12 top tourist attractions and activities in Spokane

Only 20 miles from the Idaho border and more than 280 miles east of Seattle, Spokane is the cultural center of Eastern Washington, and the second largest city in the state. While Spokane’s sunny weather and high desert landscapes differ from Washington’s western cities, much of what people associate with Washington’s West Coast can be found inland on Spokane’s beautiful streets. Whether it’s outdoor adventure or art museums, Spokane offers attractions for every member of the family and is well worth checking out for your next Washington vacation.

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1 Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park

A defining attraction of Spokane, Riverfront park is 100 acres of centrally located land that offers residents and tourists the opportunity for enjoyable and cultural outdoor activities. Riverfront Park was first established in 1974, when Spokane became the smallest city to ever host the World’s Fair. In preparation for the big event, Spokane tore up the Great Northern Railroad Depot in downtown Havermale Island and built inviting spaces and attractions in its place. The largest building for the World’s Fair was the massive United States Pavilion , large enough to house trees and represent the country in a crowd of over 1.5 million people.

Today, the American Pavilion remains a landmark in the Riverfront Urban Park, although as planned, the canopy has been removed and the pavilion’s skeletal structure is all that remains. Visitors can still catch a movie at the Imax Movie Theater that was installed with the pavilion in 1974, and also slide at the Ice Palace rink that opens under the pavilion each winter. Beyond this last remaining World’s Fair landmark, Riverfront Park offers many other amusements and attractions, including the cascading and eye-catching Spokane Falls that is a highlight for many visits to Spokane.

An impressive display of natural power and movement, Spokane Falls draws visitors year-round, although the best time to see these heavy-flowing falls is spring, when the snow melts near the river’s banks. Spokane River . In addition to admiring the falls from the many stationary vantage points along the hiking trails , the best way to see them is by jumping aboard the Spokane Falls Skyride which provides an unparalleled view of the flowing water. Once you’ve taken a ride over the falls, it’s also worth checking out the historic Looff Carousel ; the interactive sculpture walk; and the 1902 bell tower, which is the last remaining structure of the once-dwelling Great Northern Railroad Depot.

It’s not just the things to see in Riverfront Park that make it a top attraction, it’s all things to do. The paved 37-mile Centennial Trail leads east and west from the park, and numerous community events and festivals are held on the grounds throughout the year. Throw in the River Park Square Downtown shopping district and unique lodging options like The Historic Davenport Hotel nearby, and it’s easy to see why all Spokanites would agree that Riverfront Park is one of the top attractions in all of Washington State.

Adres: 507 N. Howard Street, Spokane, Washington

Official Site: https://my.spokanecity.org/riverfrontpark/

2 Northwest Museum of Art and Culture

Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture Nick Bramhall / photo modified
Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture Nick Bramhall / photo modified

The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, or the MAC as locals refer to it, is the largest cultural institution of its kind in the Midland Northwest. With five underground galleries and revolving exhibits, the MAC focuses on regional history, fine art, or Native American culture, and with over a million artifacts in their collection, the MAC can support lifelong learning. Outside of the exhibitions, the Café Mac can keep your coffee topped up during your visit, and the adjacent Campbell Housetours provided by the MAC will take you back to a 19th century Washington lifestyle. Plan ahead for your visit to the MAC, and be sure to check out their calendar of events for all the different classes, workshops, and speakers offered by this great cultural organization.

Address: 2316 W. 1st Avenue, Spokane, Washington

Official site: www.northwestmuseum.org

3 Manito Park

manito park
manito park

In the scenic South Hill Neighborhood , Manito Park has spent the last century cultivating itself as one of the best botanical gardens in the nation. Comprised of five main gardens, including the remarkable Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese Garden and more than 20 acres of blooming flowers on display, it’s easy to see in person why Manito Park receives more than 150,000 visitors each year. Outside of the specified botanical gardens, Manito Park also offers 70-more acres of manicured native landscape, including attractions such as Mirror Pond for wildlife viewing, the Stone Bridge on Loop Drive for the best rose garden views, and the Gaiser Conservatoryfor year-round reasons to visit Manito Park.

