People have been gathering at Spokane Falls for hundreds of years – first it was an important meeting place for the Native Americans, then it became a railroad hub and in 1974, Riverfront Park, was the hub of the World’s Fair.
Today the park teems with tourists and locals alike. A beautiful place where you can lay in the grass, watch the Fourth of July fireworks, ride a historical carrousel or a modern gondola, whip down a slide in a giant replica Radio Flyer or just enjoy all of the pedestrian-only bridges traversing the Spokane River.
During the World’s Fair, my grandparents – G. Donald and Lydia Craker – lived in the Hillyard District in a tiny three bedroom house, measuring less than 1,000 square feet.
Throughout the summer, they had 155 friends and family members sleep in their house and prepared a whopping 410 meals.
This park has long had a connection to the Craker family and it is no different today.
Every time I’ve visited my parents in Spokane the last decade they’ve lived here, we head down to Riverfront Park. We’ve done it with four feet of snow on the ground and we’ve done it in 100-degree weather. You can’t visit Spokane without hitting up its premier gathering place.
One of our favorite parts of the park is the Loof Carrousel, which is a hand-carved wooden ride built in 1909. We tried to take Cat on it during our Christmas visit in 2014, but that quickly ended after about 10 seconds with her weeping.
Hopefully someday soon she will be able to enjoy it like the rest of us.
One thing she did enjoy this summer was the slide on the giant Radio Flyer wagon. The wagon is 27 feet long and the handle is the slide. I remember one time riding it in the winter, and shooting off into a giant pile of snow. That was fun.
After hitting the slide, we made our way over to the pedestrian bridges above Spokane Falls. The suspension bridges give fantastic views of the river, though they are a bit low in the summer. For peak viewing visit in the spring when the snow is melting and the runoff is raging.
No matter when you visit Spokane, though, a trip to Riverfront Park is worth it.
– Craig Craker