100 Fun Things to Do Outside this Summer

  1. June 4 is National Trails Day – go for a hike! Check out Indian Painted Rocks, a 6.8-mile round-trip loop trail within the Riverside State Park Little Spokane River Natural Area. wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/little-spokane-river.
  2. June is Great Outdoors Month and National Camping Month. In fact, June 25 is National Backyard Campout Day – an easy “staycation.”
  3. Play flashlight tag – fun for children and adults. nwf.org/activity-finder/outdoor-activities/flashlight-tag.aspx.
  4. National Fishing and Boating Week is June 4-12.Stand-up paddleboard or kayak on a local lake or river. Rent SUP equipment from Fun Unlimited at their Spokane River location under the Division Street bridge access point. Cdasports.com.
  5. Watch outdoor movies on a big screen at Riverfront Park – Wednesday evenings, June 14-July 19. This year’s Outdoor Movies series starts with “Grease,” and includes “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (July 5) and “Moana” (July 12). $5 entry fee; kids 5 and younger are free. Seating opens at 7 p.m., with food vendors and entertainment. Movies start at dusk.
  6. Take your kids to Mike’s Old-Fashioned Donuts (9219 E. Sprague, Spokane Valley), open Tuesday-Saturday, 6 a.m.-noon. Then go hiking at Dishman Hills Natural Area. There’s also a playground near the trailhead parking area. The first Friday of June is National Doughnut Day.
  7. National Get Outdoors Day is Sunday, June 11. So get out there and have fun! It could be as simple as biking around your neighborhood or hiking to the Rocks of Sharon in the Dishman Hills. Wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/big-rock.
  8. Visit a National Park – there are five national parks within a 5-8 hour drive from the Spokane area: Olympic, North Cascades and Mount Rainier National Parks in Washington; Glacier in northwest Montana; and Yellowstone in southern Idaho and Montana. June 21 is Fee-Free Day at all national parks.
  9. Bike-ride or walk in the annual Spokane Summer Parkways event on June 21, 6-9 p.m. – a fun summer solstice evening in the Comstock-Manito park neighborhoods. Summerparkways.com.
  10. Demo bikes, paddleboards, canoes and kayaks and try rock climbing, kayaking, geocaching or stand-up paddleboard yoga at Spokatopia, the 3rd annual outdoor adventure festival that takes place Saturday, July 8, at Camp Sekani Park and Boulder Beach along the Spokane River off of East Upriver Drive. Register for an outdoor adventure clinic online at spokatopia.com.
  11. Plan a visit to Harrison, Idaho, located on Lake Coeur d’Alene’s west side. Get there by boat, bike (via Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes) or car. Don’t miss the Harrison Creamery and Fudge Factory Ice Cream Parlor (open only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, noon-7:30 p.m.). Swim at the city beach.
  12. Paddle the Little Spokane River in a canoe or kayak, and use Spokane Parks & Recreation’s shuttle service to take you from the 9 Mile take-out site (Discover Parking Pass required) to the put-in at St. George’s. Shuttles run Saturdays only, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., from July 5 through Aug. 30, for $8 per person one way (ages 8 and up). PFDs are required and swimming in the river, tubes, pets, and alcoholic beverages are prohibited. Pre-register at spokaneparks.org.
  13. Look for wildlife along the Latah Creek or Spokane River at People’s Park or trails in Riverside State Park. Keep your eyes alert for: river otter, porcupine, coyote, marmot, osprey, and more.
  14. Go adventuring in British Columbia, Canada. Nelson is a small Victorian town on the West Arm of Kootenay Lake (nelsonkootenaylake.com) that offers hiking trails, Ainsworth Hot Springs resort, and all imaginable lake sports. Rossland, B.C., offers epic fun as well, from mountain biking to golfing (tourismrossland.com).
  15. Float the Spokane River with a ROW Adventure Center’s half-day (3.5 hours) guided trip – season begins June 19. Rowadventurecenter.com.
