While Seattle may be the star of Washington tourism, Spokane shines brightly, as well. Home to the world's fair in 1974, Spokane offers visitors an opportunity to explore history, nature, and unique attractions while enjoying a delicious culinary scene.
Here are seven ways to enjoy a wonderful visit to Spokane.
Things To Do In Spokane
Ride A Gondola Above The City
Enjoy amazing views of downtown Spokane and the Spokane River as you ride the Numerica SkyRide on a loop from Riverfront Park past the largest urban waterfalls in the United States. Named one of the most-scenic gondola rides in the country, the Numerica SkyRide takes you across the powerful Spokane River, with the upper and lower waterfalls flowing below you, along downtown Spokane, where you'll view impressive architecture, such as city hall with its art deco design. The ride drops about 200 feet while taking you over Huntington Park, which has breathtaking views of the river and falls. The best time to ride the gondola is March through June, when the waterfalls are most powerful.
Explore Riverfront Park
Site of the 1974 World’s Fair, the former rail yard eventually became Riverfront Park in 1978. It includes more than 100 acres of attractions, such as public art sculptures, a clock tower that’s more than 100 years old and was once part of the Great Northern Railroad Depot, and an ice-skating ribbon. Among the most popular attractions at Riverfront Park is the Looff Carousel, a century-old carousel featuring wood-carved horses and dragons. You’ll want to bring some scratch paper to feed the mechanical Garbage Goat, a park fixture that helps keep the park clean by chomping recyclables when you press its button and hold paper near its mouth.
Learn About Spokane’s History At The MAC
The Northwest Museum of Art and Culture (MAC) features the largest collection of Plateau Indian art and artifacts in the world, as well as the largest collection of art and culture in the Inland Northwest. The Smithsonian affiliate shares the stories and history of the region through art, memorabilia, and special exhibits. You’ll find more than 2,000 art pieces covering the 19th and 20th centuries, from classical works to contemporary art. During your visit, check out the 1898 Campbell House, a 13,000-square-foot home designed by local architect Kirtland Cutter, which features a look at life in Spokane in the early 1900s.
Visit Bing Crosby’s Childhood Home
Everyone remembers crooner Bing Crosby each Christmas. From White Christmas to his duet of Little Drummer Boy and Peace on Earth with David Bowie, Bing Crosby is synonymous with Christmas. But the Spokane native also appeared in more than 100 movies and television shows, including several holiday specials. He recorded 106 albums and more than 400 songs. You can tour the Bing Crosby House Museum on the campus of Gonzaga University. His childhood home features more than 200 Crosby artifacts and memorabilia, including his 1945 Academy Award for Going My Way.
Kayak Spokane River
Rent a kayak at a Spokane outfitter like Fun Unlimited and test your skills against the Spokane River rapids or enjoy a more leisurely outing along the calmer areas of the river. Beginning a short distance downriver from the lower falls, the Spokane River features an eight-mile run through a canyon and Riverside State Park, offering some white water rapids or calmer water excursions during the summer.
Take A Hike Along Centennial Trail
Enjoy nature during a hike along the Spokane River Centennial State Park Trail. Following the Spokane River, the Centennial Trail covers nearly 40 miles from Nine Mile Recreation Area at Lake Spokane to the Idaho border. You’ll traverse bridges and trestles over the river, along the turquoise waters of Riverside State Park, through downtown Spokane, and through nature and urban areas as you approach Idaho. The Centennial Trail eventually connects to the North Idaho Centennial Trail. Along the way, you’ll see unique attractions, such as the remnants of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp from the Depression era (1929-39), the Great Northern Railroad clock tower, and Deep Creek Canyon, site of a fossil bed excavated by Washington State University anthropologists.
Enjoy Winter Sports At Mt. Spokane
Located about an hour northeast of the city, Mt. Spokane is a popular winter destination. Offering winter sports such as skiing, tubing, and snowboarding, Mt. Spokane is perfect for people of all ages. Even if you’re not into winter sports, Mt. Spokane is a fun place to visit and take in the view of the Spokane valley any time of the year. As part of Mount Spokane State Park, the area features dense forests and more than 100 miles of trails for hiking during the summer.
