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Best 1-Gas-Tank Spring Break Vacations for the Mid Columbia!

Fox Photos, Getty Images, Hulton Archives

It’s almost spring break and your kids want to go somewhere fun. But you’re on a budget, so here are the best “staycations” that are only one gas tank away from the Mid Columbia!

1. Wenatchee/Cashmere/Leavenworth

Take 243 out of Horn Rapids (northwest Richland) and enjoy the beautiful Hanford Wildlife Reservation then cross the Columbia River and drive alongside it through orchards. Stop at the Wanapum Dam Heritage Center, then keep going until you get to the scenic gorge, then hop on 90 up to Wenatchee. Visit Ohme Gardens, shop downtown and enjoy a few restaurants. Then up to Cashmere to visit the Applets and Cotlets factory. Go in late spring/early summer and you’ll be blown away by the number of blossoming trees in that town! If you’re looking to indulge, however, the bakery BEHIND the Liberty Orchards factory was my favorite in Cashmere. Then keep going to Leavenworth to shop, hike, dine, and more!

2. Mount St. Helens

On a clear day go to the visitor’s center. It’s fascinating and delivers the best views of the volcano crater. Look into exploring Ape Caves. It’s a great site for the kids and it blows their minds to explain what happened before they were born. I miss it when all the trees were blown down and you could see acres of devastation. Even if the weather is bad, it is still one of the most beautiful forests in America.

3. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

A personal favorite is the bike trails, but the lake and resort are beautiful. The shopping right off the resort is fantastic and there’s a huge park with a history museum right next door. The restaurants are top notch and are only beaten by the scenery. And EVERY town in the surrounding area is quaint and worth visiting.

4. Maryhill/Goldendale

If you take 97 instead of 84 or 14 you can eat lunch in Zillah or Toppenish. The observatory in Goldendale is a huge draw, but the cute little town also has wonderful antique stores and a decent public pool. Maryhill Museum of Art is always fantastic, no matter the exhibit. If you’re not an art fan, the views are still worth the drive. The WWI memorial down the road allows your kids to see a real Stone Henge. Maybe you’d like to stop at the winery.

5. Dayton, Washington

It’s a beautiful drive through historic towns to enjoy family skiing at Bluewood outside Dayton. It’s a small town, but the restaurants are first rate and the historic downtown is great for meandering. During the week you can ride ATVs or go for scenic drives. Drive north a little to Palouse Falls — the “official” falls of Washington State.

6. Hood River, Oregon

This is one of the most beautiful towns in the Pacific Northwest. The shopping is great, the fruit stands (seasonal) are plentiful, the vineyards are scenic, the restaurants are fun, the windsuring and kiteboarding is world class (literally) and Multnomah falls are nearby. All my coworkers have been to the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum (WAAAM) and say their wives enjoyed it as much as they did.

7. McNary Dam and Hat Rock State Park

If you’re REALLY on a budget, go camping at Hat Rock, Oregon and stop at McNary Dam.



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