Staycation: Exploring Spokane


Staycation: Exploring Spokane

Why not save money this year vacationing in your own backyard? A staycation gives you an opportunity to explore your hometown and have fun with your family on a budget. Here are some ideas of where to go if you live in the Spokane, WA area. Each of these places is within a one-hour drive of Spokane, and some of them cross into Idaho, where you will find a gorgeous lake and fast roller coasters. Explore local museums, parks, festivals, water parks, and restaurants.

Theme Parks, Rides, and Amusements


1. Spokane Falls Sky Ride: Take a fun cable car ride over the Spokane River, and enjoy the relaxing view of the waterfall. My children once saw a beaver running along the river, from our birds-eye view.

2. Looff Carousel Ride: By the Spokane River is a beautiful antique carousel that you can ride.

3. Red Wagon: Go down the huge red wagon slide while enjoying a nice view of the Spokane River and clock tower.


4. Jump Sky High Trampolines: This place will have your kids bouncing off the walls! Watch a video of our experience here.

5. Splashdown: Ride down some twisting water slides and splash into the water!

6. Silverwood Theme Park: Fast roller coasters, log rides, and fun shows fill this great theme park. Our family has enjoyed going every year. Why not do a Roller Coaster Unit Study with your kids, to learn the science behind the rides?

7. Laser Quest: Run around with a lazer gun, shooting other players and scoring points in this fun environment lit by black lights.

8. Fastkart Speedway: Race around an indoor racetrack in your own fast car! This is super fun. Maybe I’ll film it next time and put it here on my blog, so you can see how awesome it is. My husband always beats me for some reason…

9. Eagles Ice-A-Rena: If you like to ice skate, here is a place you can skate year-round because it’s an indoor rink. I liked the contraptions for the children, to help them not fall over. The kids look like grasshoppers with the contraption.

10. Wonderland Family Fun Center: Gorgeous mini golf, bumper boats, arcade games, and go carts. The mini golf is the best in the area. They also have laser tag, so it’s a great place to have a birthday party.

11. Sierra Silver Mine Tour: This is a fabulous tour in Idaho. I filmed our experience and put it in the field trip section of the Unit Study Treasure Vault. Go ahead and support my family by joining my membership site. It’s got thousands of cool ideas to do with your kids!

12. Polka Dot Pottery: Decorate your own pottery with your kids. The kids do the artwork with special paints, and later the pottery is fired so that you can use it for eating. We did this as a unique Christmas present for the grandparents: Painting Pottery for Firing. (Go ahead and subscribe to my YouTube channel while you’re there, because it has tons of fun activities for kids in it!)


Lakes, Plants, and Animals

13. Cat Tales Zoological Park: Lions and tigers and bears: oh my! Yes, there is a bear in this feline zoo for some reason. Definitely go during feeding time for the lions, since they devour food more fiercely than anyone you’ve ever known! Find out more about our family adventure: Here Kitty, Kitty…

14. Horseback Riding: We thoroughly enjoyed not only riding the horses, but the tour guide’s conversation, as well as the beautiful scenery surrounding the trail by the Spokane River. Watch our experience here: Horseback Riding in Spokane.

15. Manito Botanical Gardens: Come to a free and gorgeous set of botanical gardens. These include a rose garden, a perennial garden, a Japanese garden, and a pond with ducks. Look at our experience: Botanical Gardens and Conservatory.

16. Finch Arboretum: This arboretum is full of beautiful trees and plants, and it is especially lovely in the autumn. We filmed our kids running through Finch Arboretum in this Autumn Fun video.

17. Coeur d’Alene Lake: Rated as one of the top 10 most beautiful lakes in the United States, Coeur d’Alene Lake is a picturesque place to relax, have a picnic, go boating, and play in the water. Read about our experience here: A Day at the Lake.

18. Green Gluff: Pick delicious ripe strawberries, cherries, or apples from the farms and orchards in Green Bluff. The fruit is cheaper and tastes waaaaaaay better than the grocery store. Plus, the kids love to pick it from the plants and trees.


Museums and Historic Buildings

19. Historic Tour of Spokane: Walk around downtown Spokane and look at the older buildings and structures to understand the history of the city. You can do this on your own, or look up what tours are available here.

20. Campbell House: Tour a grand home from the early 1900’s. The decorations inside the house look Victorian, and there is a re-enactment each Christmas as they decorate the home for a Victorian Christmas.

21. Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture: This is the best and largest museum in Spokane. It has housed many traveling collections we’ve seen over the years: Leonardo da Vinci inventions, Rembrandt paintings, a dinosaur fossil, etc. Normally it has Native American artifacts from the area, and they rotate the exhibits, so check their website to find out the most recent exhibits.

22. Spokane Heritage Museum: This small museum has really cool scenes from different times in history. My son enjoyed playing on the old typewriter, and we liked stepping back in time during the last hundred years of our city. Great for studying modern history.

