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Moondoggies, garbage goats and gilded unicorns

Forty-eight hours of “funky” fun in Spokane

“The Salmon Chief,” a 12-foot sculpture at the foot of the Lower Spokane Falls in Spokane’s Riverfront Park. Photo credit: Christina Butcher

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There's nothing like the sun-kissed days of summer here in Washington State, especially after a long and cold winter followed by a soggy spring. So, to welcome in the sun and the season, we decided to hit the road for a weekend getaway to Spokane. 

The "Lilac City" is the second-largest city in Washington State, and it's located about six hours northwest of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. It packs a big punch when it comes to outdoor adventures and arts and entertainment, not to mention an infamously "funky" vibe. 

As we were determined to start our adventure off with a truly off-beat activity - one we could only find in Spokane -- we headed straight to goat yoga at Fat Girl Yoga upon arrival. That's right, we said goat yoga, which is as blessedly fun and simple as it sounds. Yoga practitioners move through poses while baby goats frolic around (and on) them. Trust us, it's as delightful as it sounds. Since the goats are bred seasonally and the kids mature quickly, goat yoga classes are only offered seasonally. This year, they're available from May to mid-June. 

After we got our fill of kid cuddles and yoga poses, we headed downtown, where 20th-century brick buildings have been restored and put to use as modern shopping and entertainment venues. Most of the buildings downtown are connected by second-story, enclosed walking bridges that allow pedestrians to cross from one street to the next with incredible ease. Atticus Coffee & Gifts, a coffee shop with tasty cold brew and a plethora of city-specific souvenirs, was among our favorite stops as we ambled through city streets and sidewalk vendors. 

The biggest allure of downtown Spokane, though, is easily Riverfront Park. The 100-acre urban park follows Spokane River through the city and houses treasures like a vacuum-powered "garbage goat" sculpture (which eats trash right out of your hand), up-close views of Spokane River Falls, and the historic, hand-carved Loof Carousel. This wooden carousel was built in 1909 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Its horses, tigers, Chinese-dragon chairs and giraffes have been ridden over 24 million times since the carousel was built. 

To finish off our day of fun, we headed to Steam Plant, an industrial plant-turned-brewery and restaurant not too far from the riverfront. Here, we marveled at historic, twin smokestacks that cut into the city skyline while sipping house-brewed jalapeno beer. One hearty, blackened rockfish sandwich later, we fell into a happy food coma and were down for the count.   

Luckily for us, day two of our adventure began with fresh air and hiking trails at Riverside State Park. This 12,000-acre park is just outside Spokane's city center. You'll find easy hikes with incredible views of the Spokane and Little Spokane Rivers, along with winding trails through forested land. Bowl and Pitcher Loop proved to be a great hiking option, as it included riverside and ride views, a nifty suspension bridge and dense Ponderosa Pines to keep us cool on the trail. The Spokane River Centennial State Park Trail, which is over 40 miles long, meets up with Bowl and Pitcher Loop at the furthest point from the trailhead. 

A great way to follow up an afternoon of hiking is to grab a bite to eat at the Gilded Unicorn,a basement restaurant and lounge. True to its name, Gilded Unicorn has something special to it, although you'd be hard-pressed to put the feeling into words. A collection of ornate mirrors and fine art covering the brick walls, intimate dining areas with plush seating, hand-crafted cocktails, and richly flavored dishes all add to the lounge's mysterious vibe. Bartenders and staff here are quick to point travelers towards live music venues in the area, as well. 

Of the many live-music establishments in downtown Spokane, we opted for The Bartlett. We were not disappointed, as the hip but cozy venue features a regular lineup of indie music and a full bar. Lucky for us, we caught a performance of the touring rock band, The Moondoggies, on a warm Sunday night. With drink in hand and a vinyl under our arm, we let the music carry us right to the end of our weekend getaway to Spokane.

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