Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Yakima, WA

  • Published 2023/01/04

The city of Yakima in Washington is known for its wine, hop, and apple production in the Yakima Valley.

This has drawn many people to work and live in the city since its incorporation in 1883 and the development of its historic downtown area.

It’s the county seat of Yakima County.

The first known settlers in the area were the Yakama people, who were defeated by the Lewis and Clark Expedition during the Yakima War.

The city is known for its beautiful nature trails, museums, parks, and vibrant historic district, which feature inviting work and play spots.

In Yakima, you’ll experience both the rural and urban atmosphere thanks to the city’s dedicated recreational activities for all ages.

You don’t have to spend a red cent to enjoy these activities.

On that note, here are some free things to do in Yakima, Washington:

Stroll around Historic Downtown Yakima

Buildings along the Historic Downtown Yakima

Heidi Ihnen Photography /

Brimming with vibrancy and rich history, Downtown Yakima on Main Street is the heart and soul of the city.

Walk around to see old and restored buildings that tell the story of Yakima from its founding to the present.

Discover quaint little shops, taste local food, take photos, and enjoy the free live music and open mic nights hosted by many local businesses.

Old buildings at the Historic Downtown Yakima

Heidi Ihnen Photography /

There’s so much to see downtown while walking around and drinking your favorite coffee.

Downtown Yakima offers no shortage of fun for the whole family and friends.

Shops along the Historic Downtown Yakima

Heidi Ihnen Photography /

Drop by the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center

The visitor center is one of the first few stops to make when visiting a place, and Yakima doesn’t disappoint.

As the county seat, the city ensures that all visitors find helpful information and resources in getting around the area and the entire region.

So, drop by the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center before venturing too far into the city.

The center has travel consultants to help you with your visit to the city, such as booking your hotel, setting up an excellent itinerary to your liking, and more.

There’s also a dedicated souvenir shop, which features locally handcrafted products, from unique gifts to a delicious selection of wines.

Moreover, these local wines are available for sampling at the visitor center!

Visit the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center at North Fair Avenue.

Admire the Beautiful Art of the Valley at Larson Art Gallery

Cultivating the love of art and supporting the local artists’ works, Larson Art Gallery has a vast collection of paintings, prints, and photographs.

These are the masterpieces of the Yakima Valley and national artists, as well as art students of Yakima Valley College, where the gallery is located.

Established in 1949, the exhibits rotate at least seven times yearly with art lectures, workshops, and programs.

Larson Art Gallery has a partnership with Yakima Valley College, which supports its cause and the maintenance of the building.

You can visit the gallery at West Nob Hill Boulevard.

Hike the Uplands Trail of Cowiche Canyon

Landscape of Cowiche Canyon

Michelle Baumbach /

The natural beauty that makes up the entire Yakima Valley is free to explore, and so is the Uplands Trail of Cowiche Canyon.

The canyon offers 30 miles of trails for those who love hiking, biking, running, and snowshoeing in the beautiful wildlands.

The loop trail takes you to unique and beautiful grasslands, oak woodlands, flowering meadows, sagebrush, and basalt cliffs.

The Cowiche Canyon Conservancy protects these areas to help save these unique nature gifts and get people closer.

Signage of the Uplands Trail of Cowiche Canyon

Michelle Baumbach /

It’s the best way to escape from the modern metropolis’ noise and to breathe fresh air, which is sometimes difficult to do in the big city.

Get on your hiking boots and explore Yakima’s wildlands!

Cowiche Canyon has a trailhead off Scenic Drive.

Daytime view of Uplands Trail of Cowiche Canyon

Michelle Baumbach /

Enjoy Fishing at Yakima Sportsman State Park

As a green oasis in the desert, Yakima Sportsman State Park offers a variety of fun outdoor activities perfect for the entire family.

This includes freshwater fishing for juveniles with recreational licenses, available year-round, while adults can fish in season.

The three-acre pond is stocked with fish annually, including rainbow trout and other species, such as common carp and pumpkinseed sunfish.

Enjoy a fun day of fishing while taking advantage of the park’s pleasant atmosphere.

Picnic tables are under the shady trees if you’re packing lunch for the day.

Yakima Sportsman State Park is also filled with over 130 species of birds, which makes your visit worthwhile.

This 266-acre park opened in the 1940s, located off University Parkway.

Catch a Free Baseball Game at Yakima County Stadium

For 20 seasons, Yakima County Stadium was home to the Yakima Bears minor league baseball team.

Today, it is the home field of the Yakima Valley Pippins, a collegiate wood-bat team.

On regular days, local high school teams play on the field; baseball fans can enjoy these games while in town.

The stadium has almost 3,000 seating capacity with bleachers and full-back plastic seating.

You can bring your snack or get one from the two concession stands inside the stadium and use the barbecue area.

Yakima County Stadium was opened in 1993 on Pacific Avenue.

Step into the Gorgeous Grounds of Yakima Area Arboretum

Pretty flowers at Yakima Area Arboretum

Michelle Baumbach /

As a true jewel in Central Washington, Yakima Area Arboretum is home to 1,000 indigenous species of woody plants and natural areas.

Take nature walks and see the beautiful herbarium and gardens with butterflies, perennials, Japanese, dryland, roses, and iris.

