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Named the "Lilac City" for the fragrant purple blooms that blanket the undeveloped hillsides in the area, Spokane is an Eastern Washington college town with an illustrious lineage as a mining metropolis. Today, Spokane pulses with influences from the tech, biotech, and financial industries, while the city's sprawling green spaces remind visitors of its natural treasures. Remnants of Expo '74—Spokane's World's Fair—as well as the influences of Gonzaga graduate Bing Crosby imbue the city with a decidedly cosmopolitan air, making it an ideal destination for those who want to unlock the wonders of the Inland Northwest.
Following the 1974 World's Fair, Spokane founded Riverfront Park—an attraction-studded oasis in the center of the city. From here, Spokane's neighborhoods unfurl, offering refined institutions, distinctive eateries, and scenic hideaways a mere 20-minute drive from Spokane International Airport.
Riverside is Spokane's urban business district. Can't-miss sights include Spokane Falls, which chart a thundering course through town, as well as River Park Square, a retail complex that beckons with food chains and mainstream boutiques.
Walk east to Division Street and you might find yourself rubbing elbows with the city's next record-breaking baritone. Bing Crosby made his debut in the city's University District, which is home to six academic institutions including Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University, and Washington State University.
Wind your way north along Spokane's paved Centennial Trail to land in Minnehaha Park, a residential enclave near a public park bearing the same name. Active types use the region to reach Beacon Hill, an undeveloped neighborhood with miles of rolling single-track for hiking and mountain biking.
With more than half of Spokane designated as historic, there’s a bevy of things to see in Spokane. Pair your passion for architecture with your love of the performing arts by reserving tickets at one of the Lilac City's illustrious theaters. The recently restored Fox Theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and hosts everything from live music and magicians to political rallies—in 2008, Michelle Obama spoke on behalf of her husband's presidential campaign here. Nearby, the Bing Crosby Theater showcases concerts and plays inside a former silent film house. Searching for up-and-coming acts? Popular rock bands often book at the Bartlett Theater.
Spokane offers endless things to do, whether you're an active outdoor enthusiast or a history buff who aims to unearth the city's prospecting past. Start by combining your sightseeing with an energizing stroll in Riverfront Park. Make it your mission to locate the city's garbage-eating goat statue—a relic of Expo '74 that continues to devour the city's trash more than 40 years later. Or, head to Manito Park and Botanical Gardens, which were planned by the same architects responsible for envisioning Fort Tryon Park in New York City and the entire Seattle public park system. Or, take a journey through the past at the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture. If you go, be sure to head next door to the Campbell House, which documents one of Spokane's founding families.