Summer is a time of seemingly infinite freedom: School is out of session, the weather is vibrant and warm, and the mundane structure of day-to-day life is relaxed thanks to all the events and fun the season brings with it. Even with all of this free time and new opportunities, it’s sometimes challenging to find things to do that meet the needs of a family with kids. Luckily, there are plenty of fun and exciting things to do in the Inland Northwest to keep the entire family busy all summer long.
The Spokane County Fair
Even though school resumes in late August and early September for many in the area, summer isn’t officially over until Sept. 23, making the Spokane County Interstate Fair the perfect family stop to wrap up summertime fun. From Sept. 9-18, head out to enjoy the petting zoo, fair food, roller coasters, ferris wheel, and exhibits showcasing the skills of local bakers, cooks, flower and plant enthusiasts, farmers, and artists.
This year’s fair also has concerts every night, including headlining performances from Cole Swindell (Sept. 12), Elle King (Sept. 14) and Nelly (Sept. 15). General admission is free for kids age 6 and under, $10 for ages 7-13, military, and ages 65+, and $13 for everyone else. More info at spokanecounty.org.
Summer is the Perfect Time for Green Bluff
Green Bluff is an Inland Northwest staple, and summer is one of the prime times to visit its farms and get your hands on some locally grown fresh fruit, like apricots, cherries, peaches, blueberries, blackberries and more.
For strawberry lovers, Siemers Farm’s strawberry festival, happening June 17-July 9, is an ideal time to get outside and pick some fresh, juicy berries, taking a free tractor ride to get there, of course.
Starting in July, head to Fleur de Provence Lavender Farm on the weekends, Friday-Sunday from 10 am-4 pm, to pick a bundle of lavender and enjoy views of the fields of purple flowers and buzzing bees. To find out what else is happening at Green Bluff this summer, visit greenbluffgrowers.com.
Kids Summer Reading Contest in Spokane
Our local libraries always have lots of events and summer reading contests that make learning in a non-school environment fun for kids of all ages.
The Spokane County Library District is hosting a summer reading contest, for which readers earn badges for every hour read, and for completing challenges like writing a book review or attending a library event. Each badge earns an entry into a prize drawing, with winners announced Sept. 1. With all the events at its branches across Spokane County, such as family storytimes, camping challenges, solar system labs and tie-dye parties, earning badges is an easy task. More info at scld.org.
For North Idaho readers, the Coeur d’Alene Public Library has lots for all ages. Storytime events in the park and at the library are perfect for toddlers and younger kids, and a range of science and craft classes cater to the whole family. Other events include board game nights for teens, and a variety of musical events. More info at cdalibrary.org.
Take the Family on a Carriage Ride Through Spokane
I know I’m not the only kid who’d watch a movie set in the Middle Ages or a fairytale world and enviously watch the main characters galavant around in a horse-drawn carriage. Since carriages aren’t common anymore, the awe and wonder surrounding such a concept is more pronounced, even in the minds of teens and adults. This summer, however, you may finally be able to experience the seemingly fantastical mode of transport. Free carriage rides, sponsored by Wheatland Bank, happen every Friday evening, from 5-9 pm, throughout the summer. The eight- to 10-minute journey begins in Riverfront Park near the SkyRide, and each carriage seats up to eight, making it the perfect thing to do while waiting for an event downtown, or just looking for something fun on a Friday evening. Find out more at riverfrontspokane.com.
Camping is a classic summertime activity, especially in the Pacific Northwest with the tall pine trees, starry night sky, and numerous lakes, rivers and hiking trails. But with wildfires and unhealthy air quality from smoke becoming an annual occurrence, it can be tricky timing a camping trip. Sometimes smoke blows in unexpectedly, and driving hours back into town after finally setting up the tent is an experience to avoid.
Luckily, the backyard is a great camping location during random bursts of good summer weather, and it’s an affordable alternative to expenses for gas and campsite fees. And in the event that smoke wafts in from nearby fires, an indoor refuge is just feet away. While stargazers in the house may not be able to see as many dazzling lights, a small telescope can reveal some of the hidden secrets in the night sky. Plus, the oven and barbecue are within arms reach, so burgers, corn-on-the-cob, and s’mores can be enjoyed with ease.
Ride the Riverfront Park Pedal Karts
Riverfront Park is a great place to go on a sunny day, and with the recent addition of rentable pedal karts, exploring the park becomes exponentially more fun. These karts are perfect for kids age 5 and up, but even adults can take them out for a spin. Riverfront currently has four single-seat and two double-seat carts that can be rented at the Numerica Skate Ribbon and SkyRide building. Kids can ride these karts to one of the many playgrounds in the park, stop by the Looff Carrousel or Red Wagon, or take a trip over to Mobius for a break from the heat to learn some science facts. Don’t forget about the Rotary Riverfront Fountain, right next to the Skate Ribbon, and a great way to cool down and make a splash after returning the kart for the day. More info at riverfrontspokane.com.