Walla Walla, WA: Twice as Nice

Creative, urban, and very nice, the southeastern Washington town of Walla Walla surprises us over and over again. 

Published: 2/01/2015

Creative, urban, and very nice, the southeastern Washington town of Walla Walla surprises us over and over again.

Just a little more than 30 years ago, the charming rural town of Walla Walla, Washington, was formally recognized as an AVA (American Viticultural Area). Today, it is home to more than 120 wineries, two colleges, one university, the longest running symphony west of the Mississippi River, art galleries, museums, an amazing dining scene that includes James Beard award-winning chefs and eateries, and about 32,000 people who greet visitors with open arms.

This surprisingly sophisticated town is not on the beaten path, but it’s easy to reach, with daily direct flights to and from Seattle and scenic highways leading from Portland, Seattle, and Boise. Once you’re there, you’ll find it easy to settle in. Over the past couple of years, Walla Walla has been recognized by Fodor’s as one of the 10 Best Small Towns in America, by USA Today and Rand McNally as America’s Friendliest Small Town, by Sunset magazine as having the Best Main Street in the West, and by The Daily Meal as America’s Best Small Town for Food. Y

ou have your work cut out for you! Start on the streets of downtown, where you’ll always find something to try, from a hot cappuccino at sunrise to live music at a tasting room at sunset followed by a fabulous gourmet dinner. Beyond a strong food and wine scene, you’ll be delighted to discover historical architecture, interesting art and sculptures, and unique boutiques to explore. Hit the road and drive in any direction to find more!

As far as wineries go, the Walla Walla Valley AVA is divided into five basic areas: Westside, Downtown, Eastside, Southside, and Oregon. Many of the Eastside wineries are located in repurposed World War II-era buildings near the Walla Walla airport. But wine is only the beginning. More than 337 species of birds have been documented in Walla Walla Valley, making it an excellent site for birding. The region also boasts six public golf courses and exciting routes for all levels of bicyclists. In addition, Walla Walla is home to several theater troupes, many museums, and historical homes.

From its vibrant Main Street to its rural hills and plains, Walla Walla will impress you with its cultural richness and approachability. In fact, many townspeople first came here as tourists themselves. “The town so nice they named it twice” deserves routine visits by us all.

As seen in the issue Pacific Northwest Spring 2015 of Touring & Tasting Magazine.