Golfing and Exploring Spokane, WA
...lot of courses, history & activities for all ages!

Story and photos by: Ed Stone
(All golf photos courtesy of each course)

The name “Spokane” means "Children of the Sun” and originates from the Native American tribe by that name and made its home in the Northwest area.  The proper enunciation is “spō-ʹkăn”…not “spō-ʹkăne.”  The city of Spokan Falls (without an 'e'; the 'e' was added in 1883 and "Falls" was dropped in 1891) was officially incorporated as a city of 350 residents on November 29, 1881.

From the World's Fair Expo '74 Tower, to the MeadowWood Golf course, to the Arbor Crest winery...Spokane has a lot to offer the locals and visitors.

 A few other interesting facts about this most interesting area:

Spokane is home to an all-original Looff Carousel in Riverfront Park.  This 1909 antique features 54 hand-carved horses

The Bing Crosby Theater is officially called the Metropolitan Performing Arts Center in Spokane.

The Fox Theater was a budget movie house in 2000 when the Spokane Symphony bought it for $1.25 million to save it from demolition.
(Read complete story)

  • Spokane is where the first Father's Day celebration took place on June 19th, 1910 created by Sonora Smart Dodd.

  • Spokane hosted the first environmentally-themed World’s Fair Expo in 1974.

  • Spokane is home to an all-original Looff Carousel in Riverfront Park.  This 1909 antique features 54 hand-carved horses.

  • Spokane Falls SkyRide descends 200 feet across the Spokane River.  A “not to be missed” experience!

  • Spokane is home to 14 of the finest wineries in the country.  These are small, family-run wineries.  For the owners, this means a hands-on approach to the production process.

  • Spokane is home to Gonzaga University that houses the Crosbyana Room.  Here you’ll find more than 200 pieces of the world's largest public collection of Bing Crosby memorabilia, including an Oscar.  Bing was raised in Spokane and attended law school at Gonzaga University before taking his show on the road to Los Angeles.  

Harry Lillis Crosby or as we know him, “Bing” was an avid golfer.  He founded the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 1937.  Here is where we find a Spokane celebrity connection to golf…where some 33 courses are within a short drive from downtown.

The Spokane City Parks Department offers four of the finest golf courses in the area.

(Top) Indian Canyon has been selected by Golf Digest as one of the top 25 public courses in the U.S.
(Below) The Creek at Qualchan is Spokane's newest golf offering

Spokane’s oldest golf course is Downriver.  Built in 1916, it features tree lined fairways and skirts the Spokane River and Riverside State Park.  This is a layout enjoyed by players of all skill levels.  Downriver Golf Course is considered one of the favorites for the locals.

Indian Canyon has been chosen by Golf Digest as one of the top 25 public course in the United States.  The course was designed in 1930 by H. Chandler Egan and opened for play in 1935.   With heavily bunkered and greatly undulated greens, this is one of the most popular courses in Spokane.  It’s a par 72, hilly 6,255 yards of golfing challenge.  The course sits atop the west entrance to Spokane, overlooking the city.  Indian Canyon has hosted the USGA three times; the United States Amateur Public Links Championship in 1941 and 1984; and the United States Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship in 1989.  Indian Canyon is now host to the Rosauers Open, the largest PGA section event in the United States. Built on a canyon wall with a vertical drop of 240 feet amid many towering pines, it offers a diverse and unique playing environment.

Esmeralda was built in 1956 with par 70, 6,249 yards offering open space and flat fairways lined with over 2,000 trees. This combination of attributes makes this superbly maintained course an easy one to break 100 on and tough to break par.  Esmeralda's layout lends itself to all levels of golfing skills.

The Creek at Qualchan is a beautiful 18-hole layout offering up to 6,559 yards of challenging golf.  This is Spokane's newest golf offering.   The Qualchan Creek meanders through the course creating five ponds and natural areas.  The first tee puts you into the right frame of mind as it is elevated and your first shot is over Qualchan Creek with at least a 150 yard carry from the white tees.  The Creek at Qualchan is a member of the New York State Audubon Society offering four sets of tees and a par of 72.

Spokane County offers another dozen layouts like Trailhead at Liberty Lake Golf Course.

