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Holiday Activities: Visit Spokane Staff Picks

Holiday Activities

Has your family been desperately seeking a new holiday tradition? Are you tired of building the same boring gingerbread house every year? Starting a new holiday tradition takes guts, moxie and an iron constitution. But we know you can do it—even if you need a little help—that's why we've compiled a list of some of our favorite regional holiday traditions!

Hit the Slopes

Observe the photo to your right. Behind that mountain of a moustache lies a great man. And next to that man stand two young disciples—proud ambassadors of both his gusto for adventure and keen sense of style. Meet my family. (Or at least the skiing portion of it circa 1999.) Many of my happiest holiday memories reside on the slopes of Mount Spokane with my father and younger brother. Of course, we had our less savory outings such as Itchgate ’97. This event saw my brother afflicted with an “itchy head” only to be told by my father that he couldn’t take off his helmet. He, then, staged a rebellion that involved repeatedly punching at said itch—which remained sealed in plastic—as he skied down the mountain and innocent bystanders gazed in wonder at his self-inflicting right hooks. But it’s these memories—met with laughter in hindsight—that complete the full hues of any great family tradition.

Make your own holiday memories (hopefully, sans itchy head) at Spokane’s regional ski slopes. Also, check out our Ski & Snowboard Special Offers for deals and discounts.

- Peter Dunau, Content Manager

Campbell House Holidays

If your family is into history, especially about the Victorian era (I’m looking at you, Downton Abbey fans), you will definitely want to check out the Campbell House Holidays event. The Campbell House is beautiful year-round, but during the holidays it's especially elegant as the house is decked out with traditional holiday decorations. I personally love looking through the different rooms, but my family also gets a kick out of talking to the different living history interpreters throughout the house (you can bake cookies with the house cook or talk with Mr. Campbell about mining). If you’re looking for something to do indoors, this is a great idea!

- Peyton Scheller, Communications Manager

Holiday Wine Tour

For those of us who are out of diapers...out of high school...and on our own, getting together with family usually requires travel. So once we're all together, what's to do? I know! Wine Trip!

In this case, the Wine Trip is quick: in fact, it's probably going to be the best four-point-seven miles of your holiday season. Rev your red, white and sparkling engines and let's go.

Checkpoint one: Latah Creek Wine Cellars (13030 E. Indiana Avenue, Spokane Valley, WA 99216; 509.926.0164). Besides being the second-oldest winery in the Spokane region, Latah Creek is probably the first-best for winery gift shops. Seriously, you could take a wine-hater to this place and they'd find stuff to buy. While Latah's focus is most definitely on the customer, one sip of their wines makes it clear that what's-in-the-bottle is preeminent. What I'm trying to say is: fantastic wine, fantastic shopping, can't go wrong.

Checkpoint two: Nodland Cellars (11616 E. Montgomery Dr., Spokane Valley, WA 99206; 509.927.7770). The only thing Nodland has in common with Latah Creek Wine Cellars is the beverage in the bottle. Otherwise, the vibe at Nodland couldn't be more different than Latah -- or any other wine tasting room you'll roll up to. Nodland owner/winemaker Tim Nodland is a musician and in his tasting room he pays clear homage to the art of music, and fine arts, and fine wine. Maybe if the family got a little too excited at Latah with all the "stuff" to see in the gift shop, they can boom down here at Nodland.

Checkpoint three: Arbor Crest Wine Cellars (4705 N. Fruit Hill Road, Spokane, WA 99217; 509.927.9463). This is, arguably, one of the grandest wine estates in the great wine-making state of Washington. The Cliff House was built in 1924 and the grounds are beautiful and great for a little walkabout. Send mom and grandma over to look at the view. Have the wife take the kids over to look at the giant gaming board. You? Head into the tasting room and do your thing. This tasting room is a lot like Latah Creek's: they have a whole lotta stuff to browse through and buy. (By the way, Arbor Crest happens to be the oldest winery in the Spokane just a matter of days.) The Arbor Crest checkpoint is a great way to end your Wine Trip because it's so beautiful, it will just make you feel good. It'll remind you of family...and home. And that's where you'll head — together — after your 4.7 mile journey.

