Spokane is such a unique and vibrant city located in East Washington — it’s perfect for any type of adventure in any season!
This awesome city has a bustling downtown area full of local shops and restaurants woven between serene parks, with the Spokane River and Spokane Falls right at the heart. Both in the city and surrounding forest and mountain areas, you’ll find hundreds of miles of hiking, biking, ski, and snowmobile trails.
In the summertime, both visitors and locals love taking advantage of water activities by paddle boarding and white water rafting. In the winter, you’ll find everyone outside in their boots, ready to tackle the snow in town or at one of the five ski resorts nearby. And year-round, you can find amazing, locally grown fruit, produce, dining and events from the Green Bluff Growers.
Spokane, Washington is one of the United States’ greatest hidden gems for the outdoor lover. Keep reading to learn all of the best things to do in Spokane during your visit!
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COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN SPOKANE
Best Downtown. The Davenport Grand is located in the center of downtown. It’s an easy walk to Riverfront Park and the inspiring shows and concerts at the First Interstate Center for the Arts, just across the street. There’s a catwalk to the convention center if you’re here for that purpose.
Best Vacation Home. The Base Camp couldn’t have a more appropriate name for a place to stay and visit the many activities we’ve listed. This 1-bedroom home with a fold out sofa is about 4 miles from city-center, but offers a peaceful, scenic and relaxing environment to unwind from the days activities.
Best Budget Option. Ruby River Hotel Spokane is reasonably priced with good ratings, and looks a lot more pricey that it is. Within a mile from downtown, and situated on a lake, this is definitely one to check out.
Downtown Spokane, on the banks of the Spokane River, is filled with beauty, history, adventure, and delicious food at every turn! The Spokane River flows through the heart of the city with local shops and restaurants lining the streets. There are so many parks, gardens, and falls to visit, that you’ll forget you’re in a city at all!
Downtown Spokane features one of the coolest urban parks in the United States, Riverfront Park (more below). The downtown area has historic museums and learning centers for kids, and epic outdoor adventure opportunities for everyone to enjoy.
Riverfront Park is referred to it as the “jewel” of downtown Spokane and in August of 2020, National Geographic called it one of America’s most beautiful urban parks. And for good reason! It does such an amazing job of reminding you that while you’re in a city, you’re still surrounded by the peaceful, rugged nature of Washington State.
Riverfront Park has a really interesting history. It was an old railyard that was cleaned up to be used to host the 1974 World’s Fair, that over 5 million people attended! Afterward, the Pavilion, the Gondolas, and the Clock Tower remained. The city of Spokane then added a lot of the modern attractions that you see in the park today, like the Louff Carousel, the Skate Ribbon, many playgrounds, and public gathering areas.
Jimmy Carter once said “Riverfront Park shows very clearly what can be accomplished in urban redevelopment. You’ve transformed an area that was declining, that was far short of its great potential, into one of the nation’s most innovative and refreshing urban settings.”
If you love chasing waterfalls, then a visit to Spokane Falls is a necessity! Spokane Falls is a waterfall and dam located right downtown in Spokane’s central business district, in Riverfront Park. The city got its original name, Spokane Falls, from this waterfall.
Spokane Falls has two sections: Upper Falls and Lower Falls. Both are just as powerful and accessible as the other, so I recommend making a quick pit stop at each to admire the dam’s power and beauty before you continue strolling through downtown Spokane and Riverfront Park!
Manito Park is one of Spokane’s greatest draws! It is a 90-acre recreational park located in Spokane’s South Hill neighborhood. Roughly 150,000 locals and tourists visit each year to explore the park’s five award-winning themed gardens that display thousands of stunning flower and plant arrangements. There are plenty of playgrounds, food, walking and bike paths, and more!
Some of Manito Park’s main attractions include Mirror Lake and the Park Bench Cafe. Explore the gardens during the day, stop for a sandwich for lunch, and rent a canoe for a sunset cruise around the pond.
