Best Things To Do in Yakima During Hop Harvest
Best Things To Do in Yakima During Hop Harvest
By the Yakima Valley Hops Crew
Originally Published: August 7, 2023
Ahhh, Yakima. What a special, beautiful sliver of green nestled in a valley of beautiful sagebrush-dotted hills, incredible produce, insanely good Mexican food, and... hops, of course. We may be biased, but we’ve heard from many people that the Yakima Valley is the Mecca for brewers. With more than 70% of the United States’ hops grown here, it’s no secret the Yakima Valley is one of the world’s premiere hop growing regions, and thousands of brewers from around the world come here during harvest to see where their hops are coming from, meet the growers and other brewers, and do selection for their next years’ allotment.
While hops and fresh hop beers are the shining stars during hop harvest, the Yakima Valley has a plethora of adventures to take, food to try, and dive bars to hit. We’ve compiled some of our favorite things to do in the Valley below. If you’re returning to Yakima, welcome back. If this is your first time visiting, please come back next harvest!
First things first: beer.
Breweries in the Yakima Valley in alphabetical order:
- 5th Line Brewing – 1015 E. Lincoln Ave, Yakima, WA
- Bale Breaker Brewing Co. – 1801 Birchfield Road, Yakima, WA
- Bron Yr Aur Brewing Co. – 12160 US-12, Naches, WA
- Cowiche Creek Brewing Co. – 514 Thompson Road, Cowiche, WA
- The Outskirts Brewing Co. – 707 Test Drive Lan, Selah, WA
- Selah Springs Brewing Co. – 310 S 1st Street, Selah, WA
- Shorthead Brewing – 123 E. Yakima Ave, Yakima, WA
- Single Hill Brewing Co. – 102 N Naches Ave, Yakima, WA
- Valley Brewing Co. – 3215 River Road, Yakima, WA
- Varietal Brewing Co. – 416 E Edison Ave, Sunnyside, WA
- Wandering Hop – 508 N 20th Ave, Yakima, WA
Things to do in Yakima during hop harvest:
1). Visit Yakima Valley Hops
Get a tour of our facility, housed in an awesome nearly 100-year-old building on Fruit Row close to downtown Yakima. Meet the crew, see how we pack up your hops, talk hops, and have a beer in our taproom. Please let us know if you’d like to stop by so we can accommodate you. We have an open house every Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. and prefer visitors to drop in then. We’re a very small crew of 12 and we’re pretty dang busy! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know you’re coming.
2). Tour hop farms and harvest facilities
Of course, the farms are a-plenty here, and are found in nearly all parts of the Valley. Every brewer and beer lover should pull cones directly off the bine, rub and smell fresh hops, and witness harvest – it’s magical. The Yakima Valley Hops crew can get you hooked up with some awesome growers if you want to see the hops in the field and see hop harvest in its entirety, and talk with the growers themselves. Harvest usually starts in mid-August, and most farms harvest 24/7 until the last week of September, sometime the first week of October.
We can also accommodate tours of pellet mills and cold storage facilities if you're interested.
3). Float the Yakima River Canyon
If you’ve got half a day to kill and are looking for something peak Yakima, floating down the Yakima River through the incredibly scenic Yakima River Canyon is a must-do. Yakima River Tubing can get you everything you need to float safely (beers and snax not included, though). Leave a car at Roza Campground (where you’ll end the float) and drop in at Umtanum Creek Recreation Site for the full float, or Lmuma Creek Recreation Site for a partial cruise. It’s a local favorite, and rightfully so.
4). Visit the Haas Innovations Center
The Haas Innovations Center is home to the Haas Innovations Brewery, the Flavor Factory, the sensory team, the Advanced Hop Products facility, and more. If you’d like to arrange a tour and beer tasting of experimental beers created by the Innovations Brewing team, or learn more about how LUPOMAX® and INCOGNITO® are made by the sensory scientists and developers themselves, shoot Malissa an email at email@example.com.
5). Stroll the Cowiche Canyon Trails
Cowiche Canyon Trails is a network of easy to moderate trails have you winding through canyons, walking past sage brush and wildflowers, and offer a quick way to get outside and enjoy the beauty of Yakima. To get an amazing view of Yakima and Cowiche, head to the Uplands trail head. There’s plenty of trails to pick from though, and all are great (and free!).
6). Dive bars and local watering holes
We get it. Sometimes all you want is a cocktail or macro beer, and maybe some pool or karaoke. Good thing Yakima has some sweet spots just for that.
- Lotus Room for incredibly strong drinks and the best karaoke in town.
- McGuire’s is Yakima’s famous Irish pub, with darts, strong drinks and awesome late-night vibes.
- Sports Center is the classic hop harvest spot.
- Game and Grog is the spot to play video games on nearly every console created – including full-on Rock Band – and for interesting cocktails.
- Bill's Place is another go-to for locals, with a great beer selection and food to boot.
- Brews and Cues is a classic Yakima no-frills spot.
Beer-ed out? Want to see grape harvest instead of hop harvest? Nestled amongst rolling vineyards, Owen Roe Winery is a short drive from downtown Yakima and offers sweeping views of the Yakima Valley and Mt. Adams. In late September through October, fruit is being brought in and crushed so you can witness where wine starts, too. They have a wide range of excellent white and red wines (Wiseguy is a favorite on a hot day), and you can bring your own food!
7). Help find the next great public hop variety
Yakima Valley Hops is hosting the 6th annual Hopsource! Stop by Yakima Valley Hops September 26-28th from 9-5 and participate in helping find the next public hop variety.
Hopsource is a collaborative effort between the Brewers Association (BA), the United State Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service (USDA-ARS), the Hop Research Council (HRC), and Yakima Valley Hops. Hopsource will feature top experimental varieties from the public breeding program's elite breeding line. You'll rub and smell various hop samples and make notes on them.
This is a vital component of determining new public hop varieties, and is an awesome thing to take part in. It's free and open to the public, and there's no need to register beforehand. Just walk on in!
8). Tool around in the mountains and see Mt. Rainier
A trip to Washington State wouldn't be complete without seeing our incredible forests and mountains. If you have a car and a day to kill, drive up Chinook Pass or White Pass (both of which start just 30ish minutes outside of Yakima) and you'll understand why Washington is called, "The Evergreen State." Rimrock Lake is up White, and while pretty dang cold, a beautiful spot to kick it. Plenty of hiking up both passes, too. Mt. Rainier is bar none of of the most beautiful mountains on the West Coast, and you can reach the National Park in an hour and a half from Yakima - with a stunning drive on the way. Totally worth it.
9). Visit the American Hop Museum
"Located in the lower valley town of Toppenish, the American Hop Museum is a snapshot in time of the Yakima Valley hop industry from its beginnings, to somewhere close to the common era. The museum is lovingly if at times a little haphazardly curated, with the majority of the information, memorabilia, and displays stopping short of the current "craft beer" era of the industry. But, it's because of this that I appreciate and enjoy the museum. The docents are well steeped in the local hop history and super fun to chat with. Be sure to watch the circa 80s VHS hop growing video, visit the gift shop, and also check out the murals painted on the outside building walls. The American Hop Museum is open May 1 - September 30, 10 am - 4 pm." - by Malissa
10). Check out Apple Valley Emporium
"We have a huge skating community here and if you feel the need to skate a few runs, at The Ave there is a huge half-pipe from Converse on the corner of 5th and Martin Luther King Blvd. Not to mention some of the best merch (besides us of course) and organic wines for bottle purchase." - by Katelyn
11). Restaurants in Yakima to try
Crafted: dinner, cocktails
With all the ingredients sourced within 100 miles of Yakima, this James Beard – nominated spot is a Yakima staple. The food – meant to be shared family-style – is amazing, with an ever-changing menu and dynamic signature cocktails (with of course some local brews). Don’t forget the dessert menu; the s’mores are insane.
Reno's on the Runway: lunch
"Check out Reno’s on the Runway! Located right next to the Yakima Airport, you can eat lunch and get a chance to see planes coming and going. Many taking hops all around the world! Lots of hobby flyers in Yakima and classic planes at the McAllister Museum of Aviation located right down the road. A unique experience you won’t wanna miss." - by Corey
My Ma Dim Sum: lunch and dinner
"Close to downtown and to sure to cure ANY hangover hop harvest can throw at ya, My Ma Dim Sum has authentic Vietnamese Pho sure to cure your ailments, or just warm you up! I sound like a commercial for pho. I just love pho" - by Katelyn
Los Hernandez Tamales: lunch
"A not to miss spot in Union Gap (the OG location), gateway to the lower Yakima Valley and the majority of Washington's hop acreage. Awarded the prestigious James Beard Award in 2018, Los Hernandez is a no fuss spot catering to the local palette with several family tamale recipes for pork, chicken, and nopales (cactus) with cheese. Tamales can be ordered a la carte (grab a sack of 20 for the cooler as you cruise around the valley) or on a plate with rice and beans, and don't forget to pile on the fresh salsa. Their newest West Valley location also offers, tacos, flautas, and menudo - another hangover cure popular around here." - by Malissa
Cowiche Canyon Kitchen: lunch, dinner, cocktails
"If you are looking for great food and signature cocktails head to Cowiche Canyon Kitchen and Icehouse (or CCK as the locals call it). I recommend the Prime Rib Dip or Steak Frites for lunch or dinner, both come with tasty thin-cut fries! For drinks, my favorite is the Campanula Sour (served with a slice of Red Bell pepper on top) and the Farm Water!!" - by Raquel
El Rinconsito: breakfast, lunch and dinner
A go-to, late-night spot with authentic Mexican dishes at affordable prices. The chorizo breakfast burritos are amazing and the four taco lunch special is awesome!
Main Stop or Cafe 11th Ave: breakfast and lunch
If you're looking for a classic, filling, greasy, ketchup-already-on-the-table American breakfast spot, these two joints won't disappoint. Be prepared for a bit of a wait on the weekends.
These are just a handful of the YVH crew's favorite things to do and eating spots to hit during hop harvest. The Yakima Valley has so much to offer, especially when the weather is as nice as it is during harvest.
Have any suggestions of your own? Drop it in a comment to share!
- Jake Parrish