The iconic Riverfront Park is a public urban park situated in the heart of downtown Spokane, WA along the Spokane River and encompasses two dams and Upper Spokane Falls. It is open daily, year-round, from 6:00am to Midnight.
Riverfront Park was not always the urban oasis it is today. The 100-acre park was an old rail yard but 50 years ago the area was cleaned up and turned into the site of the 1974 World’s Fair and then into Riverfront Park.
Over three million people visit the park annually. Information on local attractions, history, maps, and tours are available from the Spokane Visitor Information Center at 620 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
The park and the surrounding falls were a Native American gathering place, which had a number of fishing camps near the base of the falls. In 1871 the first American settlers arrived, establishing a claim and building a sawmill near the falls. By the end of the 19th century, glumes and water, utilizing the fast-moving Spokane River, mechanized the sawmills and flour mills located along the river.
A timber dam was built at the Lower Falls in 1890 (replaced in 1974) and another dam was built on the Upper Falls in 1922. These still-operating hydroelectric facilities on the falls from the park’s industrial past are among the tourist sites in Riverfront Park.
Downtown Spokane, including what is now Riverfront Park was a hub for passenger and freight rail transport and remained that way for several decades. In 1972, the railyards were removed and the area around Spokane Falls was reclaimed to host the upcoming environmentally-themed Expo ’74 World’s fair. Plans called for the preservation of the site as a legacy of Expo ’74 and for converting it into an urban park.
Riverfront Park was officially opened in 1978. Several of the park’s most recognizable buildings, such as the U.S. Pavilion, the Spokane Convention Center, and the First Interstate Center for the Arts, remain from Expo ’74.
The Bloomsday Run in Spokane, Washington, is represented with a collection of steel sculptures called The Joy of Running Together. The 12-kilometer road race has been attracting tens of thousands of runners from all over the world for more than four decades.
Between November and February the Numerica Skate Ribbon, a 16-foot-wide and 650-foot-long ribbon of ice, is open. You can rent a pair of ice skates or just sit around the nearby fire pits and enjoy a hot beverage while watching others glide & fall on the ice.
Summer tourists can enjoy the same location on rollerblades, skateboards, or scooters, which makes the Skate Ribbon a year-round attraction.
SkyRide Above The Falls
The Numerica SkyRide offers the greatest views of Spokane Falls and downtown Spokane. Enjoy the 15 minute ride in an “all weather” enclosed cabin traveling past art deco City Hall, and gradually dropping over 200 feet over the Huntington Park Natural Area and Spokane River, over the magnificent splendor of the falls, then beneath the historic Monroe Street Bridge before returning to Riverfront Park.
Riverfront Rotary Fountain
The Rotary Fountain is just outside the main doors of the Visitor Information Center. Five stainless steel columns and eight geysers shoot water into the air. The fountain is surrounded by 40 overhead jets and creates a dome-like waterfall. Children and adults of all ages are welcome to run through and enjoy the fountain while it is open from May to September.
Visitors of all ages can relive their childhood memories riding the famous and historic Looff Carrousel at Riverfront Park. Built in 1909 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is one of the most magnificent and well-preserved hand-carved wooden carrousels in the United States. Looff Carrousel is comprised of 54 horses, 1 giraffe, 1 tiger, 2 Chinese dragon chairs, and a brass bell to grab the attention of the audience. It is also capable of accommodating wheelchairs.
A 12-foot-high, 12-foot-wide, and 27-foot-long Radio Flyer is a childhood favorite. Dedicated “to Spokane’s children, as a reflection of the past, made in the present, and intended to last until the future,” this over-sized wagon is the ideal pit stop for the whole crew. Parents can sit back and watch their children slide down the wagon handle or join in the fun and go down the slide themselves.
The Clocktower on the Havermale Island was part of the Great Northern Railroad Depot long before the 1974 Expo. Completed in 1902. 120 years later, the clock tower still works but requires someone climb the five stories to crank the clock frequently.
The Pavilion, which was originally constructed as the United States Federal Pavilion for Expo ’74, is located in the heart of Havermale Island.
It was reopened in 2019 after being completely refurbished, and it is now outfitted with cutting-edge lighting that provides spectacular light shows that you can enjoy in the evenings. From an elevated platform at the Pavilion, you’ll be able to take in amazing views of the river and the surrounding area.
Snxw Mene Island
There’s another island in the middle of the Spokane River, and it is also well worth the trip from the main island. Heading west from the Pavilion, you will come to a footbridge that will take you over the Upper Falls to an island known as Snxw Mene (sin-HOO-men-huh).
If you visit in the spring, when the melting winter snows feed the river, you can experience the enormous power and force of the Spokane River firsthand. This isn’t some manufactured tourist attraction. This is nature at its most beautiful.
Ice Age Floods Playground
This is unquestionably one of the nicest playgrounds in Spokane. It includes a three-story slide tower, a children’s fossil dig expedition, and a rock climbing boulder that looks much like the real thing. The playground offers everything you need to keep your kids entertained while they burn off some energy.
Skate and Wheels Park
The Skate and Wheels Park offers a safe space for children and adults to skateboard, rollerblade, and more. Full-sized bowls, hubbas, ledges, rails, and enough transition to keep you skateboarding for hours on end. The Skate and Wheels Park contains both mild and steep features, making it a concrete haven for people of all ability levels to enjoy.
The Providence Playscape, which is the city of Spokane’s first all-inclusive playground, is intended to be both physically and socially accessible to all children. The playground assists children in meeting developmental milestones and provides activities that suit their physical, cognitive, social, and sensory needs, among other things.
A unique feature of the playground is that it has been created to allow children who use assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, to enjoy the space and move freely throughout the park. This is certainly a one-of-a-kind play area, and it is just one of the numerous initiatives being undertaken by the city of Spokane to assist in meeting the different needs of its citizens and visitors.
The Spider Jump
Bungee jumping has historically been regarded as an attraction that should be admired from a distance and anything more than casual jumping on trampolines requires extensive training in order to be used safely. Now, however, these activities have been combined into a new, safe, and thrilling interactive sport known as SPIDER JUMP!
While bouncing on the Bungee Trampoline, the jumper is held in safely by special elastic bands that are attached to the structure. These elastics help to increase the height and velocity of the leap while also helping to keep the jump in control.
Other Spokane Attractions
Article Source: Mid-Columbia Insurance Agency