Walla Walla has established a name for itself as one of the capitals of Washington wines. With quick access to the Red Mountain AVA providing such unique soil, the cabernets coming out of Walla Walla are unlike many others. The area has captured the attention of regional and international travelers, all coming to the Walla Walla Valley to taste great Washington wine straight from the source.
But wine isn’t all that visitors can find in Walla Walla. The city embraces its history, dotted with stunning craftsman and turn of the century homes throughout the area. And perhaps one of the most esteemed highlights embracing Walla Walla’s storied past is The Marcus Whitman Hotel in downtown Walla Walla.
The Marcus Whitman
As you enter the lobby of The Marcus Whitman, you’re whisked back in time to an era of elegance with grand chandeliers and wood columns. The hotel, planned in 1927, was named for Marcus Whitman, who landed in Walla Walla in the 1830s with his wife, Narcissa Whitman, and founded a nearby missionary. The hotel opened in 1928 and has since drawn attention from all over Washington state and beyond with its historic luxury.
Approaching the front desk for check-in, you’ll notice the original key cubbies behind the desk, as well as the original phone booths to your left — a testament to keeping the past alive throughout this grand hotel.
The Marcus Whitman boasts a full-service farm-to-table restaurant, The Marc Restaurant, which now offers a new combined menu in the restaurant and lounge. The menu boasts a focus on seasonally inspired dishes, along with wine pairings suggested for every entrée. In addition, the restaurant offers brunch every Sunday, along with boasting the largest wine cellar of its kind in the Walla Walla Valley, offering a wonderful wine pairing for any dish and to suit any palate.
The rooms at The Marcus Whitman are beaming with classic, elegant comfort, with all of the amenities anyone could need for a home base while exploring this charming town. With Double-Queen, King and Junior Suites in the West Wing, as well as luxury and spa suites in the historic tower, there’s an option for every traveler, with a wide price range to accommodate any type of stay.
Exploring Walla Walla
We visited The Marcus Whitman a few weeks ago and shared our adventure along the way on Instagram. Here are a few of the must-see spots we enjoyed along the way. Add these stops to your list the next time you plan a trip to Walla Walla!
For those traveling with kids or dogs, finding a tasting room to accommodate one (or both) can be challenging. The Duckhorn Wines portfolio, with a storied past in the Napa Valley, recently opened its first tasting room in the Pacific Northwest, introducing Canvasback wines to the public. The tasting room offers a large, grassy area with cornhole and croquet and plenty of space to roam for the kids. There’s a cozy fireplace area to sit back and relax, and picnics are welcome. Grab a flight to sample the stunning reds coming out of the Red Mountain AVA or share a bottle with friends for the afternoon.
Tucked off Walla Walla’s downtown main street, just behind Starbucks, is a local coffee shop making some of the most unique lattes I’ve ever seen. Coffee Perk offers a simple, cozy vibe – a very obvious choice for locals to grab their morning cup of joe. There’s plenty of fresh pastries and wonderful options to choose from, including their signature wellness lattes. These lattes are prepped with ingredients like turmeric, beetroot, ginger and essential oils for a unique pick-me-up. But if branching out isn’t for you, the salted caramel latte is an absolute must-try.
Bright’s has been serving sweets in Walla Walla since 1934. Its freshly made caramel corn, waffle cones, freshly roasted nuts and handcrafted chocolates certainly show the love this company has for sweets. The store features candies on display, along with ice cream and plenty of other sweet focused items for both kids and adults to enjoy. If you visit in the morning, you may get a peek of the chocolatiers handcrafting their treats. Grab a box of mixed truffles to enjoy the rest of your visit. The Maple Crème and Raspberry Truffles are highly recommended.
Colville Street Patisserie
The Colville Street Patisserie opened in 2005 and was truly the most pleasant surprise to find in this small town. This is the type of bakery operation you might find across the pond in France, or perhaps just in a larger city. Either way, it was wonderfully unexpected, and you could certainly tell this is where all of the locals go.
The pastries were impressively stunning, with handcrafted gelato, lattes and teas to boot. The lemon tart was the perfect balance of pastry crust, which wasn’t too thick, paired with a bold lemon custard. And while the tart was impressive, it was the croissants here that were truly astonishing. Croissants are a tricky pastry to master, but the number of layers (AKA lamination), in these little bundles of butter was out of this world. The almond croissant was perhaps the best croissant I’ve ever tried, thanks to all of those handcrafted layers. And yes, I’ve tried quite a few croissants over the years.
The Marcus Whitman is just steps from downtown, with plenty of highlights along the way. As you roam the shops and tasting rooms, take note of all the history on display throughout downtown. Walla Walla features a number of murals and public art sculptures as you walk through downtown, so be sure to keep an eye out.
Take note of the beautiful architecture throughout downtown as well. Deep-rooted in history, many of the downtown buildings were erected in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Bacon & Eggs
Thanks to the recommendation of a tasting room manager, we found ourselves in a cute café on Main St. called Bacon & Eggs, with a huge variety of breakfast options. We tried the pancakes, biscuits and gravy and a dish called Migas, consisting of scrambled eggs, fried tortillas, onions, green chilis, sharp cheddar and pico de gallo, all served with sour cream and hash browns.
Now, biscuits and gravy is certainly not my go-to breakfast. In fact, I’ve never liked any version I’ve tried, so I was reluctant to sample this dish. But it’s safe to say, this may have changed my mind. The biscuits were perfectly fluffy, while the gravy wasn’t overpowering or too salty. Overall, a terrific experience.
Established in 1902, Pioneer Park is Walla Walla’s oldest park, just a few minutes from the downtown core. The center of the park features a stunning historic band stand and plenty of room to roam and play. Walk throughout the grounds and discover the stunning rose garden, a beautiful pond and even an outdoor aviary. As you walk around, you’ll notice a unique exhibit of waterfowl and land birds, which is free and open to the public.
Photography by Molly Allen and Petar Marshall.