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Tri-Cities: Washington’s Desert Trio

Wine, outdoor activities and visitors all thrive in the Tri-Cities’ sunny climate.

Many people are surprised to learn that there is a desert region in the Evergreen State, and that the Tri-Cities area lies within it. The towns of Kennewick, Pasco, Richland and West Richland make up the area, which boasts 300 days of sunshine. Three rivers run through the towns — the Yakima, Snake and Columbia — and agriculture, wine and outdoor recreation flourish.

“Business Insider voted us one of the Top 30 Happiest and Healthiest Cities in America [in 2014],” said Kris Watkins, president and CEO of Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau. “We have a vibrancy that you might not find in a lot of small cities throughout the nation — a lot of positive things are always happening.”

More than 200 wineries are within an hour’s drive of the Tri-Cities, and many host wine and vineyard tours as well as wine-pairing presentations. The wealth of wineries has made the area a mecca for wine lovers, and it’s growing. The Washington State University Wine Science Center is due to open in 2015 and will be the most technologically advanced wine research and education center in the world.

Groups can take advantage of the sunshine at one of 10 area golf courses, bike and hike over 23 miles of looped and paved paths at Sacajawea Heritage Trail or go horseback riding through the vineyards at Red Mountain Trails.

Other attractions include the Carousel of Dreams, a restored 1910 masterpiece by Charles Carmel that features 45 hand-carved wooden horses and three chariots. The REACH is a new visitor and heritage center that celebrates the cultural history of the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River and greater Columbia Basin. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)  detects ripples in the fabric of space time and fascinates science enthusiasts of all ages.

Popular off-site event venues include local wineries and golf courses, as well as the REACH, Carousel of Dreams and Anthology Events, a contemporary indoor-outdoor venue.


Spotlight on Tri-Cities

Primary meeting facilities: TRAC Center

Other meeting properties: Three Rivers Convention Center, Country Gentlemen Restaurant, Memories at Sunset Event Center and Stone Ridge Event Center

Largest meeting space: TRAC Center at 50,000+ square feet

Total hotel rooms: 3,587 by the end of 2014

CVB website: