Spokane

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Spokane is a city in eastern Washington, also known as the "The Inland Empire", pre-dating by nearly a century the use of the same title by a region in Southern California. It is the second largest city in the state, and the largest between Seattle and Minneapolis.

Downtown Spokane from Riverfront Park

Understand[edit]

The city is pronounced as "spo-CAN," but often mispronounced as "spo-CAIN." Its nickname is "The Lilac City". Spokane is named for a local Salish-speaking tribe of Native Americans who frequented the area.

The city is the economic and transportation hub of a surrounding agricultural area that serves roughly 1.5 million people, and the county seat of Spokane County. The immediate metropolitan area is home to roughly 500,000 citizens and the city proper is home to over 200,000. It is a rather conservative area, with a liberal city proper, and has a fairly small racial minority population (around 10%).

Spokane receives only a fraction of the rain that falls in Seattle and western Washington. However, winters are a lot colder with much more snowfall. Summers are hotter, but still more mild and less humid that those in the Midwest and East.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Spokane International Airport (IATA: GEG for Geiger Field) is about seven miles to the west of Downtown. It operates flights regularly to Seattle, Portland, Denver, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Los Angeles (LAX), Minneapolis, Chicago, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Boise, and Honolulu. There are no non-stop international flights at this time (though there were in the past to Canada). Connections to/from Canada normally go through Seattle (most common), Minneapolis, or Chicago. If everything is full, you might have to go further south. Currently, there's no way to get to Calgary and Edmonton without flying to a quite out-of-the-way hub city. Although American Airlines has never had service to Spokane, it now code-shares with Alaska/Horizon Air, and is in the process of merging with US Air (which has been flying to Spokane for many years).

By train[edit]

Spokane is located on Amtrak's Empire Builder route, which operates between Seattle/Portland and Chicago. Spokane is located at the point where westbound trains are split in half, one half going to Seattle through the Cascades and the other half to Portland OR-Vancouver WA along the Columbia River Gorge, and where eastbound trains from those cities are joined together to continue eastward. The Empire Builder connects with Amtrak's Coast Starlight & Cascades in Seattle and Portland and multiple east-west-south trains in Chicago .The Amtrak intermodal station, which is shared with Greyhound buses, is a new facility located downtown, close to major hotels and attractions at 221 W 1st Ave.

By bus[edit]

The bus station for local and long distance buses is the same as the train station (intermodal station) at 221 W 1st Ave and/or the airport:

  • GreyhoundIntermodal Station @ 221 W 1st Ave +1 509-624-5251, toll-free: +1-800-231-2222. Travels primarily on Interstate 90 (Seattle, Ellensburg, Moses Lake, Spokane, Couer d'Alene, Kellog, St Regis & Missoula), US395 (Pasco-Ritzville-Spokane) & 82 (Stanfield, OR; Pasco, Sunnyside, Yakima & Ellensburg)
  • Bellair ChartersIntermodal Station @ 221 W 1st Ave, toll-free: +1-888-739-5395. operates the state's "Travel Washington Gold Line" bus between Spokane, Colville & Kettle Falls along US 395. Stops at the airport, STA Plaza at 701 W Riverside, the Intermodal Station & Hasting Rd P&R in N. Spokane.
  • Northwestern TrailwaysIntermodal Station @ 221 W 1st Ave +1 509-838-4029, e-mail: . Goes west to Seattle through Ritzville, Ephrata, Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Lake Stevens & Everett along I-90 & US 2. They also go down to Pullman, Moscow, Lewiston, Cottonbird & Boise; east to Couer d'Alene; and north to Sandpoint. They operate the state's "Travel Washington Apple Line" bus between Ellensburg, Wenatchee, & Omak.

By car[edit]

Interstate 90 connects Seattle with Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and passes through Spokane.

Get around[edit]

By bus[edit]

The STA (Spokane Transit Authority) is an excellent way to get around to the North, South, and West sides as well as to the Valley and Liberty Lake in the east. Public Transit is a great way to get to meet the people of a city. Bus route maps can be found in a few stores and gas stations. Most drivers are very friendly and helpful so ask any questions you may have.

