Spokane in Spokane County is one of Washington’s brightest tourist spots, where natural landmarks are consciously woven into the urban lifestyle of a growing metropolis.
Ditto Downtown Spokane, where the lush Riverfront Park and famed Spokane Falls are nestled within a busy central district with urban attractions that are as fascinating as the natural wonders.
As a result, the best things to do in Downtown Spokane, Washington is a welcome mix of exploring the wild, observing art, and blending in.
If you're looking to visit Spokane soon, particularly Spokane Falls and the surrounding urban landscape, check out this list of activities and attractions that can help fill your schedule during your vacation.
Stroll through the Greens at Riverfront Park
Riverfront Park is a 100-acre public urban amusement park operated by the Spokane Parks & Recreation Department.
It gained global notoriety when it hosted the Expo ‘74, or International Exposition on the Environment, the first environment-themed world fair.
The site, now Riverfront Park, is located near the center of Spokane, where it serves as an urban oasis that features amusement park rides, open-air entertainment, playgrounds, recreational areas, and more.
It’s one of the busiest places in Downtown Spokane, but it’s certainly worth a visit, especially if you want to make your way to the famed Spokane Falls, the second-largest urban waterfall in the U.S.
Depending on the time of your visit, you can also try various outdoor activities offered by Spokane Parks & Recreation.
There are various pursuits and entertainment available for both kids and adults, ranging from summer camps and classes, guided hiking tours of Spokane trails, and even therapeutic recreation activities for those with disabilities.
Enjoy an Overlooking View of Spokane Falls and Spokane River at Huntington Park
Even locals have mistaken Huntington Park as either an extension of Riverfront or the nearby City Hall Plaza.
While it’s strategically connected to both landmarks, Huntington is a separate attraction along West Spokane Boulevard.
Aside from the impressive view of both the Upper and Lower sides of Spokane Falls, you will also appreciate the public art installations around Huntington, including various showcases of Native American culture and the history of hydroelectricity that continues to be a prime energy source for the city.
The park is open all year, but the conditions change depending on the season.
In summer, you can expect heavy mist and lots of water from the roaring Spokane Falls, while autumn will give you a different aesthetic of Huntington’s field before it gradually transforms into a winter wonderland for the cold months.
Take the Numerica SkyRide at Riverfront Park
If you're not afraid of heights and would like to get the best view of Spokane Falls, then the Numerica SkyRide is a must-try, especially between March and June when the water level is up and flowing vigorously.
The thrill ride lasts about 20 minutes, which takes you past the elegant art deco City Hall, then drop to about 200 feet over the Huntington Park Natural Area.
From there, the gondola will take you across the Spokane River before one set of waterfalls, then under the historic Monroe Street bridge, before finally returning to Riverfront Park.
Enjoy Local Craft Beer at the Lumberbeard Brewing Co.
The brewing scene in Spokane is no slouch, and Lumberbeard Brewing Co. is one of the brands that’s bringing in a healthy amount of attention to the local industry.
You can find Lumberbeard Brewing Co. at East Third Ave., in a previously renovated old building.
It now sports a 20-barrel brewing system that can produce thousands of barrels of beer annually.
The establishment also houses a tasting room, a local shop, and an events space, all of which keep the family-owned business busy throughout the year.
Take a Picturesque Walk to Spokane Falls
Spokane Falls is a popular environmental landmark near the city’s business center.
The Spokane Falls are made up of dams and waterfalls that are notably split into two sections: The Upper Falls, which is a dam built in 1922, and the Lower Falls, which features the Monroe Street Dam that generates hydroelectricity for the city.
Going through the Riverfront green trails will take you to the Upper Falls, where you can get a better look at the dam through the viewing area after climbing a few flights of stairs.
The overlooking spots also allow you to enjoy a scenic view of the urban wildlife around the Riverfront, as well as the cityscape in Downtown Spokane and across the river up north.
Alternatively, you can go directly to Huntington Park, where you can get right next to the falls and the soak zone, or take a detour on the north end of the Monroe Street Bridge for the unabashed view of the upper and lower falls.
Try Some Premium Wines at Barrister Winery
Barrister Winery lives up to its reputation as Spokane’s premier winery, not just because of its products but also the winery’s quaint architecture and garden.
The award-winning Barrister Winery sources its grapes from 10 different vineyards within Washington state to create a signature style that they describe as “a lush, fruit-forward flavor, silky mouthfeel, and soft tannins,” which have earned praise from wine magazines and aficionados worldwide.
Aside from its wine, Barrister Winery is known locally for promoting culture and arts, as evidenced by its in-house art gallery and events calendar prominently featuring local talents.
The Downtown tasting room is located along North Washington Street near the Grand Hotel, while the winery is surrounded by a beautiful courtyard along West Railroad Avenue just outside the business district.
Rent a Kayak or Paddle in the Spokane River
Spokane River is a fine destination for water sports enthusiasts who want to break the monotony of urban living without venturing away from the city.
There are 76 lakes nearby and within Spokane, many of which are less than an hour's drive from the central district.
However, you don’t have to go out of your way to paddle and float because Downtown Spokane has you covered with its Riverside State Park, which encompasses parts of the Spokane River and Little Spokane River.
The trails support all experience levels, and some rentals also offer a guided tour upon request.
Start Your Pub Crawl at the Stylish Hogwash Whiskey Den
Hogwash Whiskey Den is a cozy speakeasy-style pub hidden in the basement of Spokane’s historic Washington Cracker Building.
