By some stroke of luck, you’re planning to visit the lovely Lilac City, and you may be wondering what to do in Spokane. Well, your luck continues - we’re here to give you the rundown on the most fun, iconic, and interesting things to do in this gem in the Pacific Northwest.
Whether you’re visiting for vacation or incredibly exciting business activities, you’re probably searching for the top restaurants in Spokane, some cool Spokane attractions, or just fun things to do in Spokane overall. And if you’re looking for an ordinary Spokane vacation rental, you can elevate your expectations. Stay Alfred’s swanky travel apartments at Spokane’s M Apartments offer more than the standard pad. With our stellar guest service team and professional management, you just might feel like you’re in a five-star hotel, but with all the space and privacy of your own place in the city.
Since the spotlight is usually on Spokane’s more popular neighbor, Seattle, the world tends to forget the Lilac City’s storied past and charming character. We’re determined to change that and give Spokane the spotlight it deserves. But back in the 1800s, Spokane was on everybody’s minds. In the 1820s the town was established as a popular trading post, and many fashionable Americans and Canadians strutted around wearing furs that passed through Spokane, but it wasn’t called Spokane quite yet. That happened in 1881, just in time for the gold rush, which brought even more money and settlers to the area. As the Great Northern Railway was built to stretch from the Midwest to the Pacific, Spokane became a major transportation hub, and when more railroads arrived in the decades to come, the Lilac City’s population and prominence grew into the 20th century.
Today the rail industry is no longer Spokane’s main claim to fame, since it’s home to world-class institutions like Gonzaga University and medical schools affiliated with the University of Washington and Washington State University. Spokane Convention Center brings major conferences and events, while the beautiful outdoor spaces, like Riverfront Park, attract outdoor enthusiasts throughout the year. Spokane enjoys a sunny, temperate climate (unlike its cloudy cousin on the other side of the state), making it a gorgeous place to visit in all seasons. Downtown Spokane has seen a revitalization in recent years, with many older buildings coming back to life and new restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues opening regularly. After getting a taste of the friendly atmosphere and laid-back way of life here, you’ll be asking, “Seattle who?”
Looking for entertainment? Head to Spokane’s most vibrant arts venues
Some friends or family might members might say “what is there to do in Spokane?” when you announce your plans to visit the Lilac City. Well, little do they know that Spokane has a dynamic arts and entertainment scene with exciting things to do at nearly every hour of every day. Whether you’re into museums, live rock music, or emotion-filled orchestral concerts, you’ll find something interesting here in Spokane.
If live music is your thing, you might as well have won the jackpot. You’ll have the chance to see performances in one of the Washington’s most historic theaters, the Fox Theater. This Art Deco-style grand dame of the Spokane arts scene opened in 1931 as a “movie palace,” and while film isn’t the main medium here these days, the iconic marquee remains. Instead, catch a Spokane Symphony concert or a stand-up comedy show. If rock or pop is music to your ears, check out the Knitting Factory, Downtown Spokane’s largest adults-only music venue. There’s a bar and, on many weekend nights, standing room only. Or perhaps you’re a more sophisticated sort. To listen to the Spokane Jazz Orchestra or watch the ballet, the Bing Crosby Theater should be on your Spokane bucket list.
Film and theatre fans will find several superior venues in Spokane, like the artsy Magic Lantern Theatre, showing indie films and cult classics. And on the other side of the river, Spokane Civic Theatre features everything from musicals to comedies, with many family-friendly shows. Both of these theatres have intimate spaces, so you might feel like the actors are speaking directly to you!
Spokane is home to some larger venues too, like the INB Performing Arts Center at the Convention Center and the 12,000+ seat Spokane Arena. Both venues host a variety of nationally touring shows, and the Spokane Arena is home to some regional sports teams, like the Spokane Chiefs hockey team.
