Friday, January 6, 2017

Beckees Top 5 Spokane hang outs for families

Once again, as I said in this post, I often wonder where the locals really hang out in the places I visit (or when I move to a new place). So, I am going to share my top five local hang out spots from the places I have lived.  Yesterday I posted about Omaha

Next Up: Spokane

I told you yesterday that I lived in Omaha for my husband's medical school for four years, moved away for a year, then lived in Omaha again for four years of Radiology residency. That year in the middle was spend living in Spokane, Washington. This was our first experience living in the state that was clearly destined to be our ultimate home/settling place. 

To give you some background about that year, I have to admit that I did not get to venture out as much as I would have liked that year because I was unexpectedly (but excitedly) pregnant that year. And it was my rough pregnancy where I went into pre-term labor at about 20 weeks and was on bed rest for the next 20 weeks. I was so lucky to have a church family that took care of me even though I was still pretty new there, and 2 of my 3 older kids were going to preschool at the First Presbyterian Church preschool (which is now a full Pre K-5th grade Private School) in downtown Spokane,, and those wonderful moms and teachers helped me out a lot too! PLUS there was a great group of resident doctors wives that helped me a ton as well (in spite of the fact that several of them were also pregnant). AND my family from far and wide took turns flying in to Spokane to help me. So, in spite of the rough health circumstances of the year, I managed to find some gems in the city for places to send my family with my kids (or for me to go to when I was able to).

We lived right near downtown Spokane, so most of the places we hung out were near there. There are, I am sure, many more places in Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake areas, and even Coeur d'Alene areas that I am missing, but for ME, there were the solid hang out areas my kids and family LOVED!

Again, in no particular order, here are my Top 5 places to hang out in Spokane with a family:

1. Manito Park

What is it? A park with many beautiful themed gardens, a playground, pond and even a popular sledding hill.

My Experience with it: Honestly this was the be all end all hang out spot for my family. It was not too far from home, had a park, sledding hill, and so, so many beautiful gardens! Even when I was on bed rest, sometimes I would cheat just to get out of the house for a little bit and we would drive over here and I would sit and watch the kids play, or sit in one of the gardens. I love so much about this place! 

Where is it? 1702 S. Grand Blvd. Spokane, WA 99203

What can you do there and what does it cost? FREE. There is so much to do, and it's free! You can feed ducks at the pond, play at the playground, wank through the gardens, or sled down the hill (in the winter of course). This is a kids dream, but the gardens are still so peaceful and beautiful. My favorites are the Japanese Garden and the Rose Garden. Beautiful! 

2. Riverfront park

What is it? Yes, another Park. This one is right downtown on the river and there is a ton to do here! 

My Experience with it: We moved to Spokane at the end of June and I was put on bed rest sometime in January (If I remember right), so I had a few months to explore before bed rest took over. Most of my exploring time was spent at Manito Park and Riverfront Park. I was trying to be more fit and active back then, and I would drop my kids off at preschool then my 1 year old and I would walk over to Riverfront Park and he would play for a while then we would walk back to the car. So, we spent quite a bit of time here. There is a ton to do. Honestly, when we lived in Spokane, we could barely afford rent, food and the basics, so our activities had to be free. There's tons to do at this park, but we just did the free stuff (mostly).

Where is it? 507 N Howard St, Spokane, WA 99201

What can you do there and what does it cost?  There is a lot do do for FREE, but there is a lot to do that costs money as well. Plus you will need to plan to pay for parking as well (unless you walk from somewhere with free parking). My favorite FREE things about the park include the giant Red Wagon slide (my kids love this), the sculpture walk and the Spokane Falls. Some of the things we DID pay for at one point or another include the Skyride Over the Falls and the 1909 Looff Carrousel. There is so much to do there that I cannot really list it all (or the prices), so let me refer you to this site for more information about Riverfront Park.  

3. Riverside State Park (Nine Mile Falls)

What is it? A recreation area with an interpretive center, hiking trails and camping sites. 

My experience with it: OK, This is a site that makes the list based on my friends, family and mostly my husband's recommendations. I actually only made it up here once for a short hike. But when  I was making this list, my husband brought this place up and I remembered that he and the boys camped here with church and had hiked here. I had friends that lived near here and met to hike often. As I said, I only went once, but it was great and I would recommend it for sure! 

Where is it? 9711 W Charles Road, Nine Mile Falls, WA 99026 

What can you do there and what does it cost? This is a Washington State park, so you need a Discover Pass to go into this area. So, the cost is for either a day pass ($10) or an annual pass ($30, and if you live in Washington, get the annual pass-there are lots of awesome areas that require Discover Passes to use them. Totally worth the cost). While there, you can hike, cross country ski (winter), boat (summer),  camp, rock climb, or check our the interpretive center! 

4. U Pick Orchards/Green Bluff

What is it? A group of farms where you can go to pick and/or purchase fresh produce.

My Experience with it: We went to Green Bluff only a couple times when we lived in Spokane and I still miss it. Greatly. Fresh, awesome produce from a variety of farms! It's like going to a Farmers market, but actually going to the actual farms. The hardest part is deciding where to stop and how much you should really get. :) 

Where is it? Green Bluff is located about 15 minutes north of Spokane and is nestled at the foothills of Mt. Spokane. It is divided into two loops of farms, the East and the West. Click here for directions.

What can you do there and what does it cost? Prices vary. You can drive around the loops and find the fresh produce of your dreams (Or of my dreams-seriously, I still dream about this mecca of fresh produce). Some of the farms have U pick options, others just have freshly picked produce available for purchase. 

5. Spokane Valley Mall 

What is it? Literally just a mall

My Experience with it: We took the drive out East to the valley the first time because someone recommended we check out the most amazing game store ever, Uncle's games in the Spokane Valley Mall That was a great recommendation-it really is an awesome game store! But we also discovered that there was an indoor children's play area that my young kids (at the time) LOVED! What a blessed FREE indoor area to discover for cold winter days with kids that need to get out of the house! It was a drive for us, but worth it.

Where is it? 14700 East Indiana Avenue, Spokane Valley, WA 99216

What can you do there and what does it cost? Cost varies of course. You can shop and spend as much as you want OR just let your kids play in the play area for free. Whatever you do, make sure to stop in Uncle's games and check it out. You may spend more than you intended though because it is awesome! Just consider that fair warning! But even if you aren't going to purchase anything, go there anyway just to see all the unique games they have available. 

That is my Spokane Top five hang outs for families (at least for my family), but here are a few bonus suggestions:

  • Coeur D'Alene: One of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life. The area of the lake near Coeur d'Alene Resort is amazing. It is about 40-60 minute drive from Spokane, but totally worth it.
  • Liberty Lake: Check out the lake and the areas around it. Beautiful. (Side note, if we ever moved back to Spokane area, this is probably where my husband would want to live)
  • Children's museum (Mobius): I got to chaperone a couple field trips here. It was a lot of fun. I would for sure check it out with kids. My kids particularly loved the Philippines area since their dad lived in the Philippines for 2 years and they have heard about it their whole lives.