I’ll never forget the October afternoon that I met up with Kate and Camille from Visit Spokane at a cafe. They asked me what I knew about Spokane. My response was “I hear the city is really up and coming..?” to which Kate said something along the lines of “Oh we’ve already arrived”. I learned about how much the city had changed in the past decade, how they had award-winning chefs, and just how many different things there are to do. If you know me at all then you know I’m a fairly stubborn person. Yet somehow I almost immediately decided for myself that this city was pretty special and I definitely wanted to visit.
You can tell when people really love their city. When I hear Spokanites talk about their city, they are proud and they are unapologetically passionate about what makes the city unique. I love this about the city because it’s quite honestly a bit rare in Seattle. You all know how I love calling Seattle home but I myself, along with most others, have a few gripes with this growing town. Nowadays most Seattleites are transplants anyway. We could spend all day comparing cities like Seattle to Spokane but what’s the point? Spokane isn’t trying to stack up to other cities because it’s simply one of a kind. It doesn’t need to compare itself to other cities. Spokane is truly a gem and I am super lucky to have experienced some of its best spots recently. Keep on reading to see what I did in Spokane!
Where We Stayed
We stayed at, in my humble opinion, the most beautiful hotel in Spokane – the Historic Davenport Hotel. Just seconds after stepping into the Historic’s lobby, I felt like we transported back in time to the early 1900s. Although the hotel has its original, historic charm it went under immense renovation so you’ll find all the modern amenities and features of any grand hotel. The Parlor Suite that we stayed in was extremely spacious and was very luxurious.
Wandering the atrium level, pictured above, was one of the first things that we did when we got to Spokane. Not only is the building just beautiful, there are many artifacts and old photographs to see every few feet. For museum nerds like myself, you’ll love the Historic because the hotel truly feels like a museum that bears decades of memories.
To get us acquainted with one of Spokane’s most iconic spots, we did a brief walking tour of Riverfront Park. This is an absolute must visit because it’s currently going under a $64 million redevelopment. It’s already a beautiful spot so I am really excited to see how it looks in the future. One of my favorite things was the Skate Ribbon. I’m super uncoordinated and probably shouldn’t be allowed to ever skate where there are other humans skating, however this 650 foot long loop looks like so much fun! In the winter it’ll be an ice skating loop but when we walked by, kids were riding their scooters and rollerskating. Right next to the facility is the SkyRide which will be opening up shortly! I’m excited to ride this one day!
Two other notable things to see at Riverfront Park are the Garbage Goat and the Looff Carousel. The Garbage Goat is exactly what it sounds like. Feed the goat some garbage and it vacuums it right up! Then there’s the Looff Carousel which is newly housed in a beautiful glass building. You may think a group of adults have no business riding a carousel but we all jumped on for a ride and it was fun! Plus, what a cute photo opp right?
The new Looff Carousel patio that overlooks the river and out at the clock tower is a great gathering spot. We had some wine and Jared’s new favorite, No-Li Brewhouse, before indulging in a special dinner. (By the way, I’m not even a beer lover but I really liked No-Li’s Big Juicy IPA!) Our dinner was cooked by award-winning Chef Adam Hegsted who owns some amazing restaurants like Wandering Table and my favorite bar we visited, the Gilded Unicorn. The menu he prepared was unreal. We had pastrami cured duck, his famous deviled eggs, smoked burrata, barley pasta, steelhead trout crudo, a pine tea sorbet, braised pork belly and oyster, and lastly a dessert grilled cheese. I mean…whoa.
After the best sleep I’ve had in a while, we woke up hungry and ready to get the day going! The Historic is right in the middle of downtown so we had a lot of options for breakfast. We’re always down for a cozy diner breakfast so we took a short walk to Satellite Diner. It was indeed cozy and it was also the delicious, heavy type of breakfast we needed for a few hours on the Spokane River.
Now if you’ve never been white water rafting before, I highly recommend this guided tour with Wiley E. Waters. It’s just under 3 hours and a great mix of thrill as well as floating along some really scenic parts of the river. As a beginner, I was a little worried but our guide was incredibly helpful and made me feel really safe! Here we are in the rapids where in the first photo I am apprehensive but still having a blast and in the second photo I am thinking, oh dear God. All jokes aside this was one of the best parts of Spokane and I have told all my friends and coworkers since that they must raft on the Spokane River!
After rafting we were all starving and ready to get out of our soaked wetsuits. We had a picnic alongside the river and the awesome crew from Wiley E. Waters even joined us! Having that much fun is exhausting though so Jared and I were ready to nap for a little bit back in our hotel room. Luckily the Historic even has a fun bar downstairs so we met up with our travel crew for cocktails before dinner. The Peacock Room Lounge isn’t your typical hotel bar that’s usually kind of dingy and dark. There’s a dramatic, printed wallpaper which I love while sunlight floods in through the windows and it has an upbeat vibe that I don’t typically see in a hotel bar. (That’s Alisha’s hand from Terradrift on the right!)
Dinner was at Mizuna Restaurant, which I had heard glowing reviews about from others before my trip. They describe their food as seasonal, honest, and clean. To be honest I think that’s a very humble description for their menu. While all those things seem to ring true, I would also describe Mizuna as creative, fresh, and versatile. The menu spans from seafood, to steaks, to all-vegetarian dishes. There is truly something for everyone here and everything is done so, so well.