Does your Spokane trip include a Friday-night stay? If so, definitely add First Friday Artwalk to your agenda. This monthly street festival gives Spokanites the chance to see local performers and purchase artwork and crafts from local retailers. Art galleries keep their doors open late and many restaurants and bars offer specials, so it’s a great time to go out on the town!
Museum lovers will be happy to know Spokane is also home to two world-class institutions, the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture and Jundt Art Museum at Gonzaga University. The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture is the largest cultural hub in inland Washington, where you’ll find an 1880s-era house and several rotating exhibits. Across town on the Gonzaga campus, the Jundt Art Museum features Chihuly glass pieces (Dale Chihuly was born in Washington, after all) and paintings by Warhol, Rembrandt, and more.
Get your caffeine fix at Spokane’s coziest coffee shops
When your Spokane home base is Stay Alfred at The M Apartments, you’re ideally positioned to take advantage of Spokane’s best coffee. Seriously, you can choose from half a dozen highly rated coffee shops within one block of your front door. Talk about a java paradise! Why visit a well-known, green-logoed coffee joint from Seattle when you could indulge in some of Spokane’s best local stuff? Plus, these hipster-friendly spots are great places to catch up with a friend, read a book, or bring your laptop to browse Facebook while you give off the impression that you’re doing a lot of serious work.
Right across Howard Street from Stay Alfred at The M Apartments, you’ll find Indaba Coffee, known for their minimalist, natural aesthetic and decadent baked goods. And right next door, but with a totally different atmosphere, is Atticus Coffee, where you’ll find kitschy decor, brick walls, and a huge assortment of coffee beverages and loose-leaf teas. Across Main Street, Thomas Hammer Coffee Roasters one of the city’s premier local roasteries, supplying beans for many local restaurants and cafes. They have several locations across town, but we like this one best for their friendly baristas and unique artwork.
Spokane’s coffee scene isn’t confined to one block, though. Throughout the city, you’ll find a plethora of cozy cafes and strong brews. For a homey vibe (think leather armchairs and a chalkboard menu), we’re huge fans of Brews Brothers Downtown, which serves grown-up beverages in addition to steaming cups of locally roasted joe. Looking for coffee that’s out-of-this-world good? Spaceman Coffee serves up expertly made coffee drinks using beans roasted just across the border - the Idaho border, that is - in a pint-size shop near Spokane Station. And if you find yourself needing a little pick-me-up after a morning stroll through Merino Park, head to Rockwood Bakery, where you can sip a foamy cappuccino (or dig into a slice of apple pie) on their patio.
Shop ‘til you drop at Spokane’s malls and boutiques
With Washington’s ever-changing weather, perhaps you find yourself in need of a new raincoat. Or some new shorts. Or sunglasses. Or, you know what, maybe you just need a whole new wardrobe. Whatever your excuse for retail therapy is, you’ll find plenty of shopping options in the Spokane area. The premier shopping center in Spokane, River Park Square Mall has become a fixture of the downtown area in the last few years after it received a facelift and some swanky new stores. It’s anchored by Nordstrom (a Seattle-based company!) and boasts some upmarket stores, like Williams-Sonoma, Apple, and Anthropologie.
A few minutes north of Downtown Spokane is NorthTown Mall, a big retail center with a Regal Cinemas movie theater, lots of restaurant options, and anchor stores Macy’s, Sears, and Kohl’s. There’s even a Barnes & Noble so you can reminisce on the good ol’ days of reading actual paper books.
Searching for local goods or edible souvenirs? The Spokane Public Market runs on Tuesday afternoons from June through September, and it contains local vendors selling a wide variety of wares less than a block from Stay Alfred on M Street. How convenient! And across the river, Kendall Yards Night Market runs on Wednesday evenings from May to September, where you’ll find live music, food trucks, local farmers, and more. How about a weekend market? You got it! The Spokane Farmers Market has produce from local farms, artwork, flowers, textiles, baked goods, and even local wine every Saturday from May to the end of October.
