It may be off the beaten path, but Yelm has a lot to offer. From unique local businesses, to a diverse array of arts and culture, to delicious cuisine, to an abundance of local flavor, the prairie city really is a hidden gem.
Still, some may be hesitant to make the drive and even those who live nearby may have left the town unexplored. Here are Yelm’s top five highlights illustrating that this rural city is much more than meets the eye.
1. Local Flavor: Stewart’s Meats
This little gem is at the top of the list, and for good reason. If you’re looking for local flavor, this is it. Stewart’s Meats recently took 2nd place in the Best of Western Washington Butcher category. This came as no surprise to the locals who have packed into the modestly sized shop for decades. The shop itself is a local icon – its vividly painted exterior abundantly adorned with a wide variety of bright and eclectic signage. However, it’s what lays within these eye catching walls that matters.
Stewart’s has all the best traditional meats from burger to ribeye and bacon to lamb chops. The shop is especially focused on quality. In fact, a good portion of the beef they sell comes from their own herd. They also offer wild meats like elk, venison, quail, pheasant, goose, rabbit and duck. Then there are the more exotic offerings. For those who like to walk on the wild side, Stewart’s offers llama, ostrich, wild boar, kangaroo, alligator, python, rattle snake, frog legs and even camel. It’s enough to make any dinner adventurous! Stewart’s also makes natural pet food for owners who want to give their pet the best.
Stewart’s Meat Market
17821 State Hwy 507 in Yelm
2. Arts: The Triad Theater
Photo credit: Andrea Culletto
The Triad Theater is unique in almost every way imaginable, from its multicolored couch seating to the variety of artistic forms expressed within. The Triad offers live theatrical productions, an open mic for poets and songwriters, lectures, a long list of captivating documentaries, Seahawks game screenings as well as live music and comedy performances. Children’s acting classes are also available at the Triad courtesy of longtime theater coach, Nancy Hillman, whom Adrien Grenier of “Entourage” credits with his discovery.
The Triad Arts Theater also houses an art gallery which displays a diverse array of stunning, local art. The Triad further supports local artists by keeping a running list of local poets, painters, artisans, musicians and much more posted on their website.
Above all, The Triad is the convergence of community and creation. As they so beautifully explain on their site, “The Triad Arts Theater is a Community Central, where people can meet in unity to find solutions to problems beyond political loyalties, religious limitations, or racial, gender or age boundaries.”
The Triad Arts Theater
102 Yelm Ave. E. in Yelm
3. Business: Tim’s Pharmacy
Tim’s has been a local treasure since 1979. Tim’s is keeping up the tradition of old fashioned, small town pharmacies, but it’s so much more than that. It is a gift shop, toy store, boutique, chocolate counter and more. Its “Holy Grounds,” coffee shop is a community hub where locals chat over coffee and ice cream. Tim’s is particularly well known for its electric billboard which flashes daily inspiration for those battling rush hour traffic.
Tim’s Pharmacy is run by Tim and his wife, Nancy. Their business model creates a warm atmosphere which extends to employees and customers alike. The pharmacists at Tim’s have over 40 years of experience and, what’s more, they authentically seem to enjoy what they do and the people they serve.
106 1st Street South in Yelm
4. Culture: Wat Prachum Raingsey
Wat Prachum Raingsey is the shining gem of southern Thurston County. From its ornate architecture to its elaborate art, the entire property is filled with visual wonders. Most of the beautiful decorations, sculptures and artwork were shipped piece by piece all the way from Cambodia.
The shrine is open to the public during operating hours and is a delight to explore first hand. If you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of Wat Prachum Raingsey’s single monk dressed in his maroon robes, going about the daily business of the shrine – everything from conducting ceremonies to greeting worshippers to leaf blowing. Seeing him in action, set against this breathtaking backdrop is like stepping into another world. You can learn more about Wat Prachum Raingsey here. It is definitely not to be missed.
Wat Prachum Raingsey
14334 Yelm Hwy SE in Yelm
5. Cuisine: Gather Gastropub
Gather Gastropub food isn’t just good comparatively (for those who think good food can’t exist south of Olympia). It’s good objectively. What’s more, it’s not just good – it’s phenomenal.
Gather Gastropub’s menu is composed of organic, local and sustainably grown ingredients. This “farm-to-table take out” restaurant offers panini sandwiches, salads, soups, desserts and dips. On Fridays they feature award winning specialty burgers and veggie burgers. No matter what you order, you’ll be glad you came.
9144 Burnett Road in Yelm
So whether you live in Yelm or are considering visiting, there is no better time to come explore. These five highlights provide an excellent starting point, but don’t hesitate to branch off from here. After all, when it comes to business, the arts, culture, cuisine and local flavor, Yelm is full of fun and interesting places just waiting to be discovered.