The STA uses a new farebox system and offers 2 hour and all day passes. With the new fare boxes you must ask the driver for a pass before you put your fare in the fare box.

By car[edit]

Car rentals are available in many locations, mainly near the Spokane International Airport. All the major companies are located there. Returning cars at the airport can be a little confusing. The main entrance to the rental return is an entire mile before the airport terminal (left at Flint Rd.) You can also drop off passengers and turn right at Flint Rd. just past the terminal. Note there are no directional signs for rental cars between these two places.

Interstate 90 is an excellent way to cross town East-West. A north-south freeway is under construction, and won't be finished for years. Allow more time if you have to go very far in this direction, as there's no express route yet. (The construction itself is unlikely to cause you any delays, as it's not on the main roadways.)

Be aware of Spokane's many uncontrolled intersections in older residential neighborhoods. Watch for cross traffic and yield as necessary.

Check with Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) for current driving conditions.

By bike[edit]

Monroe Street Dam on the Spokane River

Spokane is located in a valley, bicycling around can be challenging due to the hills. This can be complicated by weather, which can be cold and snowy in winter and hot and dry in the summer. It is suggested that bikers avoid Division as it is the main thoroughfare. There are other options available with more space, less traffic and slower speeds. There are multiple bike clubs (road and off-road) in the area. Some sections of the city have bike trails along arterials.

The Centennial Trail is 60 miles long and runs along the Spokane River from Higgins Point about 8 miles west of downtown Coeur d'Alene, Idaho through the City of Spokane Valley and downtown Spokane, ending near Spokane House in Nine Mile Falls. The 37.5 miles (30 of which are class 1)of trail in Washington are blacktopped and usually in good repair, although care should be taken in spring if the river has risen; much of the trail follows the contours of the Spokane River. It is excellent for bicycling, rollerblading, or walking; no motorized vehicles or horses allowed, pets must be on leash. Parts of the trail, especially in Spokane Valley, run adjacent or on the shoulder of roads. Caution should be taken not to leave valuables visible in cars if using a trailhead. Sections of the trail are isolated by hills, forest, the river and other natural features. There are multiple trailheads, some with outhouses. Take your own drinking water, although there are fountains in parks along the trail (and at least one pump near the stateline in Idaho). The trail is relatively flat, but has some nice hills west of downtown Spokane.

See[edit]

