Six Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving To The Yakima Valley
The Yakima Valley is a mixed bag of nuts, if you listen to the locals tell it.
When I first moved here in 2002, I was immediately told that the best thing about living in Yakima is leaving Yakima. That freaked me out quite a bit! I thought that meant that I needed to immediately pack my bags and head right back to my hometown of Nashville!
I eventually learned that it related to all of the fun things to do in and around the Yakima Valley and all of the wonderful people you will meet. This town is growing exponentially by the day, and it's starting to feel, dare I say it, a wee bit metropolitan! *raises pinky finger*
The very first item on your sightseeing list when coming to Yakima, should be to stop at the Yakima Valley Museum. You will learn so much about your new city and come to have a great appreciation for the contributions of people who paved the way, namely, the Yakama tribe. You will also gain a newfound respect for the settler communities of the Filipinos, Japanese and Chinese.
There is so much to learn about the geography and agricultural influences that are the backbone of keeping Yakima's community thriving.
There's even a children's museum in the basement. Kids love it there, especially when coming to the museum on field trips!
When I moved to Yakima, I noticed that there was a strange odor blanketing parts of town. I was repulsed until someone told me that was the smell of hops being processed at the plant nearby. When I learned that hops are what makes beer, BEER, and that Yakima Valley produces 75% of the hops for the entire United States, I suddenly LOVED the strange odor blanketing the town!
Funny how that changes your perception of things!
Yakima does not play around when it comes to their beer or their wine.
Upon moving to Yakima, I hardly ever drank wine (I was more of a Michelob Light kind of girl). Once I realized that pretty much everyone in Yakima knew someone who either owned a winery or had friends who worked at one, I realized that I had to become a bit aware of viticulture.
Now I can tell you anything you want or need to know about how to tell the difference between a cabernet franc blend, cab sauv, chardonnay, muscat, port, mead, riesling, and a smooth syrah! As well as which cheeses and foods to pair with it!
I am feeling so wine snobby right now, that I just created my own page on facebook, Hashtag Wine Snob. LIKE MY PAGE!
You must become familiar with Kumbia Kings, Selena, E-40, Macklemore, Sir Mix-a-Lot, old school, and country music if you want to blend in with the locals. I wish somebody had told me that. When I moved here, all I really listened to was house music and EDM. At least I bonded with people right away because I grew up with old school in the '90s!
Knowing Spanish is a very big plus when moving to Yakima (this town is nearly 50% Latino). Other languages that are great to know are Korean and Vietnamese. I love speaking foreign languages, so this makes me happy, although I wish that more people speak French! Parlez-vous francais?
Some of my old favorite foodie stomping grounds will always include restaurants such as Zesta Cucina, G-Spot, El Porton de Pepe, Majors Burgers, and Sports Center. But, oh, how I miss those places who are no longer around, like Poochies Hot Dogs, Pasta Pronto, 901 Pasta and The Speakeasy!
If you had told me years ago when I moved to Yakima that one day I would come to love going to dive bars, I would have slapped you in the face. But Yakima is chock full of them, and they have become a guilty pleasure. The ones I love are Old Town Pump (Union Gap), Little Dutch Inn, Ding Ho (technically not a dive bar, but it's a treat, nonetheless), Artie's, and The Lotus Room!
I moved to Yakima from Nashville, Tennessee, and I thought THAT place was small. I knew that some people called Yakima a "city", but I felt as though I had moved to a one-horse town. I was very narrow-minded when I got here, but my heart (and mind) have swelled with pride of this place. It doesn't feel like a teeny little dot on the map anymore, it feels like home!
The key is to immerse yourself in the local culture and don't be afraid to say hi to the person sitting next to you. In fact, don't be afraid to go places by yourself and explore the area. People in Yakima are very friendly and willing to give you a helping hand with whatever your plight.
I joined a women's volunteer program (there are many to choose from such as Junior League of Yakima, Kiwanis, Rotary, Zonta, MOPS, etc.) so that I could network, socialize, hang out with the movers and shakers in town, and most importantly, make some new friends for life!
Yakima is about twenty minutes away from floating the river, one hour away from skiing/snowboarding, two hours away from Seattle, three hours away from Portland, five hours away from Spokane, and who knows how many hours away from Canada.
There is always someone going skiing, snowboarding, sailing, floating the river, fishing, lake boarding, rock climbing, hiking, you name it, there's somebody doing it, and doing it all right close to Yakima.
You can even catch a quick flight to Seattle or take the airport shuttle bus, or drive to Tri-Cities and hop on a plane to Vegas!
I think more people are moving to Yakima because we don't have all of the big city traffic. Some people are running away because of the crime rate and what not, but to be honest, the cost of living is so low here that I cannot probably ever move away!