There is enough to see and experience in Spokane to keep all types of people interested. There are several relaxing areas where you could relax for the day or read a book. Shopping is abundant. There is beautiful architecture. There are museums and other attractions for the entire family.
Manito Park is well worth a visit, especially for those who enjoy plants and formal gardens. There are very few signs directing one to these gardens. From downtown you can take Washington to Bernard and then turn into the park. From downtown you can also take Stevens Street. Stay in the far right lane. Go to 21st Ave and then take a left into the gardens. Manito Park is situated in an older residential community. I was very impressed with this community. There are several brick homes that look like the front for a movie set.
The main attractions worth seeing at this park are the Duncan Garden, the Gaiser Conservatory, the Perennial Garden, the Rose Hill, the Nishinomiya Japanese Garden, and in Spring, the Lilac Garden. You can pick up a walking tour brochure of the park at the Gaiser Conservatory. Admission to any of these gardens in the park is free. The park used to be called Montrose Park but was changed to Manito which means “spirit of nature” in the Algonquin Indian language.
For more information about this park call (509) 625-6622, Monday through Friday. Group tours are given but you will need to call in advance and reserve one. The Duncan Garden is a formal garden and was built in 1913. You may see older pictures of this garden in your travel research, but the look has completely changed.
In 1996 the garden was greatly expanded and revised. The revision maintained the classical European Renaissance style which has a central fountain, a central water area, and geometric planting beds. There is a large granite fountain in the center of this garden, donated in 1956. General Info: www.manitopark.org
The following locations are within Manito Park
Gaiser Conservatory features a large glass greenhouse and several adjoining greenhouses. This would be a nice place to work during Spokane’s bone chilling winters. The greenhouse contains many assorted tropical plants. Flowers for the gardens are also started and grown here.
The Perennial Garden is located just north of the conservatory and features many bulbs, primroses, and chrysanthemums. This garden quadrupled in size in 1996.
The Rose Hill is a neat place to literally stop and smell the roses. Many different varieties of roses grow here and in fact the garden features over 1,500 rose bushes. Recently an arbor was added to the garden to allow climbing rose bushes to grow.
The Japanese Garden is rather small. A small walking bridge is built above a small pond. There are some rather large carp that live in the pond.
Lastly the Lilac Garden is rather dull except during the Spring when it truly becomes alive with color. The Lilac is the official flower of the city of Spokane. The same variety of Lilacs were sent to Spokane’s sister city, Nishinomiya in Japan.
There is some incredible architecture near 1st and Jefferson Streets , located downtown, just south west of Riverfront Park. Look at the tall building that curves around to a point at the end of one block. Make sure you look at the Spokane Club which is for members only. There is a long columned building next door which houses state offices; the church near the Spokane Club is very photogenic. All these buildings are within walking distance of Riverfront Park – about 5 or 6 blocks away.
Cathedral of St. John is an outstanding example of Gothic architecture. This is only one of several interesting churches in Spokane. There are 49 bells in this church and they weigh from 17 to 5000 pounds. Guided tours are offered Monday, Thursday, and Saturday from noon until 3pm. For more information call (509) 838-4277. www.stjohns-cathedral.org
The Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture (formerly known as the Cheney Cowles Memorial Museum) is well worth seeing. They were closed for a 2-year $30 million expansion during 1999/2000 in which the size of the museum was more than doubled. This regional cultural treasure is located at 2316 First Ave. Their major disciplines are visual art, American Indian and regional history. Allow at least two hours. They are open Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday from 11am until 5pm. On Wednesday & Friday they are open from 11am until 8pm. They are closed Mondays and on major holidays. Adult Admission is $10 – senior and student discounts are given. For more information call (509) 456-3931 or visit their very informative website at: www.northwestmuseum.org
