On January 5, 2024, I traveled to Spokane, Washington to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of my first trip and flight as a wheelchair user. As I described in the January 3 Wheelchair Travel Newsletter, this “flightversary” was somewhat impromptu and I was focused on making a quick trip to a destination that I had never visited before. Here, I’ll share some observations from my roughly 36 hours in Spokane, Washington, a city that I really enjoyed!
Wheelchair Accessible Public Transportation
Upon arrival to the Spokane International Airport (GEG), I boarded city bus number 60, which provides hourly service to downtown Spokane in about 15 minutes. The cost of a single ride fare is $2.00.
The city bus was wheelchair accessible with an electronic ramp and securement spaces with four-point tie downs and a seatbelt (upon request). I rode a couple of other city buses during my time in Spokane, and picked up a reloadable fare card at the downtown “Plaza” station.
Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do
The point of this short trip was not to build a complete accessible travel guide to Spokane (I’ll need to plan a return trip for that), however I did manage to experience some of the city’s most popular attractions, detailed below.
Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture
The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, or MAC, was founded in 1916 and features rotating exhibits which highlight the region. The museum is housed inside a modern building which is wheelchair accessible, however the adjacent Campbell House is not due to its age.
Admission is normally $12 for adults (with no discount for those unable to access the Campbell House — what?), it was free during my visit due to there being only one exhibit open. That exhibit was Frank S. Matsura: Portraits from the Borderland, described by the Museum as follows:
Frank S. Matsura: Portraits from the Borderland features studio images by Washington-based Japanese photographer Frank Sakae Matsura (1873-1913) alongside period-specific American Indian regalia from the Columbia Plateau. Exploring Indigenous representation through a multi-dimensional lens, the photographs and objects on view detail some of Matsura’s most culturally significant work against a backdrop of regional transformation.
I thoroughly appreciated the work of Mr. Matsura, which will be on display through June 9, 2024. For additional information on current and upcoming exhibits, visit the MAC website.
Numerica SkyRide at Riverfront Spokane
Spokane’s Riverfront Park features a cable car, the Numerica SkyRide, which operates along a short route over the man-made Spokane Falls, under the iconic Monroe Street Bridge, and back. The ride lasts about 15 minutes and costs $12.95.
Boarding the gondola is level and inside a seat folds up to make space for a wheelchair. Views from the cable car are nice, however it won’t offer anything you couldn’t have seen from a viewing platform. Still, I enjoyed adding another cable car ride to my list. Perhaps $5 would be a more appropriate price given the short ride duration.
The 1909 carrousel is on the National Register of Historic Places and features 54 horses, 1 giraffe, 1 tiger, and 2 Chinese dragon chairs. There is a ramp to provide wheelchair access and hook-ups for securement straps, though they were not used during my ride. My power wheelchair stayed put during what was a fast-paced but short ride.
Additional information on the Looff Carrousel is available from the Spokane government website.
Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes
Construction of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes began in 1903, prior to Spokane being named a diocese. That designation would come in 1913, and the church was named the diocesan cathedral.
Wheelchair access to the cathedral is provided via an elevator to the right of the church. Since I was in Spokane on a Saturday night, I attended the vigil Mass to fulfill my Sunday obligation. The cathedral was beautiful and grand.
I booked a room at the Hotel Indigo Spokane Downtown without doing my due diligence on accessibility, and was disappointed to find a roll-in shower that did not meet the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. The wall-mounted seat was not in the proper location, leading staff to provide a portable shower seat that proved difficult to access given the glass wall with a narrow opening.
The hotel was otherwise very nice, with a beautiful design, comfortable bed, and a variety of amenities. Given the accessibility barriers present in the roll-in shower, I will need to seek out alternate accommodation on future visits to Spokane.
I had a superb dinner at The Gilded Unicorn, which is located beneath the Historic Montvale Hotel in downtown Spokane. I enjoyed the Porterhouse Pork Chop, which is a “honey-brined chop roasted and served with maple mustard, creamy gouda mac n’ cheese & bacon braised kale.” It was delicious and very filling!
For lunch, I paired a personal pizza with a local craft beer at Thunder Pie Pizza, a recently-opened restaurant in downtown Spokane. It was great, thin and floppy with a decent supply of grease. I would definitely go back!
Not only was this my first trip to Spokane, but my first time visiting Eastern Washington. As it turns out, Washington is a diverse state with a variety of landscapes, and I found Spokane to have the sort of “vibe” that I like — easygoing, crafty and a bit rough around the edges. I hope to return in the near future to provide a more detailed travel guide — but in the meantime, this should serve proof positive that an accessible trip is possible (just find a different hotel).