A destination is defined by its details, and in Spokane detail reigns supreme.
It’s the layers of the city: river, town, train and trees. It’s in the lives of Spokane’s friendly residents, who are happy to share insider tips along with friendly smiles and warm greetings. It’s in the care with which the city’s tastemakers craft their urban experience. It’s in the ease with which visitors new and old go from lazy morning coffee and easy shopping to legendary nights out in a town that typifies the 48-hour weekend getaway.
I started my own getaway by crossing the Cascade mountain range along Interstate 90, on my way to the capital of the Intermountain Northwest. In leaving behind gridlock for a city whose bustle is far more free-flowing, I felt my tension melt away. By the time I reached the city, I had already recharged—guided by the stars and rolling hills of Eastern Washington.
I began my survey of Spokane with a stroll through The Historic Davenport Hotel. Its opulent architecture, careful restoration, hospitable staff and multiple cozy nooks are enough to keep any detail-oriented traveler busy for a day or more. It’s hard not to spend hours with John Reed, a doorman who boasts 75 years at the hotel and a memory of its grand birth and restoration. But the hotel’s proximity to the heart of Spokane begs for further exploration.
I stepped outside for a morning run across the Monroe Street Bridge and Spokane River Gorge, which boast views of beautiful falls and the iconic Washington Water Power building. I stopped at Paper and Cup, a welcoming neighborhood coffee spot just north of the river. The café shares a building with The Inlander, Spokane’s alternative weekly paper. As I entered the space, another guest walked out lauding to his companion the cafe’s cappuccino—the best he’d tasted, he said. I ordered the same, plus a locally baked scone, and readied myself for the walk back downtown.
This time, I headed through the 100-acre Riverfront Park that encapsulates the river’s falls. It’s known particularly for the Spokane Falls SkyRide, the antique carrousel and the Centennial Trail.
Later, I was ready for a stress-free day of shopping, lunch and discovery. Lunch took place at The Blackbird Tavern + Kitchen, the brainchild of owner Patrick McPherson and Chef Molly Patrick.
With a 30+ local beer, wine and kombucha tap list, and a menu that is fiercely local, The Blackbird lived up to the hype. When I heard that an older couple drives hours each week to pick up two pounds of the house-smoked brisket, I knew what I was having for lunch.
After lunch, Northwesterners beeline for an afternoon coffee. I grabbed a pick-me-up from Atticus, a coffee shop and boutique where I shopped for local cards and handmade ceramics.
As I browsed, I couldn’t help but admire the ways in which the business, like much of the city I’d already seen, incorporated its historic architecture with modern culture. The train that winds through the city, the river that provides its life blood and the meeting of industry with art all call for a photographer’s experienced eye. If exposed brick and cozy, well-lit nooks off the beaten path are your Insta-jam, Spokane is the place for you.
Next, I wandered over to Boo Radley’s—To Kill a Mockingbird district, anyone?—where I picked up the odd knickknacks and locally made goods that help explain spur-of-the-moment trips like mine to friends and family back home.
That night I attended the Spokane Symphony at Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox. As soon as I stepped into the refurbished 1930s space, I was glad I got there early. The theater is as stunning as it is serene. Soft blues and greens seem to meld together despite the structured Art Deco lines of its interior. Gold and silver accents recall the glamour of old Hollywood, and as I enjoyed a pre-show glass of Washington wine a local couple regaled me with tales of performances by Katherine Hepburn, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.
After the show I grabbed a late bite at Inland Pacific Kitchen. The modern, open-concept bar and restaurant sits in the refurbished Washington Cracker Company building and holds an eating establishment America’s major cities wish they had. Small plates from a rotating menu are made to share and, again, detail was everything. I tried a couple plates, enthusiastically taking suggestions from the bartender.
I left stuffed and happy, but I wasn’t done.
Below IPK sits Hogwash Whiskey Den, a whiskey bar with a menu featuring pre- and post-Prohibition drinks. The speakeasy decor and intimate space created a perfect end to my getaway to Spokane. Reboot complete.
I know it won’t be long until I make the trip back.