Most of the wooden interiors are said to be reclaimed, giving the bar a vintage atmosphere that will make you feel like you’ve been warped into a moment frozen in time.
Hogwash Whiskey Den serves a good variety of food and drinks, though you might want to prioritize sampling their scotch collection, which has made quite a following in the local scene.
Note that the establishment does not accept reservations; tables are on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Shop and Dine at River Park Square
River Park Square is the prime destination for food and shopping in Downtown Spokane.
The shopping mall offers an incredible mix of local shops, restaurants, and entertainment options, not to mention special events that liven up the shopping center’s atmosphere all year round.
River Park Square is located at West Main Avenue, just walking distance from the district’s main hotels.
Some of the notable stores you’ll find are Urban Outfitters, The Apple Store, The North Face, Sephora, Lush, and Anthropologie.
Meanwhile, its restaurants include a mix of casual and full-service dining options, such as Nordstrom Espresso Bar, Rocket Bakery, P.F. Chang, Flatstick Pub, and Whim Wine Bar.
Drop by Indaba Coffee for a Flavorful Cup of Espresso
Indaba Coffee at Downtown Riverside serves a decent assortment of blends and gluten-free alternatives for diners.
If you’re a little adventurous with your cup, you can try their signature flavors with intriguing spins of all-time favorites, like their Lemon Lavender Latte or Mint Julep Cold Brew.
Indaba Coffee sports a minimalist and modern look with plenty of space, which makes it a perfect hangout place to just chill or even get some work done if you're the type to find inspiration in shifting moments and sceneries.
It reportedly took two years to renovate the Riverside branch, which is notably close to Riverfront Spokane, an urban amusement park that you should check out as well when Downtown.
Dine by the Riverside at No-Li Brewhouse
If you wish to enjoy a great view of the Spokane River without taking a trip to the recreation park or getting roughed up by the river itself, then you should check out No-Li Brewhouse.
Here, you'll get to taste local craft beer from a company born and raised in Spokane.
The proudly local brewery boasts its passion for local sources and produces its officially designated “Spokane Style” beverages, including the Born & Raised IPA, which is available internationally.
You can find the No-Li Pub and No-Li Bier Hall along East Trent Avenue, just along the Spokane riverbanks.
When visiting, it’s important to note that No-Li Brewhouse doesn’t accept reservations and that all dining areas are on a first-come, first-served basis.
Have a Good Laugh at the Spokane Comedy Club
Looking for a different way to spend the night Downtown?
Check out the Spokane Comedy Club at West Sprague Street.
Dubbed the city’s first A-list comedy club, Spokane Comedy Club has regularly welcomed the best comedy acts in the region and across the U.S.
Additionally, the club offers many local and upcoming talents an opportunity to shine via its dedicated open mic night on Wednesdays and new talents night on Tuesdays.
Regular patrons can expect cabaret-type seating with small tables and chairs that typically hosts up to four people, while premium seating is available for those who wish to occupy the first couple of rows up front.
Enjoy Classic Entertainment at Fox Theater
Aside from being home to the Spokane Symphony, Fox Theater is a gateway to modern art and a hallmark of the city’s rich history.
The establishment has a storied past in hosting international acts, Hollywood acts, and local talents, as well as cultural exhibits and events.
The Spokane Fox Theater is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Spokane Register, and the Washington Heritage Register, where it’s been heralded as a beacon of performing arts in the state since 1931.
Fox Theater is located at West Sprague Avenue, conveniently within the vicinity of many shopping and dining options in Downtown Spokane.
The theater is alternatively known as Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, owing to its key benefactor when it was renovated in 2000.
Explore the Mobius Discovery Center
The Mobius Discovery Center is now exclusively located at North Post Street, near the City Hall Plaza, after the science center consolidated its resources into one location.
Mobius is usually open Wednesday through Sunday, with its updated calendar of events and exhibits available on the website.
It’s a perfect place to visit if you wish to spark curiosity among kids through the exploration of technology, arts, sciences, and team-building activities.
Some of the recent exhibits at Mobius Discovery Center include reptiles and other animals, the ever-popular Kid’s Market, STEAM Labs, Bottle Rockets, and Sun-Earth Universe.
Celebrate Performing Arts at First Interstate Center for the Arts
The First Interstate Center for the Arts is the premier entertainment venue in Downtown Spokane, where you can enjoy various events ranging from concerts, comedy, theater, and other performance arts.
The establishment is Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC) STAR™ accredited, meaning it has passed stringent standards on cleanliness and health across all its amenities, including its 2,700-seat auditorium, dressing rooms, backstage and sound areas, the lobby, and gathering spaces.
The First Interstate Center for the Arts is located along West Spokane Falls Boulevard, by the riverside, and close to the best hotels in central Spokane.
The beloved community facility that was established in 1974 sports a mix of modern architecture and mid-century style interior following much-needed renovations that were completed in late 2018.
Downtown Spokane is one of the best places to visit if you appreciate culturally infused tourism and outdoor recreation.
You might be lured in initially by Spokane Falls and nearby trails, but you’ll soon find that the city center can be just as appealing and enigmatic, especially if you are inherently interested in the history and culture of the places you visit.
On balance, the best things to do in Downtown Spokane, Washington, are as dynamic as the location itself, which should make for an exciting itinerary that will let you experience the best of both worlds.