the former Burlington Northern railroad line. An elevation gain of just 320 feet makes for an easy and accessible ride for beginners, while the views of farmland, wetlands, wildlife and Mount Rainier make the ride enjoyable for all abilities. Cyclists can bring a bike or borrow one for free courtesy of the Tenino Yellow Bicycle Project, then choose an adventure or select from predetermined routes. Biking Beyond can be accessed at BikingBeyond.com. Media Contact: Moira Davin, 360.704.7544, [email protected]

Vancouver USA’s waterfront is on the rise, attracting renowned tenants

The $1.5 billion waterfront project spanning 32 acres of prime real estate on the Columbia River is one of the largest mixed-use developments on the West Coast and includes residential units, office space, a seven-acre waterfront park and commercial retail space. Phase one included new restaurants, the waterfront park and Grant Street Pier. Designed by nationally recognized public artist Larry Kirkland, the 90-foot-long pier juts out across the Columbia River like the billowing sail of a passing ship. Restaurants on the pier include regional heavyweights WildFin American Grill and Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar. Columbia River Gorge maven Maryhill Winery and newcomer Barlow’s Public House will be the next to join, with Pizzeria Sul Lago and Stack 571 close behind. A six-floor, 138-room Hotel Indigo has also been announced for early 2020. Just east of the pier, The Headwaters Wall features a bronze topographical map of the watershed and a wading pool fed by water cascading down the wall. The nearby path will connect with the existing five-mile Columbia River Waterfront Renaissance Trail on the other side of the Interstate Bridge, with a link over the Vancouver Land Bridge leading into Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Media Contact: Erica Thompson, 360.750.1553 ext. 518,[email protected]


With a $64-million Riverfront Park renovation, the park now has a new skate ribbon, Looff Carrousel building, Howard Street Bridge Promenade and updated SkyRide. Work has progressed to the Pavilion. The old IMAX theater was torn down and the Pavilion is currently being transformed into an open-air event center. When the Pavilion is finished, work will move to the north bank of the Spokane River. The entire renovation project should be finished in 2021. Media Contact: Kate Hudson, 509.742.9377, [email protected]


As the craft beverage scene continues to grow, so do events around the Yakima Valley. From hop field and brewery tours to live music events and brewing collaborations for a cause – Yakima’s craft beverage culture now provides a more robust farm-to-pint experience for visitors to enjoy and celebrate the area’s agricultural heritage. Media Contact: Jessica Camacho, 509.575.3010, [email protected]


This year, Sumner’s Rhubarb Days becomes a regional festival, inviting visitors who have never been to Sumner before to sample the flavor of small-town charm on a traditional Main Street. With pie eating contests, vintage market and even a giant outdoor Beer, Brats & Bingo, there’s unique fun for all ages. Rhubarb Days is the kind of small-town festival you see in the movies and wonder where it actually happens. If you’ve never sent a rhubarb rocket into the sky or

raced a stalk of rhubarb (aka Rhubarb Racers), then you have to try it for yourself. This slice of Americana will be held July 27 and 28. Media Contact: Carmen Palmer, 253.299.5503, [email protected]

The Island Vibe

Captain Whidbey reopens spring 2019

Situated on the verdant shores of Penn Cove on Whidbey Island, the Captain Whidbey has been a place of natural beauty, community gathering and quiet delight since 1907. Recently under new ownership, the boutique resort is undergoing a much-anticipated renovation with an eye toward preserving the historic charm and legacy of the property, while updating with modern and comfortable interiors. Re-opening this coming spring, Captain Whidbey will feature a new restaurant and bar focused on local and seasonal cuisine, a new deck overlooking the water, 31 newly designed rooms, curated amenities, and an overall revival that will re-establish the hotel as one of the most iconic lodging experiences on its namesake island. Media Contact: Erin Osborne, ON Public Relations, 206.948.6059, [email protected]

Lime Kiln Lighthouse on San Juan Island celebrates centennial

Lime Kiln Lighthouse turns 100 years old on June 30, 2019. It's one of the last lighthouses built on the West Coast and one of the most photogenic. An epicenter for research, education, and inspiration, Lime Kiln Point State Park, also known as Whale Watch Park, welcomes 350,000 visitors from roughly 40 different countries every year and is one of the best places in the world to watch whales from shore. The Friends of Lime Kiln Society will host a celebration that includes lighthouse tours, live music and performances, keynote speeches from the Coast Guard and Washington State Parks and lighthouse experts, and even a special lighthouse anniversary wine label. Media Contact: Barbara Marrett, 360.378.6822 ext. 6, [email protected]

