Don’t despair that summer’s winding down, there’s still plenty to do
It’s hard to believe summer is winding down. The sun is setting just a little earlier, the start of the school year is right around the corner, and some are looking forward to cozy clothes and pumpkin spiced everything.
But wait – there is still plenty of summer left to enjoy in the Tri-Cities. In fact, late summer and early fall is the perfect time to enjoy local tourism-based attractions after the crowds have thinned.
The Tri-Cities continues to gain popularity and has become a tourism destination that people from throughout the Pacific Northwest (and even the world) love to visit.
The proof is in the numbers.
STR, a recognized provider of tourism data, reports through the first six months of 2022, the Tri-Cities has experienced an increase of 5.7% in the number of hotel rooms sold compared to 2021, down only 1.5% compared to pre-pandemic record levels.
And the news gets better. Revenue exceeds pre-pandemic levels by 15.6%. This is fantastic news for tourism-related businesses and attractions as demand for services in the Tri-Cities remains strong.
Tourism is a critical component of maintaining and enhancing quality of life in the Tri-Cities for residents as well as visitors.
An energized tourism program also supports a diverse, vibrant and prosperous business community where small- and medium-sized business, such as restaurants and boutiques, flourish due to the financial support of visitor spending. In turn, employment opportunities are created.
Tourism sustains more than 4,700 jobs in the Tri-City region, which will continue to grow with the addition of new attractions, restaurants and hotels.
Additionally, visitor spending in 2021 resulted in $51 million in local and state sales tax revenue. The tax revenue generated by visitors helps fund municipal services, the maintenance of roadways and beautification of parks. Due to the contributions of the visitor economy, the burden of those expenses is reduced, providing property tax relief for Tri-Cities households. In short, when visitors spend money in our community it supports an enhanced quality of life that touches every single Tri-Citian.
That’s the economic benefit of tourism, but what about the recreational benefits of tourism for Tri-Citians?
Fall activities begin in earnest as September gives way to October.
Local farms open the gates and welcome the public to wander (sometimes a little aimlessly) through corn mazes and pumpkin patches.
Middleton Farms in Pasco adds extra excitement to the fall harvest experience with pumpkin cannons, zip lines and more.
Country Mercantile, famous for its farm fresh produce and chocolate factory, also has carnival rides, competitive activities and photo ops.
Fall isn’t just about pumpkins, it’s also wine grape harvest here in the heart of Washington wine country.
The Tri-Cities is surrounded by vineyards, which will be bustling with activity.
Wineries frequently offer opportunities to learn about the harvest process and crafting the next vintage of world-class Washington wine with the winemaker.
Make the most of your tasting experience with the Heart of Washington Wine Country Pass that you can find on VisitTri-Cities.com.
Now is a great time to explore outdoor recreation in the Tri-Cities.
The weather is sunny and mild, perfect for enjoying any of the three rivers.
Stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking are popular in-water activities, but the rivers can be enjoyed just as much from the amazing trail systems along the river shore.
Biking along the shoreline has long been a favorite pastime, but electric bikes add an extra spark to any riverside ride. Pedal (or coast) to the Sacagawea Heritage Trail, the 23-mile paved path the loops through all three cities.
Plan for stops in Kennewick along the way, such as Bite at the Landing in Columbia Park, any one of the wineries and food trucks at the Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village, Cedars at Pier One, Ice Harbor Brewing Co. or the Crow’s Nest on Clover Island.
Badger and Candy mountains are two of the Tri-Cities’ most popular hikes, and for good reason. Those who reach the summit are rewarded with sweeping vista views. But there are also trails in Chamna Natural Preserve that traverse through desert landscapes, tree caves and meadows alongside the Yakima River.
The Hanford Reach is one of the area’s most spectacular hikes with trails through the desert shrub-steppe, rising high above the Columbia River with views of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
These are just a few ideas to encourage you to explore in your own backyard. Better yet, invite a group of out-of-town friends or family members to join you.
For more ideas and suggested itineraries, check out VisitTri-Cities.com. Or drop by the Visit Tri-Cities Visitor Center, we would be happy to assist you in planning your Tri-Cities adventure.
Kim Shugart is senior vice president of Visit Tri-Cities.