Gonzaga University is located north of Spokane River and is surrounded by Division, Sharp, Hamilton, and Trent streets. This university is one of 28 Jesuit universities in the United States. Can you name the other 27? Gonzaga’s student population is about 5000. Gonzaga is one of four universities in Spokane and 2 community colleges. This picturesque campus lies near the old industrial area of Spokane. It was built in the mid 1890’s and the buildings reflect this vintage. The main building is huge. The offices of records and the academic offices are in here. Photographers will feel frustration if they try to photograph this building from the south side. The reason for this is that it is almost completely hidden by large trees. Jundt Hall is the art building located on the edge of campus towards the industrial section. It stands out because it is the only brick building in the area, and also because of its large spire. It is located next to a small pond. This museum is worth visiting because of their Rodin sculptures. Visit: www.gonzaga.edu
While you are at Gonzaga University be sure to stop and visit the Crosby Center, named after their famous student, Bing Crosby. He grew up in Spokane, attended grammar, high school, and college in Spokane. He is the most famous graduate of Gonzaga. Before he died on a golf course in Madrid, Spain in 1977 he donated his time, finances, and energy to this campus. Today, several buildings are named after him, there is a bronze statue erected in his honor in front of the Crosby Center, and inside this center there is a intimate museum devoted to Bing. This museum contains numerous musical awards – his gold and platinum records, as well as mementos from his early childhood. Admission is FREE. Bing’s boyhood home is now the home of the Gonzaga Alumni Association. It is located at 508 East Sharp Street. Memorabilia is also on display in this building. If you want to find out more information about Bing Crosby call (509) 328-4220 ext. 3847 between 8am and 5pm on weekdays.
Riverfront Park is a place the entire family can enjoy. There is enough to do for all age groups. The Spokane River flows right next to the park. I was crossing one of the walking bridges when I happened upon a family fishing from the bridge. I thought they were crazy and wouldn’t have a chance of catching fish from a river that flowed through a large city. Imagine my surprise when I peered over the railing of the bridge and saw several large shiny trout being held in the water by a nylon rope.
After talking to this family for several minutes I found out that this river is well fished and people always catch trout. They were using only bread for bait. It was the first time that I had heard of trout being attracted to bread. They said that they also catch quite a few salmon from the Spokane River.
Riverfront Park is the former site of Expo ’74, the World’s Fair. The park is 50 acres. During the right time of year, mainly the latter part of winter and Spring you can view the rushing Spokane Falls. These falls are similar to Niagra Falls only to the extent that they are quite wide. In comparison to the amount of water both falls generate, Spokane Falls is extremely small in comparison.
Some attractions still remain from the World’s Fair. They are the Amphitheaters, the Opera House, the Convention Center, and the IMAX theatre. This theatre has a 5 story screen and shows a variety of films. Some of the nicest people I have met work in this IMAX theatre. They were extremely helpful in giving me directions and providing me with inside travel information. Admission to the theatre is $7.50 for adults.
On the south side of the park you will find an old carrousel. It was built in 1909 by the man who put the first carrousel on Coney Island, New York. Admission to this is a single dollar. Near the carrousel you will find the tall clock tower, which is visible from most anywhere in downtown Spokane. Also check out the oversize red wagon that is near the clock tower.
There is a gondola that carries people over the Spokane River, the Spokane Falls and over other parts of the park. This gondola is located on the west side of the park. Admission is $4. For more information call (509) 625-6600.
One other thing worth mentioning is that in the summer there is a large carnival in the central portion of the park, near the IMAX theatre. This carnival consists of many children’s rides and food vendors.
For those who enjoy bike riding the Spokane River Centennial Trail may be for you. It is a 39 mile long paved path and is 12 feet wide. The trail is closed to all motorized traffic. It starts at the junction of the Spokane and Little Spokane Rivers and ends at the Idaho border. From the border the Idaho Centennial trail connects to downtown Coeur d’ Alene. www.spokaneriverfrontpark.com
Splashdown Waterslide Park is off of the 90. Take exit 289 and then go south of Mission Ave in the Valley Mission Park. There are five water slides here. They are open Monday through Saturday from 10am until 7pm and Sunday from noon until 7pm. These times are good from Memorial Day through then Labor day weekend. Admission is $12. Discounts are given for those between the ages of 3 to 11. For more information call (509) 924-3079. www.splashdownwaterpark.net
For more information about outdoor activities in the Spokane area please visit: www.spokaneoutdoors.com