A Northwest Loop

Field Report 20150314RC

Topic: An eclectic afternoon in Spokane

Conditions: Wonderfully aimless

milk-bottle-garland-district-spokane

Comments: I heard something on public radio the other day about the death of the mall. I guess the cultural mood is no longer so enthusiastic about driving to a giant parking lot to walk through a giant building of mostly corporate businesses. Maybe we're just equipped to have better adventures on a Saturday afternoon. 

Here's one: do a northwest loop—a jaunt around NW Spokane, discovering several uncommon experiences. Bring a few bucks, but not too much. It's a blue-collar area. Adjust as your free time allows. Here we go:

  1. A late-morning fuel-up at Indaba. Ask the barista about his/her week; they are real humans who love the small moments they get to share with guests. Take in the place; be inspired by the titles at the adjoined bookstore, the local music being played, or the intellectual "coffee talk" discussion that is happening. Yep, this stuff happens routinely on a late Saturday morning.
  2. Northward on Monroe, stopping copiously in this thrift/antique goldmine. Our faves include Tossed & Found for antiques and Global Neighborhood Thrift. The former might even buy something from you if you bring it in; the latter will have the best music playing in any Spokane thrift store, and you'll love their mission of empowering newly-arrived former refugees through the dignity of solid employment.
  3. Arrive at the Garland District. Duck into Drop Yer Drawers for a bit more thrifting, with a seriously quirky twist. Then, it's not too early for the iconic Mary Lou's Milk Bottle. Everyone knows the ice cream is local and good and the building has appeared in several movies. A secret some locals know: a plate of fresh-cut fries, made from local potatoes, is available at the retro price of less than two dollars. Keep walking. Men may want to get cleaned up at Porter's Barber Shop, but they are booked solid. Walk-ins are welcome, but they probably aren't getting their hair cut. There's usually some guys from the neighborhood just sitting around bantering, so feel free to shoot the breeze and make an appointment for later. Option: finish your afternoon with a movie and a hand-crafted cocktail at the Garland Theater and Bon Bon, or continue with the loop.
  4. Head West, then south to the Audubon Neighborhood. The crown jewel is Audubon Park; walk among the tall ponderosa pines or sit and be still for a bit. A late lunch (panini sandwich and soup) will not disappoint over at Little Garden Cafe, just across Northwest Boulevard. You might also get a few homemade pastries, which will come in handy on Sunday morning.
  5. Drop south down T.J. Meenach drive. Now, you have another choice to make. Head up the famous Doomsday Hill (pictured, Pettit Drive) and swing back downtown, or extend your northwest loop by continuing on TJ Meenach for a hike in Palisades Park: city views, trails, wildflowers. We love vintage maps; here's one that will come in handy at Palisades.

We think this is a decent way to spend a few hours exploring one segment of Spokane. We trust you'll find the northwest loop just slightly more active and eclectic than a visit to Northtown Mall —no offense.