This is the second travelogue on my adventures in Washington State in October 2012. The first covered my suggestions for a great day trip in Yakima, and this one is in the same vein. So spend a day with me in Ellensburg, located smack dab in the middle of the state. But first, we must get to its central valley location through some gorgeous mountain passes on Canyon Road.
A lot of these passes made me think I was heading into Mordor, but some of them had too much gorgeous blue sky shining down on them for such a conclusion.
Not to mention the Yakima River flowing by.
First stop in town should definitely be taking a gander at Dick and Jane’s Spot (101 N. Pearl Street).
This is a private residence owned by the Dick and Jane of the name. They are both artists in their own right and have been working on their “spot” for nearly 30 years. There is artwork from over 40 other Washington artists also on display in the yard. Inside the fence is off limits, but take your time wandering around the whole house.
These are several of my favorite shots from our visit.
After you’ve wondered at the massive of amount of patience Dick and Jane have to cover trees with bottle caps, it’s time to head downtown. Just a block up on Pearl and 2nd Avenue is plenty of free public parking, but really, you can find that anywhere in this sleepy but cultured town. Most everything you’ll want to see is within 5 blocks of here. And lunch is a good time to make your game plan.
Palace Café is on the corner of 4th and Main, and it has a menu with plenty of burgers, sandwiches, steaks, and appetizers to please most American palates. The décor is full of trains, planes, and automobiles in wooden art pieces that separate the booths.
The entry room features a shiny, old gas pump, too.
There are a few interesting takes on tried and true American favorites at Palace Café. My parents love the Screamin’ Jack Burger that comes with pepperjack, grilled onions, bacon, and a secret blend of toppings. It is one messy burger.
As one of those topping ingredients is drippy yellow mustard, I was glad I refrained from that choice, though my parents find it finger-licking good. I opted for a special burger of the day that came with jalapeno-pepper bacon and was served up on crusty ciabetta.
Ordering it with a salad instead of fries made me feel a little better, but I think this burger, if it makes another appearance, is well worth ordering regardless of calories. My sister instead opted for their coconut shrimp appetizer.
It came with an Asian slaw that I can vouch for as delicious. So were the prawns. They avoided any heaviness from the grease, so the coconut sweetness shined and went well with the also-sweet slaw and dipping sauce.
After lunch, stroll around downtown Ellensburg’s blocks. There are a lot of cute retail stores and the owners are nice and may offer goodies like apple cider to warm you up as you explore.
Pearl Street between 4th and 5th has the best stretch of shops.
This restored stairwell on the way into Me & the Girls was gorgeous and cozy, as my stepfather demonstrates.
Stop at the Rotary Pavilion to visit with a civilized bull. As a Durhamite, I had to stop and chat with him for a while.
Stroll on down toward 3rd Avenue for a coffee break, passing a few more unique stores and art pieces on the way.
On 3rd, going either left or right will take you toward D & M Coffee, a local chain of roasters and coffee shops. I’d opt for the one on 416 North Main. We tried the one on 301 N. Pine, and all of our drinks, ranging from hot chocolate to cappuccino, had very little flavor beyond hot milk. But it was a great spot to take a break from exploring and one of the few areas of downtown Ellensburg where people congregated.
Because coffee should be roasted as locally as possible, I would be willing to give the other D & M a try. They weren’t open on the weekend because it’s less coffee shop and more roasting facility.
Before you head out of town, be sure to drive over to Central Washington University’s main campus. The Visitor’s Center is at 100 E. University Way, and it’s a hop over the street to head onto the campus and explore the grounds.
On the way out of town, stop at the scenic viewpoint on I-82 and take in as much of the Kittitas Valley as you can.
There’s plenty of gorgeous coming to and going from Ellensburg, and plenty of shopping and gawking to do in town in-between. Hope you enjoyed this day trip with me!
For more photos, click here.by