What is Spokane Known for? Get to Know the Lilac City


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Located in the heart of the Inland Northwest, Spokane is a city that has earned its reputation as a must-visit destination. With its diverse mix of outdoor recreation opportunities, thriving arts  and culture scene, and rich history, living in Spokane means there’s something for everyone. From skiing and hiking in the nearby mountains to exploring the many parks and museums in the city, there’s no shortage of things to see and do. Whether you’re looking for a home for sale in Spokane or to rent a home in the area, Spokane is a city that will capture your heart and leave you wanting more. In this article, we will take a closer look at what Spokane is known for so you can get to know the Lilac City a little better.

Riverfront Park

1. Outdoor recreation

Spokane offers a wide array of outdoor recreation activities as it’s surrounded by natural beauty, including rivers, forests, and mountains. From hiking, biking, fishing, skiing, and boating, you certainly won’t get bored. The city is home to a vast network of trails, including the popular Centennial Trail and lller Creek Conservation Area Trail. In addition, the area has over 70 parks, including Manito Park, which features stunning gardens and walking paths. Spokane is also close to five ski resorts, including Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park, 49 Degrees North, Lookout Pass, Schweizer Mountain, and Silver Mountain Resort, all offering downhill and cross-country skiing during the winter months. The city’s rivers and lakes provide opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. Furthermore, Spokane is a great place for golfers, with many wonderful golf courses, including Downriver Golf Course and Wandermere Golf Course

2. Gonzaga University

Gonzaga University is a private Catholic university known for its academic excellence and well-rounded campus life. It has outstanding programs in many fields of study, including business, law, engineering, and education. Gonzaga is consistently ranked as one of the top universities by U.S. News & World Report. Gonzaga’s basketball program is also known for the men’s team consistently ranking among the top teams in the nation. The team has made 24 consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament, reaching the championship game in 2017 and 2021.

Gonzaga is also known for producing many successful professional basketball players, including John Stockton, Adam Morrison, Rui Hachimura, Jalen Suggs, and Domantas Sabonis. The program is led by Head Coach Mark Few, who has been with the team since 1999. 

Desmet Hall at Gonzaga University

3. Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park is a public park located in the heart of downtown. The park covers over 100 acres and features a variety of attractions and amenities to enjoy. One of the most popular attractions is the Numerica SkyRide, which offers breathtaking views of the Spokane River and the city skyline. Visitors can also ride the Looff Carrousel, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, or explore the Riverfront Park Pavilion, a historic building that now hosts events and concerts. The park also includes walking trails, playgrounds, and a skating rink in the winter months. In addition, Riverfront Park is home to several art installations, including the massive “Red Wagon” sculpture, which has become an iconic symbol of the city. 

4. The smallest city to host the World Fair

Spokane made history in 1974 when it became the smallest city ever to host a World’s Fair. The fair, officially known as Expo ’74, was a six-month-long international event that showcased environmental conservation and sustainability. Over 5.6 million people attended the fair, which featured pavilions from over 50 countries and a wide range of exhibits, concerts, and cultural events. Expo ’74 had a lasting impact on Spokane, leading to the development of Riverfront Park, which is now one of the city’s most popular attractions. The fair also helped to revitalize the city’s economy and put Spokane on the map as a major tourist destination. 

The Spokane River and waterfall

5. The 2nd largest urban waterfall

Spokane is home to Spokane Falls, the second-largest urban waterfall in the United States. The falls, located in the heart of downtown Spokane, drop a total of 120 feet over a series of basalt rocks and is fed by the Spokane River.

6. Hoopfest

Spokane is home to Hoopfest, the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world. The tournament was first held in 1990 and has since grown into a major event, with over 6,000 teams and 28,000 players competing on over 450 courts spread throughout downtown Spokane. The event draws players from all over the world, as well as spectators who come to watch the games and enjoy the festive atmosphere. The tournament has become a defining event for Spokane and a source of pride for the city.

A basketball

7. Birthplace of Father’s Day

Spokane is known as the birthplace of Father’s Day. The holiday was first proposed by Sonora Smart Dodd in 1909, as a way to honor her father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran and single father who raised six children on his own. Dodd’s idea quickly caught on, and the first Father’s Day celebration was held in Spokane on June 19, 1910. Over time, Father’s Day became an official national holiday in the United States and is now celebrated on the third Sunday in June. 

8. Mount Spokane

Just a short drive from Spokane, Mount Spokane is part of the Selkirk Mountains and offers stunning views of the surrounding area. Mount Spokane State Park, which encompasses the mountain, is a popular destination with opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. The park features over 100 miles of trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging backcountry treks. 

Mount Spokane

9. Bing Crosby

Bing Crosby was an American singer, actor, and entertainer born in Tacoma, WA in 1903. However, he grew up in Spokane, where he attended Gonzaga University, and began his career as a singer in the 1920s. Crosby became one of the most successful and influential performers of his time, with over 500 recorded songs and more than 100 million records sold worldwide. He is perhaps best known for his signature song, “White Christmas,” which remains one of the best-selling songs of all time. In addition to his music career, Crosby acted in over 80 films, winning an Academy Award for his performance in the 1944 film “Going My Way.” He passed away in 1977 but remains an icon of American popular culture and a celebrated son of Spokane.

10. Bloomsday 

Bloomsday is an annual 12-kilometer road race that takes place on the first Sunday in May. The race was first held in 1977 and has since grown into one of the largest and most popular running events in the world, with over 40,000 participants from all over the globe. The course takes runners through the scenic streets of Spokane, past historic landmarks, and beautiful natural scenery. The race is named after the main character in James Joyce’s novel “Ulysses,” and is held on the first Sunday in May to coincide with the date on which the novel is set. In addition to the main race, Bloomsday also features a range of other events and activities, including a Junior Bloomsday race, a corporate cup competition, and a health and fitness expo.

If you are represented by an agent, this is not a solicitation of your business. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional advice from a medical provider, licensed attorney, financial advisor, or tax professional. Consumers should independently verify any agency or service mentioned will meet their needs. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines here.

Ryan Castillo

Content Marketing Manager

Ryan is part of the Content Marketing team and enjoys writing about market trends and local insights. His dream home would be a large cape cod-style house by the beach.

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