Ashley Stewart Herald Writer
At just about three hours away, Yakima Valley is close enough for a day trip.
But warm weather, a scenic landscape, and fun activities for adults and families might make you want to stay longer.
Spend a night to sample the local brews at the Fresh Hop Ale Festival or bring along the family to press cider at a farm festival and watch hot air balloons take to the sky for the Great Prosser Balloon Rally.
Feeling active? Explore wine country on a two-day bike trek or test your endurance on a 4-mile obstacle course.
Here are six things to do in seven Yakima Valley communities:
Apple, pumpkin festival
Enjoy hay rides to the orchard to pick apples right off the tree or to the patch to pick a pumpkin at the Apple and Pumpkin Festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays from Sept. 22 to Oct. 20 at Bill’s Berry Farm, 3674 N. County Line Road, Grandview.
Activities include a family picnic, live music, an apple cider press and barnyard train rides for kids. Apples, pumpkins, fall decorations and fresh vegetables are available to buy by the pound or box.
For more information and a map to the farm, go to www.billsberryfarm.com.
Prosser Balloon Rally
More than 35 hot air balloons will fill the Yakima Valley sky during the Great Prosser Balloon Rally, planned from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 6 a.m. to dusk Saturday and 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28 to 30 at the Prosser Airport, 111 Nunn Road, and other locations.
The weekend event features balloon launches at sunrise, a harvest festival, farmers market and a street painting festival. The balloons will be anchored and illuminated from within during the rally’s Night Glow at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 29 at Fiker Stadium.
Admission and parking are free. For more information, go to www.prosserballoonrally.org or call 509-786-3177.
Wine Country Trek
The Kiwanis Wine Country Trek is a two-day, 120-mile bike ride from Yakima to Prosser through vineyards, hop fields and orchards. The event is planned from 8 a.m. Sept. 29 to 6 p.m. Sept. 30.
Registration is $135 per cyclist and includes a gourmet dinner, overnight camping in Prosser, Sunday morning breakfast and baggage transportation.
All proceeds go to the Kiwanis community and youth service projects.
For more information, go to www.kiwaniswinecountrytrek.com or call 509-786-8973.
Fresh Hop Ale Festival
The ninth annual Fresh Hop Ale Festival is a celebration of the Yakima Valley Hop Crop, which contributes 77 percent of the total hop crop in the United States.
You can enjoy brewery selections, demonstrations, a cigar tent, food, live music and dancing from 5 to 10 p.m. Oct. 6 in downtown Yakima.
Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the gate. Advance tickets are available at Yakima Valley businesses through noon on Oct. 5.
Ticket price includes commemorative beer glass and $6 scrip for beer and wine.
Open to ages 21 and older. ID is required for entry. For more information, go to www.freshhopalefestival.com or call 509-966-0930.
Pirate Plunder race
The Pirate Plunder Adventure Race is a 4-mile obstacle course race, set for 10 a.m. Oct. 7 at Fullbright Park in Union Gap. The course has more than 15 obstacles, including 12-foot-high walls, a 40-foot-long mud pit, a 30-foot water slide, plus tires, fields and sand pits.
Participants receive a cold drink, live music and food at the end of the race. More information at www.pirateplunderrace.com.
Catch the Crush
Yakima Valley wineries will celebrate the annual harvest with Catch the Crush on Oct. 13 and 14 at various wineries in Prosser, Benton City, Yakima and Zillah.
Each winery will celebrate with different events, including grape stomps, harvest and crush activities, tours, live music, and food and wine tasting.
Premier passes for the event are available online for $30 or $35 at the door. Passes are nonrefundable. Call 509-965-5201 or go to www.wineyakimavalley.org for more information.
Find out more about Yakima Valley at www.visityakima.com.
Ashley Stewart: 425-339-3037; firstname.lastname@example.org.