“Grab that special one and jump into your candy-colored custom or your screamin’ machine, and cruise downtown.” – opening line from American Graffiti
“Cruise the Ave” nights are still alive in Downtown Yakima! The Downtown Association of Yakima hosts four cruise nights throughout the summer. Classic cars from all eras drive up and down Yakima Avenue from 6th Street to 7th Avenue, starting at 6pm until 10pm. Spectators bring their lawn chairs and line the streets to watch and photograph the hot rods, lowriders and antique cars go by. The events are free and open to the public on the second Saturday of each month starting in June. The scheduled cruise nights for the rest of the summer are August 11th and September 8th.
If you want to see more vintage autos, visit the 44th Annual Vintiques Northwest Nationals, August 3rd -5th, held at State Fair Park. This huge car show features muscle cars, hot rods, cruise-ins, swap meets, live music and classic vehicles from all eras.
Whether you’re riding in one of the cars cruising or just a spectator, continue the nostalgic 50’s theme and have dinner at one of the local iconic restaurants. Hang out at Mel’s Diner in Downtown Yakima, an iconic 50’s style restaurant. Stop in for classic comfort fare, burgers, beefalo, homemade soups, milkshakes, omelets, and an extensive breakfast menu with huge portions. Open 7 days a week from 5am – 11pm.
How about a classic burger and shake? Take a short side trip down 1st Street to Miner’s Drive In Restaurant for an oversize burger, thick, creamy milk shake and giant order of fries. Open since 1948, this was a little drive-thru hamburger stand called Miner’s In-N-Out Hamburgers. Now there is inside seating and an extensive menu of dining options, as well as the classic “Big Miner Burger.”
Sit outside and watch the classic cars go by under the neon Yakima Sports Center sign installed in 1968. Fabricated in the 1950’s and moved from a previous location, the “spinning sportsman” swivels and shoots neon blasts from his gun. The Sports Center is a restaurant and lounge serving steaks, burgers and has been voted the best nachos in town.
At the west end of Yakima Avenue where the cars turn around to return down the avenue, you can’t miss the neon cowgirl twirling a lasso. This is the Lariat Bar-B-Q which opened in 1962. It has no dining room, and is a true drive-in from the era. Everything is made from scratch, including their relish, barbecue sauce and fry sauce using the original owners’ recipes. They offer the Lariat Burger, three barbecue sandwiches (beef, ham or turkey). And for those locals who remember Kemper’s Drive-In, the menu includes the original recipe Kemper Burger.