Planning a trip to Spokane, Washington?
My family visited Spokane last summer for my husband's work. At first glance, Spokane isn't the most glamorous convention city, but say “YES!” if you get the chance to go. We loved discovering what makes this city great.
Spokane is beautiful! We booked a downtown hotel, just across Riverfront Park from the Convention Center. We found all the amenities of a big city, within a short distance of adventurous outdoor activities.
Here are our favorite family activities in Spokane, Washington.
Spokane Falls is located in the center of the city, and it's a spectacular sight! It's easy to see the falls from several spots in Riverfront and Huntington Parks. We took the gondola ride in the early evening, and that was fun. The ride is about 20 minutes long and offers an outstanding view. https://www.visitspokane.com/trip-planning/trip-ideas/spokanefalls/
Riverfront Park was the site of the 1974 World's Fair. It's a large and lovely public park today. Riverfront Park was located between our hotel and the convention center, and we spent hours here. Look for the historic Looff Carousel, the huge red wagon slide, the garbage goat and splash pad. Lots of free events are hosted here, including yoga classes and outdoor movies. https://my.spokanecity.org/riverfrontspokane/
Manito Park is a free public park filled with the type of beautiful manicured gardens that we have paid to see in other cities. This park has five gardens, plus two playgrounds, picnic areas, sports venues and walking/biking paths. http://www.manitopark.org/
Mobius is actually two museums – a science center and a children's museum – located across the street from each other in downtown Spokane. My kids are older (ages 12 and 15), so we stuck with the science center. It was filled with hands-on educational activities and we spent time learning about circuits in the lab. However, neither museum is very large. You can buy individual tickets, or a combo ticket that includes both museums. http://mobiusspokane.org/
Riverside State Park
Riverside State Park is located just outside of Spokane. It's a great place to find hiking and mountain biking trails, camping and lots of beautiful scenery. My kids and I were able to check out the viewpoints and easy walks in the Bowl and Pitcher section of the park in under 2 hours, but outdoor adventurers can find a lot more to do here. https://parks.state.wa.us/573/Riverside
Eat in a Classic Cafe
Two cafes – Ferguson's and Mary Lou's Milk Bottle – in the Garland District were featured in the movie Benny and Joon, and other films. We picked Ferguson's, where we all ordered from the all-day breakfast menu. You can't miss the Milk Bottle's distinctive look. Both restaurants are located in the Garland District, just a few doors away from each other.
The Garland Theater is the kind of big, old movie theater that we can't find in our neighborhood anymore. It plays classic films on Tuesdays for just $2 per ticket. We caught A League of Their Own, and it was so fun to see the movie with a large, appreciative audience. http://garlandtheater.com/
We found lots of fun places to shop in downtown Spokane and the Garland District. River Park Square is located across the street from Riverfront Park, and we enjoyed the food court and browsing Nordstrom here. A few blocks away, Auntie's Bookstore is a must for readers. Boo Radley's is filled with fascinating novelty items. Time Bomb Collectibles was just one of the fun second-hand shops we found in the Garland District. https://riverparksquare.com/
Visit a College Campus
Spokane is home to Gonzaga University and a branch of Washington State University. Take a campus tour, visit the Bing Crosby museum, or catch a basketball game. Gonzaga often has one of the best basketball teams in the United States. https://www.gonzaga.edu/
Centennial Trail is a 40-mile paved trail that is perfect for biking or walking. It starts at Nine Mile Falls to the Idaho border, then continues to Coeur d'Alene for another 24 miles. We found ourselves on parts of this scenic trail when we visited Riverside State Park and Riverfront Park. https://parks.state.wa.us/487/Centennial-Trail
Spokane was “just right” in so many ways. It's affordable. It was easy to drive and park. It has a lot of fun things to do – but not so many that we couldn't slow down and relax a little on our vacation.
I hope that our list of things to do in Spokane helps your family plan a great trip!
This looks like a great town in my favorite state!
As a Spokane resident I feel you should also mention the extremely high number of homeless vagrants and beggars that are Downtown and all the other surrounding areas.. Some of the landmark areas are over run with drugs and discarded drug paraphernalia and not exactly family friendly. Give people an honest look at where they are going not this
Thank you for your comment. A local perspective is always appreciated. We walked around Riverfront Park and downtown Spokane for several days and did not notice that the homeless situation was any worse than in other U.S. cities. We felt safe. However, I agree that families should use the same common sense precautions that they might use in other large cities.