Located in eastern Washington State, Spokane is a great place to visit with tons of activities. While Seattle to the west often gets more buzz, Spokane is Washington State’s second largest city and has year-round outdoor recreation options, unique shopping opportunities, interesting museums, and a growing music and microbrew scene—all with a whole lot less rain than you’ll find in Seattle.
From exploring the Riverfront Park and wine tasting in the countryside to enjoying some live music by local artists, there's no shortage of great activities to enjoy on your trip to "Inland Empire" of Washington.
Riverfront Park, located along the river in downtown Spokane, was created for the 1974 World's Fair, and Great Northern Clock tower and the steel-cable structure of what was once the World's Fair's United States pavilion can be found at the center of this 100-acre park space.
Riverfront Park is a great place for the whole family to wander around and enjoy beautiful scenery, outdoor entertainment, community festivals, and fun amusements. Stop by during the summer months for outdoor concert series on the weekends, and don't miss out on the festival Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations that take place in the park in the winter, either.
Named one of the "Top 12 Scenic Cable Rides in the World" by Conde Nast Traveler, Daily Traveler, and MSN in 2013, SkyRide is an experience unlike any other in Spokane. If you want to see Spokane Falls in style, the SkyRide is the way to go.
Opened in the summer of 2018, this attraction now whisks riders past City Hall, drops them slowly down about 200 feet over Huntington Park Natural Area, ventures under the Monroe Street Bridge, and finally goes directly over Spokane Falls. The ride lasts about 15 minutes in total; while it is open all year, the falls are at their biggest and best from March until June.
SkyRide shares a ticketing booth with the Skate Ribbon, another popular attraction in Spokane, located at the corner of Spokane Falls Boulevard and Post Street. Tickets are required to board the SkyRide, and children under 15 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.
While you can see the Monroe Street Bridge from the SkyRide, take the time to cross this historic bridge on foot during your trip. Built in 1911, the current Monroe Street Bridge is the third constructed on this site and the longest lasting version. Now, it's a unique place to walk and see some pretty stellar views of the Spokane River, including the waterfall below the bridge.
Access to the Monroe Street Bridge is available via a trail that leads from Riverfront Park. Connecting the north and south side of the city, the Monroe Street Bridge also grants visitors to a variety of great attractions. On the north side of the river, stop in at the Alpine Bakery Company to grab some tasty confections, and on the south side you can stop by the Historic Davenport hotel, explore the Patsy Clark Mansion nearby, or take a trip to the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.
After you walk across the Monroe Street Bridge, stop by the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture for a full day of educational exploration. This excellent museum, located in Spokane's historic Browne's Addition, features both regional history and fine art.
In addition to exhibits from the museum's own collection, enjoy the ever-changing special exhibitions featuring local Northwest culture and history. A tour of Campbell House, the Neoclassical Revival home of prominent Spokane citizens that's located next door to the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, is included with museum admission.
Spokane is a great city for golfers. Whether you just want to sneak in a single round during your visit or you want to make golf the focus of your entire vacation, you'll find many challenging courses in and around the city.
Hangman Canyon Golf Course, Indian Canyon Golf Course, and Meadow Wood Golf Course are all highly rated, and there's even a disc golf course set up at High Bridge if you're interested in a different sort of putting. The Downriver Golf Course near the Spokane Falls Community College is also a popular choice, offering 18 professional-level holes where you can spend the day trying to get a birdie.
In addition to its many parks and golf courses, Spokane offers abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation. Bicycling, river rafting, hiking, fishing, boating, skiing, and wildlife watching are all available at various times throughout the year.
Popular outdoor recreation destinations in Spokane include the Spokane River Centennial Trail, Manito Park, Riverfront Park, Spokane Falls, and the John A. Finch Arboretum east of downtown. If you're in town during a special event, also be sure to check out annual events at Riverfront Park like the Junior Lilac Parade in May, the GLBTQA Pride Parade and Rainbow Festival in June, and the Independence Day Celebration in July.
Washington is known for its wines and Spokane has some of the best vineyards and vintages in the state.
Some of the best-known wineries in Spokane include Arbor Crest, whose award-winning wines and landscaped grounds make for a great day trip; Latah Creek Winery, which boasts an impressive selection of acclaimed merlots; Barrister Winery; Grand Ronde Cellars; Knipprath Cellars; Lone Canary Winery; Robert Karl Cellars; and the Townshend Cellar.
Visitors to any of these great wineries can enjoy tasting local wines, wandering around curated vineyards, and learning more about winemaking through a variety of special tour packages available from travel agencies and tour groups around the city. In fact, there are even special bike and wine tours available to active guests who want to enjoy a bit of exercise with their wine.
Spokane's wineries also often host seasonal festivals, special wine dinners, and concerts, so check each winery's calendar for upcoming celebrations before your trip.
Surrounded by magnificent historic homes, Spokane's Manito Park offers 90 acres of gorgeous gardens, stately trees, and a conservatory. The diversity of the gardens and recreation spaces makes Manito Park a fun place to visit in any season.