  16. Learn about the Channeled Scablands, considered one of the seven wonders of Washington State. Visit any of the state parks that showcase the geological evidence left behind from these Ice Age mega-floods, including: Palouse Falls, Steamboat Rock, Sun Lakes-Dry Falls, Potholes and Sacajawea. Parks.state.wa.us.
  17. Attend one of the fun summer festivals in North Idaho’s Silver Valley, such as the Huckleberry Festival in Wallace.
  18. Bike the historic and exciting 15-mile Route of the Hiawatha trail with family and friends.
  19. Tube the Spokane River with FLOW Adventures – daily equipment rentals and shuttle service, starting in July.
  20. Paddle the 2.5-mile Thorofare to Upper Priest Lake.
  21. Gather your family or a group of friends for a Mica Moon Zipline Tour in Liberty Lake, Wash. Micamoon.com.
  22. Kayak or paddle the St. Joe River, starting from Heyburn State Park’s Rocky Point Marina. Look for moose on the riverbank.
  23. Boat or paddle to one of the three islands on Priest Lake: Kalispell, Bartoo or Fourmile islands. Stay and play for the day or camp overnight. Fs.usda.gov.
  24. Ride the gondola to the top of Silver Mountain and mountain bike or hike back down.
  25. Go boating, paddling, swimming, waterskiing, tubing and camping at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. Nps.gov/laro.
  26. Enjoy a cruise aboard the Lady of the Lake (ladyofthelake.com) across Lake Chelan to a backcountry hike-in camping stay at Stehekin, located within the North Cascades National Park.
  27. Pick huckleberries – ask your grandma or someone else’s grandparent who has lived in the area for many years about where to find wild stashes of this petite, succulent, much-desired berry of the Northwest. Hint: Mount Spokane and Priest Lake are good places to start.
  28. Enjoy one of the many outdoor festivals happening throughout the summer. There are community festivals celebrating music, food, nature, recreation, art, wine, beer, and more unique and obscure things like sweet onions, lentils, and a mining-town “lady of the night” named Molly.
  29. Participate in a fun run, relay race, bike race or community fun ride. Check out Out There Monthly’s 2017 Race, Ride & Event Guide for a huge list of possibilities. Outtheremonthly.com/inland-nw-race-ride-event-guide.
  30. Explore and imbibe along the Inland Northwest Ale Trail. Inlandnwaletrail.com.
  31. Backpack into the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the Wallowa-Whiteman National Forest in northeast Oregon. Fs.usda.gov.
  32. Join a relay race, such as the Spokane to Sandpoint Relay or Centennial Beer Chase.
  33. Ride the Great Escape high-speed quad chairlift to the summit of Schweitzer Mountain and hike around the trails. Pack a picnic and enjoy the expansive 360-degree views of Lake Pend Oreille, western Montana, southern British Columbia, and northeastern Washington. Summer chairlift rides begin June 25.
  34. Play disc golf at Farragut State Park, near Athol, Idaho, and visit The Museum at the Brig, which tells the story of Farragut Naval Training Station during WWII.
  35. Visit Bayview, Idaho, and rent a houseboat for a vacation afloat on Lake Pend Oreille.
  36. Go on a family camping trip and play camping games with your kids. Blog.nwf.org/2016/07/camping-games-for-kids.
  37. Hike the trails around Fishtrap Lake in Lincoln County’s channeled scablands west of Spokane.
  38. Swim in Medical Lake at the city’s Waterfront Park (20 minutes west of Spokane) and bike or walk along the paved, forested trail along the lake. Medical-lake.org/parks-trails.
  39. Bike along the Centennial Trail between Liberty Lake, Wash., and Post Falls, Idaho – crossing the Washington-Idaho border along the way. You and your kids can boast that you literally biked all the way to another state. Spokanecentennialtrail.org and Itsmytrail.com.
  40. Visit the Spokane Farmer’s Market to buy organic fruit and vegetables directly from local farmers. Purchase regionally-produced breads, meats, honey, and lavender soap and lotion. Bring a blanket and relax on the lawn to enjoy live music and snack on your fresh food.
