My mom is a Joni Mitchell fan, so for her Christmas gift, our family got her a trip out to the Gorge to see Joni perform for the first time in over 20 years. Check out our Gorge travel guide below!
How we traveled there
I flew direct from Denver into Seattle which is where I met my family, who came from Michigan and Nashville. We rented a car from Hertz which we used to drive out to Wenatchee. The drive from Seattle to Wenatchee is around 2.5 hours. We took the I90 route which was really scenic. Driving back from Wenatchee to Seattle on Sunday, there was significant traffic which we heard was normal on Sundays. Add some extra time to your schedule, especially if you have a flight!
Where we stayed
The Edgewater Hotel in Seattle – we stayed here one night so we could all convene before driving out to Wenatchee. It was a great location and our rooms had beautiful views of the water. Make sure to request a water-view room when booking the reservation. The hotel has a rich musical history, with The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Neil Young being past guests. There is a famous photo of The Beatles fishing out of the windows from one of the rooms. The hotel offers rentals of record players and guitars – there is even a recording studio in the hotel.
Hilton Garden Inn Wenatchee – we stayed here for two nights. This hotel is an hour-ish from the Gorge and we were mostly just there to sleep. It was quiet, clean, and in a good location by the river and public market while being close to town. Many people going to the Gorge for the show (including some musicians who played there) stayed at our hotel. There is only one hotel by the Gorge (Sagecliffe Resort), so make sure to book a hotel as soon as you can.
What activities we experienced
- At The Gorge – we saw Brandi Carlile on Friday night and Joni Mitchell on Saturday night. This is a famous outdoor music venue on the Colombia River.
- Family photos– we had family photos taken by Abbygale Marie Photography. We have a family member with a physical disability and she was really understanding, accommodating, and patient.
- Snoqualmie Falls – we stopped here on the way back from Wenatchee to Seattle. There are excellent upper and lower observation decks of the 270-foot waterfall. There is a hotel onsite called Salish Lodge which we wish we had known about – it would have been nice to stay here overnight since it overlooks the falls. Admission is free and there are hiking trails available.
- Seattle Cocktail Cruise – my family did this as an Airbnb experience with Candere Cruising on Lake Union. It was a two-hour cruise and you can have up to 6 guests. You see a lot of floating homes including the Sleepless in Seattle floating home. I was already on the plane home and am sad I missed it – the pictures were beautiful!
- Seattle Great Wheel – my family did this ferris wheel before I arrived and loved it. It’s at 1301 Alaskan Way in Seattle.
Where we ate
McGlinns Public House – we ate here twice. It’s casual with good food. The salads were huge and my family said the burgers were great. They do have gluten-free and vegan options. However, I would not recommend getting the coffee here.
The Huck at Pybus – the wait time was a little shorter than the original location, The Wild Huckleberry. The Public Market (Pybus) was right next to our hotel, and it was also fun to walk around and look at the different vendors while we waited for a table.
The Gorge also had food – we got some snacks there. This is what we saw that they had in terms of meals: Pizza, fries, acai bowl, chicken fingers, Hawaiian noodle bowls, burgers, waffle fry nachos, smoothies, gyros, burritos, mac and cheese, corn dogs, popcorn, pretzels, and soft serve.
My family also ate at Fiasco after the cocktail cruise. It was close to the cocktail cruise, so it was a great stop to grab some food after that. It was a convenient and casual restaurant with good pizza.
Where we drank
- Little Reds Espresso and Bakery – a cute place next to the public market with good coffee
- Mela Coffee – I got an iced latte here which was great! I took a picture with the mural right outside this coffee shop.
- We didn’t check out any bars on this trip, but we did get some drinks at the Gorge. They sold bottles of wine, many of which were musician’s wine brands. The least expensive bottle we saw was around $40, with options going up from there. They also sold White Claws and beer for around $14.
What we recommend knowing/preparing
- Get a VIP Plaza parking pass – this is my biggest tip for the Gorge if you are not camping. It puts you right next to the venue with your own entrance/exit. The public parking looked crazy and pretty far away. The ADA parking was also much further away than this lot.
- You can tailgate in the VIP Plaza parking lot. We took our own dinner and drinks to have before the concert.
- There are quite a few food and drink options at the Gorge, but you can also bring in a sealed water bottle and your own sealed food. There are very few options to eat in the immediate area outside of the venue.
- Many people stay at the Gorge overnight to camp. We didn’t do this and decided to drive an hour each way to a hotel.
- If you don’t want to camp, I’d recommend looking at the Sagecliffe Resort and Spa as soon as you know you are going. It is the only hotel near the venue.
- Traffic was crazy getting in for Joni Mitchell and we sat in the car for hours – make sure to leave early for the concert.
- There are no bathrooms – only porta-potties
- You can bring your own chairs that sit low to the ground
Accessibility At The Gorge
- Wheelchair rental in Seattle– we rented a wheelchair for the entire trip through Wheels for Feet. They were super easy to work with. The wheelchair had already been delivered to our hotel when we got there, and they picked it up from the hotel when we left. The cost was $150 for 4 days, with a $100 deposit. They also rent motorized chairs and other medical equipment.
- ADA seats at the Gorge – ADA seats are helpful for people who need to sit on the aisle and need seats/who can’t sit on the lawn. For the shows we went to, the ADA seats were significantly more expensive than the general seats, but they were necessary for our group. The Gorge has one of the steepest lawns I’ve ever seen at a venue, so I wouldn’t recommend trying to sit there if your group has any balance/mobility issues.
- ADA Parking – The Gorge has an ADA parking lot, but per my understanding, it is first come first serve and then there is a shuttle that will shuttle guests in. For us, there were too many variables to rely on for ADA parking, so we opted for the VIP plaza parking which we felt was well worth the money. From the VIP Plaza parking lot, the staff will call the person who qualifies for ADA seats and one guest a van to take them down a hill which gives them easier access to their seats. In addition, with the VIP plaza parking, your car is one of the first out of the venue after the show since it is at a separate entrance.
What we didn’t do but looked into
- Leavenworth – Bavarian-styled village that is 30 min from Wenatchee
- Chihuly Garden and Glass (Seattle) – museum next to the Space Needle, showcasing the glass works of Dale Chihuly
- Museum of Flight (Seattle) – air and space museum
What we packed
I didn’t pack well for this trip. The weather was projected to be in the 80s but it ended up not being very warm. I needed more pants and long sleeves than I brought with me. We were there in mid-June so I’d recommend bringing a lot of layers, as well as rain gear.
Depending on where you are going, keep in mind there is a weather difference between Seattle and Wenatchee. Seattle has 322% more rainy days and 24% less sunny days than Wenatachee.
People are very casual around town with many being in hiking clothes. Even at the Gorge for the concerts, people were not dressed up as many people are camping there. I brought Birkenstocks and Van’s sneakers which worked well. If you’re going to the Gorge, bring a blanket to sit on if you have lawn seats.
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We hope you enjoyed our Gorge travel guide. Leave a comment below or contact us for any questions. If you are looking for more domestic travel trips then you should also check out our post on Wyoming.