23. Museum of North Idaho: This museum is very tiny, but it has scenes depicting what life was like throughout the past couple hundred years. Similar to Spokane Heritage Museum, but for the Idaho area. Look at pictures of the museum here: Museum of North Idaho.

24. Cataldo Mission: Located in Idaho about an hour from Spokane, this mission is the oldest building in the area, and it looks like the Alamo! Read about our family experience and watch a video of it here: Cataldo Mission in Idaho.



25. The Melting Pot: This restaurant is expensive, but it is an experience you will never forget! Stab and cook each of the courses for your dinner in dripping cheese, beef juice, or chocolate. Yum! My kids all loved it, and we filmed our experience here: The Melting Pot.

26. Shogun Restaurant: This Japanese Grill has a show where the chef cooks everything right in front of you at your table. Yes, each table has a flat grill where the chef uses a strobe light and flips eggs into the air to crack them. Watch a video of my family’s experience here: Japanese Grill.

27. Clinkerdagger: This is a perfect date night, where the decor looks medieval and reminds me of when I lived in England. Expensive but exquisite. I spent my 15th wedding anniversary here, and I also went here for my birthday.

28. Sushi Maru: Watch affordable sushi going around on conveyor belts, and pay for whatever dish you pick up. Grab it when it’s going by your table. Read about our experience here: Sushi and a Walk by the River.

29. Ipanema: This restaurant in Coeur d’Alene is somewhat pricey, but you experience food from Brazil in this buffet, where the waiters bring you delicious meat stabbed through with a pole, where it’s been turning in front of a fire. Very yummy. It’s worth studying Brazil or South America with your kids to have an excuse to taste the cuisine of that country.


Seasonal Events

30. Scottish Highland Games: Where else can you find the sound of bagpipes, the smell of highland cows, and the sight of tartan kilts wherever you look but the Scottish Highland Games in Spokane! It is a fun way to dive into the culture, music, clothing, and animals of Scotland. Read about our experience here: Scottish Highland Games in Spokane.

31. Journey to the Cross: Every Easter weekend, a Spokane Valley church puts on a phenomenal performance of the life of Christ. This outdoor play is enjoyed while walking along a path, leading to the cross and the empty tomb. Watch our experience here: Journey to the Cross.

32. Bloomsday Run: The first Saturday in May, 60,000 people run a 12K race. You must keep running forward, or you’ll be trampled to death. Just kidding. At least I hope I’m kidding. Read about my experience here: My First 12K Race.

33. Civil War Re-enactment: Step back in time and experience the American Civil War with canon fire, soldiers shooting with rifles, tents, and period costumes. Every year on Memorial Day weekend.

34. Northwest Renaissance Festival: Who wouldn’t want to see knights in shining armor on horses, jousting? Come watch the human chess board, the medieval town, and the people walking around in medieval costumes.

35. Shakespeare in the Park: Every August at Pavillion Park, a free play by Shakespeare is performed at the park. I thoroughly enjoy Shakespeare, since I’m a former English teacher who taught at an American school in London. Yes, I was also the drama director while I was there. This was our experience watching our local park performance: Shakespeare in the Park.

36. Spokane County Fair: The county fair includes lots of displays, animals, shows, and demonstrations. Here was our experience: Going to the State Fair and Running inside a Ball.

37. Corn Maze: Highly popular in October is this huge corn maze divided into three sections: easy, medium, and hard. Try to find your way out of the complicated maze while punching your card at certain check points. (I filmed our adventure in the filed trip section of the Unit Study Treasure Vault.)

38. Horse and Carriage Rides: Jump on a free horse and carriage ride during the month of December. Enjoy the bells jingling on the horses as they trot down the street. Here was our experience: Horse and Carriage Ride.

39. Journey to Bethlehem: Experience the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, as they find out there is no room in the inn. Get bullied by the Roman soldiers and hear some angels sing. I filmed our experience here: Journey to Bethlehem

40. Snow Tubing: Enjoy riding down a snow slide in a huge, fat innertube. Great for all ages. You ride a conveyor belt thingy to get back to the top of the mountain, so it’s perfect for kids.

41. Night Skiing: Go skiing, and enjoy it at night!

See some sights in Spokane while listening to this 2-minute song by Jewel:

Hope you enjoy all these places as much as we did!


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5 Responses to “Staycation: Exploring Spokane”

  1. I like your idea of a staycation! We live out in the middle of nowhere, you might say. We are an hour from the nearest city, which you might think means that we are an hour from all the fun stuff too, but I’m finding that there are more fun things to do near home than I use to think there was 🙂 (Of course, living on a farm, so close to nature, is a blessing all in itself!) Thank you for sharing your fun staycation ideas with us!

    • Susan says:

      Oh, I would love to live in the country! There are so many things you can do to explore nature that aren’t possible in the city.

  2. Kelly says:

    What a great resource Susan. I have done everything except the Ren Fair (too nervous to bring my kiddos without knowing if it was truly family friendly) and tubing at Mt. Spokane. Off to the Ren Fair link to poke around….

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