Like many United States cities, Spokane’s first residents were Native American. The city’s name comes from the Spokane tribe, which means “Children of the Sun.” The first American settlers in Spokane were J.J. Downing and S.R. Scranton. Then in 1873, an Oregonian named James Glover passed through Spokane and purchased the land from the settlers, and later became known as the “Father of Spokane.” Spokane is 92 miles (148 km) south of Canada and 18 miles (30 km) west of the border between Washington and Idaho.
A fun fact you may not know about Spokane is that it is the birthplace of the Father’s Day holiday. Sonora Smart Dodd, a young resident of Spokane who was raised by her father, a widower and Civil War veteran, took her petition to create a holiday honouring fathers to the Spokane Ministerial Alliance and the local YMCA. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a proclamation to celebrate Father’s Day, and in 1972, President Nixon made this a permanent holiday celebrated nationwide.
Today, Spokane is home to beautiful state parks, rushing waterfalls and an eclectic food scene. Their motto, “Near nature, near perfect”, sums up the city’s vibe. It’s an all-seasons vacation destination where you can enjoy skiing and snowboarding in the winter or kayaking through the glorious rivers in the summer. No matter what time of year, Spokane has something special to offer. These are the best things to do in Spokane, the hidden gem of the Pacific Northwest.
- Spokane, Washington
- Things To Do In Spokane
- 1- See The Largest Urban Waterfall In The USA At Riverfront Park
- 2- Watch A Live March Madness Game
- 3- Take In The Towering Trees At John A. Finch Arboretum
- 4- Shred The Slopes At One Of The Country’s Top Ski Resorts
- 5- Explore Native American History At The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture
- 6- Spend A Summer Day Wandering Around Manito Park
- 7- View Vintage Aircraft At The Historic Flight Foundation
- 8- Take The Kids On An Interactive Adventure At Mobius Discovery Center
- 9- Ride Centennial Trail to Idaho
- 10- Connect With Nature At Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge
- 11- Become Captivated By The Spokane Symphony
- 12- Go Fishing At Clear Lake
- 13- Gobble Up The Northwest’s Best Seafood
- 14- Take Fido To SpokAnimal Dog Park At High Bridge
- 15- Sip A Variety of Wines At Latah Creek Wine Cellars
- 16- Enjoy A Scoop At Tre Palline Gelato Napolitano
- 17- Go Shopping At River Park Square
- 18- Go On A Bar Crawl Downtown
- 19- Fly Through a Zip Lining Tour With Mica Moon Zip Tours
- 20- Get In Touch With The Locals At ValleyFest
- Mt Spokane Snowmobile Tour – two hours of fun
- 7-Day Glacier National Park Tour – ending in Spokane
- Spokane Scavenger Hunt – discover art and architecture
- Spokane International Airport One-Way Transfer
- Looking to hire a car? Compare prices here.
Things To Do In Spokane
1- See The Largest Urban Waterfall In The USA At Riverfront Park
National Geographic named Riverfront Park in Downtown Spokane one of the nation’s most beautiful urban parks, mostly due to the breathtaking, expansive waterfall.
The park has adorable attractions to visit while you walk along the paved path, including sculptures, a Skyride, playground, a basketball court, and even a Garbage Goat that eats trash.
This is a great place to spend an afternoon.
When you’re finished at the park, you’re in the middle of all the city’s action, such as fine dining, shops and local bars.
Riverfront Park is at 507 N Howard St, Spokane, WA 99201.
2- Watch A Live March Madness Game
Basketball is a big deal in Spokane, considering the city holds the official nickname of “Hooptown, USA.”
McCarthey Athletic Center, or the Kennel, is the home court for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, which have hosted several March Madness games.
Students, locals and visitors love watching these basketball games.
Since the building opened, the stadium has sold out for every men’s basketball game.
If you are visiting during college basketball season, consider cheering on the Bulldogs.
McCarthey Athletic Center at Gonzaga University is at 801 N Cincinnati St, Spokane, WA 99258.
3- Take In The Towering Trees At John A. Finch Arboretum
The John A. Finch Arboretum is a fantastic place to view Spokane’s stunning nature.
The grounds are home to thousands of different species of plants that can be viewed on various trails.
You can even download a walking guide for a self-guided tour within the park.
Entry is free of charge, making this a tremendous budget-friendly activity. The park is open year-round from dawn until dark.
John A. Finch Arboretum is located at 3404 W Woodland Blvd, Spokane, WA 99224.
4- Shred The Slopes At One Of The Country’s Top Ski Resorts
This list wouldn’t come close to being complete without the mention of winter sports.
Washington and Idaho are home to some of the best skiing in the country.
With Spokane just a 20-minute drive to the state line of Idaho, you can easily visit a few Idaho ski resorts too.
