Spending a Day in Downtown Spokane

riverfront park spokane

Goodbye stodgy and boring, say hello to Spokane 2021. Long viewed as behind the times by the west side of the state, Spokane has done a lot of catching up lately. Destination shopping, a wide variety of new casual and fancy dining establishments, craft breweries and coffee roasters, a vibrant arts community, and good old, friendly Spokane way make it an inviting destination to spend a day — or maybe a few.

Quick Info

  • Population: 242,000. Spokane is the largest city between Seattle and Minneapolis.
  • Downtown Size: 634 ACRES
  • Getting There: I-90 exits 280 A/B & 281 
  • Parking: There is plenty of parking downtown. Metered streets, parking lots, and parking garages are abundant, all requiring payment. 
cider in spokane

Where To Eat and Drink

Spokane’s culinary scene has exploded in the last few years. From fine dining to casual there is something for every taste. Because we are concentrating on the downtown core, we won’t mention any of the wonderful options available in the areas of the city outside of downtown.

Taking a stroll down Main or Riverside, so many options present themselves. From the chain restaurants to the independent coffee shops, craft breweries, and independent restaurants. A few of note:

Locust Cider and Brewing Company: On 421 West Main Street, Locust offers hard cider and small eats in a sunny, inviting atmosphere.

Method Organic Juice Cafe: On 718 West Riverside Avenue, Method is a place for Vegetarian and Vegan eaters to catch a quick smoothie, Acai bowl, or other light veggie offerings.

Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar: Located on the third level of the River Park Square Mall, Twigs Bistro boasts one of the prettiest views into the city from its dining area suspended at the center of the front window. The menu is upscale, offering a fine dining experience in beautiful surroundings. The cocktail and wine lists are extensive.

method spokane
martini bar

Whim Wine Bar: Located on the ground level of the River Park Square Mall, this place just draws you in. Heavy curtains hang on either side of the door and when you pass through into the restaurant you feel as though you are transported into another world. It feels like this is where all the cool folks hang out. They have an extensive wine list, craft pizza, and appetizers. They even host live music on the weekends. 

Cosmic Cowboy Grill: Located on the ground level facing Main Street in the River Park Square Mall, Cosmic Cowboy offers fresh, gourmet food for everyone. Gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, and low carb offerings, as well as food to please the meat eater in the family, are on the menu. It also has a full bar, beer on draft, and wine.

whim wine spokane
cosmic cowboy spokane
river park square spokane

Where To Shop

River Park Square Shopping Mall: Because we are focusing on the downtown core, this is the destination shopping experience. The mall is located in the heart of downtown on 808 West Main Street. With its 38 stores, 14 restaurants, food court, candy counter, and a multi-screen first-run movie theater, you really don’t need to leave (except to explore more of downtown). 

A full-service Nordstrom is the anchor store. Gap, Williams-Sonoma, Banana Republic, and the Pottery Barn are a few of the national brands. A full-service Apple store is on the sidewalk level. Polka Dot Pottery is a fun place to paint your own masterpiece pottery piece. The store “From Here” carries only locally made items. It is an offshoot of Terrain, a group that supports local artists and artisans. Terrain has a separate art gallery on Pacific Street — see “Things To Do” below for more info.

Aunties Bookstore: A locally-owned store selling new and used books. It is on 402 West Main Street.

Boo Radley’s Gift Shop: Located on 232 North Howard Street, this eclectic store carries many weird, wonderful items you don’t see in other places.

Many other little shops and stores line the downtown streets waiting for you to explore.

spokane bookstore
gift shop
spokane museum

Arts and Culture

The MAC Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture: Located west of the downtown core at 2316 West First Avenue, the MAC is worth a little side trip. The museum is home to some permanent collections and hosts rotating special exhibitions. Works by Louis Comfort Tiffany and an exhibition in collaboration with the United Tribes of the Upper Columbia that tells the story of the annual Columbia River Canoe journey are two exhibits that the museum is hosting. 

The historic Campbell House sits on the same grounds as the Museum and is displaying turn-of-the-20th century period clothing and the stories behind them.

Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox: Located at 1001 W Sprague, this theater is a little south and west of the downtown core. Built in 1931, it had fallen into disrepair but was restored to its Art Deco glory with a fundraising effort by the Spokane Symphony Orchestra. It is now the permanent home of the Orchestra and used for other concerts and events.

Terrain Art Gallery: Located south and east of the downtown core on 304 West Pacific Avenue, this nonprofit supports local artisans through events and programs. The art gallery has exhibitions of local artists’ works. In October 2021 the gallery is showing “Her Words to Life: A Celebration of Black Women’s Voices”, a collection of mixed media art pieces by Shantell Jackson and Tracy Poindexter-Canton. 

spokane theater
terrain spokane
farmers market

Things To Do

Wonder Saturday Market: Located on the north side of the river on 835 North Post Street, Wonder Saturday Market was envisioned as Spokane’s answer to the Pike Street Market. Locally grown food, handmade crafts, and food vendors sell their wares at what used to be the Wonder Bread bakery. The season runs through October 30, but they are planning a holiday run starting in November.

Riverfront Park: No story about Spokane can be complete with at least mentioning the park. It is a must-see experience for any visitor to the Lilac City. In recent years, new attractions have been added and old ones have gotten facelifts. Ride the gondolas over the falls, catch the ring on the Looff Carousel, see the new light installation in the Pavilion roof, or just sit on the grass under The Clock Tower, watch the ducks in the river, and rest after a big day spent exploring downtown. 

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Melaine Williams

Resident of Marshall, Washington I travel the Eastern Washington and North Idaho area hiking the trails, walking the natural areas and roads with my camera as my constant companion. My mission is to introduce people to new places so they can explore them, themselves. My camera lens also finds interesting people and happenings to share. Blog: Goinwalking.com Instagram: @goinwalking facebook: Goinwalking Photography Photographs featured on Spokane TV station Krem2 news Photographs Published in the Spokesman Review Outdoor section

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