Travelling to Spokane, WA for Hoopfest? There is plenty to do in between watching or playing basketball at the largest three-on-three street basketball tournament on the planet, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If you missed our article on saving money on vacation, click here for great ideas to travel on a budget.
Parking and driving around downtown can be a little challenging when Spokane is hosting 200,000 basketball players and fans, so you may want to consider taking the bus. On both days of Hoopfest, STA (Spokane’ bus system) is offering day passes for just $1.50, and there are two free park-and-ride lots. Check the website for more information on Hoopfest schedules—please note that the Plaza downtown will not be open to buses (to make room for Hoopfest!), so bus stops will be in alternate nearby locations.
In addition to loads of free live music and other entertainment at Hoopfest in downtown Spokane, including Hoopfest Saturday Night (DJ nightclub party) at the Lincoln Center (1316 N. Lincoln Street), here are some suggestions for making the most of your visit.
Catch a Live Show
Spokane has a thriving live music scene, with venues large and small, offering country, blues, rock, pop, and more. To pick out some good local live music, check out the Inlander’s live music calendar. There are also a couple of national acts in town on Hoopfest weekend. The infamous rock band KISS is performing at the Spokane Arena Friday night. Click here for tickets. The Judds play at Northern Quest Resort and Casino on Saturday night (see below).
Shopping with Local Flair
Riverpark Sqare in downtown Spokane is a great mall (and has a great movie theater with cushy couch-style seats), but think outside of the mall if you want a more uniquely Spokane shopping experience. If you are staying downtown or are downtown for the day during Hoopfest, walk east on Main Street to find a variety of locally owned businesses.
You’ll go by Auntie’s Bookstore, a large, wonderful, independent gem with a local gourmet café, Santé, in the same building. Closer to Division Street is Finders Keepers, a designer dress boutique, and Kizuri, a fair trade clothing and gift store, and more. Along the way, you’ll be tempted by local purveyors of food and drink.
Stroll up toward 2nd Avenue for more independent, local shops: the Spokane Public Market (24 W. 2nd Ave.), Sun People Dry Goods (32 W. 2nd Ave.), Saunders Cheese Market (210 S. Washington Street, handcrafted artisanal cheeses), and Lolo Boutique (319 W. 2nd Ave.) are some of the highlights. There are also numerous wineries to visit in the downtown area—go to the Spokane Winery Association website for details.
Just north of downtown at 621W. Mallon, visit the Flour Mill for great local shops and restaurants inside a historic flour mill: our favorites include the Kitchen Engine, the Chocolate Apothecary, Tobacco World (fine cigar shop), Wonders of the World, and the Queen of Sheba restaurant (click here for our review of this fabulous Ethiopian restaurant).
Leonardo da Vinci at the MAC
Be sure to check out the wonderful, interactive da Vinci exhibit at the MAC Museum of Arts and Culture, which just opened this month. A big bonus is seeing the huge old houses of historic Browne’s Addition neighborhood, just west of downtown Spokane, where the MAC is located. For more information, check out our blog post on it.
The Garland District is a quick drive or bus ride from downtown Spokane, and it is a great place to hang out and escape the crowds downtown during Hoopfest for awhile. Right away you’ll see the historic Garland Theatre at Maple and Garland, Spokane’s only independent “encore” theater, which runs second-run movies for just $3.50 all the time, so you can catch a flick in a beautiful old theatre for very little money. Stroll up and down Garland for great little locally owned shops and cafes, including the 1950s-style Ferguson’s Café and the Milk Bottle, a former ice cream parlor turned café that features a two-story milk bottle for a store-front. Other quirky local gems include the Blue Door Theatre, a family friendly improv. comedy group that performs every Friday and Saturday night, and Drop Your Drawers, a unique clothing consignment shop with everything from old sweaters to outrageous costume platform shoes. For nightlife, you can enjoy an old-fashioned drink at Bon Bon, the hippest bar on Garland, located inside the Garland Theatre building with an old-fashioned soda fountain/candy store feel and fixtures made from old movie reels.
Northern Quest Resort and Casino
This large resort near the airport has a lot more than just 46,000 square feet of gaming space. It also boasts the Inland Northwest’s only cigar room, several restaurants with casual to fine dining (if you’re vegetarian, try Fatburger’s veggie burger), a night club with entertainment seven nights a week, a sports bar with a 30’ x 10’ HD screen, and a full-service spa. The Judds are playing at Northern Quest’s new outdoor concert venue on June 25 at 7:30 p.m. Click here for ticket information.
Japanese Gardens at Manito Park. Copyright City of Spokane Parks and Recreation.
Find out Why We Say Spokane Is “Near Nature, Near Perfect”
Walk or bike through Riverside State Park to get into the woods without leaving the city and admire the beautiful Spokane River. You can also enjoy great views of natural areas of the Spokane River on the Centennial Trail, a paved walkway/bike path. Or simply take in the beauty of one of our gorgeous city parks—Manito Park, Finch Arboretum, and the Moore-Turner Heritage Gardens are all uniquely Spokane and uniquely beautiful.