For I-5 travelers, Centralia is home to gas stations, outlet malls, and the last Burgerville (in the world!) on the way north to Seattle. But for those arriving in Hub City by train, it offers a charming, walkable downtown full of antiques havens, used-book stores, a classic movie house screening everything from Sixteen Candles to Meet Me in St. Louis, a Carnegie library, and—offering a dose of familiarity for Portlanders—a McMenamins hotel-theater-pub loftily dubbed the Olympic Club.
If tippling's one of your targets, why not make an engineer your designated driver? McMenamins sweetens the deal this month with a two-for-one voucher, picked up at any McMenamins location, that’s good through April 15. And anyone booking at least two weeks in advance on Amtrak Cascades can also get 25 percent off fares. (If you’re eyeing the 20th annual Olympic Club Brewfest on April 23, book your rail tickets by April 9.)
You may be wondering, why would a Portlander travel to a McMenamins when we've got a dozen of our own? Maybe you’re collecting stamps in your Cosmic Passport. Maybe you're drawn by the other Washington breweries participating in the fest (such as Scuttlebutt, Fremont, or Centralia’s own Dick’s). Or maybe you're looking for a quick, cheap adventure that invokes the romance of the rails. In the heart of downtown and a block from the train station, bathroomless bunk rooms at the Olympic Club start at $55, and the 91-minute travel time from Union Station on Amtrak Cascades can be quicker than a 10-mile rush-hour commute, and a lot more relaxing. (Mysteriously, the ride home is scheduled at 2 hours.) If you’ve had your fill of Hammerhead and McMenamins tots, the walkable downtown is also home to Hawaiian pizza-and-pints spot Tiki Taphouse, an airy Indian restaurant, and locals’ breakfast joint Centerville Café.
If your plan is to attend the fest, please note that rooms at the Olympic Club are currently sold out, but there is a shuttle service from the Holiday Inn Express. (And, unlike the McMenamins hotel, the Holiday Inn offers a pool, a hot tub, bathrooms in every room instead of a shared one down the hall, and less need for earplugs. Between the constant trains and the bar activity, the Olympic Club is not for light sleepers. )
20th Annual Olympic Club Brewfest at the Olympic Club Hotel
Saturday, April 23, 2016 from 1–11 p.m.
Free admission; $13 per 10-sample taster punch card
21 & over in Brewery and Theater, All ages welcome in the Pub
Live music by the Junebugs and Left Coast Country