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America's Coolest Desert Towns

America's Coolest Desert Towns: Yakima, Washington

Chad Bremmerman

Yakima, Washington

Looking at the sun-drenched town of Yakima, two hours southeast of Seattle past the Cascade Range, you might find it hard to believe this place is a desert. The surrounding agricultural areas are renowned for crisp apples and a whopping three-quarter of all hops grown in the country. But it wasn’t always this way: 19th-century pioneers faced an inhospitable sagebrush desert, since tamed through a series of ingenious irrigation canals using fresh mountain runoff that brought the fertile volcanic soil roaring to verdant life. Nowadays, Yakima serves as the hub of a thriving wine country, where you can visit more than 100 unique wineries, producing everything from Rieslings and Chardonnays to Merlots and Syrahs and even sweet ice wines.

Stay: Built on a former sheep farm, Birchfield Manor Country Inn is every bit as pastoral as that image evokes, thanks to the fields and ponds surrounding the elegant 1910 house and six–guest room cottage. Rates from $119.

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