How to Plan an Epic Weekend Getaway to Spokane with Kids

Unlike most of Washington state, Spokane is unique in that it actually gets a taste of all four seasons. The west side might have mild winters, but Spokane receives an annual snowfall of around 44 inches.

I lived in Spokane for a few months right after graduating from college, and to be honest, I was less than enamored. The lack of affection was my own doing as I was only there for the winter (brr!) and could not figure out how to navigate downtown with its one-way streets (this was before smartphones, mind you).

My cold and confusing introduction to Spokane was not a fair assessment of all the city has to offer. Thankfully, I married a Spokane native and have had the pleasure of experiencing every season in the city. 

What’s the Weather in Spokane? 

Winters are cold, but beautiful. I adore when the city goes quiet with the dusting of fresh snow. Spring breathes life into the surrounding farmlands, and I love watching the flowers in Manito Park burst to life. Summers are deliciously warm with some of the most stunning sunsets I have ever seen.

And then there’s fall. Autumn in Spokane is breathtaking. The trees erupt in colors of orange, magenta, and crimson. Local farms attract guests with their homegrown pumpkins, spiced cider, and piping hot doughnuts. There’s nothing like experiencing fall in Spokane.

Why Spokane with Kids? 

Perched on the Washington-Idaho border, Spokane makes for the perfect weekend getaway for most people living in either state. Our family could easily hop on a plane and be there in under an hour or pile in the car and make the five-hour drive. With two small children we typically won’t subject ourselves to long car rides unless the destination is worth it.

In case you are wondering, Spokane is worth it.

Family-friendly Hotels in Spokane

For this trip, we partnered with Visit Spokane and stayed in The Centennial Davenport Hotel. This is one of five luxury hotels in The Davenport Hotel Collection. The other hotels are Davenport Tower, Davenport Lusso, Davenport Grand, and Historic Davenport.

We tend to stay with friends and family when we visit Spokane, but if we feel like treating ourselves, we’ll book a stay at the Historic Davenport. Even if we don’t book a night, the Historic Davenport is an elegant place to grab a fancy cocktail. 

If you’re in Spokane for the holidays, be sure to swing by the Historic Davenport for Christmas Tree Elegance, an annual event where local businesses donate elaborately decorated Christmas trees and gifts that are raffled off to the public. Each tree has a unique theme and the prizes can range from baked goods to worldwide vacations.

While we love the Historic Davenport Hotel, we were excited to experience The Centennial Hotel. Not only is the hotel incredibly family friendly, but we were within walking distance to Riverfront Park, some of the best breakfast spots, and Ice Age Floods Playground (a family favorite).

Things to do in Downtown Spokane

There are so many family-friendly activities found in downtown Spokane. While we didn’t have time to experience everything on this trip, I’ve listed a few of our favorites below.

Looff Carrousel

Kids and adults alike will enjoy taking a spin on the Looff Carrousel. The carousel was built in 1909 by Charles I.D. Looff as a wedding present for his daughter. The hand-carved wooden menagerie features 54 horses, one giraffe, one tiger, and two Chinese dragons. The carousel has been lovingly restored and maintained over the years and is one of Spokane’s most popular attractions.

I recommend grabbing a horse on the outer edge of the carousel. Once the ride starts, a retractable arm with small rings at the end is introduced. Riders can attempt to grab a colorful plastic ring and then throw it into a bucket on the other side of the carousel. It makes for a fun game and if you happen to find the brass ring, you win a free ride!

A single ride on the Looff Carrousel will set you back $3, but if you plan on riding more than twice, spring for the $7 unlimited day pass.

Garbage Goat

Taking out the trash has never been so fun. Nestled behind the Looff Carousel is Spokane’s revered Garbage Goat. This vacuum-powered steel goat has been sucking up Spokane’s litter since the 1970s. From gum wrappers to coffee cups, the goat can gobble it all with its powerful suction.

As a parent, I often feel like a walking trash can, so it was nice to unload on the goat. Once we’ve overturned every pocket and backpack for trash, we take to the park to find any litter left behind. What a clever and fun way to ensure Riverfront Park remains pristine!

