Six Free Things to do in Ellensburg, WA

You might know Ellensburg for its popular annual rodeo on Labor Day weekend. What you might not know is that it has free museums, a city park next to the Yakima River, art, murals, historic buildings, and a wind farm. If you are planning a getaway to Ellensburg or need a short break on a cross-the-state trip, Ellensburg has six FREE things to do in Ellensburg, WA.

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Six Free Things to do in Ellensburg, WA

TripAdvisor is my go-to source for travel advice, but there are plenty of ways to get the local scoop. Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say about Ellensburg, WA at TripAdvisorHotels.com, and Expedia.

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1. Walk around historic downtown and check out the murals and historic buildings.

Historic downtown Ellensburg is a very walkable with lots art and murals, many of which are old advertisements. It’s most famous mural is Phoenix Rising by Lynne McCowin on the Davidson Building. The mural depicts the rebirth of the town after the Great Ellensburg Fire in 1889. Some notable buildings are the Cadwell Building, which was built with one million bricks, the Elmira Block, and Farmer’s Bank, and New York Cafe.

Tip: If you get hungry or thirsty while walking around there are plenty of places to tempt you like Ellensburg Pasta Company, Valley Cafe, Palace Cafe, Starlight Lounge, Brix Elevage Wine Co., Gard Vintners, and Iron Horse Brewery.

Kittats County Historical Museum

2. Learn about history and art at the Kittitas County Historical Museum and the Clymer Museum of Art.

The Kittitas County Historical Museum and the Clymer Museum of Art are in downtown Ellensburg, and both are FREE. The historical museum is in the bottom floor of the famous Cadwell Building. If you are a history buff you’ll like its collections from various eras in the county including Native American, pioneer, logging, geological, as well as antique cars, historic photographs, and military objects.

The Clymer Museum of Art is dedicated to local western artist John Clymer. Most people are familiar with Clymer’s Saturday Evening Post covers. He is also recognized worldwide and was awarded the Prix de West, Cowboy Hall of Fame and a Rungius Medal. The museum is small but has interesting items and stories from his life, posters, magazine covers, and a few paintings.

Ellensburg Bull

3.  Photo Op with the Ellensburg Bull.

The Ellensburg Bull by Rich Beyer is in Rotary Pavillion, which is right across the street from Phoenix Rising and the Davidson Building.

Tip: If you want lodging close to downtown, I suggest Guesthouse Ellensburg.

TripAdvisor is my go-to source for travel advice, but there are plenty of ways to get the local scoop. Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say about Ellensburg, WA at TripAdvisorHotels.com, and Expedia.

Six Free Things to do in Ellensburg, WA

4.  Stretch your legs at Irene Rinehart Riverfront Park.

Irene Rinehart Riverfront Park is the perfect spot to stretch your legs and connect with nature. The 117-acre park hugs Yakima River and Carey Lake. It has picnic tables, picnic shelters, a kids play area, large grassy fields, and a trail. On a drive-by trip, I stopped at the park to walk the trail. It took me about 45-minutes and was a welcome change from sitting in the car.

5. Learn about wind and solar power at Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility & Renewable Energy Center.

I have a fascination with wind farms and Eastern Washington is full of them. Wild Horse Wind Farm is about a 25-minute drive from Ellensburg, but so worth it. Even if you just want to go for the view, which on a clear day includes Mt. Rainier. Visiting the wind farm is free, including the twice-daily guided tours. I’m a fan of tours, so if you can schedule it do. At the end, you get to go inside the bottom of a turbine! The visitor center has informative displays that talk about wind power, the environment, and the location. Be sure to watch the video of them putting up a wind turbine.

Tip: The center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 1 to November 15. Tours are at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

You can also hike the grounds, and I was told that when the flowers bloom in spring is one of the best times. To do this you’ll need to get approval and a recreational permit, which can be obtained online and at the visitor center.

Tip: Be aware this is rattlesnake country!

Ellensburg Rodeo

6. Take in the view of the town from Reed Park.

The Ellensburg Rodeo is a huge part of the town, and a trip wouldn’t be complete without looking at the stadium. Reed Park is up on a hill that overlooks the valley, the rodeo stadium, and you can also see some of the buildings at Central Washington University.

That concludes my six free things to do in Ellensburg, WA. Do you have any free activities to add to the list?

TripAdvisor is my go-to source for travel advice, but there are plenty of ways to get the local scoop. Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say about Ellensburg, WA at TripAdvisorHotels.com, and Expedia.

Six Free Things to do in Ellensburg, WA

Weekend WanderlustThe Weekly Postcard

9 thoughts on “Six Free Things to do in Ellensburg, WA”

  1. Good to know there are some free things you can do in Ellenburg, like these museums, the historic building and the murals. I always enjoy strolling through the parks in the cities I visit. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    Reply
    • Anda, I know many museums can’t afford to be free, so I’m always happy to find one that is. I had such a fun time walking the streets and wondering what mural I’d see next.

      Reply
  2. First time I hear about this city but have to say it looks like one of those small towns I love. I really like when towns have a nice mix of historical buildings, natural attractions and tons of charm. The Kittitas County Museum has certain Moorish accents (not sure if it is just me, I posted about Spain this week and have been noticed a lot of Moorish architecture in different posts). #WeekendWanderlust

    Reply
    • Ruth, Thanks so much for commenting. It does have some of those elements, like the circles around the windows. I didn’t pick up on that until you mentioned it. Neat!

      Reply

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