You don’t have to pick between incredible outdoor experiences and vibrant city life when you visit Spokane, Wash., on your way to Glacier and Yellowstone national parks.
Anchored by the Spokane River running through it, the city of Spokane is nestled between rolling farmlands and gorgeous mountains in eastern Washington, creating a vibrant metropolis fueled by great food and easy access to outdoor adventure.
Start your trip in the heart of Spokane at Riverfront Park. This 100-acre oasis is where you’ll find the stunning Spokane Falls, a two-tier waterfall formed by dams when the area was revitalized for the 1974 World’s Fair. The falls are at their peak in May but are lively all summer long. Board the SkyRide, a scenic gondola that will bring you over the falls for excellent aerial views.
The park is also home to the 650-foot Skate Ribbon, which is a magical ice skating experience in the winter time and a great place to roller skate, skateboard or scooter in the summer months. Both types of skates can be rented on-site. The park is home to tons of different attractions so be sure to check out the interactive map at www.visitspokane.com to plan your trip.
From Riverfront Park, hop on the Centennial Trail, which spans 40 miles and even goes into Idaho. This beautiful multi-use trail is a great way to walk or bike ride to different parts of the city and take in some of its gorgeous urban nature. You can rent Lime bikes and scooters at different points throughout the city using the Lime app.
Take the trail west to Kendall Yards (mileage varies based on where you join the trail in the park), a lively new district of the city that went from gravel pit to home to some of Spokane’s most exciting restaurants, wineries and coffee shops. Grab a seat on the best patio in the district at Maryhill Winery and enjoy a glass of local wine along with small plates overlooking the river. If you’re looking for a spot for dinner, try baba, a Mediterranean restaurant focusing on comfort food. On Wednesday nights in the summer, check out the night market for produce, local food and local artisans.
Two State Parks
After you’ve spent a day exploring the city, it’s time to check out some of the incredible outdoor opportunities surrounding Spokane at Washington’s two largest state parks. On the north end of the city, the Bowl and Pitcher area of Riverside State Park makes for an incredible hike. This easy 2.1-mile loop crosses the Spokane River on a suspension bridge. If you’re visiting in late summer, head to Mount Spokane State Park. The 4.5-mile roundtrip hike to the Quartz Mountain Fire Lookout is a worthwhile trek no matter the time of year, but bring a container in late summer to pick wild huckleberries along the way. If you’re feeling adventurous and planning far in advance, try your luck at getting a reservation to spend the night in the lookout on parks.state.wa.us.
Since the Spokane River is the heart of the city, you’d be missing out if you didn’t spend some time on it. Book a rafting trip with Wile E. Waters, which offers both scenic floats and whitewater trips. Or, rent stand-up paddleboards downtown and start at Riverfront Park. Make a day of paddling upstream to No Li Brewery where you can enjoy beers and lunch before floating back downstream.
Historic Places to Stay
While there’s no shortage of great places to stay or camp in and near Spokane, a can’t-miss experience is staying at the historic Davenport Hotel. A gorgeous lobby and ornate ballrooms and guest rooms make for a truly opulent stay, along with a spa and several dining opportunities. Even if you don’t stay at the hotel, stop in for a drink at the Peacock Room Lounge under a 5,000-piece stained glass ceiling.
Learn more at VisitSpokane.com