Popular ski resorts are Mt. Spokane Ski and Snow Resort, 49 Degrees North, Lookout Pass Ski Area and Schweitzer Mountain.
Weather permitting, the fresh, crisp snow is typically open for shredding from Thanksgiving to April.
- Mt. Spokane Ski and Snow Resort is at 29500 N Mt Spokane Park Dr, Mead, WA 99021 – try their snowmobile tour.
- 49 Degrees North is at 3311 Flowery Trail Rd, Chewelah, WA 99109.
- Lookout Pass Ski Area is at I-90 Exit, 0, Mullan, ID 83846.
- Schweitzer Mountain is at 10000 Schweitzer Mountain Rd, Sandpoint, ID 83864.
5- Explore Native American History At The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture
As we know, Spokane has deep Native American roots in its culture.
The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC) is a Smithsonian affiliate museum dedicated to Indian works.
There are over a million pieces kept in this museum.
The MAC also hosts special events, including the Annual Holiday Artist Studio Tour, Campbell House Holidays, and the Annual MAC ArtFest.
MAC is at 2316 W 1st Ave, Spokane, WA 99201.
6- Spend A Summer Day Wandering Around Manito Park
Manito Park is the perfect place to spend a day outside as it offers 78 acres (31 ha) of native and cultivated landscape and 20 acres (8 ha) of world-class botanical gardens, including a Japanese Garden, Duncan Garden, Rose Hill, Lilac Garden, and Ferris Perennial Garden.
When you’re done looking at the gorgeous flowers, check out ducks at the mirror pond or take the kiddos to one of the two playgrounds in the park.
Manito Park is at 1702 S Grand Blvd, Spokane, WA 99203.
7- View Vintage Aircraft At The Historic Flight Foundation
This museum allows visitors to view a collection of the most important aircraft produced between 1927 and 1957.
Each aircraft has a unique backstory about its role in aviation history.
Historic Flight Foundation members can even be aircraft passengers during fly days between May to October.
This is a unique and unforgettable experience for those interested in the aviation industry.
The Historic Flight Foundation is at 5829 E Rutter Ave, Spokane, WA 99212.
8- Take The Kids On An Interactive Adventure At Mobius Discovery Center
The Mobius Discovery Center is a mix between a children’s and science museum, packed with hands-on exhibits that promote learning and exploration.
If you are travelling with kids, this is the perfect place to spend the day.
Some of the most popular exhibits are STEAM Labs, Super Dig, and Sun-Earth Universe.
Mobius Discovery Center also offers classes and programs such as an engineering workshop, mobile planetarium shows, and bee-keeping classes.
The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm, Wednesday through Sunday, and admission tickets start at $10.
Mobius Discovery Center is at 331 N Post St, Spokane, WA 99201.
9- Ride Centennial Trail to Idaho
Spokane’s Centennial Trail is a 37-mile (59 km) paved trail perfect for hiking and biking.
The trail has numerous access points, which passes through pine forests, canyons, and other historical sites.
The many access points allow visitors to break the route into smaller sections, but most people either tackle the trail in one day on a bike ride or set up campsites during a multi-day hike.
Trail goers can follow the Spokane River along the path to the Idaho border and Coeur d’Alene, a charming little city to explore, filled with delicious restaurants and shops.
Centennial Trail is at 25133.1501, Spokane, WA 99201.
10- Connect With Nature At Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge
Located just 40 minutes away from the city of Spokane is The Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.
The 20,000-acre (8,093 ha) park houses many wildlife species like elk, coyote, beaver, and river otters year-round.
Over 200 species of birds call this area home, including Trumpeter Swan, Black Tern, Yellow-headed Blackbird and Western Bluebird.
The Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge is a wonderful place to connect with the nature of Washington.
Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge is at 26010 S Smith Rd, Cheney, WA 99004.
11- Become Captivated By The Spokane Symphony
The Martin Woldson Theater opened to audiences in 1931 as a movie house but the art deco theatre is now a performing arts venue and the home base of the Spokane Symphony.
The symphony is an orchestra made up of 70 instruments and draws more than 150,000 listeners each season.
For 77 years, the Spokane Symphony has been dedicated to providing high-quality performances and transforming lives through its music.
Be sure to check the website for more details on events and tickets.
Martin Woldson Theater At The Fox is at 1001 W Sprague Ave, Spokane, WA 99210.
12- Go Fishing At Clear Lake
Clear Lake is one of the most popular fishing destinations in the Spokane area.
The fishing season at Clear Lake opens on the fourth Saturday in April and goes through October 31.
The lake offers plenty of fish species to catch, including Black Bullhead, Black Crappie, Brown Trout, and Largemouth Bass.
Clear Lake also hosts fishing events like the Trout Derby and Youth Fishing Competitions.