  41. Enjoy a sweet, healthy treat from Fannie’s Ice Pops bike-cart. You’ll find these fresh, seasonal, small-batch popsicles at a few Spokane area farmer’s markets as well local grocers, including Main Market Co-Op and the soon-to-be open My Fresh Basket in Kendall Yards. Try creative concoctions like raspberry-basil, strawberry-watermelon-mint, lemonade-lavender, and chocolate-avocado (“Chocado”).
  42. Go on a bike tour of all the river bridges in and around Riverfront Park, starting from the bridge at Gonzaga University where the Centennial Trail crosses to the south riverbank and head west. Some bridges are closed due to park renovation. Stay on the Centennial Trail and go under the Monroe Street Bridge to Kendall Yards to enjoy a rest break and cold treat from Brain Freeze Creamery.
  43. Tour the flower gardens at Manito Park on Spokane’s South Hill. Bring along a book and a blanket to Duncan or Rose gardens, and lounge around like you’re a character from a Jane Austen novel.
  44. Enjoy a Rocket Market outdoor summer concert in Spokane’s upper South Hill neighborhood, near the High Drive Bluff trails.
  45. Take a walking tour of Gonzaga University’s campus. Check out the outdoor art sculptures, enjoy the many flowers and landscaping, play catch with a Frisbee on any of the large grassy areas, walk the trail around the small lake on campus, pat the head of the enormous brass Bulldog sculpture that stands guard outside McCarthy Athletic Center. To beat the heat, step inside the Jundt Art Museum or Bing Crosby Museum. Walk or bike the Riverfront Park-Gonzaga 2.2-mile loop trail.
  46. Bike or walk along Fish Lake Trail. The trailhead west of downtown is located at Government Way and Milton Street.
  47. Swim, fish or paddle at Fish Lake Regional Park (spokanecounty.org), located off the Cheney-Spokane Road.
  48. From Fish Lake Park, you can also access the Columbia Plateau Trail State Park, which has nearly 5 miles of trail that passes through Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, outside Cheney. Discover Parking Pass required. state.wa.us/490/Columbia-Plateau-Trail.
  49. Go hiking or mountain biking at Mount Spokane State Park. Eat a picnic lunch at the summit’s Vista House (bring windbreakers and warm layers, since it’s typically chilly there even on hot summer days). Bring a bucket to pick huckleberries during July. Watch out for moose!
  50. Take a day trip or camp overnight at Kamiak Butte County Park, near Pullman, Wash. Whitmancounty.org.
  51. Bike tour around the Palouse cities of Pullman, Wash., and Moscow, Idaho. Afterwards, rest and relax while enjoying artisan pizza and craft beer from Porch Light Pizza in Pullman or Slice & Biscuit in Moscow. Or enjoy artisan-made comfort food from South Fork Public House in Pullman.
  52. Go glamping at Mary Jane’s farm Bed & Breakfast in Moscow, Idaho. Maryjanesfarm.org/bb.
  53. Hike to the 3,612-foot summit of Steptoe Butte at its namesake State Park Heritage Site. Cool fun fact: the butte “marks the border of the original North American Continent,” according to Washington State Parks.
  54. Visit the Wenatchee River Valley, with final destinations of Leavenworth, Lake Wenatchee State Park, or Peshastin. Take your kids to visit Smallwood’s Harvest Petting Zoo.
  55. Road-trip to Superior, Montana (I-90 exit 47), surrounded by the Lolo National Forest, which boasts many hiking trails and backpacking destinations – including Heart Lake, the largest alpine lake in the Bitterroot Mountains of western Montana. Located within the proposed Great Burn Wilderness along the Idaho-Montana Divide, it’s a 6-mile round-trip hike to Heart Lake. You can also camp overnight at the rustic National Forest Service Trout Creek Campground. Superior itself is a small city with 3 parks, including Eva Horning Park, which includes a swimming pool, playground and more. A number of whitewater rafting outfitters are based here, offering summer rafting trips down the Clark Fork River (for ages 5+).