- Tim Robinson, Senior Director of Marketing & Communications

Eagle Watching

“Nothing says Christmas like standing out in the cold to look at bald eagles through binoculars,” is a sentence that my grandfather apparently either thought or said aloud at some point in the early 1970s. He piled his family into their pea-green Volkswagen Camper bus and drove to Wolf Lodge Bay to observe the migrating population of bald eagles that settles around Lake Coeur d’Alene in the wintertime. It’s a holiday family tradition that continues to this day. There are several viewing points operated by the Bureau of Land Management where you can look into the trees through telescopes and binoculars and see dozens of bald eagles, just chillin’. After freezing our butts off outside for a while, my family likes to warm up at the Dockside Restaurant within the Coeur d’Alene Resort, but there are a plethora of dining establishments in the city of Coeur d’Alene — find one, and start your own avian holiday tradition!

For more information about the migrating eagles, click here. For directions, click here!

- Calvin Elam, Marketing Coordinator

Coeur d'Alene Holiday Cruise

The magic of Christmas is always more magical through the eyes of children. One of the magical moments to experience is the Cruise to the North Pole. The cruise is a great family activity during the holidays and is fun for all ages. The 40-minute boat ride departs Coeur d’Alene three times each evening from Thanksgiving to January 3. Once you board the boat and find a spot to sit, order some hot chocolate, enjoy the Christmas music and as the boat pulls away from the dock, look in awe at over 1.5 million lights. The Grinch is even running around the dock, too! Once you pull away from the marina, it’s off to the North Pole to see Santa’s house. As the boat pulls near Santa’s dock, he reads the names of all the boys and girls that are on the good list.

This is where the magic happens. The children are always amazed that Santa knows they are on the boat and he says their name. After Santa reminds everyone to be good and listen to their parents, it’s time to head back to Coeur d’Alene. Children five and under are free on this cruise, which definitely makes it magical for parents!

- Charlotte Finnegan, Director of Leisure Sales

Christmas Carols on the Ale Trail

My family is one that enjoys a brewery exploration whenever we get together. Last weekend, we put our own Christmas carol twist on the Inland Northwest Ale Trail. Our designated driver was a-waiting in our sleigh (large Suburban) and ready to take us on our way. Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way, oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh!

Santa baby please put a stein of Twelve Strings of Winter under the Christmas tree this year. The Amarillo and Ahtanum hops combined with a touch of vanilla made this ale perfect for the cold winter weather and kick-off to our family beer caroling fun.

But giddy-up jingle horse, pick up your feet and head over to No-Li Brewhouse, the jingle hop has just begun. We all went straight for the tasting trays, as No-Li had too many new brews to choose just one.

“Ohhhhhh it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together, our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy and cozy, giddy up, giddy up on over to Iron Goat Brewery. The warm atmosphere and live music made us happy as old St. Nick hanging onto a Christmas tree, “whoop-de-do and hickory dock and don’t forget to hang up your sock as he’ll be coming down the chimney tonight.”

We began to mix and mingle in a jinglin’ beat, dancin’ and prancin’ all the way up to Perry Street. Snowin’ and blowin’ up bushels of fun we joined in all the reindeer games and cold mugs at Perry Street Brewery where the jingle hop had rung.

But the weather outside got frightful and at home we had a fire so delightful. Since we had a warm place to go, we filled our growlers and jingled all the way home. “Have a holly jolly Holiday, it’s the best time of year, I don’t know if there’ll be snow but have a cup of beer, and when you walk down the street say hello to friends you know and ev’ryone you meet. And in case you didn’t hear, oh by golly, have a holly jolly Holiday this year!”

- Kaylen McRae, Marketing Manager

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