16 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Spokane, WA

Written by Brad Lane
Updated Dec 23, 2023
We may earn a commission from affiliate links ()

Author Brad Lane lives in the Pacific Northwest and enjoys visiting Spokane.

Spokane is the second-largest city in Washington, located on the eastern side of the state, less than 20 miles from the Idaho border. The Spokane River runs right through the center of this town of approximately 217,000 residents. No other spot exemplifies the beauty afforded to the city by the Spokane River more than Riverfront Park.

Riverfront Park is a crown-jewel public space and a must-visit attraction regardless of the reason for travel. But it's not just the river that adds scenic value to the city. Several other things to do in Spokane also take advantage of eastern Washington's beautiful natural surroundings. From pointed mountains to arboretums where moose roam, exploring the outdoors is one of the top activities in Spokane.

This sizable university city also entices tourists with cultural experiences. Historic hotels, art museums, and Japanese Gardens are just a few of the sightseeing opportunities throughout the city — that, and a bustling downtown district with sidewalk cafés and unique retail opportunities.

Read about the best places to visit with our list of the top things to do in Spokane.

1. Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park
Riverfront Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Riverfront Park is a defining place to visit at the center of the city. It encompasses over 100 acres of green space and pedestrian trails, as well as dozens of community attractions. Several events and activities also occur at the park throughout the year.

The park was founded in 1974 when Spokane became the smallest city to ever host the World's Fair. The enormous United States Pavilion was the largest structure built for the World's Fair, which was big enough to house trees and represent the country in a crowd of more than 1.5 million people.

Today, the U.S. Pavilion is still a landmark in Riverfront Park, though as planned, the skeleton structure of the Pavilion is all that remains. The Pavilion at Riverfront is fun to walk around and tour, and it features festive light shows year-round on the weekends. It also hosts special light performances on most major holidays.

U.S. Pavilion at Riverfront Park
U.S. Pavilion at Riverfront Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The Pavilion is just the tip of exciting family attractions in Riverfront Park. Nearby, the 1902 Clock Tower is also on display as the last remaining structure from the Great Northern Railroad Depot. Other family attractions include the Looff Carousel, the Numerica Skating Ribbon, and the Providence Playscape. And views of both the upper and lower portions of Spokane Falls are accessible from the park.

The paved 37-mile Centennial Trail leads east and west from the park. Nearby shopping, dining, and unique places to stay, like The Historic Davenport Hotel, are in River Park Square, lining the south side of the park.

Address: 507 N. Howard Street, Spokane, Washington

2. Stroll through Manito Park

Manito Park
Manito Park

Manito Park is in the scenic South Hill Neighborhood and has spent the last century cultivating itself as one of the finest botanical gardens in the nation. It comprises five major garden areas, including the notable Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese Garden, and more than 20 acres of blooming flowers on display. These beautiful displays attract over 150,000 visitors a year.

Manito Park also offers 70-plus acres of well-maintained native landscape outside of the specified botanical gardens. Another notable place to visit in the park includes Mirror Pond, with a good chance of spotting some wildlife. The Gaiser Conservatory at the park is a greenhouse that invites year-round visits.

Mirror Pond, Manito Park
Mirror Pond, Manito Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Much of the time spent at Manito is at leisure. It's a fun place to bring a blanket and some snacks to enjoy the nice weather of Eastern Washington. Late spring and summer are arguably the best time to visit, when the park is in full bloom. The Traditional Rose Garden is particularly appealing throughout the summer, as is the nearby Lilac Garden.

Address: 1702 S Grand Blvd, Spokane, Washington

3. Feel the Spray at Spokane Falls

Upper Spokane Falls
Upper Spokane Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Spokane Falls is a must-see natural attraction within Riverfront Park. It consists of lower and upper falls and presents a fast-paced and very audible attraction. While both offer dramatic views throughout the year, the best time to see these heavy-flowing falls is spring, when the snowmelt swells the banks of the Spokane River.

The upper falls are accessible with just a short walk from the Pavilion at Riverfront. A pedestrian bridge crosses the river below the falls, offering fantastic views of the rushing water. Expect to encounter photographers and other interested explorers trying to capture the beauty.

Lower Falls
Lower Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The larger lower falls are on the west side of Riverfront Park, with a few different viewpoints available. One of the most popular areas to appreciate the gravity is the landscaped area known as Huntington Park, below the Washington Water Power building. This park features several steps and a pathway lined with interpretive information.

Another area to get a view of the lower falls is the pedestrian sidewalk atop the adjacent Monroe Street Bridge. The newly installed A Place of Truths plaza, next to the Monroe Street Bridge, also has great viewpoints. And for perhaps the best view, the Numerica SkyRide in Riverfront Park offers gondola-style rides that span the river.

