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Vist wenatchee

Exploring Hidden Lake Trail. Photo courtesy Kathryn Mueller

Stay close but getaway with a trip to Wenatchee

The 'Apple Capital of the World' offers great food and family activities

Our family often treks over Stevens Pass to enjoy Leavenworth’s picturesque mountain views and charming Bavarian downtown. Recently, however, we wandered about 30 minutes down the road to Wenatchee—and it didn’t disappoint. We hiked the stunning hillsides, explored the market for local wares, indulged in sweets and treats, and learned about the Rocky Reach Dam, a massive hydroelectric powerhouse on the Columbia River.  

Read on for our family’s weekend itinerary and the surprising finds we uncovered in Wenatchee, an unexpected vacation destination. 

Family trip to Wenatchee

Pitstop at 59 Diner. Photo courtesy Kathryn Mueller

Pit stops along the way 

Wenatchee is about three hours away from Seattle, so you will likely want a place to stretch your legs along the way.  

If you take US Highway 2, make a pit stop at 59er Diner. This themed restaurant is famous for its milkshakes (they’ve made nearly 19,000 just this year!), and if that’s not reason enough to go, then the eclectic vibe and Elvis sightings may sway you.  The diner is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.  It’s located in Leavenworth: 15361 US Highway 2 

Another great place to stop is Lake Wenatchee, a pristine glacier-fed lake surrounded by towering mountains. Don’t be fooled by the name – you’re still about an hour away from the city of Wenatchee. Lake Wenatchee State Park offers a playground, picnic areas, a large sandy beach, forested hiking trails, and much more. In the summer, the park also offers concessions at the camp store.  

If you want to go on a quick hike, check out Hidden Lake Trail. It’s an easy out-and-back trail that meanders through the thick old-growth forests and leads to (you guessed it) a hidden lake adjacent to Lake Wenatchee. 

When you are ready to hit the road again, get back in the car to complete the last leg of your trek to Wenatchee.  

Family visit to wenatchee

Pancakes at The Wild Huckleberry. Photo courtesy Kathryn Mueller

Places to eat 

Our family loves brunch, so we had to check out The Wild Huckleberry. This place has great reviews; we can’t rave enough about it. You feel at home as soon as you walk in the door, with welcoming signs embellishing the walls and mouth-watering smells wafting from the kitchen. It’s just like grandma’s house! We recommend the chicken fried steak. The Wild Huckleberry is open daily from 7 a.m to 2 p.m. and it located in Wenatchee at 302 S Mission Street.

Family visit to wenatchee

Checking out the wares at Pybus Publc Market. Photo courtesy Kathryn Mueller

Places to visit 

Pybus Public Market has something for everyone. It is open daily and offers an abundance of shops, restaurants, tasting rooms, and artisan products. Just a stone’s throw from the Columbia River, it’s a truly unique shopping and dining experience. The market has everything from wines to produce, cheeses to pastries.  It’s located at  3 N. Worthen Street in Wenatchee. 

family visit to wenatchee

Playground at Rocky Reach Dam Discovery Center in Wenatchee. Photo courtesy Kathryn Mueller

Places to play 

The Rocky Reach Dam Discovery Center was a surprising hit for my kids. I highly recommend making a trip. Admission is free; we could have stayed (and probably did) for hours. They have so many interactive exhibits and educational displays for all ages. Once you’ve learned about closed circuits, cranked a turbine, pretended to be a riverboat captain, and learned about the anatomy of a salmon, head down to the bottom floor and watch as fish make their way through the fish ladder. The large windows give kids a great view of salmon and other fish. 

Remember to stop by the playground on your way out for some more fun. It’s located near the parking area as you exit.  The center is open Tuesday through Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located 5000 State Hwy 97A, in Wenatchee.

Apple Capital Loop Trail is perfect if your little ones love to bike. The paved trail runs along both sides of the Columbia River. It’s around 10 miles long, so you probably won’t want to bike the whole thing if your rider is scooting along. Along the loop are gardens, waterfront views, and bathrooms.  Insider tip: If you exit Pybus Public Market and head toward the river, you’ll run into the trail. Grab some food, then hit the pavement for an afternoon stroll or bike ride.  

family visit to wenatchee

Hiking at Saddle Rock. Photo courtesy Kathryn Mueller

Places to hike 

Sage Hills, Horse Lake Preserve, and Saddle Rock are popular, kid-friendly hiking destinations located on the outskirts of Wenatchee.  

Sage Hills and Horse Lake Preserve are adjacent, both taking hikers along meandering trails through the hillsides just above Wenatchee. There is little shade, so pack sunscreen and hats. In the spring, you can enjoy fields of wildflowers and vibrant hues of purple and yellow dotting the rolling slopes.  Insider tip: Sage Hills parking area is very small. Don’t be surprised if you must find alternative parking, and DO NOT park on the residential street.  

Saddle Rock is another relatively easy hike that’s great for kids. The views of the craggy summit peak above the trail will delight your kids, and the gradual elevation gain on a wide gravel path is significant for little legs.  

Family visit to wenatchee

Zully’s is the spot for great ice cream in Wenatchee. Photo courtesy Kathryn Mueller

Places to grab a treat 

After our hike, we decided we deserved a treat, so we went to Zully’s for their hand-rolled ice cream. It was the perfect way to satiate a sweet tooth. Zully’s has an assortment of fun flavors and mixings, including fruity pebbles. The staff was incredibly friendly, and we really enjoyed watching them create perfectly rolled and delectable creations. You’ll find Zully’s at 112 N Mission Street, in Wenatchee. 

Where to stay 

The Hilton Garden Inn is located in the heart of Wenatchee. Located just steps from Pybus Public Market and other great dining options, it’s a great place to stay if you want to walk to local attractions. It also has a swimming pool, which is great for kids. Find it at 25 N. Worthen Street, Wenatchee. 

Read more:

Sage Hills wildflowers hike is worth the trek

Three magnificent national parks in Washington

How to go backpacking with kids

Nature centers: Growing young stewards

 

 

About the Author

Kathryn Mueller

Kathryn Mueller is a mama of three toddlers and calls Shoreline home. When she's not wrangling her little ones, she's a writer, winery owner and outdoor enthusiast. She enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest with her little ones in tow and can usually be found with a coffee in hand.