Visitors to Spokane (pronounced Spo-CAN), have a choice of climates at any season of the year. An extensive system of enclosed skywalks offers year-round comfort throughout the downtown area. For those who enjoy outdoor sports, there are Riverfront Park and Splashdown Waterpark in summer, and the slopes of Mount Spokane in winter.
The first European trading post in the Pacific Northwest was established in the Spokane area in 1810. Some of the region's early history is on display at the restored Fort Spokane, northwest of the city, which was built in the 1880s to keep the peace between Native Americans and white settlers. Today, the city is the commercial center of an agricultural region and serves as a gateway to the recreation areas of eastern Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana.
Riverfront Park was the site of the 1974 World's Fair. It is located on two islands divided by the spectacular cascading Spokane River and Spokane Falls. Attractions include an IMAX Theater, an amusement park and a hand-carved 1909 carousel.
Spokane’s Grand Boulevard is the place to feed the ducks in Manito Park while taking in a view of stunningly Gothic St. James Cathedral. The park’s many gardens are in bloom from May through October.
Spokane's Gonzaga University, one of 28 Jesuit colleges in the country, is home to the Crosby Library, which displays alumnus and native son Bing Crosby's Oscar, gold and platinum records and other mementos.
Spokane's nickname is the Lilac City. The foremost annual event is the Lilac Festival, which is held each year in mid-May. On the first Sunday in May, the city holds its annual Lilac Bloomsday Run, one of the largest timed races in the world in which more than 50,000 runners participate.
Spokane has a rich history that is portrayed in its museums and heritage homes. Campbell House was constructed in 1898 by a prominent Spokane resident and has been restored to its 19th century splendor. More vintage homes can be found along Riverside Avenue, in the Browne's Addition Historic District and in the neighborhood known as "the Hill." Next to Campbell House is the excellent Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, with a fine collection of Native American artifacts and other historical items from the region. The collection of the Eastern Washington State Historical Society is housed in a portion of the museum.
Spokane has made it easy for visitors to get a sense of the city by mapping a 32 mile Spokane City Drive that takes in the local highlights. The route is well marked by brown and white arrowhead signs. It meanders through the southern and western portions of Spokane and covers all the major attractions. The drive provides a spectacular view from the hills to the south of the city. Finish the tour at the western end of the route with an expedition to Little Spokane Natural Area, where the paddling is top-notch and hundreds of songbirds provide daily concerts.