15 Best Things to Do in Kelso, WA

Kelso, WA
Stacie Marie Kinne / shutterstock.com

In the southwestern part of Washington lies the noteworthy city of Kelso, the seat of Cowlitz County.

Kelso forms part of Longview in the Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area.

It shares a western boundary with its neighbor, Longview.

Founded in the 1840s, Kelso beams with historical and cultural significance.

Many pioneers chose to settle here because of its glamorous lowland along the banks of the Cowlitz River and forested hills.

According to the 2020 census, Kelso had a population of 12,720.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the dense suburban vibe and splendid spectacles that Kelso has to offer.

Prepare for a journey filled with luscious food, magnificent parks, breathtaking views, and unforgettable activities!

Here are the best things to do in Kelso, Washington:

Wander the Three Rivers Mall

Exterior of Three Rivers Mall
melissamn / Shutterstock.com

In 1987, the famous enclosed shopping mall named Three Rivers Mall opened straight off Interstate 5.

This mall presents a wide variety of stores, from furniture, home decor, and sports to fitness and clothing.

Some anchor stores in this shopping center are JCPenney, Regal Cinemas, Planet Fitness, and Sportsman’s Warehouse.

You can also savor the food courts and top-notch restaurants that serve pleasant dining and quality food, drinks, and service.

Before leaving Three Rivers Mall, don’t forget to browse the best souvenirs to complete your trip.

Remember the Past at the Cowlitz County Historical Museum

Cowlitz County and the Cowlitz County Historical Society founded the Cowlitz County Historical Museum in 1949.

Previously located in the space provided by Cowlitz County in 1953, the museum currently stands along Allen Street.

The museum houses a broad collection of artifacts, images, books, documents, and other mementos that retell the tales of Cowlitz County.

Exhibits feature Native American culture, early settlers, film footage of the 1933, 1948, and 1996 floods, a teacup that survived the 1902 Yacolt fire and many more.

Its fascinating exhibits and facilities are also famous for contributing to the community.

Likewise, educational institutions consult the museum for resource materials.

Guided general and specialty tours are available to students, citizens, and visitors of all ages.

With permission from the museum director, guests can join enrichment activities, games, or additional presentations.

If you are in the city, don’t miss the chance to visit the fabulous Cowlitz County Historical Museum!

Spend Quality Time at Tam O’Shanter Park

Tam O’Shanter Park is a renowned park adjacent to the Coweeman River, dedicated to outdoor recreation and nature preservation.

If you want to play some sports, this multi-purpose park has athletic fields and facilities for training and sports.

Not only does this park host the annual Kelso Highlander Festival, but it also offers many free events.

Children can play in the large playground area.

Pavilions filled with tables welcome people who want to sit and enjoy the brilliant atmosphere and view.

This lovely park also embraces picnic areas to enjoy with your family and trails for walking, jogging and running.

Tam O’Shanter Park is one of the best go-to places for hanging out.

Sing Praises at Kelso Christian Assembly

Kelso Christian Assembly is a beautiful church in the city.

It stands near the Cowlitz County Historical Museum.

Red and gray bricks comprise this church.

Some trees stand close to the church, making you feel relaxed.

Praise the ambiance when you walk around.

Kelso Christian Assembly has a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Likewise, the people are friendly, making you feel like a family.

Celebrate the Kelso Highlander Festival

The annual Kelso Highlander Festival takes place in mid-September at Tam O’Shanter Park.

It is the most awaited two-day festival in Kelso.

During this event, Scottish and Celtic cultures gather in one place with food, music, dance, entertainment, competition, and Highland Games.

There are also several activities like the annual parade, fun runs, and other exciting performances.

Don’t skip the chance to join the fun Kelso Highlander Festival in September.

Watch a Movie at Regal Cinemas Three Rivers Mall 12 & RPX

Regal Cinemas Three Rivers Mall 12 & RPX is a famous movie theater in Kelso.

It boasts a regal premium experience, giving watchers an enhanced sound and visual quality over standard cinemas.

The space is noticeably clean and rewards you with comfortable seats.

Enjoy the relaxed vibe and perfect movie experience.

This movie theater is attached to the Three Rivers Mall.

If you want to catch new movies or the latest blockbusters, don’t miss the Regal Cinemas Three Rivers Mall 12 & RPX.

Bring your friends, family, or a date!

Play Golf at the Three Rivers Golf Course

Located between the Columbia River, the Cowlitz River, and the Coweeman River, the Three Rivers Golf Course is an 18-hole course established in 1983.

The well-kept course is suitable for all, whether you’re a beginner or a veteran in playing golf.

It also offers grass driving.

The place rewards you with great beautiful greens and a refreshing atmosphere, making you feel the cool and fresh breeze.

There is also a nice restaurant in the area, if you feel hungry or thirsty.

Whether you’re a golf enthusiast or not, pay the admission fee and consider spending your time here to discover why the Three Rivers Golf Course is a top traveler pick.

Embrace the Tranquility of Brookhollow RV Park

Brookhollow RV Park, near the Tam O’Shanter Park, is a recreational vehicle park along the Coweeman River on the eastern part of Kelso.

