The gateway to Washington wine country is sunny Yakima (pronounced yak-imah), home to about 80,000 people within the city limits and another 25,000 in the surrounding area. Spread along the west bank of the Yakima River just south of its confluence with the Naches River, Yakima is a bustling community with lovely parklands and a downtown in the midst of revitalization. Downtown street improvements with period lighting, trees, and planters have created a fresh new "old" feel that is inviting to residents and visitors alike.
Yakima was settled in the late 1850s as a ranching center where Ahtanum Creek joins the Yakima River, on the site of earlier Yakama tribal villages at present-day Union Gap. When the Northern Pacific Railroad established its terminal 4 miles north in 1884, most of the town picked up and moved to what was then called "North Yakima."
Yakima's Mission-style Northern Pacific Depot (1912) is the highlight of its historic North Front Street. Other old buildings face the depot; behind it, colorful Track 29 Mall is in old rail cars. Four blocks east is the ornate Capitol Theatre, built in 1920. The former vaudeville and silent-movie hall is now a performing arts center. Opposite is Millennium Plaza, a public art installation that celebrates the importance of water to the Yakima Valley. Residents and visitors alike enjoy year-round natural beauty in the heart of Yakima, thanks to the city's ongoing restoration and preservation of the Yakima Greenway. The nature area and trails stretch from Selah Gap to Union Gap, and west along the Naches River. The greenway includes more than 10 miles of paved pathway that connects parks, trails, and adjacent protected natural areas.
Yakima is also home to the Central Washington State Fair, the original State Fair of Washington. Drawing over 300,000 people from all over the Northwest, the annual Fair, held in late September, is the showcase for the agricultural bounty of the area and provides big-name entertainment and all the unique and delicious "Fair" fare.