Wonderous Walla Walla

This once-sleepy college town is now an epicenter of wine, food, art, and more in Washington’s wine country.

With more than 120 wineries, the “town so nice, they named it twice” has earned its reputation as Washington’s unofficial wine capital, and boasts a world-class arts and culinary scene to match.

The valley has five distinct winery regions. Stroll through the Downtown district, stopping at wineries like Forgeron Cellars and Kontos Cellars as you go. Southside wineries get you out into the vines: Balboa Winery and Northstar Winery boast gorgeous patios. Eastside wineries like Abeja and Walla Walla Vintners curl along rolling hills and prairie, and in the Westside, L’Ecole No. 41 is located in a historic schoolhouse first built by French Canadian settlers in the late 1800s. In the Airport district, a WWII-era military base houses production and tasting facilities for several start-up wineries, plus anchors of the burgeoning local craft beer and spirits scene, like Quirk Brewing and brandy-makers DW Distilling.

Culture seekers will want to check out the large-scale sculptural projects by Walla Walla Foundry artists. See them at Whitman College’s sculpture garden, at Foundry Vineyards, or along downtown streets. Gesa Powerhouse Theatre (phtww.com) caters to concert- and theatergoers, and the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival brings classical music to life each January and June.

Spending too much time indoors? Cheer on the local baseball team, the Walla Walla Sweets, named after the town’s famed sweet onion, or meander around picturesque Bennington Lake, a favorite of birdwatchers. Those looking for more adventure can hike up Tiger Canyon in the Blue Mountains.

When it’s time to dine, try Whitehouse-Crawford for farm-to-table cuisine, Brasserie Four for French classics like mussels and fries, or Marcus Whitman Hotel’s Vineyard Lounge for small plates to share. Save room for pastries or gelato at Colville Street Patisserie.

By Catie Joyce-Bulay

Photo: Saga City

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