Mark Sansom, Director of Marketing & Public Relations at The Marcus Whitman in Walla Walla, WA is GayTravel.com's local guru. Read on to learn what you should do and see when you visit this northwestern town!
How long have you lived in Walla Walla and why did you move?
I've lived in Walla Walla now, for 8 years. Work brought me here, but the small-town experience was the biggest incentive to move.
What makes Walla Walla such a great LGBT destination?
Inclusiveness is everywhere. Whitman College, Walla Walla Community College, and Walla Walla University bring a diversity of students and faculty to our valley with cosmopolitan ideals—and the local wine industry is passionate about equality for all.
What are the top five reasons for LGBT travelers to visit your city and stay at Marcus Whitman?
Few places in the Pacific Northwest can provide LGBTQ travelers with the opportunity to stay in a historic downtown hotel, mere steps from a functioning, tree-lined main street—harboring over two-dozen wine tasting rooms, and a bounteous supply of restaurants and shopping boutiques. Add to that a friendly, inclusive community of shopkeepers, vintners, restaurateurs, and hotel staff—and Walla Walla becomes a dream destination.
What hot spots should the community check out while in your city?
Club Sapolil hosts monthly social events—as well as less frequent entertainment shows. Also, our very own Vineyard Lounge is a great spot for late-night food & drinks with friends.
Favorite restaurant in Walla Walla?
There are so many—but the Marc Restaurant is consistently listed as best fine dining establishment on numerous travel review sites. Our executive chef is amazing!
Favorite bar/club in Walla Walla?
Club Sapolil or Red Monkey.
Favorite place to unwind in your town?
I'm a park person—so the tree-lined paths, and aviary enclosures at Pioneer Park for me. Others may find their Zen strolling amid the sculptures and garden paths of Whitman College campus—at the other end of downtown.
Where’s the best place to enjoy the outdoors in Walla Walla?
Cycling South and East of downtown is a wonderful way to experience the beauty of surrounding wheat fields and vineyards. The trails around Bennington Lake also afford numerous opportunities to see wildlife and breathtaking vistas.
What’s one thing that your city has to offer that you can't find anywhere else?
Walla Walla Valley harbors over 120 wineries, within a 15-mile radius of downtown Walla Walla. Visitors can spend a week here, and barely scratch the surface of our tasting room network.
Where is the gay neighborhood in your city? Tell us a little about it?
It's difficult to put a pin in a specific neighborhood that's predominantly considered gay. Walla Walla is still growing in terms of mixed-use development—where communities can live, work, play, and thrive in the same place.
Best gay club/restaurant/attraction?