Centralia is being revitalized. If you haven’t visited recently, this is the summer staycation destination you need to consider. Quaint and quiet, the downtown main strip features original brick-and-mortar buildings, but with a twist. There’s a modern group of boutiques, coffeehouses, wine bars and eateries, setting the stage for an extraordinary day trip for couples and families alike.
Recently we took a day to discover Centralia. We started our visit at the Santa Lucia coffeehouse, where beans are roasted on-site and cushy chairs beckon from several bright, cheery spaces beyond the counter.
Diverse and ample shopping opportunities abound, for elegant clothing, quirky knickknacks, baby and kid fare, body-works and antiques that will appeal to both men and women.
We stopped for lunch at Dawn’s Delectables, where they still make their menu offerings from scratch. Try the chicken salad sandwich and tomato soup.
After lunch we took a tour of the historical sites with a local guide. Two major renovation projects are occurring downtown.
The legendary Centralia Square building, which was turned into a shopping complex but still houses the No. 1 breakfast spot in town, has been reopened as a hotel and it is absolutely gorgeous. Many of the original building fixtures have been salvaged or re-created thanks to the new owners’ love and devotion to the project.
The other renovation is the renowned Fox Theatre, which hosts shows. It has a full schedule and shows everything from comedy and movies to live burlesque dancers. The hope of Friends of the Fox Theatre is to take the establishment back to its original state, says the group’s president, Scott White.
After our tour we took a break from the town and went just a few blocks east to the park. Well-maintained trails took us up a hill for a beautiful overlook of the city. It was an easy little hike that even the kids can do. Dogs are welcome too, both throughout town and in the parks.
By late afternoon we were ready for a break and stopped at The Compass for tapas and wine tastes. We sampled meats, cheeses and bruschetta, with accompanying wine samples. The food was tasty and fresh, the wine was rich and the ambiance was welcoming and comfortable.
Finally, we crossed the street for dinner at Boccata Deli and Market where yet another thoughtful restaurateur was putting together fine fresh food. This is a local favorite for fine dining.
If you’re looking for a day trip or weekend adventure, I recommend discovering Centralia’s fine food, walkability and local culture.