Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Tri-Cities, WA

  • Published 2023/03/17

Tri-Cities is a fast-growing suburban region located in Washington’s southeastern segment.

Considered as the largest metropolitan area in WA, the region consisted originally of three interlinked cities—Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland—thus the name “Tri-Cities.”

However, the western part of Richland grew tremendously over the years that authorities recognized it as an independent community.

At the heart of this fast-growing metropolis, you can find the confluence of Columbia, Snake, and Yakima Rivers.

Aside from its unique geography, it has a favorable climate.

Almost all year round, residents of Tri-Cities enjoy warm weather.

With its exceptional waterways and dry weather, there are a lot of activities waiting to be tried and enjoyed.

Outdoor recreations are a staple for the locals and visitors.

Apart from the above-mentioned things, Tri-Cities has much more to offer in terms of entertainment and relaxation.

Here are the 15 things you can do in Tri-Cities, WA:

Explore the Nature at Chamna Natural Preserve

Chamna Natural Preserve

Kirk Bagley, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Touring the 276-acre Chamna Natural Preserve adjacent to the Yakima River offers a fulfilling experience for your whole family or group of friends.

The preserve is home to more than two hundred bird species ranging from waterfowls, owls, pelicans, cranes, hawks, and more.

Aside from birds, you can also spot different species of butterflies and other wild animals that inhabit the preserve, like river otters, coyotes, and minks.

Immerse yourself in its luscious greenery and different flora that offers a picture-perfect background for your souvenir photos.

You can explore its 11-mile trail through hiking, biking, and horse-riding.

Since it is situated in the riverbank, Chamna Natural Preserve offers fun water activities.

You can try kayaking, canoeing, and even go fishing at the Yakima River.

This place never runs out of things to enjoy, even during the snowy months.

In the winter, you can try cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Chamna Natural Preserve

Kirk Bagley, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Learn Advanced Gardening WSU Master Gardener Demonstration Garden

Washington State University houses three Master Gardener Demonstration Gardens.

You can choose from Jennings Park Demonstration Garden, Evergreen Arboretum Demonstration Garden Border, and McCollum Park Demonstration Garden.

Here you can learn different gardening techniques which you can incorporate into your own landscape.

You will also learn which trees, shrubs, and other plants best suit your location at a particular time of the year.

The garden may also be appreciated in the park’s quietness.

WSU features over 24 unique themed gardens that change from time to time.

Its 2-acre Children’s Garden is also great for young ones to learn and appreciate gardening at an early age.

Join a Water2Wine Cruise in Richland

The Water2Wine Cruise offers an exclusive and intimate way to celebrate special milestones in your life.

Witness the breathtaking sunset as you trudge along the Columbia River aboard a luxury yacht.

Enjoy Tri-Cities’ local wine and your hearty dinner prepared by the yacht’s resident chef.

The vessel is complete with facilities and amenities you can enjoy with your loved one throughout the three-hour tour.

Positioned on the top deck is a full-service bar with flat-screen televisions.

It also features an overhead sound system that plays music wherever you are.

Embark on a Winetasting Tour in Benton City

Landscape of the Benton City

Danita Delimont /

Tri-Cities won’t be called “Wine Country” for no reason.

With over 200 wineries to explore within an hour’s drive, you won’t last a day without feeling tipsy.

In Benton City alone, there are dozens of wineries you can visit, such as the Anelare, MonteScarlatto Estate Winery, Muret-Gaston Wines, Native Sun Wines, and Purple Star Wines, which offer premium hand-crafted wines ranging from $7-$15 for wine tasting.

Vineyard in Yakima Valley

Frenchycois /

Apart from trying their fine wines, you also get to unwind with their incredible views overlooking the Yakima Valley and Red Mountain.

Even the indoor setting is a sight to admire, with the rustic-themed tasting rooms.

Just remember to note the wine tasting hours as some of them open only on weekends, while others do on selected weekdays.

Wineyard at Benton City

Danita Delimont /

Bring Your Kids to Playground of Dreams

After long hours of hitting the wheels as you tour Tri-Cities, your kids begin to complain about wanting to run around and stretch their legs.

Before you think of doing a U-turn halfway through the trip, we have a solution for you.

Most locals call Toyota of Tri-Cities Playground of Dreams or Playground of Dreams located in Columbia Park, Kennewick.

This playground has some humble beginnings and is a special sport in the heart of the locals.

Completed in 1999 from the donations of the residents, this playground was engulfed in flames in 2003.

The locals stepped up to meet the challenge of rebuilding it.

With their community effort, the playground was rebuilt a year later and is still lovingly maintained until now.

Kids (and kids at heart) will never run out of things to enjoy here.

It is jampacked with different equipment like panels with sounds imitating trucks and trains, different types of swings, a zip line, and interactive chimes.

Ride a Kayak Along Columbia River

Scenic view of Columbia River

eastandwest /

A kayak tour along the Columbia River offers a riveting experience, and a peek through history.

Centuries ago, the kayak was one of the primary transportations used by Native Americans to transport goods between British Columbia and the Coast of Oregon.

The practice survived until today as a way to immerse the visitors in a thrilling experience as they paddle along the serene waters of the river.

An old man fishing at Columbia River

Simone Hogan /

Kayaks shop close to the river is well-equipped, ensuring you have everything you need to enjoy the experience safely.

You can do a half-day guided tour jumping off Scappoose Bay to St. Helens or a full-day tour from Dalton Point to Rooster Rock.

As well as swimming holes and eddies, there are picturesque broad open channels and spots to see salmon swim back to the streams where they hatched.

If you are a beginner, you can also get kayak lessons from professionals in the area.

Vibrant sunset at Columbia River

Nadia Yong /

Go Back in Time at REACH Museum

REACH Museum

Tada Images /

If you love to celebrate Tri-Cities’ history and culture, REACH Museum is the place to go.

Before going indoors, you will already admire the visually stunning façade of the Museum.

Inside, this interactive museum teaches you about the forces that shaped the Tri-Cities and its surrounding areas, like the Ice Age Floods and Manhattan Project.

With four permanent galleries and one rotating, the exhibits are a feast for the eyes.

Signage of REACH Museum

J.D.S /

It also has a 500-seat amphitheater, an outdoor performing arts area where you can watch shows depicting the history of Tri-Cities.

From here, as well as from the entry hall and solar patio, you can enjoy the view of the Columbia River.

If you want to immerse yourself in the museum experience fully, take a guided tour.

Southern facade of REACH Museum

Tada Images /

Ride the Gesa Carousel of Dreams

Gesa Carousel of Dreams was originally made and launched in Silver Beach Amusement Park, Michigan.

Throughout generations, this carousel was passed on to different owners and locations throughout the country until it landed on its final home in Washington State.

Gesa Carousel of Dreams is a restoration of a 108-year-old Charles Carmel hand-carved merry-go-round.

It took 10 years to complete the restoration of each of the horses in this ride.

The carousel may seem antique, but it is completely safe to ride.

Riding this historic carousel is free of charge, but the owners also appreciate some donations for its maintenance and operational cost.

It also caters to all kinds of events with a capacity of up to 100 people.

This attraction, located at Kennewick, WA, also offers a variety of food choices like burgers, pizza, nachos, and more.

You may opt to buy food and drinks from its concession kitchen or at the food shops nearby.

Pay Tribute to the Fallen Heroes at the 9/11 Memorial

If you’re visiting Tri-Cities, this spot should be part of your itinerary.

Without going to the actual ground zero, you can pay respects to the 2,977 lives lost during the terrorist attack in Twin Tower on September 11, 2001.

The 9/11 Memorial houses an actual piece of the World Trade Center which will remind you to live each day as if it’s your last.

This memorial located at Kennewick was unveiled in 2011, five years after it was first constructed.

Look Back to Tri-Cities’ Dark Past in Hanford Nuclear Reservation Site

Hanford Nuclear Reservation Site

J.D.S /

This 580-square mile site used to be a nuclear production complex.

Today, it houses nine nuclear production reactors, six of which have been sealed up in interim safe storage (ISS).

Here, you will find the world’s first full-scale plutonium production reactor called “Project B.”

This reactor was notorious for producing plutonium used in creating the atomic bomb, which caused the catastrophe in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and ended World War II.

However, this facility is now used for good reasons, as a living testament to the success of the Manhattan Project and the heroism of our war veterans.

Bring Out Your Inner Geek at Bechtel National Planetarium

If you’re an astronomy geek, this place perfectly sparks your imagination.

Located at Columbia Basin College, Bechtel National Planetarium features life-like exhibits and high-definition projected images, making you feel as if you’re actually exploring outer space.

This Planetarium will also inspire your kids to be future scientists as the place features educational presentations about the universe.

The shows also include topics on the solar system and constellations.

If you plan to visit this place, you can book a ticket online or buy at the venue upon walk-in.

The Planetarium also advises you to come in 15 minutes before the show to make sure you have seats available.

Bike Along the Badger Mountain Road

This is not only good for hikers; those with bikes can also enjoy trailing this road.

In terms of difficulty, this is the 10th among the bike climbs in the state.

This trail will definitely pump your adrenaline as most of it are an uphill climb.

The road is generally smooth, but it can be a bumpy ride in some areas.

As you pedal your way, you will enjoy the picturesque view of the Columbia Basin.

Plants like balsamroot and some purple sagebrush also add a sight to admire along the way.

Learn Paddleboarding in the Northwest

Riverboat at Howard Amon Park

Indigoiris /

If you want to learn paddle boarding, visit Howard Amon Park.

Here, you can get in touch with locals offering lessons in stand-up paddleboarding, including paddleboard yoga and community paddles.

These experts will teach you proper techniques in paddling, including the basics such as adjusting your paddle according to your height, getting in and out of the board safely, kneeling and standing on the board, and properly-getting back after falling.

Speed boating at Howard Amon Park

Indigoiris /

Learning paddleboarding is best done with a group, as fees tend to lower as more people join the class.

However, if you want to learn alone, they also offer one-on-one classes.

Take note that if you have kids with you, they must be at least 12 years old to qualify for the classes.

Jet Ski in the Columbia River

Warer Skiing in the Columbia River

Bobjgalindo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Riding a jet ski in the Columbia River offers an enthralling water adventure.

In the area, one of the most popular rentals is Pacific Shortz Watersports.

Aside from the ride itself, they provide you with complete safety equipment such as life vests to ensure you are secured as you enjoy the waters of the river.

Additionally, you will be required to view a 15-minute safety film and be at least 18 years old before renting as part of the State Watercraft Safety Commission protocols.

Food shops are also nearby for your gastronomic delight.

Make sure to free your weekend as rentals are usually open only these days.

Check Out the Fluffs at the Sandollar Farms Alpacas & Pyrs

Furry, wooly friends await you in Sandollar Farms Alpacas & Pyrs.

Located in the heart of Wine Country, the farm raises Suri alpaca, a rare breed of alpaca known for their high-quality, luxurious fleece.

They also have Great Pyrenees dogs who serve as guardians to their livestock animals.

Aside from these fluffs, the farm also houses some bird and bee species.

There are also luscious gardens and orchards where you can pick and eat fruits straight from the trees.

Before you exit the farm’s premises, you can purchase souvenir items from their boutique, where they make items using the alpaca fleece.

Browse through Petroglyphs at East Benton County Historical Society Museum

East Benton County Historical Society Museum offers you the ultimate historical excursion within the Tri-Cities area.

Established in 1978, it offers a look into the past of East Benton County.

From artifacts to photographs, you get a glimpse of what life was like during the time of the early settlers in 1850 and up to the present.

But perhaps, one of the top reasons why this museum is a historical wonder for many is because of its Native American petroglyph display.

These petroglyphs go as far back as 1939.

Head over to West Keewaydin Drive in Kennewick to get to East Benton County Historical Society Museum.

View the Public Art at Clover Island

Lighthouse at Clover Island

Gregory Johnston /

Experience the outdoor life when you drop by Clover Island.

This 16-acre island may be small, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for its onsite attractions.

Considered a blend of recreation and commerce, this island is home to a 62-foot-tall lighthouse.

Landscape of the Clover Island

William K Rice /

The 3,700-square-foot plaza surrounding the lighthouse is famous for sunset vistas and wildlife residents.

Clover Island also has a 0.25-mile riverwalk.

And all around the plaza are about 16 art installations you can spot.

This island sits between Cable and Blue Bridges in the city of Kennewick.

Colorful sunset at Clover Island

Merlotgirl1 /

Take a Trip Back to the Ice Age at Coyote Canyon Mammoth Site

Coyote Canyon Mammoth Site is an archaeological site managed by MCBONES Research Center Foundation.

During the Ice Age, mammoths strayed within Eastern Washington.

And this eventually led to the discovery of many mammoth bones in the area in 1999.

In 2010, the site underwent excavation.

This led to more collections, resulting in about 700 specimens and over 90 mammoth bones.

Sign up for a scheduled guided tour around the place to get to learn more about the fossils acquired.

Within the dig site is an MCBONES Research Center Dig House, where many exhibits and posters tell the story of the remains.

Coyote Canyon Mammoth Site is on Clodfelter Road.

Go for a Scenic Biking Excursion at Sacagawea Heritage Trail

Sacagawea Heritage Trail during sunset

DJ Cane, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What better way to traverse the Tri-Cities area than through Sacagawea Heritage Trail?

This trail spans 23 miles and makes a loop around the Columbia River.

It winds around the common stark shrub-steppe habitat common within the area.

View of the Sacagawea Heritage Trail

DJ Cane, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Along the route are interpretive markers and signages narrating the events that shaped the Tri-Cities’ vicinity.

The trail is famous among birdwatchers, nature enthusiasts, and hikers along.

In Pasco, Sacagawea Heritage Trail starts at Sacajawea State Park and and its opposite point is in Kennewick at Cable Bridge.

View the Entire Tri-Cities Area at the Peak of Candy Mountain Trail

If hiking is your forte, you might like Candy Mountain Trail.

Opened in 2017, this multi-use trail is a relatively easy route compared to its Badger Mountain counterpart.

This offers one of the best sceneries atop the mountain that overlooks the Tri-Cities community.

It reaches an elevation gain of 555 feet.

It branches out into two branches, both equally as fascinating as the other.

On the left branch, the trail falters into an old road with sagebrush foliage.

If you turn to the right, the route takes you on rigged boulders.

To get to Candy Mountain Trail, drive across Route 82 until you see the sign for the trail’s preserve.

Final Thoughts

In Tri-Cities, you’ll never run out of things to do and places to go.

If you are looking for a place where you can enjoy the scenic views, outdoor adventure, relaxation, and learning—all while enjoying a bottle of wine, this region in Washington is definitely a haven for your getaway dreams.

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