12 Top-Rated Things to Do in Wenatchee, WA
Author Brad Lane biked the Apple Capital Loop daily when he lived in Wenatchee.
Wenatchee is on the east side of the Cascade Mountains on the banks of the Columbia River in north-central Washington. The town, also known as the Apple Capital of the World, is agriculturally based and swirling with arts and culture. And just 2.5 hours from Seattle, Wenatchee attracts families and tourists throughout the year who enjoy the sunny weather.
The surrounding Wenatchee Valley is home to an annual average of 300 days of sunshine. The friendly forecast not only bolsters local agriculture but also enables all types of outdoor adventures. From mountain biking to skiing, rock climbing, boating, and garden walking, Wenatchee's adventure status is a big reason to visit.
The community of Wenatchee is also inviting. The historic downtown area and Columbia River waterfront features friendly faces and places to gather. Here, places like the Pybus Market entice a wide range of cultural endeavors. Plan your sightseeing and find the best places to visit with our list of the top things to do in Wenatchee.
- 1. Attend the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival
- 2. Stroll the Apple Capital Loop
- 3. Shop the Selection at Pybus Public Market
- 4. Ski at Mission Ridge
- 5. Mountain Bike Saddle Rock
- 6. Meander through Ohme Gardens County Park
- 7. Educate the Whole Family at the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center
- 8. Partake in the Holiday Season in Leavenworth
- 9. Day Trip to a State Park
- 10. Explore the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
- 11. Rock Climb at the Frenchmen Coulee
- 12. Cheer On the Home Team
- Map of Things to Do in Wenatchee, WA
- Best Time to Visit Wenatchee, WA
1. Attend the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival
Highlights: Colorful multi-day community celebration each May
Fertile soils, several irrigation sources, and the valley's abundant sunshine make Wenatchee a prosperous place to grow apples. But it's not just the abundance of produce that earns the city its nickname the "Apple Capital of the World." The community itself has adopted the title and represents the moniker well throughout the town.
From the Apple Capital proclamation on Wenatchee Avenue to the local AppleSox college baseball team, Wenatchee identifies with the fruit. The culminating celebration of this spirit occurs every late May with the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival.
This 10-day event celebrated its 100th anniversary in Wenatchee in 2019. A festive parade, classic car shows, and live theater produced by the Music Theatre of Wenatchee are a few of the family-fun and free things to do. The festival typically takes place in late April into May.
2. Stroll the Apple Capital Loop
Highlights: Multi-purpose bike path on both sides of the Columbia River at the heart of town
The Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail is a paved 10-mile path that stretches alongside both banks of the Columbia River. The trail unofficially starts and ends in Wenatchee and passes several public parks along the way. With a relatively flat path and scenic views of the river, mountains, and city, it's one of the most popular pedestrian corridors in the region.
Many start their Apple Capital Loop adventure at Pybus Market near downtown. Here, fresh vendors help get the day started with coffee and breakfast. The Apple Capital Trail connects the market to the neighboring green grass of Wenatchee Riverfront Park. Farther along, the paved path meanders through Walla Walla Point Park and Wenatchee Confluence Park.
Several means of non-motorized transportation are popular on the trail. Walkers, strollers, joggers, and bicyclists all share the route. Expect to encounter many other users on the trail during sunny summer weekends.
3. Shop the Selection at Pybus Public Market
Highlights: Chic public market with food, retailers, and river views
Near the historic downtown district, and next to the Columbia River, Pybus Public Market is Wenatchee's premier gathering and commerce space. This flexible shopping area is roughly a football field in length and houses 16 year-round tenants. Pybus also frequently features rotating vendors in the open space concourse, promoting various flavors and styles.
The wares and goods for sale at Pybus reflect the local economy. From farm-to-table restaurants to handmade artisan crafts, the selections all share Pacific Northwest roots. The local flavor is especially on display Saturdays between May and October during the Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market at Pybus.
Pybus Market is an excellent place to begin or end an adventure on the paved Apple Capital Loop. This trail connects Pybus with the adjacent Wenatchee Riverfront Park. Special events at the market also lend ample reason to visit, including live music shows and free education classes.