This scenic park grants you a clean rural setting with easy access to the shopping, dining, entertainment, and downtown area in Kelso and Longview.

You can take a stroll, hike, jog along the trails, or soak in the beautiful, lush landscape.

The park is also a perfect base for camping and stopovers.

You can go from the park to the nearest river, the Coweeman River, for fishing and kayaking.

Amenities comprise full hook-ups from electricity and water to the internet.

Brookhollow RV Park is the entranceway to a breathtaking panorama that displays the city’s charisma.

The recommended times to stop at this park are during holidays or summer.

Before going there, make sure you book beforehand to grab a slot.

Then, enjoy the quiet yet beautiful scenery before you!

Try Fishing at the Cowlitz River

Bridge over Cowlitz River
Lou's Canon, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Kelso was the midpoint for commercial smelt fishing on the Cowlitz River in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

So, if you want to spend a few hours on a river, the Cowlitz River is a fine choice for its picturesque view.

There are available boats for rent at Kelso.

You can also bring your boat if you have one.

Try to catch the abundant steelhead, Coho salmon, and Chinook salmon on this river.

Join others in shoreline fishing, fly fishing, kayaking, or non-motorized boat fishing at this good fishing stream.

Likewise, bring your family and friends for some riverside fishing conservation.

If you get tired, take the time to admire and snap photos of the Cowlitz River as a keepsake.

Go Skateboarding at Kelso Rotary Skate Park

Kelso Rotary Skate Park is a gathering place for dedicated athletic youth and welcomes visitors of all ages.

It lies somewhere in the Burcham Street of the city.

Kelso Rotary Skate Park has a concrete bowl for skaters and a few terrains and trails in the area.

There is an ample covered space with picnic tables for picnicking and a playground for kids.

Why not visit this park for a delightful day to see talented people doing their thing?

Bring your kids to the skate park, especially if you have skaters in the family.

See Blockbusters at Kelso Theater Pub & Backstage Italian Café

This single-screen movie theater is a four-minute walk from the Cowlitz County Historical Museum.

It is a hot spot in Kelso and one of the locals’ favorite places.

People love to go to Kelso Theater Pub & Backstage Italian Café to watch prominent films and first-run blockbusters.

There are tables in front of the seats where you can eat delectable foods and good drinks to pair with your perfect moviegoing experience.

Bring your partner, friends, family, or co-workers and try a new way to see a movie!

Next to this movie house is the Backstage Italian Café, where you can order quality food, pizza, pasta, dessert, beer, wine, and more.

Visiting Kelso Theater Pub & Backstage Italian Café is an enticing experience you won’t forget.

Have a Blast at the Coweeman River

Kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding are the ultimate experiences you can enjoy at the Coweeman River.

Doing this with your companions or joining other paddlers on the river should add to the experience.

Not only will you see the glassy waters, but you will also catch the vibrant colors of sunshine, sunset, and nature.

While the waters push you forward, take care and seize the moment to capture the enchanting sights for keepsakes.

Just thinking of this activity should excite you and make you smile.

Experience it yourself with friends or family!

Bring your kayak gear and life jacket to explore the waters at the Coweeman River in Kelso and go home satisfied!

Chill Out at Riverside Park

Riverside Park is one of the great choices for devoting a day to nature and recreation.

Nestled beside the Cowlitz River, this 59-acre recreation facility offers tons of activities.

Several picnic tables and shelters can host picnics, birthday parties, and other celebrations.

There are horseshoe pits, soccer fields, baseball fields, basketball, volleyball, tennis courts, and playground equipment for everyone.

Besides, you can also play Frisbee.

Join scheduled ball games in the spring, summer, and fall.

Otherwise, you can also watch the games live.

You can exercise by biking, jogging, or walking the trails and pathways in the area.

Bask in the green shade of the park while crossing its expanse.

Anglers may go fishing over the dike since the Cowlitz River is so close.

Otherwise, you can observe the gorgeous river.

Indeed, there is no scarcity of things to do amid the splendor of Riverside Park.

Visit East Hills Alliance Church

East Hills Alliance is a Christian and missionary alliance church that rests around the corner from the Kelso Rotary Skate Park.

It is a small, quiet yet lovely church.

The vibe around it is welcoming; people treat you like you belong in their community.

Behind East Hills Alliance Church is a back lot where you can park.

Many trees along the paved paths add shade to the church’s outside look.

Unwind at Scot Hollow Park

Scot Hollow Park sits along the intersection of Bates Road and N 19th Avenue.

It is a quiet park with an open space spanning three-quarters of an acre.

The site is clean and is pretty for walking your dog or other pets.

Unwind or take a break from your long day at work by spending personal time at the park.

Benches and picnic tables are present in the park for your convenience.

Like the other parks in Kelso, it also has a playground area for kids.

If you want to spend your free time in a quiet place, go to Scot Hollow Park.

Final Thoughts

Kelso, Washington, is home to scenic parks, and its glamor will undoubtedly never fade.

Explore the appealing parks, exquisite museums, memorable activities, and alluring scenery.

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Kelso!