Sometimes called “Seattle’s little sister”, Spokane is an overlooked and underrated urban destination. It is very different from Seattle, with its own charm. Spokane is the second-largest city in Washington (the largest in Eastern Washington) and located near the state border with Idaho:
It’s entertaining, cheaper, less crowded, and with 4 distinct seasons. Pronounced as Spo-CAN, Spokane is a Salish tribe word meaning “children of the sun.”
Spokane’s fun facts
We have found a lot of lilacs in Spokane, which is a very popular fragrant shrub in our native country. Actually, Spokane’s official nickname is the “Lilac City” 😊.
The city is also known as Father’s Day birthplace thanks to Sonora Dodd. She and her 5 siblings were raised by a single dad, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran. His wife died during the birth of their 6th child. Sonora proposed Father’s Day in Spokane in 1909. It took 63 years for the day to become a permanent national holiday!
Spokane: overlooked urban destination. Our favorite spots
Spokane appeared on our bucket list once we learned about a huge waterfall (Spokane Falls) at the heart of the city:
Spokane Falls can be observed from many different points. Our favorite one is Huntington Park. Make sure to go to the lowest deck for the best views of the waterfall. Park is very well maintained, with lots of grassy areas and a couple of picnic tables “with a view”.
Riverfront Park is a real gem. You can easily spend several hours there! Site of the 1974 World’s Fair, Riverfront Park is much bigger compared to HuntingtonPark.
It has everything kids can imagine: huge indoor merry-go-round, ice-skating rink (in winter), garbage-eating goat (sound weird but true), Rotary Fountain, and much more. Kids (and I) were more than excited to see the giant Radio Flyer wagon:
Spokane’s Garbage Eating Goat
Paula Turnbull’s Garbage-eating Goat is Spokane’s cute little secret. The sculpture is made of metal and is actually a… vacuum cleaner. A small thing, made in 1974, it was a big hit with our kids!
We had hard times to find any garbage in nearly 100-yards around the goat. Other cities should know about such a simple but effective way to keep the streets clean! 🙂 .
Other fun things to do at Riverfront Park:
Manito Park and Botanical Gardens is another great stop with tons to explore, lots of shade on a hot day, plenty of trails, a playground, and… no admission fees. We spent half a day here (if you are in a hurry then 2 hours here should be fine).
There is a Japanese Garden inside Manito Park. It is small but very pleasant:
Riverside State Park – Bowl and Pitcher Area
A trip to Spokane wouldn’t complete without stopping at Riverside Park. Located in 15 minutes’ driving time from the center of Spokane, Riverside Park is a great and rare place to visit. This summer we made all the way to Spokane to… camp at Riverside. And loved it! On the picture below “Bowl and Pitcher area” (Riverside is huge park, one of the largest in WA):
Blocks of basaltic rock looked like they were made out of perfectly shaped little cubes, poured all over the river. I even made an attempt to pick one out (with no success) :).
You can make an easy 2 miles hike, or just explore the area near the bridge.
In 9 miles from Bowl and Pitcher area, you can find another small Spokane secret: Painted Indian Rocks. Real indigenous art, more than 250 years old, right on the trail!
What we’ll be visiting in Spokane when the covid will be over
We’ve been to Spokane three times and would love to come again. On our next trip (probably during the snowy season to get the full experience), we’ll visit the Spokane Public Library (with amazing views over waterfalls) and museums. The most popular museums in Spokane are Smithsonian affiliate Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, Mobius Science Center, and Mobius Kid’s Museum.
We skipped indoor activities and attractions altogether during our visits in May, June, and September, the weather was warm and sunny, and we opted for gardens and parks instead.
In winter, the Skate Ribbon at Riverfront Park in Spokane turns into a beautiful Ice Ribbon:
Ice Ribbon is a wandering ice skating trail, with dips and climbs, measuring almost 700 feet long.
The average winter temperatures in Spokane are 34/23F (or 1/-5C) with about 44 inches of snowfall. On the picture below is the most severe winter in Spokane, in 1969:
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for the next unusual city 😊