All that walking is bound to make you thirsty? Raise a glass at these great breweries, wineries, and bars in Spokane
Like a true Pacific Northwest town, Spokane has a thriving beer scene, with several notable microbreweries and taprooms in the heart of downtown. In addition to beer, Washington’s Inland Empire area has the perfect climate for viticulture, so wine lovers will be pleased to know there are also many excellent tasting rooms nearby. Let’s just say you won’t go thirsty in the Lilac City, where there’s a full spectrum of drinking establishments from dive bars to upscale cocktail lounges.
If you’re the type of beer drinker that likes to sip your suds next to the massive metal kettles where the beer was born, you’re in luck. Spokane boasts an impressive array of craft breweries, microbreweries, tap rooms, or whatever you want to call them - so we’ll just share a few top picks. A favorite of many a local, Black Label Brewing Company crafts their beer with organic ingredients grown in the area, so you can ask any of their staff, and they’ll literally tell you exactly what’s in it. A few south of Downtown, Perry Street Brewing is known for their ambers, pilsners, stouts, and a cozy, neighborhood feel. And near the Fox Theatre, you’ll find several breweries within a two-block radius, including Iron Goat Brewing, Whistle Punk Brewing, One Tree Cider House, and The Steel Barrel Taproom.
Prefer to drink your beer in a bar with live music, TVs, or games? Spokane’s got you. Head to The Bartlett, a Downtown Spokane standby with regular live music, or nYne Bar & Bistro, also known for their music scene. Looking for a place to channel your inner kid? Garageland combines the best of adult and childhood fun, with a great selection of beer and vintage arcade games. Growing up doesn’t have to be so tough!
Maybe beer’s not your thing? No worries. Make your way to Sprague Avenue, where you’ll find the tasting rooms of Terra Blanca, Helix, and Tempus wineries. Another highlight of the local wine scene is Barrister Winery, where you can savor tastes of their award-winning Petit Verdot in their 1900s-era brick warehouse. If there happens to be a wedding or some other magnificent function happening at the actual winery (it’s a stunning event space), pay a visit to Barrister’s Downtown Tasting Room, just a block from Stay Alfred at The M Apartments. Or for a more modern, eclectic vibe, Bridge Press Cellars serves their signature label paired with tasty cheese plates.
Once you’ve had your fill of Washington wines (just kidding, that probably ever happen, but if it does…), head to LeftBank Wine Bar, serving bottles from all over the world in addition to beer, thin-crust pizza, and live tunes. Or, switch to something stronger, and indulge in a creative, expertly mixed cocktail at Volstead Act, the favorite of sophisticated Spokanites. And for the thrill of finding a spot that few people know about, we’ll let you in on a little secret. The Prohibition-inspired Durkin's Liquor Bar will satisfy your speakeasy fix, with dim lighting and well-crafted Old Fashioneds. Hint: it’s down the stairs in the back.
Breathe in the fresh Washington air at Spokane’s sprawling parks
Ahhh… How wonderful it is to breathe air with no pollution and fresh mountain breezes. There’s no better way to enjoy the scenic Pacific Northwest than by lacing up the sneakers and exploring Spokane’s natural beauty. And you don’t even need to travel far to do so. Smack-dab in the center of Downtown, you’ll find the recently updated Riverfront Park, which isn’t just an ordinary grassy expanse, but a sprawling collection of trails, fountains, and historical sites on the Spokane River. Trying to decide between going for a run or admiring the scenic waterfront? Problem solved! You can do it all at Riverfront Park.
Speaking of trails, one of the area’s most notable paths is the Spokane River Centennial Trail, which stretches nearly 40 miles from the Spokane River to the border of Idaho. If you’re feeling energetic, you can even take it across the border into the Coeur d’Alene area, which will add another 24 miles to your Fitbit. You can hop on the trail pretty much anywhere on the Downtown waterfront, continue toward Gonzaga University, and keep heading east along the river. By the way, the trail is paved, so it’s suitable for running, walking, biking, horseback riding, and hoverboarding. Take your pick.
