Downtown Spokane Winery Tour
Numerous tasting rooms and an impressively stocked wine shop, all within the city limits, make Spokane a fine wine town. Hours and schedules vary and advance arrangements should be made for groups. Consider wine touring on the First Friday of the month when art galleries and wineries are all open late and visitors can mingle with locals out on the town.
Not your typical zoo, Cat Tales Zoological Park is a teaching facility, rescue center and home to over 40 exotic wild cats including leopards, lions, tigers, pumas, lynx and servals. No moats between you and the wild things, just a couple of fences and about eight feet of ground. Time your visit right and you might get to feed a lion or tiger. Located just 25 minutes from downtown.
Raft the Spokane
The 111-mile-long Spokane River passes through the center of downtown's Riverfront Park over basalt cliffs, creating dramatic waterfalls and frothy spray. Just past town, the river mellows enough for rafters to put in and enjoy a few miles of paddling and floating through calm and rippling stretches. No experience necessary on this easy-going trip that culminates at the Riverside State Park for a picnic showcasing local wine and gourmet snacks. Check out Pangaea River Rafting and Row Adventures for these great trips.
Step into History
In the late 1800s, Inland Northwest mining magnet Amasa B. Campbell commissioned renowned architect Kirtland Cutter to build an English Tudor Revival mansion for his family in Spokane's Browne's Addition. Today the stately Campbell House is open for tours and offers a glance into life at its finest during Spokane's Age of Elegance. Next door, the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture (MAC) houses the largest collection of Northern Plateau Indian art and artifacts in America as well as ever changing exhibits focusing on the Northwest. Add an optional tour of historic Browne's Addition and glimpse more of the elegant homes built during this gilded age.
The Age of Elegance
No other architect in the Inland Northwest designed as many elaborate, expensive buildings as Kirtland Cutter. The 20th Century architect is responsible for eleven Spokane structures, including the famous Davenport Hotel, as well as dozens of houses, office buildings and hotels in Seattle and Southern California. No two Cutter structures are alike and during his 50-year career from 1889 to 1939 he created buildings in a variety of styles including Tudor, Swiss, Arts & Crafts and Mission Revival.
Once a year, selected historic Spokane homes are open to the public for the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture Historic Preservation Committee's annual Mother's Day home tour. Lovingly preserved, most of the featured homes date from the 1880s through the 1920s and celebrate Spokane's blossoming era as a mining, rail and timber hub.
Only in Spokane
Lilac Festival & Torchlight Parade, the largest torchlight military parade in the world, takes place the third Saturday of May through downtown Spokane when over 200 floats, marching bands, drill teams, vintage autos, equestrian teams and military units fill the streets for a patriotic, hometown evening. Growing from a one-day lilac and floral show in 1938 to a week of activities that include an antique car show, breakfast with the military and tours of Fairchild Air Force Base, Spokane's annual festival culminates in the rousing parade.
It's Beer Thirty
Beer lovers rejoice -- we've got your number. Take in some local atmosphere and sample the region's finest micro brews at one or all of our specialty spots: Northern Lights Brewing Company, Coeur d'Alene Brewing Company and C.I. Shenanigan's.
Spokane Boy Makes it Big! Early History of Bing Crosby
Harry Lillis Crosby, the crooner whose "White Christmas" epitomizes the holiday, moved to Spokane from Tacoma with his family when he was three years old. Later nicknamed Bing, he majored in law at Gonzaga University till Hollywood lured him away in the 1920s. Learn how Bing got his nickname, tour his childhood home and see hundreds of memorabilia at Gonzaga University's Crosbyana Room.
Rodin to Chihuly
Gonzaga University's Jundt Art Museum packs an impressive collection in a small space. The massive chandelier by world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly hanging in the museum's interior apex changes from burnt orange to deep red as the day progresses. Bronze sculptures by Auguste Rodin and paintings, ceramics, photographs and tapestries by internationally-known artists round out the collection.
Once a self-contained city surrounded by 700 acres of farmland, St. Michael's Parish located at Mount St. Michael continues today to serve its mission as a Catholic educational and religious center. The Tudor-Gothic structure overlooking north Spokane was built in 1912 and served as a school for Jesuit scholars unit till 1968. Today Mount St. Michael's is a private academy for grades kindergarten through 12 and home to the Singing Nuns, the Sisters of Mary Immaculate Queen, who began recording their heavenly music in 1979 and perform throughout the nation. Visit the serenely beautiful chapel and the Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes.
Spokane's Link with Japan
Stately red brick buildings dating to 1897 once housed a turn-of-the-century military facility called Fort George Wright. Today the 72-acre park-like setting is home to the Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute (MFWI), a center of cultural exchange and education for Japanese women as well as a popular meeting and wedding venue for the community. Located minutes from downtown Spokane above the Spokane River at the western edge of the city, MFWI has seen over 9,000 Japanese students pass through its doors learning English and experiencing American life through the home-stay program. The facility is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Home that Levi Built
The Hutton Settlement Children's Home, one of the few still-functioning orphanages in America, sits on a grassy field in the Mt. Spokane foothills. The 1919 Jacobethan Revival style complex, considered one of the country's best-designed orphanages, was founded by Levi Hutton, himself an orphan and a rags-to-riches success story. He named the orphanage in honor of his feisty wife May Arkwright Hutton. Not one to lurk in the background, May arrived in Coeur d'Alene in 1883, opened a boarding house where she met Levi, a railroad engineer. Their investment in the Hercules Mine paid off and the Huttons became one of the wealthiest families in the Inland Northwest. May went on to work tirelessly in the women's suffrage movement, was the first female candidate to the Idaho legislature and the first woman to attend the Democratic National Convention.
