If your travels this summer take you anywhere near the eastern part of the state of Washington, make sure to stop in Spokane. You will find dramatic series of waterfalls, great restaurants, upscale shopping, and one of the West’s most luxurious, historic hotels.
Spokane is one of the oldest cities in the West and is the heart of the Inland Pacific Northwest. From its origins as a hub of logging and mining companies, it has emerged as a model for downtown redevelopment. More than $3.5 billion has been spent, and the results are amazing. Scores of new buildings have arisen, and with careful architectural guidance they blend in well with the city’s historic structures. All of this activity is no more than a couple of blocks from the Spokane River, Spokane Falls, and the Riverfront Park that allows all to enjoy this scenery.
The Spokane River branches off in a couple of directions just before downtown, creating several islands. Then as it heads downhill and through town, these branches link up for a forceful waterfall, which was in full display when we visited recently. Several bridges cross the river and offer views of Spokane Falls, and there’s even a tram ride for an aerial view. The Riverfront Park offers many activities for children, including one of the largest and most ornate carousels we have ever seen. They even have an IMAX theater to complete the experience.
The Davenport Hotel dominates the downtown area and has done so since its opening in 1914. After many tough years, Walt and Karen Worthy purchased the hotel in 2000 and have lovingly restored and upgraded this “grand dame.” People come from miles around to see its ornate lobby area, including real gold leaf around the always-lit fireplace. The opulent fixtures and furnishings throughout the hotel area rarely seen today and would be cost prohibitive to reproduce. The hotel’s rooms are very luxurious and equal to the finest in the U.S. today. Marble bathrooms, LCD TVs, and down bedding make for a very comfortable stay.
There are actually two choices at the Davenport with the original hotel and a newer Tower. While we stayed at the original, I did check out the Tower, and it is just as elegant. Both properties have their own indoor pool areas and well-appointed fitness centers.
The Davenport and its Tower are right in the middle of the downtown area and just a few minutes’ walk from all activities. The upscale River Park Square is about three blocks away, with Riverfront Park itself and Spokane Falls another two-block walk. For more information on the Davenport visit thedavenporthotel.com.
If you want to have an excellent meal and a great view, Anthony’s at Spokane Falls is the place. The restaurant’s unique location perched above the falls on the west side of the river gives it a 180-degree view of the crashing water below. The menu has a wide selection of seafood and beef entrees. For lunch we tried the Mahi Mahi Tacos and Anthony’s Cobb Salad, which included fresh shrimp. They were both excellent, as was the service. You’ll have a tough time here taking your eyes off the raging falls, the force of which will astonish you. Visit anthonys.com for more information.
Wild Sage is another excellent dining choice, again just a few blocks from the Davenport but in the other direction. It is somewhat rare to have a female chef, but when we have found them in our travels, they tend to outperform. Alexa Wilson, the chef at Wild Sage, is a prime example. She uses only the finest locally grown ingredients and is constantly changing the menu. She is a Spokane native and a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Portland. We started with a Fried Green Tomatoes small plate before our entrees: Breast of Duckling and a Rare Ahi Tuna Salad. The preparation was equal to the best in fine dining. This is a popular local spot, so make sure you call for reservations. For more information visit wildsagebistro.com.
Spokane has many great golf venues, including Indian Canyon Golf Course and Hangman Valley Golf Course. The former is the older and has hosted USGA events in its storied past.
The best connections to the Pacific Northwest from Santa Barbara Airport are with Alaska Airlines and its subsidiary Horizon Air. Visit alaskaair.com for more info.