The park and gardens are free to visit, but some attractions or activities charge a small fee. Dogs on leashes are allowed, so bring along your furry friends! Manito Park is full of everything you could possibly need to keep the whole family entertained for an entire day. You’ll find it at 1702 S Grand Blvd, Spokane, WA.
NISHINOMIYA TSUTAKAWA JAPANESE GARDEN
The Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese Garden is a lovely garden located in Manito Park that symbolizes Spokane’s relationship with its sister city, Nishinomiya, Japan. It was designed by Nago Sakurai in 1965 and opened in May 1974, just in time for the World’s Fair! Today you can stroll through the garden and visit the pond and falls.
The garden closes each winter but is open daily from April 1-October 31. Entrance and parking is free.
The Centennial Trail is a 40-mile rural-urban trail following the Spokane River through the east of Washington State. It begins in Nine Mile Recreation Area and reaches the Idaho border. It features a vast array of different Pacific Northwest terrain, historical sites, and activities along the way, such as horseback riding.
You can spend a couple of days hiking or an afternoon biking the whole trail, or hike one of the smaller trailheads! You’ll find locals out enjoying the weather no matter the season.
Nine Mile Falls is an attraction located along the Centennial Trail that I highly recommend stopping by. Water has always been a big source of energy for Spokane and other areas, particularly from the Nine Mile Falls dam. The hydroelectric power from the dam was used to power railways that served much of East Washington and Idaho for many years. It is very well preserved and an extremely interesting place to visit!
MOUNT SPOKANE STATE PARK
If you’re looking to enjoy scenic mountain trails on your trip to Spokane, you must make your way to Mount Spokane State Park! This is one of Washington’s largest state parks located in the majestic Selkirk Mountains. This Washington state park is filled with outdoor activities and more opportunities for adventure than you could imagine.
In the summer, you’ll find visitors camping in the forests and exploring nearly 100 miles of hiking and biking trails, including the city’s namesake, Mount Spokane, and the other photographic summits such as Day Mountain and Kit Carson.
Getting nearly 300 inches of snowfall each winter, Mount Spokane State Park is the ultimate spot for your next winter vacation. Here you’ll find snowshoers, backcountry skiers, and families enjoying the trails, skiing, and sledding all winter long.
WHITE WATER RAFTING AT ROW ADVENTURE CENTER
If you love outdoor water sports of any kind, you have to check out ROW Adventure Center!
This Idaho company was twice been named in National Geographic’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.” They offer incredible outdoor adventure tours for white water rafting, paddle boarding, kayaking, and fly fishing. They also have paddleboard and bike rentals if you’d prefer to do your own thing, but I highly recommend booking a tour.
The whole team is very knowledgeable about the area and so friendly. Their tours really do live up to the hype.
RIVERSIDE STATE PARK
Riverside State Park boasts over 9,000 miles of gorgeous Washington State scenery to explore! It’s located just a few miles north of Spokane, covering everything from Nine Mile Recreation Area to the Idaho border.
Every visitor will find a never-ending amount of things to do in Riverside State Park. Go rock climbing, hike or bike through 55 miles of trails, including the Centennial Trail, or spend an afternoon exploring 600 acres of off-road terrain.
In the summer, spend some time on Lake Spokane or the Spokane River. Spend a day on the boat or go paddleboarding up to a picnic area. Reserve a campsite and spend the evening roasting marshmallows with the family or watching for shooting stars.
Looking to do some Spokane skiing? Riverside is also a winter lover’s paradise complete with some of the best snowshoe, snowmobile, and cross-country ski trails in Washington State. No matter what you like to do, you’re guaranteed to have an amazing time in Riverside State Park.
MARTIN WOLDSON THEATER AT THE FOX
The Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox is a beautiful art deco theater in Spokane, Washington. It is a stunning architectural piece designed by Robert Reamer in 1931, who is most notable for designing the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park.