4. Ski at Mission Ridge
Highlights: Local feel and big mountain terrain plus a cozy lodge
Visitors to Wenatchee don't have to travel far for world-class skiing. Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort is right at the backdoor, less than a 15-mile drive from the downtown Pybus Market. And with over 2,000 acres and advanced snowmaking capabilities, this local mountain delivers a snow-filled season between late November and early April.
Mission Ridge is one of Washington's top ski resorts and attracts riders from across the state. On sunny days, the view down into the Wenatchee Valley is reason enough to visit. And with a lift capacity of nearly 5,000 skiers per hour, lift lines and crowds are rarely an issue.
Although downhill endeavors are the main point of interest, the mountain features other ways to keep warm. The on-site Hampton Lodge offers hot food and cozy respites between runs. Lessons, gear rentals, and daycare are also available at the mountain.
5. Mountain Bike Saddle Rock
Highlights: Expansive trail system in the foothills backdropping the city
Wenatchee's iconic outdoor pinnacle, Saddle Rock, provides a quick and easy taste of mountain bike adventure close to the city. Hikers and mountain bikers alike enjoy this trail after work or for an easy backdoor expedition. With a moderate climb, the views of the Wenatchee Valley reward the uphill effort.
Saddle Rock is just the tip of excellent mountain biking in the immediate Wenatchee region. In the mountains above Saddle Rock, the sprawling Sage Hills trail system encourages multiple days of exploring. The nearby #2 Canyon is also a popular spot for local riders.
Many of Wenatchee's best mountain biking trails are a direct result of the work put in by Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. And several local bike shops in Wenatchee are happy to help people hit the trails.
Places like Full Circle Cycle Shop are great for tune-ups and some trail beta, while other spots like Trek Bicycle Wenatchee offer a full lineup of rentals.
6. Meander through Ohme Gardens County Park
Highlights: Lovely, landscaped park with a tranquil natural environment and weekly events
Ohme Gardens is a nine-acre alpine garden just north of city limits. This manicured natural space was the private garden of Herman and Ruth Ohme for over 40 years, beginning in 1929. Today, the county maintains Ohme Gardens for the public to enjoy.
The grounds of Ohme Gardens are an incredible showcase of high-alpine scenery. Creative stone walkways navigate the property, meandering between reflective pools and rushing waterfalls.
The gardens have a mystical sense, especially upon encountering the hobbit-like benches and shelters built over the last 90 years. And with stunning Cascade Mountain views on the horizon, there's plenty to encourage a slow pace while exploring.
Ohme Gardens is home to several community events throughout the year. One of the liveliest is the annual Concerts in the Gardens music series on Thursdays in July. For a more low-tempo event, Yoga in the Gardens is also popular. The gardens are open seven days of the week between April 15th and September 15th.
7. Educate the Whole Family at the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center
Highlights: Multi-exhibit museum detailing the county's storied past
The Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center is housed in two historic downtown buildings and shares the long saga of the region's past. Permanent exhibits range from Ice Age artifacts to life-size photographs depicting the 1930s Golden Age of Flight. Other displays include information on Washington's apple industry and the Great Northern Railway.
All ages find something of interest at the museum. Each exhibit features eye-catching details and three-dimensional displays. The Cultural Center is also home to several events throughout the week, including kids' craft workshops and adult painting classes.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from mid-morning to late-afternoon. Free admission is offered every first Friday of the month.
8. Partake in the Holiday Season in Leavenworth
Highlights: Festive Bavarian-themed town a short drive west on Highway 2
The Bavarian village known as Leavenworth is a short and scenic 30-minute drive west of Wenatchee. This proximity enables easy day trips to enjoy some of Leavenworth's top tourist attractions.
While Leavenworth entices visitors for day trips throughout the year, the town exudes a winter allure that can't be missed. Every holiday season, a half-million lights adorn the already charming Bavarian downtown. This winter wonderland paints the town with holiday cheer between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day.
To make the most out of Leavenworth's lighting display, catch one of the Christmas Lighting Festivals that take place every weekend in December. Other holiday attractions include a nutcracker museum, reindeer petting, and caroling choirs alongside postcard settings.
