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Only 250 miles as the finch flies – Taking a Run Oregon Road Trip to The FINCH in Walla Walla

Run Oregon loves running – that’s no surprise. But we also love the Pacific Northwest and all that it has to offer. Running is a part of us, but it does not fully define us. In our new “Make a Day of It” feature, we aim to showcase some great local non-running events and highlight where to run and how to make the most of your experience! We recently took a trip to Walla Walla, WA and stayed for a night at The FINCH, a new modern downtown spot that begs to be a runcation hub.

Hip lobby area, with views of covered fireplace just outside the main doors.

Indoor workspace.

Most hotels are only interested in your experience inside their own walls. Some even actively try to keep you on the premises as much as possible.

We wanted to do something different. At The FINCH, we’re very proud of the space we’ve designed, but not nearly as proud as we are of Walla Walla (and the Palouse in general). We want you to love your modern, one-of-a-kind guestroom, but our real goal is to help you get out and find the perfect experience for you.

We’ve built a Map Room to help you find your way. We have a crew of people who genuinely care about this place and the possibilities it holds (your guides) and are excited to share it with you.

We’re right downtown, within easy walking distance to the best local restaurants and bars, tasting rooms, and boutiques.

We can’t wait to meet you.

First the Running:

Mill Creek Recreation Trail

I will admit that this was my first trip to Walla Walla – outside of a single college baseball trip where I literally ONLY saw the inside of a random motel and the baseball field. Therefore, I had no real reference point for running outside of what I learned on Strava. In a previous post, we highlighted some nice routes and maps. Here are some excerpts:

  • With The FINCH being right downtown, there are a ton of cool neighborhood and park runs to enjoy. Here is our Strava link, which had us heading along some historic streets, around Pioneer Park, and within Whitman College.
  • The Fort Walla Walla Recreation Trail is short, but it is an easy paved path that leads from Ft. Walla Walla to the east end of Catherine Street. It also connects with the Arthur G. Rempel Nature Trail and putting a full loop at around 3 miles or so. It could be done easily as a standalone run, or adding it to some other around-town running.
  • Head a little east of town to run a series of trails in a more secluded environment. The Mill Creek Recreation Trail is a gently sloping, paved, trail which connects to the Kingfisher Trail loop. Just a little bit from those trails sits the Meadowlark Trail – a rugged 2.5 mile singletrack loop around Bennington Lake. The Whitetail Trail loop is a longer loop – clocking in at 5 miles and featuring expansive views of the Blue Mountains. Here is a link to our Strava run.

The Property and Our Room:

First and foremost, rest assured that the hotel is taking COVID-19 seriously. Read their policies beforehand if you have questions.

Everything you need. Nothing you don’t. That is the moniker that The FINCH goes by. And I sorta love it.

The FINCH is truly outdoors-persons dream, and this is evident from walking in the front door. The architecture style is modern and hip, complete with bikes to check out, pods to store your own bikes, and a feeling that this is your basecamp for the duration of your stay. The front desk staff are affectionately called guides, offering expertise on all of Walla Walla’s bounties – from food, to wine, to trails and the outdoors. There is a custom-designed map room that not only features USGS maps, but also a collective work area that can be utilized to spread out and map out a running trip for the weekend (among other things).

So needless to say, this is a unique place. In fact, when I was given a tour by one of the managers, my feeling about the property was confirmed. The FINCH aims to be a comfortable spot to relax, but also greatly encourages the traveler to get AWAY from the hotel. The comfort and amenities are still great, but the overall goal is exploration. I feel like that concept is perfect for PNW runners such as ourselves. I don’t know about you, but when I travel to new places (or even old places), I love to go explore running areas by foot and find the best local eateries and drinkeries I can find. What I do not do is lock myself in my hotel room all weekend. There’s probably a place and time for that, but I just enjoy exploration more.

And that is why The FINCH was perfect for our stay. We started our trip with some socially-distanced wine tasting and didn’t check-in with the FINCH until later in the evening. The outdoor fireplace was on and inviting on that rainy day, so we opted for a quick shower, some relaxation in front of the flames, before grabbing food at a local spot. The next day, we spent our time first doing some running, followed by some more wine tasting, and really only spent a few hours around the location. But each time we came back, we were greeted with comfort, hospitality, and a feeling of being “home” if only for a few fleeting moments.

There are a number of room options at The FINCH, with 80 rooms of kings, queens, suites, and even a Bunk + Bunk, which would be perfect for a running group. We stayed in a FINCH King, the more spacious of the king room options. The room features some upscale standard features, including an HD flat-screen and natural bathroom amenities from MALIN+GOETZ. This isn’t your standard mass produced hotel samples. We are talking “Vitamin B5 Body Moisturizer, Rum Hand and Body Wash, Peppermint Shampoo and Cilantro Hair Conditioner“.

“Locally-sourced” also seems to be in the forefront of Walla Walla, and this is evident at The FINCH. The rooms themselves are super cool and feature custom local artwork and a pillow-top mattress from a local provider as well. There is even free coffee from Walla Walla roaster Livit in their lobby during their day, and free local wine when you check in. Basically, the property is beautiful, the room is comfortable, and everything goes well beyond meeting your needs. We loved it.

In a post-COVID world (that’s a thing right?), they will have many more outdoor chairs to relax on, as well as yard games spread throughout their property. For now, the outdoor area is a little more quiet that it will eventually be.

A quiet, yet inviting, outdoor area – sure to be much more bustling in a post-COVID world.

Refueling:

Staying at FINCH, it’s impossible to not eat and drink well. The hotel is located right in the heart of downtown Walla Walla, walkable to dozens of wine tasting rooms, a few breweries/cideries, and any number of restaurants. Refueling well is literally right at your doorstep.

Just a handful of wineries at “the Incubators” area at the airport.

Though this was definitely a wine-centric and running weekend, I am also a brewery guy at heart (and stomach). Though Walla Walla isn’t flush with breweries (Quirk and Burwood are out at the Airport region and Crossbuck, Big House, and Locust Cider are downtown), they were fun to visit nonetheless.

Side note – if you are making the trip up from the Valley, I recommend visiting the new Thunder Island Brewing location in Cascade Locks, Prodigal Son in Pendleton, and the tiny/amazing Dragon’s Gate in Milton-Freewater.

After a day of runsploring, the hotel also has you covered right on its property if you need a day/night in. As I mentioned before, there is some outdoor space with their beautiful plaza and outdoor fireplace. One evening, we ended up enjoying the fire with a glass of local wine that the hotel had on hand. In fact, if you stay at FINCH during the week (Monday-Wednesday), you can get a priority access to tastings at Abeja Winery.

Overall:

We were blown away with our stay at The FINCH. It is hip, clean, and upscale, yet without pretention and absolutely catered to a PNW runner’s sensibilities. If you haven’t taken a little getaway to Walla Walla, I highly recommend posting up at The FINCH and start your runsploring extravaganza.

The FINCH details:

Address: 325 East Main St. Walla Walla, WA, 99362

Phone: 509-956-4994

Reservations: Ranges through the year depending on seasons and other factors. Expect ~$119-$221 with cheaper rates mid-week.


Many thanks to The FINCH for allowing us to check out their property! Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.

About Matt Rasmussen (1533 Articles)
Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching the Olympics, sampling craft beers, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010. Matt joined the Run Oregon team in October 2011, and since then he has spearheaded the blog’s efforts to cover product reviews, news about businesses related to running, and running events in the Willamette Valley.

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