  56. On your drive to Superior, be sure to make time to stop at Lincoln’s World Famous 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar (off exit 16, Haugan; 28 miles east of Wallace, Idaho), which has a massive gift shop filled with quirky trinkets and souvenirs – the self-described “Montana’s largest gift shop.” It also includes a restaurant, motel, free RV parking, casino and more.
  57. Outdoor summer concerts at Northern Quest Casino features Sammy Hager (June 30), Sublime (July 6), Toby Keith (Aug. 3), and Willie Nelson (Aug. 8). https://northernquest.com/outdoor-summer-concerts.
  58. Mountain bike Camp Sekani and Beacon Hill. http://www.evergreeneast.org/trails/campsekanibeaconhill.
  59. Hike the trails of your favorite ski mountain and explore the trails without snow.
  60. Attend a mountain top festival at Schweitzer Mountain Resort or Silver Mountain Resort.
  61. Hike or backpack to and swim in an alpine lake within the Colville, Lolo or Idaho Panhandle National Forest.
  62. Visit the Inland NW Rail Museum, in Reardan (west of Spokane, off Highway 2), Wash. Open Fri-Sun. Admission $5-8, and includes one narrow gauge train ride; children under 5 are free. Inlandnwrailmuseum.com.
  63. Paddle the Pend Oreille River.
  64. Explore a cave. Crawford State Park Heritage Site (parks.state.wa.us/492/Crawford), near Metaline Falls, Wash., offers guided tours of Gardner Cave – the state’s 3rd longest limestone cavern. The nearest campsite is the Seattle City Light one at Boundary Dam, which you can also explore with a guided tour (seattle.gov/light/Boundary/tours.asp).
  65. Go fishing at Williams Lake, near Cheney, Wash. It’s annually stocked with rainbow and cutthroat trout. Wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/200.
  66. Visit the wild country around the Yaak Valley in remote northwest Montana. Theyaak.com.
  67. Explore Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. Fws.gov/refuge/Turnbull.
  68. Go paddling, fishing, swimming, hiking or camping at Round Lake State Park, near Sagle, Idaho. Parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/parks/round-lake.
  69. Paddle on Lake Chatcolet and look for beaver dens and white pelicans. Launch your canoe, SUP or kayak from Hawley’s Landing campground.
  70. Bike the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes. Parksandrecreation.idaho.gov.
  71. Tour the Grand Coulee Dam and enjoy a free, 30-minute nighttime Laser Light Show at Grand Coulee Dam. Shows are nightly throughout the summer, starting at 10 p.m. through July 31. During August, shows begin at 9:30 p.m., and then 8:30 p.m., Sept. 1-30. Grandcouleedam.com.
  72. Explore the length of the Lochsa River and stop for a visit at the Lochsa Lodge off Highway 12 over Lolo Pass on the Idaho-Montana border, southwest of Missoula, Montana. Stay overnight in the lodge or a cabin. Explorers Lewis & Clark once camped nearby, and part of the historic Lewis & Clark Trail passes through the lodge area and travels 8-miles along the Lochsa River.
  73. Explore a Spokane County Conservation Futures area – undeveloped, protected public land for bird-watching, hiking and picnicking.
  74. Tour the Crystal Gold Mine in Kellogg, Idaho. Goldmine-idaho.com.
  75. Hike the trails at Mount Spokane State Park and enjoy the 360-degree view atop the summit. Eat a picnic at an outdoor table by the Vista House.
  76. Whatever hiking trail or backcountry campsite you choose to visit this summer, take along plastic garbage bags and collect any discarded recyclables, granola bar wrappers, beer bottles or other refuse left behind.
  77. Splash, swim, and play at City Beach in Sandpoint, Idaho.
  78. Visit Coeur d’Alene’s Old Mission State Park. Parksandrecreation.idaho.gov.
  79. Swim and play at Liberty Lake. Hiking trails and overnight camping also available.
  80. Visit the Fort Spokane Museum and Visitor Center at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.
  81. Explore the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, which runs through Idaho, Wash., Montana, and Oregon (as well as many other states).