For another green oasis in the city, head about 2 miles south of Downtown to Manito Park, featuring 72 acres of flora, fauna, and walking paths. Don’t miss the colorful Gaiser Conservatory or the tranquil Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese Garden. And for a chance to see the flowers from which Spokane garnered its nickname, Manito Park even has a lilac garden.
Eager to see more of the area? Hop in the car and head east to the “Lake Country” in Northern Idaho. Here you’ll find several picturesque bodies of water, like Priest Lake and Pend Oreille, but the most famous of the bunch is Lake Coeur d'Alene. Coeur d’Alene can be enjoyed on land at Coeur d’Alene City Park, but for the best aquatic adventure, rent a kayak or a paddleboard and take in the sights from the water.
Get a taste of the Lilac City’s culinary scene at the best restaurants in Spokane
Who knew there was a foodie paradise here in Inland Washington? Spokane’s burgeoning food scene has gotten all sorts of love from publications like Food + Wine Magazine, and America’s Restaurant News named the Lilac City as one of “America’s 50 Cities That Sizzle.” We hope you’re hungry, because Spokane is serving up some seriously good eats.
Regardless of how you woke up, turn your morning into a great one with breakfast or brunch at one of Spokane’ best AM eateries. If an authentic French croissant is what you need first thing after waking up, head to Madeleine's Cafe & Patisserie, Downtown Spokane’s hotspot for pastries and cozy cafe vibes. Or maybe you’re craving something heartier; across the river, The Yards Bruncheon whips up sweet and savory goodness, like their wild huckleberry pancakes, chorizo and egg tacos, and breakfast poutine. Perhaps you fancy enjoying breakfast in an historic train car? Spokane has it all. Make your way to Frank's Diner and eat your eggs benny in style.
After a morning jaunt through Riverfront Park or a few hours at one of Spokane’s fascinating museums, your tummy is bound to be grumbling. Soothe your hunger pains at one of the quick, reliable lunch options that abound in Downtown Spokane. On a winter day, nothing tastes better than a hot bowl of soup from Soulful Soups & Spirits, a downtown standby known for clam chowder and bread baked for the specific purpose of dipping in soup. Vegan visitors, there are choices for you here too! Or perhaps you prefer your lunch served between two slices of bread? The fast service and plentiful options make Domini Sandwiches a solid bet for families, friends, and coworkers. The place has been busy for decades, so you know they’re doing something right.
Searching for a dinner place that will please everyone? No need to force the kids to eat foie gras or sushi if they don’t want to; Spokane is home to lots of family-friendly dining options. For burgers, hot-dogs, and a casual diner atmosphere, head to Molly's Family Restaurant, an old-school pick that’s open for breakfast, lunch, and early dinners. Or just order some pizzas for the group - there’s no crowd-pleaser like pizza! And at Stay Alfred at The M Apartments, we have plenty of space for digging into take-out. Try South Perry Pizza for some gourmet pies, with toppings like wild mushroom and high-quality Italian sausage, or Blaze Pizza, where you can feel better about your food choices because their pizzas have thin crusts. You know, that makes it healthy! Or throw all semblance of healthy eating out the window and head to Pete's Pizza, serving decadent, cheesy calzones. Mmm, cheese...
Or perhaps you’re looking to turn up the sophistication on a romantic date night or for an important business dinner. The Lilac City has some outstanding culinary gems that will wow even the most discerning diner. One of our favorites, and conveniently located Howard Street from Stay Alfred at The M Apartments, is Mizuna Restaurant and Wine Bar, known for their organic food, creative dishes, and extensive wine selection. Or, cured meats sound like the perfect pairing, head to Sante Restaurant & Charcuterie, another Downtown hotspot known for their housemade salamis and sausages. Does Italian sound good? The Browne’s Addition mainstay Italia Trattoria is possibly the city’s best place for pasta, fish, and a nice glass of chianti or sangiovese. Plus, they have a welcoming outdoor patio. That’s amore!
