When the school schedules for my children's schools synchronize so that they're both out of school on a Friday, it's an invitation for us to squeeze in a short break. I love these mini-vacations during the school year. Yes, it's a pain to close the door on a pile of chores and have them waiting for me (and then some) when I get home, but it's a great feeling to hit the open road and leave our normal routine behind even for just a few days.
This time we're going to Walla Walla. A non-trivial four-hour drive from Seattle, it's absolutely worth the effort. With our bikes strapped to the back of the car, a fun-filled but fairly low-cost weekend is pretty easy to organize.
Walla Walla Accommodation
As home to Whitman College and a host of excellent wineries and vineyards, Walla Walla has plenty of accommodation choices. From Bed-and-Breakfasts to luxury vineyard lodges to chain hotels, there's something to suit every budget. On our cheap-and-cheerful weekend, we usually opt for a bare bones motel. If you're planning a romantic weekend away, the Inn at the Abeja Winery
is a perfect choice.
Family Activities in Walla Walla
There's no question but that we're drawn to Walla Walla because of the wine. This will be our fourth time to go wine tasting on bikes with children. For me, it's a perfect family day out. We stop at the Farmer's Market
on Saturday morning to pick up picnic supplies, fill our backpacks and hit the long, fairly flat, quiet road. We've cycled around wineries with a toddler in a trailer, one child using a 'big kid bike' which didn't have gears and with a trail-a-bike. This will be our first trip where everyone will be on regular bikes. We might just all get to each stopping point at the same time. But if we don't, that'll be OK too because wineries are about so much more than just tasting the wine. There's rows of vines to walk along, machinery to examine and cool storerooms with oak barrels stacked high to explore (if the vintner allows, of course).
Walla Walla Wineries
There are way too many wineries in Walla Walla to list here and far too many to visit in one day. We'll plan on a 15-mile (or so) cycle and try to plan our route to hit 3-5 wineries along the way. Planning to finish at the Walla Walla Regional Airport is always a good idea since there are a cluster of tasting rooms in refurbished WWII buildings in that area. If you think that sounds a little crazy well remember that this is where you'll find Dunham Cellars
, Tamarack Cellars
Other wineries in the area include K Vintners
, Seven Hills
, L'Ecole No. 41
and Woodward Canyon
- name just a few.
Walla Walla Fine Dining
Now that our boys are a little older, WanderDad and I will be able to feed them early in the evening (kid-friendly food in a kid-friendly environment) and leave them watching a movie in our hotel room when we treat ourselves to a sumptuous dinner at Whitehouse Crawford
After an active day's cycling, great wine and great food, there's usually a satisfied bunch in our car on the drive home to Seattle.
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Photo credit: vitruvius