Address: 620 W Spokane Falls Blvd., Spokane, Washington

Read More: Top-Rated Waterfalls in Washington State

4. Explore Riverside State Park

Riverside State Park
Riverside State Park

Riverside is one of the largest state parks in Washington. It's about nine miles northwest of Spokane and is a popular place to explore all year long. The park is separated into different park units along the Spokane and Little Spokane Rivers, located a short drive from one another.

Activities like fishing, white-water kayaking, and swimming are popular in the warmer months at Riverside State Park, while snowshoers and cross-country skiers can be found gliding through the landscape in the winter.

Some of the best camping near Spokane is within the Bowl & Pitcher Area of the park. This scenic area of the park is also home to an iconic short hike that starts at a nearby Suspension Bridge created by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934.

Suspension Bridge in the Bowl & Pitcher Area
Suspension Bridge in the Bowl & Pitcher Area | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Some of the wildest hiking, however, is found on the trails or dry riverbeds in Deep Creek Canyon unit of the park. The Nine Mile Recreation Area within Riverside State Park offers a boat dock and rentals. The Lake Spokane unit features additional camping and trails close to the water.

Address: 9711 W. Charles Road, Nine Mile Falls, Washington

5. Bike the Centennial Trail

The Centennial Trail crossing the Spokane River
The Centennial Trail crossing the Spokane River | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The first segments of the Centennial Trail, also known as the Spokane River Centennial National Recreational Trail, were constructed in 1989, the same year as the state of Washington's Centennial Celebration. It has since grown to be nationally recognized and a central point for recreation in Spokane.

This paved trail stretches for 37 miles from either direction out of the downtown Riverfront Park and is open to any non-motorized transportation. Whether you choose running shoes, bicycles, or roller skis, the path delivers a good dose of eastern Washington landscapes.

The Centennial Trail is built upon former railway routes and old timber company land, providing a flat grade to explore the natural sights. The trail takes on more of a rugged landscape for 15 miles west of Riverfront Park. Scenic views line this western portion of the trail until reaching Riverside State Park at the trail's end.

Centennial Trail
Centennial Trail | Robert Ashworth / photo modified

East out of downtown Spokane, the trail meanders through the collegial atmosphere of Gonzaga University before traveling 17 miles to the Washington and Idaho border. The trail continues another 24 miles as the North Idaho Centennial Trail west of the border.

Address: 9711 W. Charles Road, Nine Mile Falls, Washington

6. Drive to the Summit at Mount Spokane State Park

Mount Spokane State Park
Mount Spokane State Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Mount Spokane State Park encompasses a staggering 13,919 acres and over 100 miles of multi-use trails. And the state park entrance is only an hour north of the city. This proximity caters to weekend camping trips and day activities like mountain biking and wildlife viewing.

Mount Spokane is part of the larger Selkirk Mountain Range and one of the tallest peaks in the Inland Northwest. Two other major mountain summits, Kit Carson and Day Mountain, are also within the state park boundaries. All three summits have hiking trails that lead to the top for spectacular views.

View from Mount Spokane
View from Mount Spokane

The Mount Spokane Summit Road is generally open between mid-June and mid-October for those not interested in hiking to the top. The park's limited campsites are also located on Summit Road. At the top, the historic Vista House lives up to its name with an east-facing terrace.

This state park shines with a heavy coat of snow during the winter months. It's home to Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Resort, which attracts thousands of downhill enthusiasts each season. And like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, other types of recreation also attract visitors in the winter.

Address: 26107 N. Mt Spokane Park Drive, Mead, Washington

7. Pick Your Own Produce in Green Bluff

Pumpkins in Green Bluff
Pumpkins in Green Bluff

Green Bluff is a lovely collection of local farms less than 20 miles north of downtown. This short commute leads to several U-pick and pre-prick opportunities and some of the freshest produce in town. More than 20 farms offer agricultural attractions in Green Bluff, providing year-round reasons to visit.

Summer is certainly one of the most popular times to visit Green Bluff. The fields and orchards are ripe with strawberries, peaches, and pears throughout the hotter months. Apples reign supreme throughout the fall until the pumpkins take over. And in winter, come find your authentic Christmas tree at Green Bluff.

Take some time to explore the Grower Directory before visiting. Several farms dot the countryside of Green Bluff — too many to see in a day. Each farm offers its own seasonal attractions and crops, and each is also independently owned, so hours and seasonal produce vary.

8. Hike at Rocks of Sharon, Dishman Hills Conservation Area

Rocks of Sharon
Rocks of Sharon | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Several natural spaces surround Spokane. And thanks to efforts by local landowners and non-profit groups, a network of Conservation Areas surrounds the city. Hiking trails line these natural spaces and offer excellent outlets for getting outside. One of the most fun places to explore is the area known as Rocks of Sharon. It's also one of the best hiking trails near Spokane.