A River Runs Through It
Spokane boasts not just a rushing river bisecting downtown, but frothy waterfalls, purple gondolas that glide over the river, four pedestrian bridges (some offering spray-in-your face views), and a 100-acre park with an antique carousel, IMAX theater, an eclectic array of sculptures, winter ice skating rink and summer amusement rides. Native Americans knew its natural treasures, fished for salmon and gathered here for pow wows and encampments. By the 1800s, the city began to grow around the river and the rail yards covered much of what is now the park. In 1974, the entire area was transformed for the World's Fair Expo '74. Today the clock tower is the only remnant of the railroad heyday. It's no wonder our signature park is a favorite gathering place for all ages.
"Spirit of Nature"
Manito Gardens, a 90-acre gem on Spokane's South Hill, is awash in specialty gardens with historic links that tie it to New York's Central Park. In the late 1800s, John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. of The Olmsted Brother Company designed several Spokane Parks including Manito. The company's founder, Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., was the genius behind Central Park.
Manito translates to "Spirit of Nature" and true to its name sake, the park is an urban sanctuary of diverse gardens including the serene Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese Garden, three-acre European Renaissance Duncan Garden, the Joel E. Ferris Perennial Garden, Rose Hill, Lilac Garden and Gaiser Conservatory.
Near Nature, Near Perfect, Near Town
From a modest beginning 60 years ago with 49 tree and shrub specimens, 65-acre Finch Arboretum has grown to an extensive botanical garden with more than 2,000 labeled ornamental trees, shrubs, and flowers. Garden Springs Creek runs alongside the park and several walking paths make the area easily accessible. In the spring, Finch Arboretum is a rainbow of colors thanks to 65 groupings of lilacs, azaleas and rhododendrons. By summer, Finch is transformed to leafy, cool glens, and autumn brings on a new color palette of orange, red and yellow.
Nature Lover's Trail
Walk it, bike it, skate it. The Centennial Trail, a 37-mile natural beauty, follows the curving Spokane River from the Idaho State line to Nine Mile Falls, bisecting the city of Spokane and Riverfront Park. Even though the trail passes through suburban and urban areas, it's not uncommon to see deer, osprey, eagles, marmots, rabbits, geese and ducks along the way.
Birthplace of Father's Day
In 1910, Sonora Smart Dodd, a young Spokane woman, started a campaign to create a national holiday honoring fathers. Her own dad, William Jackson Smart, had single-handedly raised Sonora and her five younger brothers on a remote Eastern Washington farm after the children's mother died. Sonora lobbied to make Father's Day a permanent national holiday, but it took 60 years before President Richard M. Nixon finally signed the holiday into law in 1972. See the churches where Sonora was inspired to launch Father's Day, the YMCA where she gained the Spokane Ministerial Alliance's endorsement, visit Manito Park's rose garden, tour the Spokane house where Sonora lived in later years and Greenwood Memorial Terrace where she, her father and husband are buried. You can even sip Papa's Pale Ale, a local microbrew created in 2010 for the 100th Centennial of the founding of Father's Day.
One of A Kind
That moniker may sound a bit far fetched, till you visit Carr's One of A Kind in the World Museum. No where else on the planet will you find Elvis Presley's 1973 Lincoln Mark IV, Jackie Gleason's 1968 limo, a Chinese junk constructed from 27,500 matchsticks, a 13-foot long model of a World War II destroyer and the skin of a boa constrictor who electrocuted itself chewing through a stereo wire. Marvin Carr, collector, inventor and all around eccentric, owns the museum and proudly shows visitors through his vast collection.
With annual events like the Cherry Pickers Trot and Pit Spit contest and Pumpkin Chunkin', it's obvious the Green Bluff Growers cultivate a sense of humor right alongside peaches, strawberries, pumpkins and more on over 700 acres. Chug through the orchards on the Walter's Fruit Ranch Fruit Loop Express, savor a freshly baked fruit pie on a deck overlooking the fields, and if time permits, pick a fresh batch of whatever is in season. Visit Trezzi Farm and Vineyards, hear the romantic love story that brought together the owners, Italian Davide and American Stephanie, and sample some of their wine. If sweets are your thing, stop at Ellie's Edibles for gourmet caramel, truffles and seasonal fruit concoctions. Crafters and shoppers alike love Two Sisters Boutique at Supersuris Alpaca Ranch for luxurious clothing and knitting supplies.
Blame It On A River
What happens when a fly fishing expedition on Montana's Gallatin River inspires a couple of middle-aged guys to abandon the corporate life and build something really special from scratch? A craft distillery that produces award-winning vodka, gin and whiskey created from locally grown grains and botanicals. Heck, even the name, Dry Fly Distilling, hankers back to the dream-turned-reality. Learn the distilling process and sample spirits and this small but productive distillery on the Spokane River.
Broadway in Spokane
National touring productions of top Broadway shows regularly fill the INB Performing Arts Center for the Best of Broadway series. Humor, drama, dance, music and comedy take center stage throughout the year in first rate performances.
Tapestry of Talent
Each fall the Washington State Quilters Spokane Chapter puts on a fabric extravaganza at the Spokane County Fairground that draws crafters from around the region. See traditional and modern-style quilts, watch demonstrations by pros and shop in the boutique
(Each activity will take 2-4 hours)