For more information on these four golf courses, go to:

Spokane County serves up another dozen golf courses offering just about any style or challenge you could want in a golf game.  Some to be reckoned with are:

Noteworthy at this time is a pair of Spokane County-owned courses were recently renovated.  The 50-year-old Liberty Lake golf course got a $4.5-million facelift and updating in 2010.  The 42-year-old Hangman Valley course got tee, bunker and re-grassing work back in 2009.

Kokanee Springs Golf Resort is one of several other courses in the Spokane area.

Other Regional Golf Courses worth checking out when visiting the area are:

For more information on these Spokane County and regional golf courses, go to:

If ever there was a hotel with charm, history, class and down-home friendliness, it is The Davenport Hotel and Tower.  The Davenport Hotel originally opened in 1914 and continues to be celebrated as one of the best hotels in the country. 

(Top) The Davenport Hotel originally opened in 1914 and continues to be celebrated as one of the best hotels in the country.
(Bottom) The new 327 room Davenport Tower Hotel.

The beautiful lobby of The Davenport Hotel where the fireplace burns year-round.

John Reid has been a bellman at The Davenport Hotel for 50 years.

It was built by Lewellyn "Louis" Davenport who came to Spokane Falls, Washington Territory, in the spring of 1889 at the age of 20.  After being in the restaurant business, he and architect Kirtland Cutter created what was often called "the house of comfort." Mr. Davenport liked that description very much. "In all things," he wrote, "the hotel sincerely tries to so well please its guests that they will be glad they came, sorry to leave and eager to return." This mission statement still guides the hotel today.

Many famous guests have stayed at The Davenport Hotel.  It has been home to royalty, kings of industry, captains of commerce, stars of stage and screen and just about every American president of the 20th century.  To name just a few, there were: Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Mary Pickford, Clark Gable, John Philip Sousa, Lawrence Welk, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Benny Goodman.  Guests may view a wonderful collection of these photos and other memorabilia and artifacts in display cases in the hotel's mezzanine.

In 1985, The Davenport Hotel closed and did not reopen until 2002.  Walt and Karen Worthy purchased the property in 2000.  They spent $35 million and two years on restoring it to its original beauty and opulence.  The hotel has 284 rooms and the Tower has an additional 327 luxurious rooms/suites for a total of 611 rooms.  Numerous amenities include a full-service spa, pool, gym, candy shop, flower and gift shop, and galleria of original artworks.  The Davenport Hotel is on Conde Nast’s Top 100 List and ranked #3 in the United States and #6 in the world on the Insiders Select list.   It is also a AAA Four Diamond Award winner and the fourth-largest hotel in Washington State.

Meeting planners will feel right at home in The Davenport Hotel and Towers.  Here they have the oldest and newest meeting space ranging in size from 400 sq. ft. to 6,200 sq. ft. with both wired and wireless Internet capabilities.  The total meeting space is 33,000 sq. ft.

Dining is pure pleasure at The Davenport with the Palm Court Grill, the Peacock Room and the Safari Room.  The Crab Louis (named for Mr. Davenport) is still a signature and very popular item on the menu today.

Bruttles, a confectionary phenomenon located in The Davenport Hotel has the tastiest and non-sticking soft peanut brittle you will ever enjoy.

Soft peanut brittle is a turndown treat at The Davenport Hotel.  Bruttles, a confectionary phenomenon located in The Davenport Hotel has the tastiest and non-sticking soft peanut brittle you will ever enjoy.  In 1951, a customer to the Davenport complained about the candy sticking to her teeth.  So, Aunt Sophia Gerkensmeyer, the owner, created a special recipe that is offered today to thousands of guests and via mail order.  Bruttles offers a variety of candies from hard peanut brittle, caramels, turtles, soft peanut butter brittle, and even some fantastic chocolate dipped candies. (Click here for more history of Bruttles and gift information.)

Just across the street from The Davenport Hotel is Moxie.  This is one of those local restaurants you “must try.”  Its Euro-Asian cuisine is prepared by owner and Chef Ian Wingate who once was a chef at The Davenport.  Prices are reasonable for outstanding intimate atmosphere, service and food/drink.
As noted earlier, there are some 14 wineries in the Spokane area.  This is one you will not want to miss.  History abounds here as well as great wine. 

