Did you know that downtown Spokane, Washington is an awesome place to explore if you are looking for a fun-filled experience? Spokane may not be the first city you think about when considering places to explore, but after reading this post I hope you are willing to add this to your list of possible destinations.
When you consider Spokane’s geographical location along with the myriad of reasons to visit downtown Spokane, you may agree that this is a city worth exploring. Here are some of the reasons why we enjoyed downtown Spokane and why you should consider taking a trip here.
Before looking specifically at downtown Spokane, we want to share our opinion on why we think this city is actually in a great location which may be surprising for those that have never been to this part of Washington.
After three awesome but extremely exhausting days exploring Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, we endured a four hour drive from Kalispell, Montana to Spokane. A spontaneous, unplanned decision but we wanted to use this trip as an opportunity to visit Oregon which was one of the last states ‘out west’ that we had to visit.
The beauty of Spokane is that it is located in the perfect spot to explore a myriad of other destinations, and of course provided an opportunity for us to explore the downtown metropolis, spend the night there and then head south towards Oregon.
I would definitely consider flying into Spokane in the future to revisit Glacier National Park (4 hour drive) but also Seattle which is only 4 hours away and Portland, Oregon at just over 5 hours away.
When you look at a map, it’s conceivable that you may think the exact opposite and believe that Spokane’s geographical location is a negative aspect which will likely detract visitors from this city.
But it really depends on what you are looking for and if you are looking for a major international airport, Spokane is the closest to Glacier and within a reasonable driving distance.
Downtown Spokane is easily accessible from I-90 and as you will see, provides a myriad of other reasons that will intrigue you and possibly inspire you to visit in the near future.
2. Spokane River
In many ways the highlight of downtown Spokane has to be the gorgeous river that flows directly through the heart of the city. Not only that, but the gorgeous waterfalls/rapids/cascades that are a landmark feature in the Riverfront Park (we will share more features of this park later) district make this a gorgeous spot for a relaxing stroll.
We arrived in downtown Spokane around 6:00PM and found parking on the side of the road just a couple of blocks from the Riverfront Park area. As the sun was setting, we crossed the pedestrian bridge over the Spokane River and marveled at the imperious sight of the Spokane Falls flowing down the river.
Immediately this reminded us of our experiences in downtown Greenville, South Carolina with Reedy River flowing through the city center.
These areas of natural ‘green space’ really improve the look and feel of a city. All too often we get lost in the urbanization of a city and forget what it is like to just get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
When you have a rural setting in the middle of the city, well it’s the perfect combination and allows visitors and locals the opportunity to take a moment to relax and enjoy nature’s finest scenery.
3. Riverfront Park
Spokane Falls may be the highlight in the Riverfront Park and certainly warrants being a reason to visit Spokane alone, but there are plenty of other reasons to justify paying a visit to this park in the downtown area of the city.
From the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to the Pavilion with IMAX movie theater, the Riverfront Park is a popular spot for folks to hang out, especially when events are taking place.
We were fortunate to be visiting when an event was taking place, with live music, markets offering a variety of cuisine selections from around the world and other vendors showcasing their products.
“Pigout in the Park” as the event was aptly named, proved to be a huge hit and we really enjoyed our time exploring everything on offer. Even if letting your hair down in such an event is not really your thing, this is still a great opportunity to just walk around and see everything else Riverfront Park has to offer.
Of course one of the highlights throughout the Riverfront Park is the SkyRide which in 2013 was rated as one of the top 12 scenic cable rides in the world by Condé Nast.
4. O’Doherty’s Irish Pub
A trip to Spokane wouldn’t be the same without paying a visit to O’Doherty’s Irish Pub to sample some of the finest Irish cuisine this side of the Atlantic Ocean. Located directly opposite to the Riverfront Park, O’Doherty’s is in a perfect spot for visitors exploring downtown Spokane.
We stumbled across this pub as we made our way around the Riverfront Park. As we walked inside, we noticed a stereotypical Irish pub feel with a hint of American thrown in with college football playing on the tv’s.
But the real experience started when our waitress took our orders and we sampled the finest Scotch eggs for an appetizer along with a shandy that was a perfect accompaniment.
Heather opted for the Irish stew and I couldn’t resist the fish and chips, and both of us were extremely delighted with our choices!
5. Clock Tower
The history of Spokane is well reflected in the iconic clock tower that stands proudly over the Riverfront Park and Spokane Falls. The clock tower was once part of the railway depot that stood in this part of the city, though today it stands alone as one of the tallest clock towers in northwest USA.
Dating back to its construction in 1902, the clock tower was part of Spokane’s booming building industry that created much of the downtown landscape that we see to this day. Part of this was of course due to the huge transportation hub that Spokane was home to, but just like many other cities around the States, the train industry saw a decline over the next few decades.
Fortunately the clock tower survived but today we see this as a long-standing memorial of the once thriving rail industry. Regardless of how you portray this monument among the rest of today’s Spokane urban landscape, it is well worth exploring and appreciating the history that has evolved in this city.
After spending so much time in rural landscapes (not complaining at all because Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks were both breathtaking), we were ready to experience something with a little more ‘urban’ feel hence the reason we headed over to Spokane.
With very little expectations, we were pleasantly surprised by just how much there was to see in downtown Spokane, particularly everything surrounding the Riverfront Park.
We both agreed that Spokane would be a perfect location to spend a couple of days before heading on to Glacier National Park which despite it’s obvious beauty is not the easiest of national parks to explore. Spokane may well be located in the perfect spot to solve that problem!