The Rocks of Sharon are a collection of large granite outcroppings in an elevated landscape on the south side of the city. The views from these rocks include miles-long overlooks of the gold and green fields of the Palouse. And the views of these gigantic rocks themselves are awe-inspiring due to their stature.

Two main trailheads lend the most accessibility to Rocks of Sharon: The Stevens Creek Trailhead is the shorter route, while the Iller Creek Trailhead offers a longer trek. Both feature ample parking with portable toilets near the parking area. For the adventurous and those with the appropriate gear, these granite slabs also invite rock climbing adventures alongside a rewarding hike.

Address: 9102 S Stevens Creek Road, Spokane, Washington

9. Engage at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture

Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture
Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture | Nick Bramhall / photo modified

The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, or "The MAC", is the largest cultural institution of its kind in the Inland Northwest. It features five underground galleries and rotating exhibits and focuses on regional history, visual arts, and American Indian culture. Its growing permanent collection has more than one million artifacts.

Outside of the exhibits, the Café Mac keeps coffee refilled throughout a visit. The adjacent Campbell House provides tours that have visitors stepping back into a 19th-century Washington lifestyle. The facility has a stacked calendar of events with different classes, workshops, and speakers offered throughout the week.

Address: 2316 W. 1st Avenue, Spokane, Washington

10. Encounter Wildlife at John A. Finch Arboretum

John A. Finch Arboretum
John A. Finch Arboretum | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The John A. Finch Arboretum is on 65 acres of woodland hills in southwest Spokane. It's a welcomed place to visit for those looking to get back in touch with Washington's natural side. This botanical showcase is situated alongside the scenic Garden Springs Creek and features more than 2,000 labeled tree and shrub species, as well as seasonal wildflowers,

Admission is always free at the arboretum, and self-guided tours are available. Seasonal activities like the Fall Leaf Festival also take place throughout the warmer seasons of the year. Spring is also a popular time to visit, when the arboretum's magnolias, dogwoods, and daffodils bloom to life.

Trail sign at the John A. Finch Arboretum
Trail sign at the John A. Finch Arboretum | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

When visiting, keep an eye out for the resident wildlife that likes to call the arboretum home. Several marmots scurry about the natural space, as well as wild turkeys. Moose have also been known to wander through the area, as well as sizable non-venomous bull snakes. Always keep an appropriate distance when encountering any wildlife.

Address: 3404 W. Woodland Blvd, Spokane, Washington

11. Experience the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox

Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox
Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox | Walter Smith / photo modified

The Fox Theater was the first building to have air conditioning in Spokane. The theater premiered its debut movie in 1931 to a star-studded audience and a packed house. Over the next 70 years, the Fox Theater hosted vaudeville performances, silent films, and, eventually, talking films. For this reason, the Fox was outfitted with plenty of stage space and a full orchestra pit.

In 2000, the Fox Theater showed its last movie and was slated to be razed and replaced by a parking garage. A generous contribution by Miss Myrtle Woldson effectively saved the Fox Theater from demolition and helped renovate the space. Today, it remains a defining cultural establishment in Spokane.

The newly named Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox reopened in 2007 and since then has been the home of the Spokane Symphony. Other fine art performances at the theater include operas and ballets. Performances often take place into the evening, providing a top spot for things to do at night.

Address: 1001 W. Sprague Avenue, Spokane, Washington

12. Step Back in Time at the Historic Davenport Hotel

The Historic Davenport Hotel
The Historic Davenport Hotel | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The Davenport Hotel is centrally located in downtown Spokane near Riverfront Park. It's a great home base for exploring the rest of the city. And it stands proudly as a testament to the rich history of the area. This hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and between 1914 and 1985, it set a high bar for luxury accommodations.

Fifteen years after the Davenport Hotel closed for business, new owners took up the task of restoring the hotel to its former grandeur. Renovations not only went into the ritzy interior and feel of the overnight establishment, but efforts were put in place to re-establish the hotel's first-class reputation.

The Historic Davenport Hotel
The Historic Davenport Hotel | Adam Jones / photo modified

When the hotel opened its doors again in 2000, restoration of the ornate woodwork and the always-lit central fireplace in the stunning Grand Lobby secured the Davenport Hotel's place in Spokane's community. And the hotel continues its legacy of superior customer service. Check it out for a decadent blast from the past and a luxurious place to spend the night.

