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Tri-Cities, Washington

Three times the fun

Charles Carmel ornately carved horse at the Gesa Carousel of Dreams in Kennewick. Photo by Marguerite Cleveland

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The Eastern Washington towns of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland are situated around the confluence of the Yakima, Snake and Columbia Rivers and are known as the Tri-Cities. All those rivers make this a mecca for watersports, and with almost 300 days of sun a year, there is plenty of time to enjoy them.

Plan to stay in Richland in the area known as Columbia Point. The Courtyard by Marriott Richland Columbia Point is perfect for a family getaway. Set on a cove off the Columbia River, this waterfront location is sure to please with a 23-mile paved trail directly outside the hotel and bike rentals onsite. An indoor heated pool and outdoor waterfront patio offer plenty of options for children to get out some energy. Restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. 480 Columbia Point Dr., Richland, 509.942.9400,

You can't come to the Tri-Cities and not try Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP). This hugely popular sport is surprisingly easy to master. Make a reservation with Krista Patterson or Cathie Hobson, owners of Northwest Paddleboarding, for a family SUP class. Meet at Two Rivers Park which has a nice shallow cove, perfect for beginners, and the water is warmer. Insider tip: If you have three or more participants, you can set up a private class at the same rate as the standard class, $49 a person.  This is perfect if you have children, and makes a great family outing. Children must be at least 6 years old for their own board. Two Rivers Park, 213316 E. Finley Rd., Kennewick, 509.378.1469,

Don't miss the Gesa Carousel of Dreams. This vintage 1910 carousel began service in St. Joseph, Missouri. Renowned master carver Charles Carmel lovingly created the horses. In 2003, a group of locals purchased the carousel, which was then stored in Roswell, New Mexico. The carousel has a total of 45 hand-carved wooden horses and three chariots. It also includes a Washington State University Cougar and a University of Washington Husky. Well worth the stop. 4-7 p.m., Monday;  11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m., Sunday, 2901-F Southridge Blvd., Kennewick,  509.378.3257,

If you love farmers markets and roadside fruit stands, stop by the Country Mercantile in Pasco. It began as a fruit stand and has grown into a two-story gourmet grocer. Enjoy fresh local fruits and vegetables, homemade ice cream, gourmet treats and a gift boutique. The local icon really shines in the fall with a harvest festival, petting zoo, corn maze, wagon rides, pumpkin patch, carnival rides and much more. 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., daily, 232 Crestloch Rd., Pasco, 509.545.2192,

The Uptown shopping center opened in 1949 and has a cool, vintage vibe with vibrantly painted store fronts, murals and other artwork. The Spudnut Shop is where the locals hang out to have coffee in the morning and enjoy a spudnut. These puffy fluffs of heaven are a doughnut made with potato flour and a slightly sweet glaze. Best doughnut ever. The shop is Richland's oldest coffee café and was featured on the Food Network's Unwrapped and the Travel Channel special Donut Paradise. 4 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Saturday, 228 Williams Blvd., Richland, 509.943.3000,

This just touches the surface of all the fun, family friendly activities the Tri-Cities has to offer. For more information, visit:

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