Despite being in the heart of Inland Washington, Spokane boasts a diversity of cuisine that rivals Seattle, Portland, or any international city. For Japanese fare and high-quality sushi, Sushi.Com is not actually a website, but a brick-and-mortar restaurant serving delicious fish, noodles, and rice dishes. Have you ever tasted Ethiopian food? There’s no better place to try it than Spokane’s Queen of Sheba, where you’ll discover that food actually tastes better when you eat with your hands. And when you’re craving something hearty on a cold Washington night, head to Nudo Ramen House’s cartoon-inspired dining room for a warming bowl of freshly made noodles.
We hope you’ve saved room for dessert! Okay, maybe you’ve just saved a little room. There’s always space for the dainty desserts from Sweet Frostings Blissful Bakeshop, where you’ll find cupcakes galore in a myriad of creative flavors, like carrot cake and banana split. How about a scoop of something sweet? Brain Freeze Creamery is the city’s best bet for ice cream, located just north of the river. With wickedly good flavors, it’s hard to pace yourself when eating this stuff, so remember - if (when) you get a brain freeze, just press your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Then continue eating your ice cream. And we can’t forget about our vegan friends! For sweet treats sans animal products, Boots Bakery & Lounge is the Lilac City’s go-to veg-friendly eatery, and they also serve a wide selection of dairy-free, egg-free goodies that even a meat-atarian would enjoy.
With plenty of fun things to do with kids in Spokane, it’s a wonderful all-ages destination
Do you have some tiny travelers tagging along on your Spokane trip? Perhaps they’re not to content to watch you taste beer at a local brewery or sit with their hands over their ears at a PG-13 comedy show? Not to worry, there are lots of things to do in Spokane with kids, and they’re just as fun for the grown-ups! In fact, Spokane was the first city to establish Father's’ Day as a holiday, so that just goes to show how family-friendly it is around here.
There’s nothing better than letting the kids run loose at a beautiful, grassy park, and Downtown Spokane’s Riverfront Park is just the place to do that. But unlike an ordinary grassland, Riverfront Park has some special, kid-friendly attractions. Take the young-uns for a spin on Looff Carrousel or for a ride in the sky on the Spokane Falls Skyride, where you’ll admire the city views from a futuristic-looking “gondola.” There’s also an historic clock tower where you can pit the kids against each other in a race to the top, some exciting fountains where they can make a wish, and a cool-but-a-little-strange giant red wagon which they can climb into for a funny photo op.
Okay, the park sounds great, but what if it’s raining? Whether there’s a storm or not, the Mobius Kid's Museum is an excellent choice for educational fun. Featuring hands-on exhibits and a mesmerizing bubble room, this is a great option for even the smallest Spokane visitors. And forget about loading the kids up in the car - the Kid’s Museum is just across the street from Stay Alfred at The M Apartments. Mobius Science Center, just a block north toward the river, is another solid bet, especially for older kids. The institution features various exhibits on science and technology, plus some live animals.
Visiting the Lilac City during the winter? Don’t miss the opportunity to take the kiddos out for some snow sports at Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park. Just an hour’s drive from Downtown Spokane, this resort feels more like Aspen or the Alps than Inland Washington. Throughout the winter, visitors can shred the fresh pow from their five lifts, slide down a hill in an inner tube, or try cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, or night skiing.
Are you into architecture? Check out Spokane’s most unique buildings
Due to Spokane’s rich history, the city boasts a notable collection of architecture from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Though many buildings were destroyed in a fire in 1889, they were rebuilt in the unique architectural styles around the turn of the century. Just wandering around Downtown Spokane is a great way to scope out these century-old structures, which make for exceptional Instagram shots.