The Arbor Crest Cliff House was built in 1924 and today is a tasting room for Arbor Crest Wines.  History abounds at the Arbor Crest Cliff House where great wines are made in the Spokane area.

Royal Newton Riblet constructed the three-story Florentine house.  Today it is surrounded by an arched gatekeeper's house, sunken rose garden, open-air pagoda, terraced flower and herb gardens, and a life-sized checkerboard.  Riblet was an inventor and developed patented devices such as a pattern sprinkler system, a mechanical parking garage and the square wheel tractor displayed at the Cliff House.

Of the 14 wineries, the vintners produce a blend of distinctly Washington wines.  These unique products range from intense, rich reds and crisp whites to complex blends, and even a bit of the bubbly.  Some of the varieties include Chardonnay, Riesling, Muscat, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Barbera, and proprietary blends of both reds and whites.

A warm and friendly welcome greets guests at the tasting rooms with many offering their winemakers ready to share their passion for their products. Many of the wineries are open daily, and most all are open on weekends.

Kayaking on the Little Spokane River.

For those looking for some soft adventure and enjoyment of the out-of-doors, I highly recommend a kayak trip on The Little Spokane River.  The drive is about six (6) miles northwest of downtown Spokane.  The natural area covers some 7-plus river miles within its 1,993 acres. Washington State Parks and Spokane County Parks have both acquired lands in the area to guarantee its protection. The area is managed as part of Riverside State Park under a joint interagency agreement with Spokane County Parks. For more information on this activity, click here.

Just two blocks from The Davenport Hotel is Riverfront Park.  Here is where the 1974 Expo was held and where the city & county did a major cleanup on some 100 acres of land and water.  Here is where you can view and enjoy Spokane Falls.  This area was where Native Americans once gathered and fished for their livelihood.  Here is where the pioneers settled in the late 1800’s and began the city of Spokane.  As the city grew, so did the railroads and this increase caused further growth creating the Havermale Island and the present site of Riverfront Park.  Today, this 100-acre downtown park offers locals and visitors the SkyRide, Carrousel, Rotary Riverfront Water Fountain, Giant Screen IMAX and Ice Palace, plus many festivals, concerts and celebrations.

(Top) Riverfront Park was home to the 1974 World's Fair Expo.  Here the all-original Looff Carousel can be enjoyed by young and old alike.
(Bottom) One of the structures from the 1974 World's Fair Expo provides a glimpse of this event.

Manito Park features five gardens in a 90 acres setting

(Top) Manito Gardens
(Above) The Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture.
(Below) One of the many exhibits in the museum.

Manito Park features five gardens, conservatory, duck pond and offers visitors 90 acres of beautiful lawns, large trees, playgrounds, walking paths, biking trails and topiary shrubs.  This is a perfect example of great use of green space for a metropolitan area.  Manito Park is one of those local “no cost” attractions that should be on every visitor’s itinerary.

Museum addicts can get their fix at the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture.  Here I found some of the most interesting American Indian exhibits and historical artifacts focusing on the Northwestern tribes.  This beautiful facility is most impressive and houses six different galleries of exhibits, a 300-seat outdoor Amphitheater and the historic Campbell House.  This is a region where visitors can enjoy and take advantage of the natural resources.  There are 76 lakes, 33 golf courses, five major National Parks and much, much more.

With a population of just over 200,000 and the metro area of another half million, Spokane is the second largest populated area in the State.  As in many cities that were settled on or near a river, Spokane is no different.  The Spokane River has played an important part in the city’s character and development.  This is a region where visitors can enjoy and take advantage of the natural resources.  There are 76 lakes, 33 golf courses, five major National Parks, the spectacular Columbia River Gorge, and Grand Coulee Dam all within an easy drive of the city.

For golfers and non-golfers, this area offers plenty of golf and a wide variety of activities to accommodate all ages.

Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau
801 W Riverside Avenue, Suite 301
Spokane, WA 99201
Toll Free: 1-888-spokane (1-888-776-5263)
Phone: 509-624-1341
Fax: 509-623-1297