City Guide to Spokane, Washington

For a town that’s out in the middle of nowhere, smack dab in the high desert of eastern Washington State, Spokane is a pretty cool place. While it’s no Las Vegas by any means, it carves out its own niche with tons of family-friendly locals, stunning waterfalls in the heart of downtown (where else does THAT happen?), and endless eateries and shopping.

A Rich History

The name Spokane was taken from the indigenous Salishan-speaking Spokane people who first resided here. Spokane means “children of the sun.” First established as a trading post in 1810, over the coming decades, settlers slowly began trickling in. The growing settlement became a town, called Spokane Falls. Along with the mining of gold and silver found in the area, timber and farming also became the main economic draw. In 1974, Spokane held the first ever environmentally friendly World Fair.

'74 Worlds Fair Spokane


The Spokane River runs directly through the city, which meanders roughly east-west and splits, creating the tiny Canada Island and a fantastic Riverfront park. It also changes somewhat dramatically in elevation, which gifts us with incredible waterfalls right in the heart of the city! At only 20 miles west of the Idaho border, and 90 miles south of the Canadian border, Spokane enjoys all four seasons (yes, even snow in the winter.)

Spokane Waterfall

Things to Do

Spokane Falls Skyride  Float right over the waterfalls in downtown Spokane.

Riverfront Park    An excellent place to bring the kids and take a picnic lunch. At 100 acres, there is also a bike path and outdoor sculptures to view.

Go Rafting on the River!  Rent a raft or kayak, or hire a guide through Row Adventure Center.

Auntie’s Bookstore   The largest independent bookstore in the region.

Spokane Falls Sky Ride

Bing Crosby Theatre  A historic theater which opened in 1915 as a silent movie theater. Today it hosts all manner of media, from live performances (dance, music) to film productions.

Latah Creek Wine Cellars  Take a tour and do some wine tasting at the place where Wine Spectator voted as the best Merlot.   Also, try Barrister Winery.

Wonderland Family Fun Center   THE place to take the kiddos. I personally love the put-put golf here.

Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture  A historical museum focusing on the rich history of Spokane’s Native Americans, and a fully furnished pioneer house.

Mobius Children’s Museum

Spokane Symphony  For an evening of fine culture!

city guide to spokane washington


Where to Eat

O’Doherty’s Irish Pub  Sample some of the finest Irish cuisine this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Steam Plant   Explorer Sue personal pick! An upscale Pub & Grub establishment.

Wild Sage Bistro A delicious bistro serving regionally sourced Northwest cuisine, with a few good gluten-free options!

Chaps Coffee Co.  They don’t do just coffee…oh no! This is a bruncher’s paradise.

Downriver Grill   An elegant yet down-home dining experience.

Luna  Neighborhood fine dining.

Sante Restaurant & Charcuterie   An unpretentious Parisian café

The Scoop  For dessert!


Where to Stay

If you don’t want to go the authentic Airbnb route, here is what I recommend:

Hotel Ruby  An artsy boutique hotel in the heart of town.

Apple Tree Inn   A nice budget-friendly motel.

Historic Davenport Hotel  A bit more upscale and VERY Victorian!

Riverside State Park Campground


Day Trips out of Town

Mt. Spokane State Park   Fantastic hiking, picnicking, skiing, camping, and a great lodge, just a few miles north of the city!

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho  A mere 33 miles due east of Spokane, where you will find art galleries, tasty restaurants, shopping, special events held every year and magnificent lakeside road trip scenery.

City Guide Spokane


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Hi, I’m Susan, a travel writer based in Portland, Oregon. THANKS for stopping by my Pacific Northwest travel site! This blog focuses on Pacific Northwest travel, but also is a place showcase all of my travels, and is a great place to start when planning your next vacation to my area of the world. Please e-mail me or leave a comment, I’m here to help!

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