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Museum country
Yakima wine region proud of its history
Most people will think of wine when someone mentions 1 Yakima – after all, the region was one of the first in Washington state to have a robust wine industry and numerous wineries to enjoy on your visit to the area. But if you’re into history, you’ll find a whole new reason to visit the Yakima Valley.

From historic Fort Simcoe to the legacy of the Yakima Valley hops at the American Hop Musuem, the Yakima Valley's history is very much alive today.

One example is the Yakima Valley Museum where you’ll find two full floors of exhibits. These include the largest collection of wooden wagons west of the Mississippi. There are also exhibits on the Yakima Valley fruit industry, as well as Indian art & artifacts. The museum's soda fountain was voted one of the West Coast's Top Ten Old Fashioned Soda Fountains by readers of Sunset Magazine.

One of the most interesting museums in Yakima is the Yakima Electric Railway Museum. It’s a former Yakima Valley Transportation Co. shop facility and offers vintage electric trolley rides between Selah and Yakima. The original powerhouse and electric rail equipment are on display.

Also consider a stop at the Yakima Area Arboretum. Some call it a “tree museum” and it features both native and exotic plants from around the world. The Arboretum has one of the area’s few Japanese gardens and is a great place to stroll through on a pleasant spring or fall day. With the dry landscape around Yakima area, you’ll be amazed at the plants and trees that have grown up in the Arboretum.

 1If you travel after May 1, another good choice would be the Yakima Valley Rail and Steam Museum. This is a historic Northern Pacific depot and includes a museum, gift shop, and restored telegraph office. You can enjoy a picnic in Railroad Park, adjacent to the museum and this particular museum is located in the city of Toppenish, south of Yakima.

Beer-lovers won’t want to miss the American Hop Museum, which details the rich history of the hop industry since the 1500s. There are fascinating murals, displays, photos, implements, and a colonial brewery exhibit. This also is located in Toppenish and you’ll find many of the famous Yakima Valley wineries in the general area as well.

The Yakama Nation Cultural Museum is another popular stop for visitors, and is the best place to explore the important cultural influence of the Yakama Nation. The facility, which is open daily, is comprised of the Yakama Nation Museum, a gift shop, restaurant theater and library.

If you love airplane, be sure to visit the McAllister Museum of Aviation. Originally opened in 1926 as a flight school by brothers Charlie and Alister McAllister, it was one of the longest running flight schools in the Northwest. After Charlie's death, the school was transformed into the museum it is today. It’s located at the east end of the Yakima Airport.

Still another great visitor attraction is the Fort Simcoe State Park Heritage Site. Established in 1856 as a consequence of hostilities between the Indians and the settlers, Fort Simcoe has become one of the most-visited historical spots in the Yakima Valley.

Fort Simcoe was home to the infantry who watched over the area in the mid 1800s. Built as the advance post of the 9th Regiment in 1855, it was constructed on an important tribal gathering place on the Yakama Indian Reservation. Visitors can walk through the officers' quarters, which are furnished in historical likeness of their original state. Although the rooms are protected with glass, you feel as though you have stepped back in time.

Also, if you want to appreciate the agricultural history of the Yakima Valley, be sure to visit the Central Washington Agriculture Museum in Union Gap. There’s an extensive collection of farm machinery, operating windmill, apple-packing line, and blacksmith shop.
PHOTOS: From top: Tee-pees for rent at Yakama Nation RV Park; many historic displays offered at Yakima Valley Museum
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