15 Best Things to Do in Chehalis, WA

Chehalis, WA
Victoria Ditkovsky / shutterstock.com

Chehalis is a lovely and welcoming city located in Lewis County, Washington.

It's also the seat of the county.

Established in 1883, the city served primarily as a logging town and rail depot.

The 20th Century ushered in a new age of development for Chehalis.

However, a push for agricultural growth happened during the mid-20th century, when the city became more known as a farming hub.

As part of this transition, many historical records documented Chehalis' farm culture, which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Beautiful museums, excellent hiking trails, golf courses, and delicious restaurants are some of the attractions that make Chehalis a haven for locals and travelers alike.

To help you maximize your visit to this national treasure, here are the best things to do in Chehalis, WA:

Learn History at Lewis County Historical Society and Museum

Front view of Lewis County Historical Museum's exterior
Joe Mabel, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lewis County Historical Society and Museum celebrate a unique blend of hop fields and timberlands heritage as well as the true impact of Native American history.

Founded on December 21st, 1845, this unique city served as a prominent area for hop farms and timberlands.

Lewis County spanned from the Chehalis tribe in Southwestern Washington State up to Alaska.

Visiting Lewis County Historical Museum will teach you about the county'sdeep Southern roots and the pristine natural landscape.

You'll also learn its strong relationship with the Native American culture of yesteryear.

Lewis Country Historical Society and Museum have a robust collection of historical artifacts.

One of their model train exhibits will mesmerize anyone who visits.

Their research library also contains countless records detailing every detail of the history of Lewis County.

Trek through Willapa Hills State Park Trail

There are countless ways to enjoy the great outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

However, there’s no more quintessential trail than the Willapa Hills State Park Trail.

Willapa Hills State Park is a member of Washington State Park's Network of Trails.

It's considered a flat route and is 56 miles in length.

It originated in 1993 when Washington State Parks acquired it from the Burlington Northern Railroad.

The route spans across Chehalis to South Bend, where it intersects US Highway 101 on a more easterly course toward Willapa Bay.

Willapa Hills State Park Trail courses its way through the rural Willapa Valley, providing a beautiful natural landscape for visitors to enjoy year-round.

Walkers and joggers alike can enjoy clear views of the valley's farmland, small towns, wildflowers, and wildlife.

This trail is well designed for families and groups, with several developed trailheads that are easily accessed along the way.

Honor the Patriots at Veterans Memorial Museum

There are a lot of veterans in America, and many have served in the military and gone to war.

Some have also fought in the most brutal battles of all time, so it's important to remember them.

One place where people can learn about their experiences is at the Veterans Memorial Museum.

They've recently opened a 9,000-square-foot gallery housing 85 display cases full of dedicatory gear and memorabilia of veterans.

They also have an extensive military history reference library.

It contains thousands of books on diverse eras and topics ranging from conflicts throughout the world to weaponry spanning millennia.

There's even a gift shop boasting patriotic items.

The museum also has an on-site "USO" where guests are invited to enjoy a hot cup of coffee in the company of other visitors.

Stroll the Courses of Shankz 3D Black Light Miniature Golf

Shankz 3D Black Light Miniature Golf is the place to go when it comes time to work off all that holiday spirit and have a great time with family.

Covered in glowing wildlife scenes and equipped with exciting black lights, this indoor facility is the best option for spending some family free time in Chehalis.

Though this facility offers many attractions, it's their custom-built mini-golf courses that will truly challenge your putting prowess.

This "all ages" facility is well known for its challenging escape rooms, fun bounce houses, classic arcade games, birthday party packages, delightful snacks, and so much more.

You'll feel like you're walking through a theme park without having to leave your city streets.

All you need to do is stop in at Shankz 3D Black Light Miniature Golf.

Ask them to put the glasses on you to see what they mean by "miniature golf."

Ride the Train at Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum

A steam locomotive at Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum
Drew Jacksich from San Jose, CA, The Republic of California, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum is an excellent destination for anyone who loves vintage train rides and exciting excursions along a scenic rail line.

In 1986, Chehalis-Centralia first started its operation as a non-profit corporation known as the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad Association.