Adres: 1702 S. Grand Blvd, Spokane, Washington

Official site: www.manitopark.org

4 Centennial Trail

Centennial Trail Robert Ashworth / photo modified
Centennial Trail Robert Ashworth / photo modified

The first segments of the Centennial Trail, also known as the Spokane River Centennial National Recreational Trail , were built in 1989, the same year as the State of Washington’s Centennial Celebration. It has since become nationally recognized and a focal point for recreation in Spokane. Stretching for 23 miles in either direction from downtown Riverfront Park , the paved trail is open to all but motorized transportation, and whether you opt for running shoes, bikes, or roller skis, you’re sure to get a good dose of what Eastern Washington has to offer has.

Built on former railroad tracks and old lumber yard businesses, the Centennial Trail provides a fairly level slope for exploring the natural attractions within and outside of Spokane. Stretching 15 miles west of Riverfront Park, the trail takes in a rugged landscape, including scenic vistas and the celebrated Riverside State Park at the trail’s end. East of downtown Spokane, the trail winds through the collegiate atmosphere of Gonzaga University before traveling 17 miles to the Washington/Idaho border, where the trail continues for another 24 miles as the North Idaho Centennial Trail. While it’s an option, users don’t typically travel the entire Centennial Trail in one outing. Instead, they choose to take advantage of the wide access to other recreational activities in addition to the Spokane River , which parallels the entire trail.

Adres: 9711 W. Charles Road, Nine Mile Falls, Washington

Official site: www.parks.state.wa.us/487/Centennial-Trail

5 Martin Woldson Theatre bij The Fox

Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox Walter Smith / photo modified
Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox Walter Smith / photo modified

The Fox Theater was Spokane’s first air-conditioned building and premiered in a debut feature in 1931 to a star-studded audience and a packed house. Over the next 70 years, the Fox Theater hosted vaudeville performances, silent movies, and eventually talking movies. For this reason, the Fox was equipped with plenty of stage space and a full orchestra pit, plus balconies with seating, to accommodate both live and screened performances. In 2000, the Fox Theater showed its last movie and was slated to be demolished and replaced with a parking garage.

With a generous contribution from the daughter of the Northwest railman and renovator, Martin Woldson, Miss Myrtle Woldson effectively saved the Fox Theater from demolition and helped renovate the space, turning it into a defining cultural institution in Spokane. The recently named Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox reopened in 2007 and has since been home to the Spokane Symphony and countless live productions that make Spokane a top Washington spot to catch opera , ballets , and other arts performances .

Adres: 1001 W. Sprague Avenue, Spokane, Washington

Official site: www.foxtheaterspokane.com

6 Mount Spokane State Park

Mount Spokane State Park Mike Tigas / photo modified
Mount Spokane State Park Mike Tigas / photo modified

Outside of the winter months when Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Resort becomes the main attraction, the surrounding Mount Spokane State Park opens up to some of the best recreation you’ll find in multi-talented Washington State. It is a popular spot for Spokane residents and tourists. The State Park entrance is located an hour north of the city proper, aiming to accommodate weekend camping or daytime activities ranging from mountain biking to wildlife viewing .

Mount Spokane, as part of the greater Selkirk Mountains , is one of the highest peaks in the Inland Northwest and is unsurprisingly the focal point of Mount Spokane State Park. With over 100 miles of hiking trails, including Upper Trail 140 to the summit and nearly 90 miles of mountain biking trails, there’s plenty to explore in Mount Spokane State Park. For the ultimate nighttime experience, visitors can climb the Quartz Mountain Lookout Tower to wake up to the best views found elsewhere in the park.

Adres: 26107 N. Mt Spokane Park Drive, Mead, Washington

Official site: https://parks.state.wa.us/549/Mount-Spokane

7 St. John’s Cathedral

St. John's Cathedral
St. John’s Cathedral

Regardless of your religion, St. John’s Cathedral on 12th avenue in Spokane is a sight to behold. Construction first began on St. John’s Cathedral in 1925 and it remains one of the few examples of Classical Gothic architecture in the United States. While it is possible to admire the pointed arches and ribbed vaults from outside the cathedral, to fully enjoy this architectural attraction, guided tours are available to all patrons Friday, Saturday and after the Sunday service.