Be sure to visit the US Bank Building, which was built in 1910 and was the tallest building in Washington state that the time, and the picturesque Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes. Another famous 1910s-era building is the Davenport Hotel, built with local Boise sandstone and still a functioning hotel today. And one of the city’s oldest buildings, the Review Building (on the corner of Riverside and Monroe), was built in 1893, shortly after the devastating fire.
But commercial buildings aren’t the only ones worth a look. Since Spokane was a prominent railroad hub, the city attracted executives, financiers, and other wealthy people associated with the railroad industry. With them came their expensive taste, and they built an impressive amount of luxurious mansions across the city. One of the most famous is the Glover Mansion, the former home of Spokane’s founding father, James Glover. West of Downtown Spokane, the Browne’s Addition neighborhood is where you’ll find many more railroad tycoon mansions built in the early 1900s, including the Patsy Clark Mansion, Amman, and the Isabella House. Many of the homes are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Spokane is also home to some more eclectic architecture, and these buildings aren’t something you see on a regular day. Ever imagined what a massive bottle of milk would look like? Satisfy your curiosity at the Benewah Milk Bottle in the middle of Downtown Spokane. This building, literally, is a giant, white milk bottle, built in 1935 to advertise a successful dairy’s stores. Want to feel like you’ve been transported to the fairytale-like Dutch countryside? The Cambern Dutch Shop Windmill was built in 1929 and sits in the middle of the South Perry neighborhood today. From down the street, it looks like just another house, obscured by trees, but when you’re in front of it, you have to remind yourself that you’re still in Washington. And fans of Bing Crosby flock to the legend’s original home, the Bing Crosby House, which is on the Gonzaga campus. Visitors can tour the house and learn about the performer’s life.
Wondering where to stay in Spokane? Rest your head at Stay Alfred’s stylish travel apartments
When planning a trip to any city, a decision has to be made: do you settle for a cramped hotel room with outdated furnishings? Or do you take a gamble on a sketchy vacation rental? Good news! With Stay Alfred at The M Apartments, you can finally give yourself the space and luxury you deserve. More than the average vacation rental, all of our travel apartments are professionally cleaned and managed, so you can rest assured that what you see is exactly what you get. And we have the best guest service team (okay, we may be a little biased, but they’re seriously top-notch) who is always just a call or a click away to assist with whatever you may need.
From the moment you step inside Stay Alfred at The M Apartments, you’ll realize you’re in a new class of Spokane accommodation. Each of our units are impeccably decorated with stylish (yet comfortable!) furnishings, tasteful artwork, and chic decor. Our spacious floor plans give you more room to spread out than a typical hotel room and the floor-to-ceiling windows let in plenty of Washington sunshine. Every unit boasts a full kitchen, with all the pots, pans, dishes, and other do-dads you need to whip up a gourmet meal if the mood strikes you. If not, the countertops can be used for local beer tastings, jigsaw puzzles, or arm-wrestling contests.
Because we’re all about convenience, our travel apartments include full-sized washers and dryers. There’s no better feeling than going home with a suitcase full of clean laundry, especially if you’ve been taking advantage of the snowy, rainy, or muddy outdoor attractions in the area. And when it’s time to kick back and chill, we’ve got smart TVs with cable channels and lightning fast WiFi, so you’ll never have be stuck alone with your thoughts.
But that’s not all, folks! As a guest at Stay Alfred at The M Apartments, you’ll also get to enjoy the building’s fabulous amenities, including a rooftop lounge with spectacular sunset views, a media room, and state-of-the-art fitness facilities. Traveling on business? You’ll be pleased to know the building also has a conference room, so you can look all official when taking video calls, then head back into the movie room. Nobody in the office will ever know that you spent most of your day rewatching 10 Things I Hate About You or The Ring - both filmed in Washington, by the way. Your secret is safe with us.
Ready to start checking things off your Lilac City bucket list? Whether you’re a foodie, a thespian, a beer nerd, or a kindergartener, there is a plethora of fun things to do in Spokane that will make you fall in love with this vibrant Washington city.