Near Nature, Near Perfect.

By Marianne Windham
Windham Travel and Leisure

Near Nature. Near Perfect. This is an official slogan for Spokane, Washington; and I would not disagree. I just spent the first week of August there visiting with four dear friends of 30+ years. Our host Brad just moved to Spokane Valley with his family last summer. Beautiful mountains and lakes easily invite nature enthusiasts who love hiking, tubing, kayaking, rafting, camping, fishing, boating, skiing, etc…

While visiting, we spent much of one day exploring Riverfront Park. It is a 100 acre oasis of land and water in downtown Spokane, Washington. Previously an old rail yard, the area was cleaned up and turned into the site of the 1974 World’s Fair. Spokane was the smallest city ever to hold a world’s fair. With a population of only 170,000, Expo ’74 attracted almost 5.2 million visitors from May to November 1974. In 2020, National Geographic named Riverfront Park one of America’s most beautiful urban parks. We had so much fun enjoying the park’s many attractions:

The Numerica SkyRide is a 15-minute gondola ride offering amazing views of the Spokane River and Spokane Falls that cascade through downtown Spokane. Conde Nast Traveler has named the SkyRide one of the top 12 scenic cable rides in the world.

The Riverfront Park Carrousel, also known as the Looff Carrousel, is over 100 years old, and is one of America’s most beautiful and well preserved hand-carved wooden carrousels. It was created by Charles Looff, a master craftsman, as a wedding gift for his daughter. It features 54 horses, 2 Chinese dragons, one giraffe, a tiger, AND a ring dispenser that allows riders to grab a ring on each pass. They then get to toss the ring at a target as they pass. BTW, I finally grabbed a ring on my 5th pass. Victory!

The Garbage Goat is a steel goat that eats small pieces of garbage with the aid of its vacuum digestive system. Created by a nun for the 1974 World’s Fair Expo as a recycling/environmental statement, the Garbage Goat has been in the park for almost 50 years. Very cool.

The Big Red Wagon is a giant 12-foot-high, 12-foot-wide, and 27-foot-long Radio Flyer “dedicated to Spokane’s children, as a reflection of the past, created in the present, to last into the future.”

While downtown, we stayed overnight in the Historic Davenport Hotel, which was the most elegant hotel in Spokane when it opened in 1914. It frequently hosted celebrities like Amelia Earhart, John F. Kennedy, and Spokane native Bing Crosby. Located in the hotel is the swanky Peacock Room Lounge, which showcases a beautiful giant 5000-piece peacock stained-glass ceiling; great food and drink. Stunning! The Davenport is within walking distance of shopping, dining, nightlife, and Riverfront Park.

Side trips included wineries and breweries on Green Bluff in the foothills of Mt. Spokane. We also travelled 30 miles to Idaho to visit Coeur d’Alene, home to the longest floating boardwalk in the world. Known as the lakeside playground of the Pacific Northwest, this town in the mountains attracts all who love lake sports and resort-style living. We had a wonderful dining experience at The Cedars floating restaurant. 

We also travelled 3 hours west for an overnight in the quaint Bavarian-style village of Leavenworth, WA. It is located in the Cascade Mountains on the Wenatchee River. For those of you familiar; it is very much like Helen, GA. We stayed at the Der Ritterhof Inn, made popular because of the 24 foot tall knight standing on its lawn. Made of galvanized steel and old car parts, the popular road side attraction is known as “The Big Guy”. Der Ritterhof is the German translation for “the knight house.” More Leavenworth highlights included Front Street, the Nutcracker Museum, authentic German food and treats at Andreas Keller and the Gingerbread Factory.

And of course we had to commemorate our 30-year reunion with a Bavarian themed photo shoot! ; )

My oh my! SO much more to share about our adventures. You must visit!

Safe Travels,
Travel not to find yourself, but to remember who you’ve been all along

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