Tis the season for tasting trips in Thurston County.

The region’s farms, wineries and other foodie finds are now easier to navigate courtesy of the new Thurston Bountiful Byway self-guided tour launching this week. Dedicated to helping visitors explore the region’s 68,000 acres of farmland, this new printed and digital map (linked here) connects travelers to the source of the region’s best craft beverages, fresh produce and more.

Photo Credit: Doug Walker Photography

Offering an experience for foodies, families and fine wine connoisseurs, highlights from the road include:

Sip. Toast the region's craft beverage producers at a variety of tasting rooms, including Madsen Family CellarsMedicine Creek WinerySalish Sea Organic LiqueursSandstone DistilleryStottle Winery, and Three Magnets Brewing.

Find Fare from the Farm. Meet the purveyors at Colvin RanchHelsing Junction FarmsEvergreen Valley Lavender Farm and others, or stop in at one of the three farmers markets along the route in YelmOlympia, and Tenino.

Explore. Hop off the byway to blaze a trail on foot or by bike at Capitol State Forest's 100,000-acre playground, the variety of hiking trails at Millersylvania State Park or the paved expanse of the of Yelm Tenino or Chehalis Western Trails. Bring a bike or ride for free courtesy of the Tenino Yellow Bicycle Project, a community-based bike-sharing organization. Stop in for a guided sanctuary visit at Wolf Haven International, take a dip in the Tenino Quarry Pool or enjoy the gardens and bring home a living souvenir from Lael's Moon Garden Nursery.

Lodging along the byway satisfies a range of styles. Explorers can choose from the cozy Scatter Creek Bed & Breakfast, the spacious and well-appointed rooms of the Lucky Eagle Hotel and Casino or the undiscovered comfort and scenic views found at the Prairie Hotel.

Photo Credit: Doug Walker Photography

Access the Thurston Bountiful Byway from I-5 via the Nisqually Valley Exit 114 or from US-101 via the Mud Bay Exit. Those looking to explore car-free can arrive via Amtrak at Centennial Station with bike in tow.  Follow along on Instagram @BountifulByway, Facebook at facebook.com/ThurstonBountifulByway and share your experiences with us using #BountifulByway.  Thurston Bountiful Byway Maps can be downloaded at thurstonbountifulbyway.com.

Featured Event:

Summer Fun & Gourmet Dinner in the Field at Nelson Ranch, Aug. 27

Visit Nelson Ranch along the Thurston Bountiful Byway on Aug. 27 with fun for families and foodies alike. The farm open house begins at 2 p.m. with tours, horse drawn hayrides, heritage displays and more. At 5 p.m. those lucky enough to secure a reservation will enjoy dinner on the farm created by Chef Kerry Nelson. This fifth generation of the Nelson family and graduate of the Seattle Culinary Academy, has worked at many of Seattle’s best restaurants, including The Corson Building, Bar Sajor and Harvest Vine, before recently joining the Farestart team.

She will partner with Calliope Farms to present a locally sourced, four-course menu with pairings from Stottle Winery. Tickets for this dinner are $65 per person which includes a four course meal with wine pairings. Find more details and reservation information at www.nelsonranch.com.



Brats Brews and Bands, Sept. 10

Brats Brews and Bands is back and is bringing the fun to a new location! If you are 21 and over, mark your calendar for Sept. 10 to enjoy good food, fun music and great drinks at The Hub in Woodland Square. The event will take place from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. and the proceeds will benefit a charity chosen by the Gateway Rotary. Find more event info here.