Located at 17th Avenue and Grand Boulevard, this public park is open from sunrise to 11 p.m. daily throughout the year. While not nearly as popular as the Riverfront Park for special events, community organizations often host smaller celebrations at this spacious park instead.
Even if you aren't an overnight guest, there is plenty to see and do at Spokane's magnificent Davenport Hotel, built in 1914, which is a long-standing hub of the community.
Things to check out during your visit include the lobby, the mezzanine, the event spaces, the gift shop, and the candy shop (the Davenport is famous for "Bruttles," Spokane's original soft peanut butter brittle).
You can also enjoy an elegant meal in one of the Davenport's restaurants, a drink at the gorgeous Peacock Room, or a spa treatment at Spa Paradiso.
The Northern Quest Resort and Casino is a huge facility loaded with opportunities for fun. Located on the west side of town near the Spokane International Airport, this multi-use casino is a great destination even if you just have a few hours layover during your flight.
In addition to all the usual table and machine games, Northern Quest guests will find a long list of restaurants and lounges and live entertainment. The Q, a spectacular sports bar, is a particularly awesome space to gather with friends and take in a game. For a special evening, Masselow's offers fine dining featuring local Northwest foods.
Motor vehicle races of all kinds take place throughout the summer months at the Spokane County Raceway, formerly known as the Spokane Raceway Park, but you can also catch several winter events including the popular Snow Rally.
Located in Airway Heights, Washington, this multi-venue motorsport facility includes a quarter-mile drag strip, a 2.3-mile road course, and a half-mile oval track. Gates for events typically open around 8 a.m. (except for night street drags and events); it costs $15 for spectators to attend and $45 for drivers to compete.
While the bulk of the racing season takes place in the summer, events really kick off at the Spokane County Raceway in March and April. Check the full lineup on the raceway website before your trip to see if any big races are coming up.
Located adjacent to Riverfront Park, Spokane's historic old Flour Mill is filled with unique shops and restaurants, and diners at Clinkerdagger's restaurant can enjoy a great view of Spokane's Riverfront Park and Spokane Falls while they eat.
The Spokane Flour Mill was originally opened in 1900 and served as the primary mill for the city of Spokane until it closed in 1972. However, the city converted the mill into a shopping center in preparation for EXPO '74, and it has since remained open as a hub for a number of local specialty shops including Tobacco World and Olde Joe Clarke's Photography Studio.
If you still haven't had your fill of shopping in Spokane, head to the River Park Square in the downtown area of the city. This network of stores, restaurants, and entertainment spots includes such major retailers as Nordstroms, Macy's, Pottery Barn, and Restoration Hardware.
River Park Square also hosts a number of special events throughout the year including sales, celebrations, and even a few festivals of its own. With over 50 stores and restaurants to choose from—all conveniently located near one another—the River Park Square is Spokane's one-stop destination for all your shopping and entertainment needs.
The Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge offers excellent wildlife viewing opportunities and numerous trails that loop through wetlands and pine forest habitats.
There is also a 5.5-mile Auto Tour Route that you can drive, bike, or walk to access scenic views of the refuge environment. Additionally, several short trails and a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk loops to the edge of the beautiful Blackhorse Lake, making this site accessible for nearly everyone who wants a taste of the outdoors.
The Turnbull NWR is located six miles south of Cheney, Washington, about 30 minutes away from Spokane. You can access the Wildlife Reserve via Interstate 90 West and Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson Memorial Freeway.
Spokane has no shortage of parks, but if you just want sheer natural beauty and plenty of local flora to wander among, then Finch Arboretum is the perfect destination to add to your itinerary.
This 65-acre arboretum is filled with more than 2,000 labeled trees, shrubs, and flowers. The trails weaving through the park and the creek that flows through it are lovely and relaxing to explore.
The John A. Finch Arboretum is located just outside of Spokane near the Indian Canyon Golf Course and Grandview Park. The Arboretum is free and open to the public year-round from dawn until dusk, but restrooms and other facilities are only open from May 1 through October 31, weather permitting.
While Bing Crosby was born in Tacoma, Washington, he moved to Spokane when he was 3 years old. If you can’t watch “White Christmas” without humming along, a visit to the Bing Crosby Collection at Gonzaga University might be in order.
The collection includes about 200 items from Crosby’s life and career, ranging from records to photos to books. If you enjoy what you see at Gonzaga University, there is even more memorabilia on display at the Bing Crosby House at 508 East Sharp Avenue, and it has free admission as well.
Kick Back to Some Live Music
Spokane’s music scene is popular and active, with venues large and small offering options for all musical tastes.
For larger venues and touring headliners that come through the area, look to the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena or the Knitting Factory. If you prefer smaller, more intimate venues, The Bartlett and the Big Dipper are all-around great places. The Bartlett is an all-ages venue at all hours, so it’s perfect for date nights, groups of friends, and families alike.