The landscape is impressive, and the tree collections in natural areas are all sights to behold!

These native and exotic species of plants and trees make up the 46 acres of the arboretum next to the stunning natural riparian habitat of the Yakima River.

Yakima Area Arboretum also hosts workshops and gardening classes for all ages.

It was established in 1967 in Yakima on Arboretum Drive.

Have a Picnic at Randall Park

There’s nothing more fun than spending a picnic day with your family and friends at a beautiful park.

Yakima doesn’t disappoint with picnicking; most parks feature picnic areas with grills, including Randall Park.

The creekside park has picnic tables for use if you prefer having your food on the table, or you may use your blanket for sitting on.

Nearby is a disc golf course for those who love Frisbee.

There’s also a pond with ducks you can feed and plenty of birds singing to your ears.

The park is the perfect spot for traveling families who want to share food and laughter, surrounded by a relaxing atmosphere.

Randall Park is located off South 48th Avenue.

Read a Book at Yakima Central Library

If you’re traveling but can’t let a day pass without reading a book, the best way to do so is the Yakima Central Library.

The library has quiet and peaceful reading nooks for everyone, regardless of the book you’re reading.

It holds a wide selection of books in any genre for all adults, teens, and kids.

You only have to ask a librarian to pull the book for you and spend an hour or two at one of its reading nooks.

There’s also free wifi for everyone to use.

The library also offers unique collections that tell the story of Latinos, Filipino-Americans, and more.

This would be an excellent spot for traveling bookworms, especially since its services are free to all guests visiting the library.

Yakima Central Library is on North 3rd Street in downtown Yakima.

Ride a Bike along the Yakima Greenway

The perfect place for traveling cyclists in the valley is the Yakima Greenway, a crowning jewel in the region.

The 20-mile greenway with paved walking and biking systems gives you access to parks, lakes, natural areas, and the Yakima River.

It stretches from the town of Naches to the City of Union Gap, allowing you to experience and discover the Valley’s best-kept secrets.

Start your bike ride at Sarg Hubbard Park on South 18 Street.

You can see several wildlife, native plants, wildflowers, and beautiful foliage along the way.

In 1980, the Yakima Greenway Foundation established the Greenway.

Attend the Fresh Hop Ale Festival

Soak up the historic ambiance and taste the local craft beer at the Fresh Hop Ale Festival in downtown Yakima.

In October, the Allied Arts of Yakima organizes a full-day event featuring live music, local food vendors, and the Valley’s famed Craft Beverages.

Bring your lawn chair, interact with other guests, and enjoy the show!

The Fresh Hop Ale Festival was started in 2003 by Allied Arts, which eventually closed, after which the Fresh Hop Group took over.

Today, the festival is still celebrated to commemorate the abundance of hops in the Yakima Valley and to support local craft breweries.

Catch the Outdoor Summer Sunset Concert Series at Franklin Park

The beautiful, family-friendly Franklin Park is home to the Outdoor Summer Sunset Concert Series on Fridays in July and August.

Concertgoers can catch local, regional, and national musicians performing at the venue, which is open to all visitors.

Franklin Park features a bandshell, where the artists perform in front of many visiting guests from around the Valley and the U.S.

You can bring your blanket or a lawn chair to watch the concert series.

Listen to different genres of music, including folk rock, classic rock, indie pop, country, Americana, and many more.

Paddle around the Yakima River

The waters of Yakima River

Real Window Creative /

For true outdoor enthusiasts, paddling around the Yakima River is one of the best excursions in the city.

In Mile Post 8 Boat Launch on Canyon Road, there’s a boat ramp where you can launch your kayak, canoe, or tube.

This gives you access to the calm and beautiful waters of the Yakima River.

There are also campgrounds with boat ramps along the way, although few are free.

Don’t miss dropping by the visitor center to ask for guidance from one of its travel staff, especially when you want to paddle in the river.

See a Free Movie at Chesterley Park

As part of the Outdoor Summer Cinema Series in Yakima, Chesterley Park screens free movies on six Sundays from July to August.

If you’re in town during these months, don’t miss going to the park to catch a free movie with your family and friends.

The park features a green open space where people gather to watch movies.

You can sit on your blanket, a lawn chair, or grass to enjoy the movies.

Don’t forget to bring your snack for unlimited movie fun!

Chesterley Park also features a skating rink, picnic shelters with grills, and a nature trail to stroll around.

The park is located between 40th Avenue and River Road.

Drink Your Coffee at Miller Park

For coffee lovers, Miller Park is a great spot to drink your favorite cup of joe in the morning and catch some fresh air.

There are plenty of open, shady areas at the park where you can sit and savor every sip.

The four-acre park isn’t crowded in the morning, making it a perfect place to kickstart the day with fresh coffee and a relaxing atmosphere.

The splash pad also opens on Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day.

Likewise, the park features basketball and volleyball courts, playgrounds, and picnic shelters.

Built in 1923, Miller Park was the city’s first designated neighborhood park.

You can find the park off North 3rd Street.

Final Thoughts

Brimming with fun activities, urban or rural, the city of Yakima tells lots of rich history and culture.

It’s one of the crowning jewels in the Yakima Valley, where people gather to experience the best things in the world.

Discover the best things to do in Yakima, Washington!

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