Even though I had “fed” the goat numerous times, it wasn’t until this trip that I learned of its origins. The copper and brass welded goat is the work of Sister Paula Mary Turnbull, often regarded as “the welding nun”. On a visit to a zoo, Sister Paula found herself impressed by the trash cans that had lids shaped as various animal heads. She decided she would take it one step further by designing an entire animal that could suck up local trash. A welding nun combating litter with a metal goat? We’re here for it.

Ice Age Floods Playground

Parents with little kids understand how important it is to let them run off their endless energy. On the north side of the river sits Ice Age Floods Playground. This relatively new installation features a three-story slide tower, fossil dig sand pit, and splash pad. The playground covers more than 40,000 square feet, which is plenty of room to tire out the kiddos.

The playground was a three minute walk from The Centennial and is a great way to both start and end the day.

Numerica Sky Ride 

According to my six year old, a trip to Spokane isn’t complete until you’ve been on the Numerica SkyRide. The 15-minute scenic gondola tour takes you over the roaring Spokane River where you’ll get a unique view of downtown Spokane and its urban river gorge. The gondola runs year-round, but we recommend timing your visit when the weather is clear so you’ll be able to take in all the sights.

Still need more things to do in Downtown Spokane? We also highly recommend a visit to the Mobius Discovery Center, the world’s largest Radio Flyer Wagon (it’s also a slide!), and the Numerica Skate Ribbon.

Day Trip to Green Bluff, WA

Located thirty minutes north of Spokane is the fertile farming community of Green Bluff. Not only will you find U-pick orchards, pumpkin patches, and strawberry fields, but adults will enjoy the numerous farm-to-bottle cider houses, wineries, and breweries. With our limited time, we were only able to visit a couple of the farms but one could easily spend their entire trip exploring all that Green Bluff has to offer.

Siemers Farm

We arrived at Siemers Farm right in time for their annual Fall Harvest Festival. The event is arranged into different sections. Guests enter by walking through a market that features local artists and craftsmen selling their wares. Just past the stands is a food court featuring all the fall comfort food you could imagine. Think: pumpkin spiced doughnuts, hot apple cider, pizza, cheesesteaks, fried cheese curds, and more.

There’s also a kid zone with so many fun activities for the children. The kids loved the bouncy castle, inflatable slides, and mini corn maze. The real treat was the “Little Toot” barrel train that zipped and zoomed them all over the farm. We purchased the $10 wristband which gave each person unlimited access to the children’s activities and the corn mazes. The weekend that we were there, the wristband also gave us pumpkins at only 25 cents/pound.

Our family has already decided that we need to make Siemers Farms an annual fall tradition. Rumor has it that their Strawberry Festival is just as good!

Twilight Cider Works

After all the family fun at Siemers Farm, the adults deserved a drink. We headed a few minutes down the road to Twilight Cider Works. The tasting room is a spacious green house with fantastic natural light. My husband and I enjoyed a tasting of five ciders, each one crafted from apples locally grown in Green Bluff and fruit harvested from the family’s own orchards. The ciders were crisp and bright, and while I enjoyed every one of them, the peach was out of this world. We might have walked out with an entire case.

Kid-approved Spokane Restaurants

Spokane’s restaurant scene changes with every visit, but one thing that remains the same is the incredible quality and creativity served up with every dish. The restaurants listed below are all delicious and family friendly. Be sure to add them to your next visit to Spokane.

Frank’s Diner

Frank’s Diner is a beloved Spokane classic. Children will enjoy dining in a historic rail car with its kid-friendly menu options and all-day breakfast. You’ll be thrown back in time with the nostalgic decor and food so comforting it tastes like it came straight from grandma’s kitchen.

We highly recommend trying the Rich Pumpkin Spiced Waffles, Purple Oatmeal (with huckleberries), the Free-Range Bison Burger, and the classic Meatloaf Dinner.

Bruncheonette

I know it’s good to try new things but when you find perfection, you stick with it. That’s why we rarely brunch anywhere other than Bruncheonette when we’re in Spokane.

Sourcing the best ingredients, Bruncheonette crafts its creative and hearty dishes from scratch. Our personal favorites are the Tamale Waffles and Smoked Brisket Hash but you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. It’s all so good.