  • Downtown Spokane is the hub of the region dubbed "The Inland Northwest." It is the center for all of your shopping centers, medical centers, main attractions and hotels. Skywalks connect much of the downtown shops, useful in winter. Riverfront Square is a "mall" containing a parking garage, theaters, restaurant, bars, department and specialty shops, and a food court.
  • Riverfront Park was the host of the 1974 World's Fair. A few of the pavilions still exist, and the park itself is beautifully maintained. Maps of downtown Spokane (which include a park map) can be found in most hotels and stores and gas stations nearby. The park has fun features: the river and its waterfalls, the dam, two suspension footbridges, a rare, beautiful, and priceless hand-carved Looff Carousel (complete with rings and a target; sit on an outside horse if you want to participate!), the rather frightening gondolas over the falls, a small amusement park, bike rentals, an IMAX theater and game room, concert areas, and annual events including concerts, plays, "Pig Out in the Park", powwows, Battle of the Bands, and children's activities. The striking clock tower is the only remnant of the ugly train yards that once occupied the parkland, and a good place to meet up if you get separated.
Downtown Oasis - Riverfront Park
  • Manito Park located between 18th Ave and 25nd Ave, West of Grand Blvd. East of Bernard Street. Its steep hills make it a popular and well-used wintertime sledding spot; be careful of the trees, however. A zoo until 1933, Manito is now a year-round home to a friendly flock of geese, ducks, and turtles. Visit the park's Rose Garden in the Summer, the formal Duncan Gardens near the greenhouse (open until dusk), the Japanese Gardens on the Bernard Street side of the park. There are two playgrounds, one for smaller children near the duck pond and the main entrance, another with a waterpad near the ball fields on the south end (25th Avenue). A small restaurant operates in the summer in an old stone building near the perennial gardens, open for lunch and maybe breakfast. Parts of the park are rustic and undeveloped; tennis courts are near the main entrance. The park, like all those in the city, closes at 10 and is patrolled periodically.
  • Monroe Street Bridge newly opened after 2 years of reconstruction. This bridge was built in 1911 and is the largest arch bridge in the United States of America. It is one of the finest examples and also one of the last remaining bridges among the several dozen bridges that once crisscrossed the falls and made Spokane world-famous as the "City of Bridges" during the latter half of the 19th century (i.e, Spokane had the largest number of bridges of any city in the world at the time). Take an inspiring walk across the falls of the Spokane River while admiring the buffalo head sculptures adorning the covered observation decks across the span. The Monroe St Bridge is located in the heart of Downtown immediately west of Riverfront Park, the former site of the old train station and rail yards (Locals know it well, just ask one).
  • Riverside State Park Bowl and Pitcher is basalt rock formations in the middle of the fast flowing Spokane River. Overlook and suspension bridge on east side is a great way to experience Spokane's motto: Near Nature Near Perfect.
  • The Knitting Factory is one of the Northwest's premier concert houses. It is a 1,500-capacity concert venue, and features top performers from around the world as well as dance club nights hosted weekly. It is easily found in the heart of Downtown Spokane, on the corner of Sprague and Monroe.
  • Spokane County Courthouse Located at W 1116 Broadway. Worth a visit. This interesting courthouse was completed in 1895 in 16th century French Renaissance style.
  • Cat Tales Zoological Park17020 N Newport Hwy, Mead, WA +1 509 238-4126. Adults $10, Seniors & Students $8 (Seniors free on Sundays), Children (12 & Under) $5, Handicapped free.
  • Finch ArboretumWest 3404 Woodlawn Blvd. (Southwest of town just off Sunset Blvd.). Free.
  • Broadview Dairy Museum/Caterina Winery The Broadview Dairy building has been a landmark in Spokane since the 1920's, originally built as a commercial dairy, the facility is now more open to the public, and now includes a milk production museum, the still operating dairy, and the Caterina Winery.
  • Davenport Arts District - at 2nd and Madison
  • Ft. George Wright National Historical District
  • Gonzaga University
  • Mobius Childrens Museum
  • Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture
  • One of a Kind in the World Museum
  • Spokane Falls, on the edge of Riverfront Park

Do[edit]

Golf- There are 33 golf courses within a short drive of the city center. The city of Spokane runs 4 Public golf courses including the award winning Indian Canyon, Spokane County runs 6 other public courses. The Coeur d'Alene resort golf course features a green floating in the lake.

  • Gonzaga BulldogsMcCarthey Athletic Center, 801 N. Cincinnati St. +1 509 313-6000, e-mail: . The sports teams of Gonzaga University, officially nicknamed "Bulldogs" but affectionately called "Zags", are one of the city's great institutions. While the Zags have teams in nine men's and nine women's sports (though not football—the school dropped that sport during World War II), by far the biggest attraction is men's basketball, which has developed into a national power in the 21st century (although they still don't have a Final Four to show for it). The McCarthey Athletic Center, home to basketball, always sells out for men's games and often for women's games (the capacity is only 6,000). Usually, one men's game a year is played at the much larger Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, and a second men's game is taken to Seattle. Most other Zags teams play on campus, and tickets are much easier to get than for basketball.

Events[edit]

runners participating in the Bloomsday race
  • Bloomsday. This 12 kilometer run/walk is perfect for anyone of any age. Bloomsday is one of the world's largest timed road race with over 50,000 participants each year. The race is always the first Sunday in May.
  • Lilac Festival. The country's largest Armed Forces Day celebration including the Armed Forces Torchlight Parade. Held annually on the third Saturday in May.
  • Hoopfest. The world's largest 3 on 3 basketball tournament, with courts spread out all over downtown. Hoopfest takes place over the last weekend in June.
  • Get Lit! Programs Festival. The week long literary festival held annually in the Spring with educational outreach programs throughout the year. It celebrates literature for all ages with readings, workshops, panel discussions, slams, fairs, contests, and more.
  • Bare Buns Fun Run. Largest clothing-optional timed road race in the U.S. Five kilometers run/walk on pressed gravel. Family-oriented code of conduct applies. Last Sunday in July since 1984. North Deer Lake Road exit from US-395, then about 10 miles (16 km). Drive with caution on the narrow, winding road, which becomes unpaved at the end of the lake shore.

