Capital of the Inland Northwest

Imagine riding a gondola above a powerful waterfall, feasting on Northwest cuisine al fresco, and boating, fishing or whitewater rafting on the in-town river. In Spokane — the unofficial capital of the Inland Northwest — all this is possible without leaving the downtown core.

The second most populous city in Washington State, Spokane is near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and nestled in nature with easy access to seven ski hills, 70 lakes and an abundance of nearby trails. But the city also has a lively downtown and urban amenities rivaling larger cities.

By Jenny Willden

Photos by Kevin Kiernan

Spokane Falls

Photos by Kevin Kiernan

View of Riverfront Park from Anthonys

Photos by Kevin Kiernan

Suspension bridge walkway in Riverfront Park

Photos by Kevin Kiernan

Riverfront Park

Photos by Kevin Kiernan

Thai shrimp pizza from Rock City Grill

Photos by Kevin Kiernan

Sports and Culture

An athletic city at heart, Spokane is famous for Gonzaga basketball, Eastern Washington football, the world’s largest 3-on-3 annual basketball tournament and one of America’s largest road races, the Bloomsday 12K.

Mayor David Condon calls Spokane “a big, small-town home to 210,000 people,” and says the close-knit community values serving others. Its annual Spokane Gives initiative generated 91,000 hours of service from 17,000 volunteers last April alone.

Spokane’s rich Native American and European histories are preserved at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, which focuses on Inland Northwest people, and at historic buildings like the opulent Historic Davenport Hotel. Immerse yourself in its grand setting coupled with performances by the Spokane Symphony during the popular Chamber Soiree Series held in the ornate ballroom.

 

Spokane Outdoors

A mere six-minute walk from the Davenport is Spokane’s crown jewel — the 100-acre Riverfront Park — home of the 1974 World’s Fair and urban greenspace popular with locals and tourists alike. Visitors come to attend the frequent festivals, view impressive public art sculptures, enjoy sky rides, walk across the waterfalls, and revisit history at landmarks like the preserved clock tower and World’s Fair Pavilion.

Condon says the park is so beloved that locals voted in a tax to fund $64 million in improvements, including a new building for the historic wooden carousel and the Western United States’ first ice skating ribbon, set to open late 2017.

Nearby, the 40-mile paved Centennial Trail welcomes outdoor enthusiasts of every stripe. Choose from walking, running, biking or horseback riding on the trail, which stretches from Coeur d’Alene to just northwest of Spokane, or kayaking and canoeing on the adjacent river.

 

Northwest Noshing

After exploring the trail and park, dine overlooking Spokane’s famous falls on the deck at Anthony’s at Spokane Falls. Try fresh Northwest seafood dishes like wild salmon, Oregon Bay shrimp and hearty clam chowder.

A Spokane staple since 1974, Clinkerdagger riverfront steakhouse is best known for its patio views, daily happy hour specials, and locally sourced meats and seafood.

 Or dine while reveling in Spokane’s past at the Steam Plant, which supplied more than 300 area buildings with heat from 1916-1986. Built among the preserved remaining catwalks, pipes and boilers, the restaurant’s unique setting and award-winning cuisine and local brews make it worth a visit. Before leaving, take a self-guided tour of the historic stacks.

Condon says the city’s motto, “Near nature, near perfect,” captures what Spokane is all about — a great place to live, work and visit with plenty to see and do.

Spokane Falls

Photos by Kevin Kiernan

Wild Salmon from Anthonys

Photos by Kevin Kiernan

Crab cakes from Anthonys

Photos by Kevin Kiernan