Visit the grounds to find the old 1916 logging locomotive that has stayed for 30 years in Chehalis Park.

A few local citizens got together to try to get it up and running again after several decades of disrepair.

After years of work, they raised funds that allowed them to restore the Cowlitz, Chehalis & Cascade No. 15, an original steam locomotive from Baldwin.

The museum has a few displays of antique trains and a nifty old #15 Train that you can ride for an hour-and-a-half's worth of sightseeing.

That's plenty for young travelers who might otherwise get bored on the longer excursions.

It's also worth considering for those wanting to spend less money.

Explore the Outdoors at Stan Hedwell Park

The grounds of Stan Hedwall Park
Shortiefourten, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stan Hedwell Park is one of Chehalis’ premier parks and hosts various group activities throughout the year.

The park typically has a large crowd each week for their games, from baseball to soccer and everything in between.

Offering meadows and fields for baseball as well as over 100 acres of surrounding wooded land, the field is the prime choice for leagues, teams, and recreational soccer.

Stan Hedwell Park is home to Chehalis Youth Soccer, Twin City Babe Ruth, and Chehalis Little League.

The Newaukum River runs through the park and offers “unique” fishing opportunities through its large rocks.

The park is home to many unique entertainment spots.

Enjoy outdoor activities like horseshoe pits, volleyball courts, and a big-toy playground.

In addition, 29 RV sites are available at this location, equipped with water and electric hookups.

You'll even find the amenities you'd expect at any other full-service campground.

Likewise, you'll find restrooms with showers and picnic tables scattered throughout the rest areas.

Snap Photos at Jackson House State Park Heritage Site

Jackson House State Park Heritage Site is one of the oldest and most historically significant sites in Washington.

The famous explorer John R. Jackson lived off the land in Chehalis for years by hunting, fishing, farming, etc.

It wasn’t until 1915 that a group of women from the local community rebuilt his homestead into an official cabin.

This cabin became one of Washington's two earliest state parks because of its rich history and role as an essential location in early territorial Washington.

Jackson House State Park Heritage Site is a gorgeous park with dozens of apple trees growing on its grounds.

One can enjoy snapping panoramic photos of the surrounding nature.

Practice Your Distance Drives at Riverside Golf Club

Are you a big fan of golf?

Do you frequently spend your weekends heading down to the driving range or around a course?

At Riverside Golf Club, the quality greens sparkle in contrast to the lush landscape.

Whether you want to come for 18 holes or just nine, you can enjoy casual play to friendly tournaments can occur during regularly scheduled tee times.

This course boasts a fully equipped and covered driving range, an inviting full-service clubhouse, an award-winning restaurant, and a bar environment.

Riverside Golf Club is located along the Chehalis River.

They have RV parking available.

There's a spot on the golf course and an option to park along the street.

Feel Inspired by Nature at Rainbow Falls State Park

The waters of Rainbow Falls State Park
ECTran71, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A walk in the forest of Rainbow Falls State Park is a must for those who enjoy nature and good views.

This walker’s paradise is located 16 miles west of Chehalis.

As you walk along the trails of Rainbow Falls State Park, you'll feel as if you're walking through a portal to another world.

The rare cluster of old-growth trees creates shadows that tourists and locals come to feel inspired by nature.

As the sun glistens through the light green leaves on these giant trees, you'll feel an inner peace come over you just by walking among these ethereal giants.

Outdoor enthusiasts can ride a bike or horse around Douglas-fir, hemlock, and cedar trees.

Bikers and hikers use many of Rainbow Falls State Park's mixed-use trails.

Trail enthusiasts will enjoy the option of exploring more on the Willapa Hills State Park Trail.

It's a lovely rail-trails extension that is by and large flat, crossing through farmlands, small towns, and forests.

Go on an Exciting Shopping Adventure at Twin City Town Center

If you can carve out some free time during your Chehalis visit, Twin City Town Center would be worth checking out.

It boasts a variety of stores and dining facilities, including several leading local and international brands.

The mall also has Starbucks, Walmart, fast food restaurants, Home Depot, some banks and entertainment facilities.

