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Spokane in Washington State.

 

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Spokane is a city located in the Northwestern United States in the state of Washington. It is the largest city and county seat of Spokane County, as well as the metropolitan center of the Inland Northwest region. The city is located on the Spokane River in Eastern Washington, 110 miles (180 km) south of the Canadian border, approximately 20 miles (32 km) from the Washington-Idaho border, and 271 miles (436 km) east of Seattle.

Culture

Life in Spokane is heavily influenced by its climate and geographical location. Spokane experiences a four-season climate, and is close in proximity to dozens of lakes and rivers for swimming, boating, rafting, and fishing, as well as mountains for skiing, hiking, and biking. Within a short drive from Spokane, visitors can find 76 lakes, 33 golf courses, 11 wineries, five ski resorts, five major national parks, the Columbia River gorge, and the Grand Coulee Dam. Glacier National Park is just four hours away from Spokane, and Mt. Rainier National Park and North Cascades National Park are four and a half hours away. Other national parks are less than an eight-hour drive away, including the United States' Yellowstone National Park, and Canada's Banff National Park and Jasper National Park.

Spokane is big enough to have many amenities of a larger city, but small enough to support annual events and traditions with a small town atmosphere. Spokane was awarded the All-America City Award by the National Civic League in 1974 and 2004. The National Civic League is an organization which recognizes communities whose citizens work together to identify and tackle community-wide challenges and achieve uncommon results. There are several museums in the city, most notably the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC), a Smithsonian affiliate museum that houses a large collection of Native American artifacts as well as regional and national traveling art exhibits. Located in Browne's Addition amid the mansions of Spokane's late 19th-century golden age, the Museum is in a secluded setting a few blocks from the center of downtown.

Arts and theater

Spokane hosts a variety of visual and performing arts scenes. These attractions include a major civic theater as well as several smaller ones, the Spokane Symphony, a jazz orchestra, an opera house, and other musical venues. Spokane's local music scene however, is considered somewhat lacking by some, they have identified a need for a legitimate all-ages venue for music performances.

Spokane has a vibrant art scene. Spokane's two main Artwalk dates (the first Friday of February and October) attract large crowds to the art districts. Spokane's main art districts are located in the Davenport District, the Garland Business District, and East Sprague. The First Friday Artwalk, which occurs the first Friday of every month, is dedicated to local vendors and performers displaying art around Downtown. The Davenport District is also home to many art galleries as well as some of Spokane's main performing arts venues.

Spokane offers an array of musical performances catering to a variety of interests. The Spokane Symphony Orchestra presents a full season of classical music, and the Spokane Jazz Orchestra, a full season of jazz music. The Spokane Symphony is a non-profit organization that was originally incorporated as the Spokane Philharmonic in 1945. The Spokane Jazz Orchestra is a non-profit organization formed in 1962 that claims to be the nation's oldest, continually performing, professional, and community-supported 17-piece big band.

Theater is provided by Spokane's only resident professional company, Interplayers Ensemble. Theater is also provided by Spokane Civic Theatre and several amateur community theaters and smaller groups. Fox Theater, which has been restored to its original 1931 Art Deco state, is the home of the Spokane Symphony. The Metropolitan Performing Arts Center was restored in 1988 and renamed Bing Crosby Theater in honor of Spokane native Bing Crosby in 2006.

Parks and recreation

The Spokane area offers an abundance of outdoor activities that can be enjoyed in outlying natural areas that may cater to a variety of interests, including miles of hiking trails, many lakes for fishing and watersports, and numerous parks for sightseeing. In 1907, Spokane's board of park commissioners retained the services of the Olmsted Brothers to draw up a plan for Spokane's parks. Much of Spokane's park land was acquired by the city prior to World War I, establishing the city early on as a leader among Western cities in the development of a city-wide park system. Today, Spokane has a system of over 75 parks totaling 3,488 acres (14.12 km2). Some of the most notable parks in Spokane's extensive park system are Riverfront Park, Manito Park and Botanical Gardens, Riverside State Park, Mount Spokane State Park, Saint Michael's Mission State Park, the Bowl & Pitcher and the John A. Finch Arboretum.