Where To Shop In Spokane
Since you’re visiting Spokane, why not explore the city’s antique and vintage stores for truly memorable items? As people look to recycle and reuse more items today, Spokane is perfect for antique browsing. Located in the former Unite Hillyard Bank, the United Hillyard Antique Mall features more than 2,000 square feet of vintage gold. As you stroll through the former bank, you’ll find unique items, such as classic dinnerware, toys, and furniture. As the antique mall celebrates more than 30 years, the owners have seen their building added to the local historical registry. So, antique shopping here is truly stepping back through time.
No visit to Spokane is complete without a trip to the Garland District. The historic neighborhood is home to shops such as Groove Merchants, where you can kick back and sample vintage music at their listening station and check out classic music equipment. You can even pick up vinyl records for as little as $5.
If you’re looking for souvenirs to remember your trip by, then you’ll want to visit Boo Radley’s. Featuring edgy items with a pop-culture flair, Boo Radley’s features Spokane-themed hats, socks, stuffed toys, and classic lunch boxes. If you prefer more traditional gift ideas, Wonders of the World offers items such as Native American art and jewelry, general religious items, and beadwork. While visiting the store, which is located in an old flour mill, check out its “wonders,” including Annie, a 50,000-year-old bear skeleton, and Sherman, a life-sized replica of a T-Rex skull.
Best Restaurants In Spokane
The Garland District is home to classic eateries, such as Ferguson’s Fountain Cafe, famous for the scene in the movie Benny and Joon where Johnny Depp makes the bread dance. While at Ferguson’s, enjoy its menu featuring breakfast all day, as well as casual dishes, such as a hamburger, grilled cheese, meatloaf sandwich, and Reuben.
Housed inside a giant milk bottle, Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle is another Spokane treasure. Whether you stop in for a burger and fries or a homemade milkshake, created from its own ice cream, you’ll enjoy a tasty visit.
The Flying Goat features Neapolitan-style pizza in a craft brewery setting. With appetizers including cheese bread and a charcuterie board, the Flying Goat also offers 13 artisan pizzas, such as a Margherita and an Italian sausage and pepperoni. Salads and a variety of sandwiches are also on the menu. Of course, you can enjoy any of the more than 24 styles of beer they have on hand or any of about 12 wines.
Priding itself on using locally-sourced ingredients, Wild Sage features some of the best meats and seafood you’ll savor. With entrees such as Vancouver king salmon, duck confit, and filet mignon, you’re sure to enjoy every morsel of your dinner. The upscale restaurant is located in downtown Spokane.
Best Hotels In Spokane
Whether you’re a bed and breakfast fan or prefer the touches of a hotel, Spokane’s hospitality scene seeks to offer you a local feel during your stay.
River House Bed And Breakfast
Located about 20 minutes north of Spokane, the River House Bed and Breakfast provides a sense of serenity and privacy during your visit. Seeking to make your visit a true experience, River House has hammocks where you can relax and enjoy a nap after a day of exploring the area. Take in nature with a walk among the trees and water. In the morning, you can watch wildlife roaming in the area as you enjoy breakfast or a hot cup of coffee.
The rooms provide a quiet, relaxing environment. With only two rooms available, you can reserve the first floor’s Jessie Room, or you can have the second floor to yourself by reserving the bungalow suite. In either case, you’ll relish the peacefulness of your stay.
The Historical Montvale
A boutique hotel, the historical Montvale Hotel has served as a downtown hotel since 1899. While it has seen changes over the years, from street-level businesses and upper-level residential rooms to a boutique hotel, the goal of providing a quality guest experience has always been a priority. Today, with 36 rooms featuring king- and queen-size beds, the historical Montvale includes mini-fridges, internet access, and even bicycle parking. The hotel is just minutes from major attractions, such as Riverfront Park, Bing Crosby Theater, and downtown dining.
While you're in beautiful Washington, here are a few more great things to do: