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Spotlight: Tri-Cities

Three great reasons to visit this segment of Washington’s Columbia River Basin

When taken as a whole, the Tri-Cities in southeastern Washington state constitutes a large metropolitan area of more than a quarter of a million people. Because of their convenient proximity to each other, it certainly makes sense to group the cities of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland together as a unit, but this betrays some of their greatest individual charms.

Remaining separate-but-connected has allowed each neighboring riverside city to develop its unique downtown core, avoiding the onset of increased urban density that so often chokes the charm straight out of other major cities. The Tri-Cities is thus capable of offering all the amenities of a big city (gourmet restaurants, world-class entertainment) alongside a small-town atmosphere and laid-back pace.

Visit Tri-Cities

Visit Tri-Cities

Carnivals on the Columbia

Start in Kennewick, which is found on the south bank of the Columbia River, almost directly opposite Pasco. It’s the largest of the three Tri-Cities in terms of population, but it feels decidedly small-town all the same. Stroll along the riverside in Columbia Park, a 5-mile-long greenbelt home to a waterpark, fishing pond, nature trails and picture-perfect views of the river. The downtown core features a healthy mix of upscale restaurants and trendy cafes.

For a bit of family fun, take a spin on the Gesa Carousel of Dreams in south Kennewick. This historic carnival attraction was built in 1910 and used for more than 60 years in St. Joseph, Michigan, before it was sold and moved to New Mexico. Decades later it was purchased and moved to Kennewick.

Pasco Pastimes

Pasco, on the northern shores of the Columbia River, is in many ways a mirror image of its south bank neighbor. Smaller in population and boasting even more of a small-town image than Kennewick or Richland, Pasco offers a similar assortment of charming riverside walks and parks, as well a healthy mix of wineries and tasting bars. The highlight of Pasco is the Pasco Farmers Market, which runs from May to October in the center of town. History buffs can choose to whittle away a few hours combing through the eclectic, small-town history items on display in Franklin County Historical Museum.

Pasco is also the gateway to Sacajawea Historical State Park, a 284-acre chunk of idyllic parkland located directly at the confluence of the Columbia and Snake rivers. The park is home to an interpretive center that offers insight into the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Visit Tri-Cities

Visit Tri-Cities

Make a Splash in Richmond

Richland is the farthest west of the three cities, found on the western shores of a sharp bend in the Columbia that points the river northward. Like Kennewick and Pasco, some of the most popular activities in Richland involve an enjoyment of the great outdoors. Kayaking, canoeing, hiking and biking are all possible here. And while all three cities feature a fantastic selection of wineries and tasting rooms, Richland serves as a kind of jumping-off point from the Tri-Cities on tours to the upper reaches of wine country in the Yakima Valley.

A short distance north of Richland, nature buffs can visit the Hanford Reach National Monument. This was once the home of nuclear reactors that developed the plutonium for “Fat Man,” the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, during World War II. Today it’s a pristine, protected natural area full of scenic bluffs, wildflower fields, non-tidal marshes and reams of wildlife.

Finally, if you’re a golfer, landing in the Tri-Cities will seem like a dream come true. Ten golf courses are located within easy reach of all three cities, including one with a championship putting course— Canyon Lakes.

Tri-City Country Club in Kennewick and Sun Willows in Pasco are popular courses for families, walk-ons and anyone with a bit of rust on their game. For those seeking a more moderately challenging course, head for Columbia Point Golf Course in Richland.

For More Information

Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau
Washington State Tourism