In case you didn’t notice, summer is upon us here in Yakima.
“Wait a minute,” you say. “Summer doesn’t start until June 21.”
And you’re right, technically, smartypants; we’re still nearly a week away from the official start of summer. But try telling that to anyone who’s been outdoors the past few days. We’ve already hit the mid-90s a few times, and there isn’t a day with a projected high lower than 80 until late August, according to the Accuweather 90-day forecast. So this isn’t a blip. It’s here. For all non-solstice-related intents and purposes, summer has begun. We all have to deal with it.
Fortunately, there is relief available for those notoriously hot Yakima summer days — some tactics more effective than others.
You can fill a kiddie pool with ice and sit in it. You can get a job at a cold-storage facility. You can close your eyes and picture yourself in Antarctica, which probably won’t work. Maybe you can try freezing your pants overnight.
But you can do those things anywhere. The great thing about Yakima is that, along with its “Hey, are we actually living on the surface of the sun?” summertime temperatures, it has plenty of beat-the-heat methods, too. Here is a list of our top five.
Yakima’s outdoor public pool opened Friday. That means, as of today, there are only 70 days left to take advantage of it before it closes on Aug. 25. If you’re smart, you’ll be there for at least 50 of them.
The pool gets crowded on hot days, so be prepared to share space and be decent about it. If you do that, it’s a great way to enjoy some aquatic fun with friends and neighbors. And, in addition to the recreational swims listed above, there are swimming lessons, lap-swim and water-walking sessions, Aqua Zumba fitness classes and, on the last day of the season, the annual Paws in the Pool dog-swimming event.
- 2102 Tieton Drive; recreational swim sessions 12:30-6:30 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 12:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; $4 adults, $2 kids 4-17 years old, free for kids 3 and younger, $13 family (up to two adults and four children), $2.25 seniors and those with disabilities; 509-575-6035.
Shave ice at Ohana
Finely shaved ice flavored with your choice of, like, 30 million syrups is perhaps the most refreshing novelty known to humankind. And Ohana is the best you can find around here. There’s a reason there’s usually a line, and it’s not the grass-hut decor (though that is pretty cool, too).
The best way to do the Ohana Shave Ice thing is to show up at Chalet Place, browse the selection at Inklings Bookshop, take a break for your shave ice, then hit up Oak Hollow Gallery to see what’s on display there from local artists. (If you go between now and June 29, it’ll be the work of Delma Tayer, one of the Valley’s all-time best.) Then, if it’s a particularly hot day or if you just feel like it, you can stop and get a second shave ice.
- Chalet Place shopping center at 56th and Summitview avenues; open noon-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday; $3 small, $4 large.
Float the Yakima River
A three-hour float down the Yakima is a great way to ride out the hottest days of summer. You get your friends together, get yourself a raft (or just a tube) and a life-vest, and hit the river. It’s relaxing and peaceful and, if you’re properly sunscreened, a great way to embrace and enjoy the summer sun.
A few things to remember: You need a car at your take-out site, so bring at least two and leave one there.
There are plenty of snags and snares near the shores, so it’s wise to bring paddles and try to stay in the center of the river.
Bring food and drink in a cooler (make sure you have plenty of drinking water). Keep your keys and phone safe in a dry-bag or well-sealed plastic bag.
If you’re using multiple rafts or tubes, lash them together with bungee cords or ropes to make sure no one in your party drifts too far.
- Umtanum Creek Recreation Area to Roza Recreation Site; $5 for parking.
Buy a paleta
You can buy paletas — Mexican fruit-and-ice bars with or without cream — at the local manufacturers listed below. Or you can buy them at just about any convenience store or mercado. But the best way to buy them is from a guy with a pushcart. Nothing says “summer in the Yakima Valley” more than the ringing of the paleta-pushcart bell.
The way it usually works is you spot one of those guys on the street just as they’re about to turn a corner about 100 yards away. Then you sprint as fast as you can, waving a handful of crumpled dollar bills, until finally you catch up with him. Then, sweaty and out of breath, you say, “limon, por favor” and the guy hands you a lime paleta and you forget it’s even hot out.
- Paleteria La Super, 610 N. 18th Ave. in Yakima, 901-7950; Paleteria La Nortena, 120 Rohman St. in Sunnyside, 509-839-5802; prices vary, but they’re never more than a couple of bucks.
Sip a cold one at a taproom
There are a bunch of brewery taprooms with outdoor seating in the Yakima Valley, but the three listed below probably have the best outdoor areas. Bale Breaker and Bron Yr Aur have expansive, bucolic beer gardens where kids and dogs can wander and play under your watchful eye while you knock back an IPA or two. And Single Hill, right downtown, has a nice patio and lawn, complete with games for both kids and adults.
Really, though, you can’t go wrong at any Yakima Valley taproom that has outdoor seating. The combination of the heat and the cold beer — made from hops grown right here — are as Yakima as Yakima gets.
Single Hill Brewing Company, 102 N. Naches Ave. in Yakima; Bale Breaker Brewing Company, 1801 Birchfield Road in Moxee; Bron Yr Aur Brewing Co. 12160 U.S. Highway 12 near Naches.