Riverfront Park, created after Expo '74 and occupying the same site, is 100 acres (0.40 km2) in downtown Spokane and the site of some of Spokane's largest events. The park has views of the Spokane Falls, and holds a number of civic attractions, including a Skyride that is a rebuilt gondola that carries visitors across the falls from high above the river gorge, a 5-story IMAX theater, and a small amusement park (which is converted into an ice-skating rink during the winter months) with numerous rides and concessions. The park is host to a full schedule of family entertainment and events such as the Bloomsday Post-Race Celebration, Hoopfest, the IMAX Film Festival, Spokane Music Festival, Pig Out in the Park, Restaurant Fair, Pow Wow, First Night Spokane, and outdoor concerts and other community activities. The park also includes the hand-carved Riverfront Park Looff carousel created in 1909 by Charles I. D. Looff as a wedding present for his daughter. The carousel still operates in Riverfront Park, where riders can participate in an old-time ring toss. The carousel continues to offer a free ride to the rider who grabs the brass ring. Riverfront Park also includes ample views of the Spokane falls as well as other water features of the Spokane River. Manito Park and Botanical Gardens, on Spokane's South Hill, has a duck pond, a central conservatory named in memory of Dr. David Gaiser, Duncan Gardens, a classical European Renaissance style garden, and the Nishinomiya Japanese Garden designed by Nagao Sakurai. Riverside State Park, is a scenic park close to downtown that is a site for hiking, mountain biking, and rafting. The John A. Finch Arboretum, is a 57-acre (0.23 km2) public arboretum featuring a variety of rare and native trees and wildlife.

During the summer months, the City of Spokane is served by six all-new neighborhood aquatic centers, including the Comstock Park Pool, long a Spokane fixture, with its historic bathhouse. In 2008, voters approved a $43 million bond which allowed for the complete reconstruction of the city's five swimming pools and the addition of a new facility near Shadle Park High School.

A more active way to see natural sites in the Spokane area include travelling the Spokane River Centennial Trail, which features over 37 miles (60 km) of paved trails running along the Spokane River from Sontag Park in west Spokane to the east shore of Lake Coeur d'Alene in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. This trail continues on as the North Idaho Centennial Trail in Idaho and is often used for alternative transportation and recreational use, such as running, walking, cycling, or skating.

In addition to the park system within the city, there are many natural areas where outdoors activities can be enjoyed close by. In the summer, one may visit Lake Coeur d'Alene, Lake Pend Oreille, Priest Lake, or one of the other nearby bodies of water. The Spokane area has 76 lakes and numerous rivers, where various water sports, fishing, camping, and rafting can take place. In the winter, the public has access to five ski resorts within a couple hours of the city, including Schweitzer Mountain Resort in Sandpoint, Idaho, Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg, Idaho, Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area in Mullan, Idaho, and 49 Degrees North Ski Area in Chewelah, Washington. The closest ski area is Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park, operated by a non-profit organization. Mt. Spokane has trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and dog sledding. During the non-winter months, hikers and mountain bikers may use the trails.

Events and activities

Spokane is home to annual events and attractions that draw people from the surrounding area. Every year in May, Spokane hosts the Lilac Festival, which features many events including the Armed Forces Torchlight Parade held the third Sunday of May. The Lilac Bloomsday Run, held on the first Sunday of each May, is a 7.46-mile (12.01 km) race competitive runners, as well as walkers, that typically draws about 45,000 participants. Hoopfest is held the last weekend in June, and has a variety of participants, from kids, teens, and adults to former college and NBA players, in their respective brackets. Hoopfest started in 1989 with just 300+ teams, but now the event averages more than 25,000 participants or around 6,000 3-4 person teams annually.

Film festivals held in Spokane include The Spokane International Film Festival and The Spokane Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Held every February, The Spokane International Film Festival is a small, juried festival that features documentaries and shorts from around the world. The Spokane Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, which is held every November, features contemporary, independent films of interest to the GLBT community. Also, The Garland Village Arts & Music Festival takes place the second Saturday every August.

Other notable events in Spokane include the Spokane Interstate Fair, Spokane Comic con, Japan Week, Get Lit!, and The Spokane Pride Parade. The Spokane Interstate Fair is held annually in September at the Fair and Expo Center which recently completed an $18 million dollar expansion. Japan Week is held in April and celebrates the sister-city relationship with Nishinomiya, Hyogo, demonstrating the many commonalities shared between the two cities. Students from the Spokane campus of Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute, Whitworth University, Gonzaga University, Spokane Falls and Spokane Community College organize an array of Japanese cultural events, in addition to a number of others that take place around the city. Get Lit! is an annual literary festival held each April for readers and writers sponsored by the Eastern Washington University Press. Get Lit! features author presentations, reading and writing workshops, panels, and author visitations to schools throughout the eastern Washington and northern Idaho area. The Spokane Pride Parade held each June draws gays, lesbians, and others in celebration of the value of diversity.

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