Pro Tip: Keep in mind that Spokane locals love their brunch so there might be a small wait. Our routine is to give the hostess our name and phone number then head around the corner to Cedar Coffee for a violet latte. Once we get the call that our table is ready, we head straight back.

The Flying Goat

The Flying Goat is an Audubon neighborhood establishment known for its ever-changing tap list and mouth watering pizza. All of their pies are delicious but the real showstopper is the Kiernan. The dough is smothered in heavy cream, a house cheese blend, Italian sausage, and an over-medium egg. It’s then topped with a heaping pile of arugula tossed in truffle oil. It’s a pizza composed of all my favorite things!

Looking at the menu, you might spot a few items honoring beloved Spokane locals and friends of the owners. The Kerri Lynn Margherita pizza pays tribute to Kerri Lynn, beloved sister of the owners, who passed away from cancer in 2010. A portion of all margherita pizza sales goes to local charities to help those in need.

We also recommend the Roskelley Dumplings appetizer, a favorite of our late buddy and talented mountaineer, Jess Rosskelley. The dumplings are stuffed with house sausage, roasted jalapeños, and goat cheese which is then wrapped in dough & deep fried.

Families will enjoy the laid back ambiance of The Flying Goat and its proximity to local parks and playgrounds. And yes parents, despite the many incredible flavor combos, The Flying Goat can still make a plain cheese pizza for your picky eater. 

Madeleine’s Café & Patisserie

Madeleine’s is a French-themed cafe that is known for their gourmet meals and made-from-scratch pastries. We recommend checking the chalkboard menu to see what the daily lunch special is. If it’s the Reuben Sandwich, get it! Our other favorites are the Croque Madame and the amazing whole wheat pancakes.

Wooden City Spokane

When visiting Wooden City, remember these three words: Blistered Hungarian Peppers. If you order anything on the menu, make sure it’s these. The peppers are stuffed with sweet sausage and aged cheddar, and presented alongside toasted ciabatta. The peppers are served atop a chive oil that I would like to be buried in. They are the perfect amount of spice and would make a great appetizer to share. However, if you’re like me and want them all to yourself, you can also order them as your main course.

Our kids scarfed down their pepperoni pizza and cheeseburger, while my husband devoured the bone-in pork chop. We also treated ourselves to a cocktail. We can confirm that both the Draft Old Fashioned and Manhattan are the perfect libations after a full day of exploring.

Coffee Shops in Spokane

It wouldn’t be very Pacific Northwest of us if we didn’t mention our favorite Spokane coffee shops.

Atticus Coffee & Gifts

Atticus is both a coffee house and gift shop located in downtown Spokane. This is one of my favorite places to grab a coffee and spend all my money. The shop features items from local artists including mugs from my favorite potter, Goblin Pottery. You’ll also find a cubby dedicated to loose leaf tea and shelves of both vintage and contemporary books.

With coffee in hand, head next door to Boo Radley’s (seeing a To Kill a Mockingbird theme?), a quirky toy and gift shop. You can find everything from ironic socks to cheeky birthday cards. There’s surely something to tickle your fancy at this eclectic shop.

First Avenue Coffee

The coffee here is on another level. First Avenue Coffee makes all of their syrups in-house along with their assortment of gluten-free pasties. We ordered the Cherry Smash made from their cherry maple syrup and it might be one of the best coffees I’ve ever had. Definitely stop in for a drink and a treat the next time you’re in Spokane.

Cedar Coffee

Cedar Coffee is located a quick walk from Bruncheonette and is a perfect place to grab a drink while you wait for your table. Our favorite is the violet latte which is not a flavor we encounter often. The flavor is subtle yet provides the perfect amount of sweetness.

The baristas are always so kind and helpful. Plus, their case of fresh pastries will have you drooling.

Overall, we had an amazing family-friendly weekend getaway to Spokane. We could have easily spent more time exploring the city and look forward to a return trip. If you’re planning a trip to Spokane, head to Visit Spokane to cater your trip to your liking. 

This post is part of a paid partnership with Visit Spokane. As always, the opinions are my own.

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