Read More: Best Christmas Markets in the US
9. Day Trip to a State Park
Highlights: Several stunning state parks within easy day-trip driving distance
Wenatchee has a surplus of Washington State Parks nearby. These natural playgrounds all feature different amenities and stunning outdoor landscapes. The only one within city limits, Wenatchee Confluence State Park, sits at the Wenatchee River and Columbia River junction. This small state park features camping and immediate access to the city via the Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail.
Northwest of the city near Cashmere, Peshastin Pinnacles State Park is another popular place to explore. Hikers and rock climbers frequent this day-use state park featuring 34 acres of towering spires. For camping in the area, the large campground at Lake Wenatchee State Park is an additional 30 miles west of Peshastin Pinnacles on Highway 2.
And south of Wenatchee, Squilchuck State Park offers another worthy day trip. The park comprises approximately 250 acres below Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort. Over 10 miles of trails meander throughout this high-desert wooded environment. Unique lodging opportunities at the state park include the Squilchuck Lodge and a group campground.
10. Explore the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
Highlights: Millions of acres of national forest directly west of Wenatchee
Some of the wildest adventures in Washington are close at hand in Wenatchee. The four million acres of Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is immediately west of the town. This sprawling acreage spans much of the Cascade Mountain's eastern slope and provides year-round adventure.
Popular forest activities include hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and rock climbing. One stellar spot to check out close to Leavenworth is the aptly named The Enchantments Area within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. This high-altitude mountain playground is home to one of Washington's best hiking trails.
North of Wenatchee, within a 60-mile drive, Chelan offers another exciting entry point into the forest. Here, the long-and-skinny Lake Chelan extends for more than 50 miles. Visitors can hop aboard the Lady of the Lake ferry that navigates the length of the water throughout the week.
At the end of Lake Chelan, the surreal mountain town of Stehekin welcomes travelers to the southern entry of North Cascades National Park.
11. Rock Climb at the Frenchmen Coulee
Highlights: Popular rock-climbing destination with hundreds of bolted routes
An hour southwest of Wenatchee, between George and Vantage, the Frenchmen Coulee offers some of the best rock climbing in Washington. Also referred to as Vantage, this climbing mecca comprises tall basalt spires as remnants of passing glaciers. Today, rock climbing routes lace these inspiring columns.
Over 700 named routes at Vantage cater to beginners and old pros alike. Many of the beginner-friendly routes are bolted, while the more challenging ways up the rock face require traditional climbing gear. If visiting to rock climb, at least one person in a group should have technical rock-climbing experience.
What adds even more popularity to this rock-climbing destination is its off-season accessibility. Thanks to a high-desert location and plenty of sunshine, the Coulee attracts climbers throughout the colder months. The area is also popular for hiking, camping, and nature photography.
12. Cheer On the Home Team
Highlights: Minor league and college teams add athletic interest to the city
Several hometown sports teams give Wenatchee fans a reason to cheer. The city is home to a junior hockey club and an arena football league that pack the stands almost every month of the year.
The Wenatchee Wild are a part of the British Columbia Hockey League with a season between September and February. The games are fun to attend, thanks to the crowd energy at the Toyota Town Center.
During the rest of the year, the newly instated Wenatchee Valley Skyhawks transform the Toyota Town Center into a football arena. The Skyhawks' first season in 2019 was a great success, from March through June.
For even more athletic entertainment, Wenatchee is also home to a collegiate summer baseball team. Wenatchee Applesox games occur at Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium throughout the summer on the Wenatchee Valley College campus.
Map of Things to Do in Wenatchee, WA
Best Time to Visit Wenatchee, WA
Wenatchee is a beautiful place to visit throughout the year. The best time to visit for the most comfortable weather is May and June. The Wenatchee Valley really opens up this time of year, corresponding with the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival. And, June begins the time of year when it's warm enough to take advantage of the several bodies of water nearby.
July and August are also excellent times to visit Wenatchee, as they are the two hottest months of the year. The town itself can become a bit stifling during these two summer months, making lake activities and alpine pursuits the way to go. Summer is the most popular time to visit the nearby Leavenworth and the surrounding Cascade Mountains.
The fall months, including mid-to-late September, October, and the beginning of November, are also great times to visit. Apple harvest takes place throughout the autumn season in Wenatchee, and it's easy to catch a fresh flavor. The respite from summer temperatures is also welcomed this time of year.