Address: 10 S. Post Street, Spokane, Washington

Accommodation: The Historic Davenport Hotel

13. Shred the Slopes at Mount Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park

Mount Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park
Mount Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park

Mount Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park is located entirely within the boundaries of Mount Spokane State Park. This fully automated ski resort offers world-class skiing and snowboarding within an hour of downtown Spokane. With 45 runs of varying difficulty and more than 1,400 skiable acres to explore, you can find new terrain all season long.

The mountain features three different lodges, including the historic Vista House on the summit. Each of the lodges offers the chance to dry some mittens and sip on some hot chocolate. Night skiing also takes place throughout the week. The park also offers a long tubing hill that's popular with younger winter athletes.

Address: 29500 N. Mt Spokane Park Drive, Mead, Washington

Read More: Top-Rated Ski Resorts in Washington State

14. Tour the Gonzaga University Campus

Gonzaga University
Gonzaga University | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Gonzaga University sits on a beautiful 150-acre campus on the north side of the Spokane River, a short walk upriver from Riverfront Park. This private liberal arts university was established in 1887 and has become an integral part of the Spokane community.

Alongside educating thousands of students, it also provides several community outlets - including a fun place to stroll. The campus is striking, with a mix of historic brick buildings and sharply designed newer facilities. The Centennial Trail crosses the Spokane River and connects to campus.

The Jundt Art Museum is one campus resource often used by community members, featuring works from across the globe. The McCarthey Athletic Center is also a popular place for students and fans, home to the renowned Gonzaga Bulldogs basketball team.

And Gonzaga isn't the only campus in town. The private Christian Whitworth University also calls Spokane home, as well as the for-profit Carrington College. Eastern Washington University, out of Cheney, also has a campus in Spokane, on the other side of the river from Gonzaga.

Address: 502 East Boone Ave, Spokane, Washington

15. Marvel at St. John's Cathedral

St. John's Cathedral
St. John's Cathedral

Regardless of religious practices, St. John's Cathedral on 12th avenue in Spokane is quite the sight to see. Construction first began on St. John's Cathedral in 1925, and it remains one of the few examples of classic Gothic architecture in the United States. The church is also well known for its beautiful organ, consisting of over 400 pipes.

While it's possible to admire the pointed arches and ribbed vaults from outside the cathedral, guided tours are available for all patrons Friday, Saturday, and after service on Sunday, so visitors can fully enjoy this architectural attraction. Concerts from the imposing carillon of the cathedral are heard on Sundays before the regularly scheduled 10:30 am service.

Address: 127 East 12th Avenue, Spokane, Washington

16. Catch a Baseball Game at Avista Stadium

Avista Stadium
Avista Stadium | Kylan Robinson / photo modified

If you happen to be in the Spokane area between June and September, Avista Stadium should be on the top of your list of fun things to do. As the home ballpark for the minor-league Spokane Indians baseball team, Avista Stadium provides access to America's favorite pastime at an affordable price.

Avista Stadium was built from scratch in under four months in 1958 and has grown and experienced large renovations over the years. If anything has remained the same, it's in the general excitement and summer feel of attending a baseball game.

Special game nights at Avista Stadium include a festive opening night and several fireworks celebrations.

Address: 602 N. Havana Street, Spokane, Washington

Where to Stay in Spokane for Sightseeing

Spokane has several hotels to choose from. A cluster of great hotels are downtown and within walking distance of the city's best attractions. Many of these downtown hotels come at a premium but provide great value. More affordable hotel options in Spokane lie to the north and east of the downtown district.

Luxury Hotels:

  • The most luxurious hotel in Spokane is The Historic Davenport. This four-star hotel is centrally located in downtown and has been offering first-class service for over 100 years.
  • The hotel's sister property, The Davenport Grand, is the only other four-star hotel in the city.

Mid-Range Hotels:

  • For a more affordable hotel in the city's center, the downtown Oxford Suites is centrally located with budget-friendly rates.
  • Another great mid-range hotel is the Hilton Garden Inn Spokane Airport.
  • To the north, the Quality Inn Oakwood provides another budget-friendly place to stay that doesn't skimp on cleanliness and service.

Map of Attractions & Things to Do in Spokane, WA

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com

image

Other Cities in Washington: On the west side of the state, the city of Seattle stands proudly as the cultural capital of the Pacific Northwest. More towards the center of the state, the fertile valley surrounding Yakima also provides cultural appeal. For some collegiate interest and outstanding views of the San Juan Islands, the city of Bellingham is on the Washington coast and home to Western Washington University.

image

More to Explore in Washington: Some of the best places to visit in Washington include Olympic National Park, the San Juan Islands, and Riverfront Park in Spokane. To explore Washington's wilder side, our guide to Washington State and National Parks will have you exploring somewhere beautiful. For some extra charm, the top small towns in Washington State offer cozy vacation opportunities.