Likewise, they offer other amenities in case you need a quick run here or there.

You might also notice a few patrons singing for spare change.

They keep mostly to themselves and don't seem to bother others.

Take a Leisurely Dip at Gail and Carolyn Shaw Aquatic Center

Exterior of Gail and Carolyn Shaw Aquatic Center
Shortiefourten, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Gail and Carolyn Shaw Aquatic Center is an outdoor community pool in Chehalis with tons of fun things to do for families in the community.

From 1959 to the present day, generations of kids have enjoyed spending time with their grandchildren splashing around in the water, and swimming at the facility.

It's not just your regular old pool; it's an aquatic center with many exciting slides, new toys, and even a beach-style entry.

Two slides await guests of the Gail and Carolyn Shaw Aquatic Center.

The blue one is for non-swimmers.

If you want to use the red slide, you need to pass a swimming test.

For all who enjoy diving boards of any kind, this center has just the thing to exhilarate them.

You can also bring outside food or drinks here, although there's a snack stand available for those looking for refreshment.

Today, young people and older generations enjoy the facility.

Since 2014, the facility has undergone renovations totaling $2.2 million.

Other added features are new fencing, concrete walkways, and benches.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Visit Vernetta Smith Chehalis Timberland Library

Exterior of Vernetta Smith Chehalis Timberland Library
© Steven Pavlov / https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Senapa

In 2008, a generous donation provided Chehalis with a library.

The city used the funds to build an extraordinary library for those of all ages.

Many volunteers worked hard on Vernetta Smith Chehalis Timberland Library before its completion.

The fundraising efforts brought most of the resources to make up this stunning library together.

Its 9,000 square feet area contains many areas, including study rooms, a community room, and even an electronic resource area.

They established the library to honor the wishes of the late, great philanthropist and long-time resident Orin Smith.

The city tore down the old Chehalis City Hall and replaced it with this beautiful new library facility.

Visit Southwest Washington Fairgrounds

The Southwest Washington Fairgrounds has a nice fair area with over 100,000 square feet of space.

It's incredibly convenient for hosting public and private events.

You'll find it in nearby Centralia, Washington, four minutes from Chehalis.

This venue provides indoor and outdoor options for all kinds of enjoyable gatherings.

You'll find birthday celebrations, professional conferences, and more.

The Southwest Washington Fairgrounds boasts a convenient location right off the I-5 corridor, situated in the vicinity of many other major cities.

The beautiful and historic grounds of the fairgrounds come with plentiful parking and camping areas.

It also has two outdoor stages, large barns, restaurants, and meeting rooms.

Plus, there's a shop to guarantee that you enjoy all kinds of animal events during your stay here.

Browse Different Stalls at Chehalis Farmers Market

One of the many things you'll love about the Farmer's Market is that you can see almost anything you need from local farmers and ranchers.

A group of farmers started the market in 2004.

The Greater Lewis County Farmers Market Association is a diverse group driven to promote local agriculture through gatherings of many local vendors.

Chehalis Farmers Market brings together farmers and buyers of all kinds.

This space provides a space where all community members can get fresh produce and other farm products.

You'd also support people who work with such goods professionally.

Chehalis Farmers Market opens on Boistfort Street.

See the Latest Blockbusters at Midway Cinema

Midway Cinema is an exceptional establishment in the Washington Chehalis Northwest Hampe Way region.

Midway Cinema is not just a movie theater but also an arcade.

The arcades at Midway Cinema are a fun combo to a fantastic movie-watching experience.

There are rows of comfy seats and beautiful, bright lobbies with comfortable couches and chairs to relax while waiting for the films.

They typically play the newest blockbusters, while the reasonably sized arcade comes with classic games like Pac-Man and Jurassic Park.

Final Thoughts

At first glance, one might easily disregard Chehalis as a less-interesting tourist destination.

It's smaller than the well-known cities in Washington State like Portland or Seattle, after all.

However, once you set foot inside Chehalis, you will be pleasantly surprised by some of the unique things to do and discover that await you here.

You’ll find something special waiting in the city that’s worth exploring.

Book your Chehalis trip today!