Clear Lake is at 11253-11263 Clear Lake North Rd E, Eatonville, WA 98328.
13- Gobble Up The Northwest’s Best Seafood
For a special place to have dinner, Anthony’s at Spokane Falls offers some of the finest seafood, in-season local produce, and Northwest wine and microbrews.
The family-owned restaurant is situated to give visitors the most stunning views of the Spokane River and Upper Falls, creating the perfect ambience for a romantic date night.
Anthony’s at Spokane Falls is at 510 N Lincoln St, Spokane, WA 99201.
14- Take Fido To SpokAnimal Dog Park At High Bridge
SpokAnimal is a local humane society that has been in operation since 1983.
The society oversees several beneficial programs, such as vet clinics, a guardian angel program, and a dog park.
The 11-acre (4.4 ha) dog park is next to High Bridge Park and offers a perfect place for your furry companion to run off-leash.
The park is open from 6 am to 11 pm seven days a week.
SpokAnimal Dog Park At High Bridge is at 330 S A St, Spokane, WA 99224.
15- Sip A Variety of Wines At Latah Creek Wine Cellars
This family-owned winery has operated since 1982 and is dedicated to upholding its wine quality and producing new varieties each season.
The tasting room is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Here, you can try various reds and whites created in-house or purchase a bottle to take home.
Latah Creek Wine Cellars is at 13030 E Indiana Ave, Spokane Valley, WA 99216.
16- Enjoy A Scoop At Tre Palline Gelato Napolitano
Tre Palline Gelato Napolitano is one of the only dessert shops with dozens of sweeping 5-star reviews, and for good reason.
For example, “I can say without hesitation that I look forward to trying as many flavors as possible… They make their gelato in-house and it shows.”
This wildly popular establishment offers over 30 flavours of authentic Italian gelato, including dairy-free and vegan options. B
Be sure to save room after dinner for this delicious treat.
Tre Palline Gelato Napolitano is at 159 S Lincoln St Suite 161, Spokane, WA 99201.
17- Go Shopping At River Park Square
River Park Square is a shopping mall in Downtown Spokane near Riverfront Park.
The mall houses local boutiques, national stores, the River Park Square AMC, and various restaurants, where you can get anything from a casual smoothie to fine dining.
Some of the most popular spots within the mall are Free People, Nordstrom, and the PNW Dream.
If you came to Spokane with money burning a hole in your pocket, River Park Square is the perfect spot, open daily from 10 am to 8 pm.
River Park Square is at 808 W Main Ave, Spokane, WA 99201.
18- Go On A Bar Crawl Downtown
Downtown Spokane offers many fun activities, including Riverfront Park, River Park Square, movie theatres, restaurants and bars to explore and quench your thirst.
A few of the most popular bars are The Ridler Piano Bar, Peacock Room Lounge, Bistango Martini Lounge, and Baby Bar.
Whether you’re looking for duelling pianos, a speakeasy, or a dive bar vibe, Spokane has got you covered.
These bars are all within walking distance of each other, which makes hopping between them easy.
- The Ridler Piano Bar is located at 718 W Riverside Ave, Spokane, WA 99201.
- Peacock Room is at 10 S Post St, Spokane, WA 99201.
- Bistango Martini is at 108 N Post St, Spokane, WA 99201.
- Bab is at 827 W 1st Ave, Spokane, WA 99201.
19- Fly Through a Zip Lining Tour With Mica Moon Zip Tours
Spokane is known for its towering trees, but what if you could see them from a different viewpoint? Mica Moon Zip Tours is top-rated among TripAdvisor adventures.
The company offers zip tours, aerial park tours, and combo tours.
The zip tours are three hours of adrenaline-filled fun on Mica Peak.
The zip course leads through forest glens, across our private valley, over a beautiful mountain stream, and near historic moonshine camps.
Meanwhile, aerial tours offer a different type of treetop adventure that lets you move through obstacles and warrior-style challenges.
If you want to book either of these tours, the best way is on the website and you should book your tour in advance, as these spaces fill up quickly.
Mica Moon Zip is at 23403 E Mission Ave #111, Liberty Lake, WA 99019.
20- Get In Touch With The Locals At ValleyFest
Valleyfest is Spokane’s annual community festival.
The highly anticipated event occurs each September at Mirabeau Point Park, Plantes Ferry Sports Complex, and CenterPlace Regional Event Center in the Spokane Valley.
There are plenty of exciting activities to enjoy at Valleyfest, including the Hearts of Gold Parade, a car show, a pancake breakfast, the Swinging in the Valley Dance Competition, and interactive activities for kids.
It’s a great way to connect with the local community and experience all Spokane has to offer.
Valleyfest is at 10814 E Broadway Ave Spokane Valley, WA 99206.