The food seems like it would be on the pricey side but everything is quite reasonable (entrees are around $30) and you won’t find minuscule portions here. After I had my crab cannelloni I was stuffed but I still had to have some dessert. I think I drooled a little while editing these photos in fact. So if it hasn’t been made obvious yet, I’d highly recommend Mizuna for a date night or small gathering. While the restaurant can accommodate some groups, it’s a fairly intimate spot and best for smaller parties.
After dinner, Jared and I desperately needed to walk around because we had just stuffed ourselves to the brim! We actually wandered back to Riverfront Park because we just loved it so much. Staying there long enough to catch the sunset was another one of my favorite moments on this trip. If you visit Spokane, just go to the path by the Looff Carousel building before sunset and you’ll know what I mean. It is the most perfect spot.
My favorite bar that we visited is the Gilded Unicorn – another one of Adam Hegsted’s masterpieces. Head down a flight of stairs into the bar and you feel like you’re inside the world of Harry Potter. There are incredible cocktails here. Incredible as in, the bartender took out a blowtorch several times. Unfortunately we were stuffed to the brim from dinner at Mizuna otherwise I would have wanted everything on the equally as fun menu. Lots of comfort food like Frito pie and kimchi fried rice but all with some sort of unique spin.
The best way to get to know Spokane is to visit its parks. Seriously, the parks in Spokane are no joke. They are so well maintained and designed. 80% of the population can walk less than five blocks to a park too. Wow, right? We walked through Manito Park which is a whopping 90 acres and features an arboretum, a rose garden, an English garden, a conservatory, and the list goes on. It is so beautiful that it’s no surprise that we witnessed wedding photos taking place in the park! I was truly in heaven in Manito Park (minus my allergies) because I love flowers, conservatories, and especially dogs. Look at this sweet face, Lucy!
A few steps away from Manito Park is Rockwood Bakery. It’s nestled in between the park and a neighborhood which reminds me a lot of the quieter parts of Seattle. I love a good neighborhood bakery that’s filled with great energy on a sunny Saturday morning. I hadn’t eaten before our walk so I had a hearty breakfast burrito and almond milk latte, yum!
The rest of the afternoon we spent at Arbor Crest Wine Cellars and Townshend Cellar’s tasting room. Arbor Crest is just incredible. It is not only an insanely gorgeous property that hosts concerts and weddings, the view from the winery can’t be beat. It is a family owned winery which you all know I am a big fan of. I particularly love to support women run businesses and while it is a couple running this now, I was excited to hear that Arbor Crest is one of the few wineries in the state headed up by a female winemaker.
Townshend’s tasting room is in a beautiful area as well. It is more rural, there are rolling hills, and you see lots of family farms. Camille tells us this is where her family has gone to pick out their Christmas tree every year. Spokanites all have their own chosen farms to go to for their peaches, their trees, etc. I certainly didn’t grow up with that but I so wish I did now. I would love to come back to this area in the fall and go pumpkin picking!
After a sunny afternoon with more than a few glasses of wine, everyone was ready for a change in scenery I think. (I know, life’s tough for us writers but someone’s got to do it!) We headed to Kendall Yards which is a more urban feeling neighborhood in Spokane. Plenty of people had recommended restaurants here so I’m glad we got to see the area. We decided on ice cream to cool down which I will never, ever turn down. The shop, Brain Freeze, offers plenty of unique flavors and even some vegan selections which is great. I got a scoop of a Rice Krispy treat ice cream! Just a short walk from the shop is a fantastic view of the Spokane Falls under the Monroe Street Bridge.
Now if you thought that’s all the fun we had this day, you thought wrong because we packed in even more fun afterwards by heading to Dry Fly Distilling. This may surprise some people but I actually prefer liquor to wine so I was really excited to try some cocktails at Dry Fly. While I enjoy a good cocktail, I normally have no interest in what liquor was put in it. As long as it tastes good, I really don’t care. I think that’s completely changed after our visit to Dry Fly however.
I learned that Dry Fly only uses Washington-grown grains. They were a pioneer in the craft distilling movement and have paved the way in which distilleries make vodkas, bourbons, gins, and whiskeys. They are a farm to bottle business and everything is made and bottled right in this small distillery in Spokane. Their reputation is anything but small however and you can find Dry Fly in 42 states and 33 countries. (Don’t quote me on that because I took these notes while I was drinking yummy cocktails.)
The rest of the evening was spent learning how to make cocktails, more about the distilling process, and also eating the most delicious tacos I’ve ever had. I mean…sous vide tri tip tacos…what?! If you eat at one restaurant in Spokane, please let it be Cochinito Taqueria. Thank me later.
These are the last two photos I snapped on our trip to Spokane from the patio at the Historic. If you made it all the way to the end, thanks so much for reading! Jared and I had the best time here and it was truly a unique experience for us because we don’t typically get to know the makers behind the food we eat, have lunch with the people guiding our tours, etc. We have traveled a lot together but we will always cherish the places within our home state the most. Now if you ask me about Spokane, I’ll tell you it’s a city you should absolutely add to your travel bucket list.
P.S. By the time you’re reading this post I’ll be abroad on my trip to Asia! Follow along on my Instagram where I hope to be able to use the VPN I paid for to get past the firewall in China :)
A million thank you’s to Visit Spokane for graciously hosting us on this trip. All opinions are my own.