OverviewEarly settlers quickly spread the word that a trip to Spokane (spo-CAN) House meant warm hospitality as well as profitable business dealings. The active little trading post was the first non-Native American habitation of the Pacific Northwest. Spokane has since grown into the state's second largest city without losing its pioneering spirit.
The Northwest Fur Co. operation, established in 1810 soon after the Lewis and Clark expedition, was actually alongside the Little Spokane River about 10 miles from the present city. It was not until 1872 that the nucleus of today's Spokane was established at Spokane Falls. Grain and lumber mills replaced fur trading as the major business; the appearance of railroads coincided with a gold rush to the Coeur d'Alene district.
One of downtown Spokane's most convenient features is its system of enclosed skywalks that allows pedestrians to visit many downtown establishments without having to brave the winter cold. Historic residential neighborhoods, such as Browne's Addition, just west of downtown, and South Hill, south of I-90, feature grand mansions from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including half a dozen designed by renowned Spokane architect Kirtland Kelsey Cutter.
Spokane Falls thunder through downtown during the spring and early summer runoff periods. The 130-foot-high series of cascades can be seen from various observation points in Riverfront Park, Huntington Park, points along Spokane Falls Boulevard, from the walkway on the east side of the Monroe Street Bridge and from the Post Street Bridge. The closest views are in Huntington Park, where a path just west of City Hall on Spokane Falls Boulevard leads down to the park. For a unique view consider Spokane Falls SkyRide Over the Falls.
Downtown Spokane celebrates the Lilac Festival in mid-May when lilacs are in full bloom. The highlight of the festivities is the Armed Forces Torchlight Parade; phone (509) 535-4554.
“The best basketball weekend on Earth” is one way to describe Hoopfest: more than 6,000 teams from around the country play on 450 courts that span 45 city blocks. For non-hoops players the festival offers shopping, food and interactive games. Hoopfest takes place in late June; for more information phone (509) 624-2414.
Native American petroglyphs are northwest of town near Rutter Bridge. From US 395 (Division Street) take SR 291 (Francis Avenue) west 2 miles to Indian Trail Road, then proceed north on Indian Trail Road about 4 miles.
Skiing and snowboarding are popular at Mount Spokane in Mount Spokane State Park, which is 29 miles northeast of the city. Six local wineries offer tours and tastings; contact the convention and visitors bureau for more information.
Visitor Centers Visit Spokane Visitor Center 808 W. Main Ave. River Park Square, Main Level Spokane, WA 99201. Phone:(509)747-3230 or (888)776-5263
Self-guiding ToursInformation about the City Tour is available from the visitor center. Distinctive brown-and-white arrowhead signs are posted along the 32-mile route, which loops through the southern and western parts of Spokane.
ShoppingAnchor stores at Northtown Mall, 4 miles north of I-90 on US 2/395 at 4750 N. Division St., are JCPenney, Kohl's and Macy's. The Flour Mill, downtown at 621 W. Mallon Ave., has a collection of specialty shops.
Fifteen blocks of downtown Spokane are connected by enclosed skywalks, providing climate-controlled access to hotels, the convention center and Nordstrom at River Park Square. The former railroad-centric Hillyard District now features a collection of antique and secondhand shops; mostly along Market Street between Wellesley and Francis avenues. Antiques also can be found in the Monroe Street Antique District, which extends from Bridge Avenue north to Cleveland Avenue.
Things to Do Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
Bicycling ROW Bicycle Adventures
White-water Rafting Pangaea River Rafting Inc.
Wineries Arbor Crest Wine Cellars
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