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.
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.)
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.
Auntie’s Bookstore The largest independent bookstore in the region.
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.
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.
Spokane Symphony For an evening of fine culture!
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!
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.