Mt. Rainier

Dog-friendly Mt. Rainier

According to the American Pet Product Association between 37 and 47 percent of Americans own a dog. Pet travel is big business but while this represents a growing segment of visitors, pet travel can be complicated. Visit Rainier is trying to make it easier for visitors to vacation with their dogs. When it comes to planning your summer adventures at the mountain, fur babies like Atlas the Silken Windhound love a good vacation. If your dog likes to travel too, get a free copy of our new travel guide for a list of dog-friendly places to stay, play, and hike in the Mt. Rainier region. https://lnkd.gWFaiDT Media Contact: Meilee Anderson, 206.422.1270, [email protected]

Washington Wine Commission

Washington State is one of the most exciting, fastest-growing wine regions in the country with 970+ wineries and more than 58,000 acres of wine grapes. Six new AVAs are currently under petition with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. On average, one winery opens every single week and growers are always experimenting with new varietals. Although more than 70 wine varieties grow throughout the diverse growing regions, Cabernet Sauvignon is now taking Washington by storm, making up nearly 30 percent of the industry. New this year, is the opening of Valdemar Estates near Walla Walla, as a family from Rjoja is building a state-of-the-art winery. Between critical acclaim, energized winemakers and world-class wine growing

conditions, Washington is quickly taking its place on the world’s stage. Media Contact: Heather Bradshaw, 206.326.5752, [email protected]

Washington’s Pretty Peninsulas

Kitsap Peninsula boasts nearly 7,000 more acres of public park lands

The Kitsap Peninsula region recently added nearly 7,000 more acres of public park lands to “the Natural Side of Puget Sound,” complementing the hundreds of acres of existing open space and miles of land and water trails open year-round. Known as the Port Gamble Heritage Park, the park includes miles of existing trails used for mountain biking, trail running, horseback riding, birding, and wildlife viewing. Upgrades include a major new ride park that promises to attract more adventure sport enthusiasts to the region. Thanks to the designation in 2015 by the US Department of Interior, the 371-mile Kitsap Peninsula National Water Trail (KPNWT) continues to garner national and international attention attracting visitors from around the USA. The KPNWT is the only nationally designated water trail in Washington state, and the only salt-water national water trail in the USA. On June 8, the KPNWT Alliance will celebrate the designation during the 4th Annual Ride the Tide Rendezvous. Media Contact: Patty Graf-Hoke, 360.908.0088, [email protected]

New boutique hotel and restaurant to open overlooking the Ilwaco marina at the Port of Ilwaco. At the Helm Hotel & Waterline Pub will have nine distinctive guest rooms and an in-house restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. It will be a much-needed upscale addition to the Long Beach Peninsula’s lodging offerings. The opening is slated for June. Media Contact: Carol Zahorsky, Zahorsky and Associates, 360.481.1752, [email protected]

The Olympic Peninsula opens new trail and winter ice village

The new Chetzemoka Interpretive Trail in Port Townsend tells the story of Chief Chetzemoka and the S’Klallam people in Port Townsend in both a visual and physical way. It’s a partnership with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, City of Port Townsend, Jefferson County Historical Society and the Port of Port Townsend, connecting many points of tribal, geographic and historic interest spanning 3-mile and 6-mile loops on a 12-mile route around the city and through Fort Worden. The grand opening will be the afternoon of June 29, 2019, approximately 131 years since the last hereditary chief passed away. Many of his descendants will be in attendance. Media Contact: Christina Pivarnik, 360.531.0127, [email protected]

The Olympic Peninsula’s only outdoor ice-skating rink, and the Port Angeles Winter Ice Village, will open Thanksgiving through the first part of January 2020. Skate rentals, animal-themed skating aids, helmets, photos with Santa, and warm beverages add to the festive holiday experience. Winter activities are front and center on the Olympic Peninsula. Along with the traditional winter outdoor activities – downhill-skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing – there’s surfing, kayaking and hiking. Camping at low levels for the hearty can be a special, quiet retreat. Media Contact: Mary Brelsford, 360.452.8552, [email protected].

Whether you’re looking for adventures or indulgences, it all comes naturally in Washington state. We look forward to assisting you with story ideas!