While the building has had a couple of different uses over time, it was renovated in 2007 to become a performing arts venue and is now home to the Spokane Symphony. Spend a relaxing evening listening to live music after a day of exploring the shops and restaurants downtown!
NORTHWEST MUSEUM OF ARTS AND CULTURE
The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (locally known as the MAC), is located in the beautiful Browne’s Addition neighborhood of downtown Spokane, and features five different galleries that highlight Spokane history and native American culture in the area. It’s the best museum to visit to get an in-depth view of the rich history of Spokane, so plan a visit at the start of your vacation.
Some fun additions to the museum include the Campbell House and The Carriage House Activity Center.
If you love history, then you need to add the Campbell House to your bucket list for your visit to Spokane. This East Washington mansion was built in 1898 for millionaire Amasa Campbell and his family for only $30,000 by architect Kirtland Cutter.
The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC) later purchased and preserved the house. They opened it for tours to show how both the high social class and servants lived in Spokane during the Temperance Period. Admission to the Campbell House is included with your ticket to the MAC next door, and it’s worth a stop.
MOBIUS DISCOVERY CENTER
The Mobius Discovery Center is the best place to take children! Recently, the Mobius Children’s Museum and Mobius Science Center consolidated their locations into one, and kept their most popular attractions. The Mobius Discovery Center was then born as the ultimate learning and play center for kids.
The center is located in downtown Spokane right next to Riverside State Park and you can easily make a day out of exploring the two areas. Visit their website for the latest hours, exhibits, and more!
Avista Stadium is a baseball stadium in Spokane, and it’s home to the minor league baseball team — the Spokane Indians.
There is nothing better in the summertime than spending an afternoon watching baseball, eating hot dogs, and enjoying the surrounding beauty of Avista Stadium.
Gonzaga University is a smaller, private, Catholic university in Spokane. It has some of the best programs for nursing and engineering in the United States.
The men’s basketball team is their pride and joy for sports, though there is no shortage of activities to participate in both on-campus and around Spokane WA. If you’re considering going to Gonzaga University, we recommend scheduling a visit to tour campus.
JOHN A FINCH ARBORETUM
The John A. Finch Arboretum is a fun and free way to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors in southwest Spokane. Located on 65 acres of wooded hills, the arboretum is open year-round from dawn to dusk.
Here you’ll find a labeled collection of trees and plants along Garden Springs Creek. You’ll find plenty of different plants and trees, along with special events, activities, and tours. They also have a walking guide you can download for self-guided touring.
MOUNT SPOKANE SKI & SNOWBOARD PARK
Located at the top of Mt. Spokane you’ll find the area’s only nonprofit ski area — Mount Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park.
No matter your age or ability, this ski and snowboard park will have something for you! With 52 runs, seven lifts, an epic terrain park, a comprehensive ski school, and a friendly community, this unique place offers something for everyone.
You’ll also find amazing events, night skiing, and so much more. You’ve simply got to check it out!
What is Spokane best known for?
Spokane, Washington is best known for being the birthplace of Father’s Day. This lively town also hosts the world’s largest basketball tournament each year, the Spokane Hoopfest, which is why it has earned the nickname of Hooptown USA.
Is Spokane a fun city?
Spokane is a super fun city, mainly due to its amazing outdoor activities. Hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, swimming, and more are all popular things to do in Spokane.
What type of food is Spokane known for?
Spokane has a thriving food scene, and you’ll find all sorts of amazing restaurants and culinary delights here. African, Asian, Italian and classic American fare can be found here.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO WASHINGTON
- YOUR WASHINGTON VACATION
- SEATTLE BEACHES: 12 Sensational Seattle Beaches You Don’t Want To Miss
- LEAVENWORTH: 15 Things To Do In Leavenworth For Year-Round Fun
- BELLINGHAM: 19 Amazing Things To Do In Bellingham, Washington
- SAN JUAN ISLANDS: 18 Sensational Things To Do In San Juan Islands
WHERE TO STAY IN SPOKANE
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