I’m one of those lifetime Pacific Northwesterners who has driven through Enumclaw (Enumscratch!) on the way to Mount Rainier, but never stopped there. In September, that all changed. Not only did I spend two nights in this Southeast King County community, I had a fun time. Located 35 minutes from Crystal Mountain Ski Resort and Mount Rainier National Park, it obviously has nature on its side. But there’s also a good buzz going on in this city of 11,237 residents, and I’d recommend it for a day trip or overnight. The only downside to this 101-year-old city is the lack of a small boutique-type hotel downtown (your best option is the Park Center Hotel). Here are ten reasons why you should make a stop in Enumclaw on your way to or from the mountain. You’re bound to find more.
Restaurants & Bars
I was surprised at the number of restaurants downtown Enumclaw boasts. From the historic Mint Restaurant & Alehouse (pictured at top) that reopened in 2013 as a family restaurant, to Jackson’s for tasty pizza — the town has no shortage of fine food stops. At Kelly’s Mercantile, Chef Ky Loop is all about foraging and farm to table fare. It’s a combination restaurant, wine bar and coffee shop with a stage for live entertainment.
You won’t find any big box stores in downtown Enumclaw. Bridget’s Boutique is a unique and beautiful shop. It’s hip and fun, with a semi-western flair, featuring wearable fashions along with home decor items — and upstairs is a small bar! Other cool Cole Street stores include Oh Baby, a consignment shop; The Sequel Used Books and Espresso (free WiFi); and Vintage Restoration for artfully recycled furniture and accessories.
Jenni Sample grew up in Enumclaw and following an urban lifestyle stint in Seattle, returned to live on her grandparents’ farm in 2010. Today she owns and operates The Mason Jar Farm, where she has a small CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) on the 9.5 acres. From May-October she hosts Open Farm Fridays from 11-6. Offerings include free range eggs, baked goods, Mason Jar gifts and self-guided tours of the farm.
Dave and Sue White moved to Enumclaw in the 1990s and today own and operate Rusty Plough Farm. Once a dairy farm, the Whites converted it to a U-Pick blueberry farm, featuring five varieties on the 3.2 acres of berries. The former builder and his wife, along with 45 friends, spent a morning in 2011 planting the 4,600 blueberry plants. It’s a short harvest season, with the U-Pick usually running July-September.
Homegrown Craft Cider, Hard Cider and Wine
Rockridge Orchards is a winery, cidery and distillery. The family-working farm is owned and operated by Wade and Judy Bennett and features craft ciders, hard cider and wine. In addition to a store and produce stand, there’s also a tasting room. Rockridge Orchards is hosting the Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off and Harvest Festival on September 28. Sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Giant Pumpkin Growers, last year’s winning pumpkin weighed in at 1,463.5 pounds.
LouAnn Brandjes is a young entrepreneur who in 2011 was looking for ways to improve people’s health. Today, Nature’s Inventory is all about mind, body and spirt. They manufacture on site and sell products and organic options for health and wellness. Products include wellness oils, loose leaf teas and herbal tinctures. You can even create your own lotions and potions! There’s also hydromassage and a flotation tank.
Local Craft Beer
A few storefronts down from his wife’s business, Nature’s Inventory, is Eric Brandjes’ Cole Street Brewery. The owner and brewmaster opened his tasting room in February 2014, and at any given time has 6-8 beers brewing. They include Amber, Brown, Porter, Blonde, IPA, Cascadian Rye and Hefeweizen. As the only craft brewery in Enumclaw, local restaurants also feature his beer.
Every town should have a sweet shop or two. Sweet Necessities features handmade chocolates (the salted caramels are divine), scoops up ice cream and carries a large selection of teas. A few blocks down the street is The Pie Goddess, where owner Suzie Sidhu serves up both sweet and savory pies. She was a first place winner at the American Pie Council’s Crisco National Pie Championships in 2008 for her Peanut Butterfinger Pie.
Serene Day Spa & Boutique is a haven. Owner Jenelle Sloan has created a refuge of calm and tranquility in downtown Enumclaw, offering massage and body treatments along with facials and skin care for both men and women. I indulged in the Zen Fire & Ice Detox Mineral Wrap. The 70-minute treatment of hot and cold was the ideal way to prepare for my visit to the mountain the following day. Ah, spa!
The Mountain (aka Mount Rainier)
You don’t have to ski, snowboard or be a mountain climber to enjoy Mount Rainier. It’s a destination for all ages and all seasons, from Crystal Mountain Resort to the numerous hiking trails and scenic walks in Mt. Rainier National Park. From Enumclaw, the mountain rises high above the plateau on a clear day, as seen in this photo I took just a few miles from downtown.