Listen[edit]

Buy[edit]

Many of the newer, suburban-style stores and shopping centers are located on the far north side of the city. The huge Northtown Mall is on the NE corner of Division (US Hwy 2/395) & Wellesley. A mile further up is Francis Ave., and there are many places to shop as you go north on both Division (US 395) and the Newport Hwy (US 2) (which soon splits off from Division).

  • Huckleberry's Natural Market926 South Monroe Street +1 509 624-1349 7. Am-10pm The 9th Street Bistro inside this grocery store is a bustling cafe that serves $4.00 breakfast specials. Vegetarian friendly deli. Enjoy a toasted bagel with lox from the meat counter, or some freshly rolled sushi. Huckleberry's is the only natural grocery store of its kind in Eastern Washington. Large wine and bulk foods selection. Some Rosauers Grocery Stores and Super 1 Foods also have a smaller Huckleberry's Market (without a bistro) inside the store.
  • River Park Square. Recently renovated shopping center located in the center of downtown, just across from Riverfront Park. River Park Square is home to a 20 screen movie theater. Upscale stores such as Nordstroms, Williams Sonoma, Macy's and Restoration Hardware. A diverse collection of specialty stores selling items ranging from walking sticks to chocolates. Satisfy your hunger at the fast food court or at one of its many sit down restaurants. River Park Square is also a great place for kids with a childrens museum, bookstore and toy store. Skywalks connect River Park Square with the rest of downtown.

Eat[edit]

Budget[edit]

  • Dick's Hamburgers10 E 3rd Ave +1 509 747-2481. A Spokane institution, serving up the quickest and most efficient cholesterol-delivery systems in the state.
  • Didier's Yogurt & More10410 N Division St +1 509 466-8434. Quality fast food from a family owned business. Great burgers and frozen yogurt. Located on the north side near Whitworth College.
  • Mary Lou's Milk Bottle802 W Garland Ave +1 509 325-1772. @ N. Post St. Originally built for the long defunct Benewah Dairy Company in mid-1930's, this small restaurant serves burgers and shakes. The building consists of a stuccoed milk bottle several stories high. A similar structure (not open to the public) is visible from the I-90 westbound off ramp to Maple St. (#280A), and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Cash only.
  • Ferguson’s Cafe804 W Garland Ave +1 509 328-1950. Located next to the Milk Bottle (above), this restaurant was featured in three Hollywood movies, “Benny & Joon” “Vision Quest,” and “Why Would I Lie?” Opens early for breakfast, and well known for its "blue plate specials."

Mid-range[edit]

  • Bennidito's Pizza1426 S Lincoln +1 509 455-7411. A local jewel, recently expanded. The pizza and calzones are fantastic. Always some good beers on tap, or you can get a bucket full. Recommended: garlic cheese bread, beer buddies, chicken wings, pesto ranch dressing, hot Italian sausage, saxon pizza, New Yorker calzone.
  • Longhorn Barbecue, 2315 N Argonne, +1 509 924-9600.
  • Chicken-N-Mo1/2 W Sprague Ave +1 509 838-5071. 414. "Soul Food", Catfish, Ribs, etc. Located in Downtown.
  • The Elk Public House, 1931 W Pacific Ave; +1 509 363-1973. Eclectic to Standard food, large selection of microbrews on tap. Outdoor seating in the historic Brownes Addition.
  • The Two-Seven Public House, 2727 S Mt Vernon, Suite 5; +1 509 473-9766. On the South Hill, has the same menu as The Elk (and their two sister pubs in north Idaho). Full bar, microbrews, specials, outdoor seating in summer, TV but you can get away from it if you want, and great service.