Adres: 127 East 12th Avenue, Spokane, Washington

Official site: www.stjohns-cathedral.org

8 Riverside State Park

Riverside State Park
Riverside State Park

About nine miles northwest of Spokane in the small town of Nine Mile Falls , Riverside State Park is the largest state park in Washington and a popular place for Spokanites to explore year-round. Located along the Spokane and Little Spokane Rivers , activities such as fishing, whitewater kayaking, and swimming are popular in the warmer months, while snowshoeers and cross-country skiers can zip through the landscape in the winter. The Nine Mile Recreation Area within Riverside State Park offers boat docking and rentals, while some of the best camping and hiking can be found in the Bowl & Pitcher Area , including an iconic short hike that begins at a nearby Suspension Bridgemade by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934.

Adres: 9711 W. Charles Road, Nine Mile Falls, Washington

Official site: https://parks.state.wa.us/573/Riverside

9 The Historic Davenport Hotel

The Historic Davenport Hotel Adam Jones / photo modified
The Historic Davenport Hotel Adam Jones / photo modified

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places , The Historic Davenport Hotel, on Post Street in downtown Spokane, stands proud as a testament to the area’s rich history. Between 1914 and 1985, the Davenport Hotel set a high bar for first-class accommodations , including eloquent public spaces and opulence-rich rooms, until it closed its doors to the public for what many thought forever. About 15 years later, new owners took on the task of not only restoring the historic interior of this chic lodging spot, but also restoring the hotel’s premier reputation in the area.

When The Historic Davenport Hotel reopened its doors in 2000, restoration jobs on the ornate woodwork, ever-lit central fireplace, and stunning Grand Lobby only added to the beauty of the 20th-century décor. In addition to the building’s aesthetic interior, the Davenport Hotel has also continued its legacy of superior customer service, which it is proud of today. With a central location in downtown Spokane near Riverfront Park , the Davenport Hotel remains a great home base and a high bar for exploring all things Spokane has to offer.

Adres: 10 S. Post Street, Spokane, Washington

Accommodation: The Historic Davenport Hotel

10 John A. Finch Arboretum

John A. Finch Arboretum James Hawley / photo modified
John A. Finch Arboretum James Hawley / photo modified

Located on 65 acres of wooded hills in southwest Spokane, the John A. Finch Arboretum is a welcome attraction for anyone looking to get in touch with Washington’s natural side. With more than 2,000 labeled tree and shrub species, as well as seasonal wildflowers, this botanical showcase sits next to scenic Garden Springs Creek , providing the perfect backdrop for a fun day out. Self-guided tours are available, seasonal activities take place year-round, and admission is always free, making the John A. Finch Arboretum a great place to spend an afternoon in Spokane.

Adres: 3404 W. Woodland Blvd, Spokane, Washington

Official Site: https://my.spokanecity.org/urbanforestry/programs/finch-arboretum/

11 Mount Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park

Mount Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park
Mount Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park

Located entirely within the boundaries of Mount Spokane State Park , this fully automated ski resort offers world-class skiing and snowboarding within an hour of downtown Spokane, making it a hot winter destination. With 45 runs of varying difficulty and more than 1,400 ski resorts to explore, you can find new terrain all season long at Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park. Add to that three different lodges, including the historic Vista House at the top, all offering you the chance to dry your mittens and enjoy some hot chocolate, plus night skiingall week long, and Mount Spokane truly proves it’s a top winter attraction for those traveling from Spokane and beyond.

Adres: 29500 N. Mt Spokane Park Drive, Mead, Washington

Official site: www.mtspokane.com

12 Avista Stadium

Avista Stadium Kylan Robinson / photo modified
Avista Stadium Kylan Robinson / photo modified

If you’re in the Spokane area between June and September, Avista Stadium should be at the top of your list of fun things to do. Home to the minor-league Spokane Indians baseball team, which is the ranch team for the MLB Texas Rangers, Avista Stadium offers access to America’s favorite pastime at an affordable price. Built from scratch in 1958 in less than four months, Avista Stadium has grown and renovated over the years. But all things being the same, it can be found somewhere in the traditions, such as the seventh-inning or the faint hum of the lights across the field and throughout the crowd at one of the weekly night games that take place throughout the summer.

Address: 602 N. Havana Street, Spokane, Washington

Official site: https://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t486

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