  82. Tour the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum. Valleyheritagecenter.org.
  83. Go adventuring in Pend Oreille County – a quiet area north of Newport, Wash., that runs along the Washington-Idaho border all the way to Canada. Make time to stop at The Ram restaurant for a soft-serve huckleberry ice cream that’s nearly as tall as a toddler.
  84. Visit the Bird Aviation Museum & Invention Center in Sagle, Idaho. Free admission. Birdaviationmuseum.com.
  85. Make friends with your campsite neighbors. Offer them a cup of fresh-brewed coffee from your percolator or a Bloody Mary. Ask them to join your group around your site’s campfire – pass them a stick and marshmallow.
  86. Take your dog hiking or along while paddling. Have them wear a cute canine backpack or doggy personal flotation device.
  87. Visit the historic Oasis Bordello Museum in Wallace, Idaho. Facebook.com/oasisbordellomuseum.
  88. Hike trails within an old-growth forest, such as the Hobo Cedar Grove Trail of old-growth cedars in the St. Joe National Forest; DeVoto Memorial Cedar Grove of old-growth western red cedars in the Clearwater National Forest, at Lolo Pass, Idaho; or Hoodoo Canyon (Trail #17) in the Kettle Range of the Colville National Forest near Kettle Falls, Wash.
  89. Visit the Libby Dam Visitor Center, located on Highway 39, 17 miles north of Libby, Montana. One-hour guided public tours through the dam and powerhouse are available during the summer at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. (photo ID required for adults); 15-minute check-in required prior to start time. Nws.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Locks-and-Dams/Libby-Dam/Information.
  90. Plan an adventure in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area – the deepest river gorge in North America. You can paddle on the Snake River with an outfitter and go camping, hiking, fishing, and swimming at multiple locations within the canyon. Fs.usda.gov.
  91. Cross the Continental Divide by car or bike.
  92. Read the mythical and beautifully weird novel “The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac” by Spokane novelist Sharma Shields, whose settings are based on local places, including Rathdrum, Spokane (called Lilac City in the novel), the Palouse, Pullman, and more. Even better: read it while camping or backpacking in North Idaho.
  93. Read other literature written by local authors, such as the poetry and prose books written by Tod Marshal (Washington State Poet Laureate and OTM contributor), Laura Read (Spokane’s current Poet Laureate), Thom Caraway (Spokane’s first-ever Spokane Poet Laureate), Maya Jewell Zeller, Ellen Welcker, Jonathan Johnson and Shann Ray.
  94. Enjoy a thrilling zipline experience with Timberline Adventures near Beauty Bay in Coeur d’Alene.
  95. Mountain bike the Empire Trails in Spirit Lake, Idaho. Learn more: Outtheremonthly.com/exploring-spirit-lakes-new-empire-trails-singletrack.
  96. Take a leisurely cruise on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Cdacruises.com.
  97. Bike or drive the scenic International Selkirk Loop that connects Washington, Idaho and British Columbia, Canada. Selkirkloop.org.
  98. Road-trip to go adventuring in Missoula, Montana – less than a 4-hour drive east of Spokane. Lots to do and see in this Big Sky city.
  99. Have fun at the Paddle, Splash and Play, a free children’s event on Saturday, August 5 (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) organized by the Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club and sponsored by Avista. It takes place at Nine Mile Creation Area, where parents can paddle with children. Everyone needs to bring his/her own PFD, and a Discover Parking Pass is required. All other equipment is provided, including canoes, sea kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Experienced paddlers are there to help. Sckc.ws/events.
  100. Take a picture of yourself enjoying one of these or another summer adventure, while holding up a copy of “Out There Monthly.” Post your photo to OTM’s Facebook page, facebook.com/OutThereMonthly. Use a hashtag to indicate your location, such as #MtSpokaneOutThere or #WallaceOutThere or indicate your recreational activity (e.g., #CampingOutThere. If you’re with children, use the additional hashtag of #OutThereKids. //


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