Other[edit]

  • The Rockwood Bakery315 E 18th Ave. Located less than a block from Manito Park, The Rockwood Bakery is great for a mid-day coffee or pastry after a day in the park.
  • Saunders Cheese Market210 S Washington +1 509 455-9400. Located in the east central part of downtown, this shop offers many cheeses from the United States, including the Pacific Northwest, and abroad. Cheese plates are also offered, and there is wine by the glass, or you can bring in wine from the conveniently neighboring Vino! Wine Shop.
  • Your City Bites, toll-free: +1-888-982-4837. A food tour of downtown Spokane that features local reastaurants.

Drink[edit]

Being a Western city in the U.S., it has its fair share of bars and taverns. Washington state law says Bars can sell alcoholic beverages of their choice, while Taverns are restricted to Beer and wines and such. Along Sprague in Downtown, there are a fair number of Bars and Taverns.

  • No-Li Brewhouse (Northern Lights Brewing Co.), 1003 E Trent Ave +1 509 242-2739. 11-22:00 (later on weekends and in the summer). Fresh local beer on the banks of the Spokane River. This is a true brewpub, offering sampler trays (and pints, of course) of its fine locally made ales, including its famous Crystal Bitter and Chocolate Dunkel. Also has an ambitious food menu.
  • Jack & Dan's Bar & Grill1226 N Hamilton St +1 509 487-6546. Classic sports bar owned by the father of former NBA & Gonzaga University star John Stockton. Sitting on the edge of Gonzaga University, it naturally caters to the students and is packed to watch basketball games. Children are welcome in the restaurant until 10 PM.
  • Far West Billiards1001 W 1st Ave +1 509 455-3429. Located in the historic Montvale Hotel at First and Monroe in downtown Spokane, Far West Billiards is the choice for an evening of great food, premium drinks, and casual pool. They pour only premium liquors, use only fresh fruit (no mixes), and always have several interesting beers on tap.
  • Viking Bar & Grill (Viking Tavern), 1221 N Stevens +1 509 315-4547. M-W 11:00-midnight, Th-F 11:00-02:00, Sa 10:00-02:00, Su 10-22:00. A pub requires a healthy flow of suds. Long a Spokane beer mecca, has 26 beers on tap and 125-plus in bottles, and always free popcorn. To encourage variety, the Viking has an annual Tour de Beers contest in which participants try to make their way through as many brews as possible between May and September. Winners get Tour de Beers shirts and hats. Friday nights they usually have interesting music.
  • O'Doherty's Irish Grille525 Spokane Falls Blvd +1 509 747-0322. W. This is a place to gather, chat, tip a pint and enjoy a little Irish flavor. Guinness and Harp on tap. Live Irish music on Tuesday nights. After you've been there a while you'll probably want to become a member of the O'Doherty's family by standing on the bar, singing a song for the entire bar, and stapling a dollar on the wall. Children are welcome in the restaurant until 10 PM.
  • Twigs Bistro401 E Farwell. 10-11. Twigs is first a martini bar and second a restaurant. However, their breakfast, which is only sold on the weekend, is superb. Their Creme Brule French Toast is wonderful. Dinner is a typical menu, burgers, pizza, etc. Their drink selection is very good.

Sleep[edit]

Budget[edit]

  • Red Lion Hotel at the Park Spokane Hotel303 W North River Dr +1 509 326-8000. Situated at the edge of Riverfront Park, on the banks of the cascading Spokane River, the Red Lion Hotel at the Park is a beautifully renovated hotel that delivers a new level of hospitality to business and vacation travelers in Spokane, Washington.
  • Couchsurfing is an option if you're a member! Spokane has a fairly large membership, although be aware that with so many colleges in the area, many members are couchless students! Third Sunday events are sporadic.

Mid-Range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

Note: The historic Ridpath Hotel has been closed since 2008, but may be renovated in the future.

