Wine, water and outdoor fun are some of the main Tri-Cities’ most visible attractions, according to local business leaders.
Colin Hastings, executive director of the Pasco Chamber of Commerce, said the most frequently asked questions the Chamber receives has nothing to do with wine or golf. Visitors want to know where the bike trails are and if there are maps of them available.
“We’re blessed to have miles of bike and walking trails and many of them all connected,” he said. “People visiting from out of the area don’t realize that you can get on the Sacagawea Heritage Trail and follow it along the Columbia River all the way from Richland, through Kennewick and Pasco and end up at Sacagawea State Park in Walla Walla County.”
Hastings said other areas, like Seattle, don’t have that connection to the water because, with few exceptions, the waterfront land is mostly privately owned.
The rivers are a big attraction to visitors, said Darin Warnick, owner of Greenies, a bike, kayak and paddleboard shop in Richland. In addition to sales, Warnick also rents out equipment.
“I began with four rental paddleboards then upped it to eight and now I’m up to 20,” he said. “They’re very popular and need to be reserved ahead, especially on weekends.”
Warnick said the paddleboards are popular because they’re fast on the water and it gives visitors a different way to experience the river.
Visitors often are interested in tandem bikes and kayaks, as well, Warnick said. His bike rentals are fairly steady all year, while calls for paddleboards and kayaks begin ramping up in March and peak during the summer months.
“I get a lot of calls asking about places to go riding,” Warnick said. “But the most come from people who brought their bikes with them and didn’t realize what goatheads can do to bike tires. We fix a lot of flats.”
Tri-Cities visitors looking for fine wines will likely spend some time visiting Red Mountain area wineries near Benton City.
“We’re convenient. We’re just a few minutes drive from the Tri-Cities and there’s more than 10 wineries all just a few miles apart,” said Shae Frichette, who owns Frichette Winery in Benton City with her husband, Greg.
When visitors from out of the region stop to taste Frichette’s wine, they often are seeking quality restaurants and entertainment options.
“Seriously, the question we hear a lot is, where are the restaurants? There just are not that many places to eat in our area,” Frichette said.
As far as entertainment, Frichette relies on weekly email blasts distributed by area chambers of commerce.
“Especially the one sent out on Thursdays by Visit Tri-Cities. There’s always three or four good ideas in that one,” she said.
Hastings said he’s found visitors to the region want to spend their time outdoors, not cooped up in a building. Even people coming to baseball and soccer tournaments ask about outdoor activities.
“I usually send them to the parks, especially those that aren’t visible from the highway,” Hastings said.
Daily and Monthly NewsSign up now!