Interior of Historic Davenport Hotel
  •    The Davenport Hotel and Tower10 S Post St +1 509 455-8888. Spokane's only four diamond hotel. Rated in the top ten best hotels in America by Expedia. Located in the heart of Downtown and the Davenport District (Art District), the Davenport Hotel and Tower offers luxury accommodations and first class service. From their own custom made "Davenport Bed" to the three award winning restaurants and bars, the historic hotel doesn't skimp on details. The hotel, which under went a multimillion dollar renovation in 2002, is locally owned and operated and it shows in the personal service received. You can see the hotels extensive history, that included the visits of many historical icons including Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Mary Pickford, Clark Gable, John Philip Sousa, Lawrence Welk, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Benny Goodman, Vachel Lindsay, John F. Kennedy, and Babe Ruth. Hotel history dating back from 1914 is scattered throughout the hotel's Western European inspired rooms, lobbies and restaurants.
  • Montvale Hotel1005 W First Ave +1 509 747-1919. Small European style boutique hotel located in the heart of downtown by the Fox Theater.

Stay safe[edit]

All-in-all people in Spokane are very kind and hospitable. It is a very safe city at most times of the day and there are no really bad neighborhoods of which to be advised. That being said, Hillyard, the East Sprague red light district, and the west side area north of downtown are not great places to be alone at night. Also, use caution when walking through Riverfront Park or on the Centennial Trail at night.

Connect[edit]

Spokane is one of a few cities nationwide that has Wi-Fi access just about everywhere Downtown. The entire Downtown area is a Wi-Fi hotspot or an area where wireless Internet is provided free of charge (2 hours per day) if your computer is equipped for Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, there's no free Wi-Fi at the airport yet, though the Boingo network (daily fee after 40 mins. and brief advertisement) is available.

Cope[edit]

Consulates[edit]

  • Germany Germany (Honorary). As of Sep 2010, the consul was in the process of being reassigned.

Go next[edit]

Although the destinations of Seattle, Portland, Glacier National Park, Mount Rainier, and Mount St. Helens are popular with locals, these are not day trips, and even a two-day excursion will seem rushed. The distance to Mt. St. Helens is easily underestimated, as the only access is from I-5 between Seattle and Portland (with substantial backtracking).

The area to the west and south can be considerably hotter in summertime than it is in Spokane. Bring plenty of drinking water.

  • Being in the foothills of the Rockies, Spokane has excellent skiing in the wintertime. An hour's drive north of city takes you to its most cherished ski resort; Mt. Spokane Ski Resort, 15 miles from the intersection of US Highway 2 and Highway 206 to the northwest of Spokane
  • Also, 40 minutes east of downtown is the lakefront tourist town of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. It's also known for its quaint downtown.
  • Fairchild AFB, just west of Spokane International Airport on US Highway 2 (only for special events open to the public; otherwise a current Department of Defense ID card is required)
  • Mt. Spokane State Park, a camping park in the Selkirk Mountains. At the top of the 5,883' summit there are great views, as far as Canada. Camping in the summer, cross-country skiing in the winter. US Hwy 2 north to Mt. Spokane Park Dr. (Hwy 206), then 19 miles east. (Don't use Day Mt. Spokane Road, as this goes into the backcountry.)
  • Grand Coulee Dam [1] About 88 miles from Spokane, the largest electric power-producing facility in the U.S., and one of the largest concrete structures in the world. A laser light show is sometimes held after dark on summer nights (check schedule).
  • Walla Walla Originally known for its funny name and famous sweet onions, traditional crops have been replaced by the vineyards of over 100 area wineries. Due to the distance (157 mi/256 km) and large number (for its size) of hotels and Bed and Breakfasts, many visitors stay overnight. If too pricey, accommodation in Pendleton, Oregon is much cheaper.
Routes through Spokane
SeattleRitzville  W I-90.svg E  Coeur d'AleneMissoula
WenatcheeDavenport  W US 2.svg E  NewportKalispell
Ends at I-90.svg  N US 195.svg S  ColfaxLewiston
Ends at BC-3.svgColville  N US 395.svg S  RitzvillePasco
Ends at US 2.svg  W WA-206.svg E  → Mt Spokane State Park → End
Ends at I-90.svg  W WA-290.svg E  Spokane ValleyEnds at ID-53.svg
Tumtum ← Nine Mile Falls ←  N WA-291.svg S  Ends at US 2.svg US 395.svg


This city travel guide to Spokane has the status usable. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page
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