As we wound around the foot of the bluff, looking at houses nestled in nooks and crannies of Peaceful Valley, we peered ahead, hoping to catch a glimpse of the staircase we think is nearby. This staircase connects the valley floor to Browne’s Addition and is part of the cadre of staircases throughout the city. They hearken back to cable car days when many residents walked or used public transportation to get to work and school.  

The search for this staircase is part of Wander Spokane’s week-long scavenger hunt that took my son and adventure buddy, Gavin, and me all over the city to visit parks, historic buildings, works of art both old and new, and unique vistas that are all but unknown to many Spokane residents. When we finally saw the steel steps rising from the dense foliage, I started my timer to see how long it took us to make it up the hillside. 2:12. Not bad for short legs. 

During this, my second Wander Spokane scavenger hunt, I checked a few things off my bucket list—most notably a visit to Spokane’s very own Hobbit House and the home where the 1993 movie “Benny and Joon” was filmed. Alana Livingston, founder and owner of Wander Spokane, is a master of local lore and creates a colorful and fascinating journey through Spokane’s history and geography for scavenger hunt participants.  

Wander Spokane is a small business designed to help people experience the essence of this community on foot through wine, beer, and food tours, as well as urban wilderness tours. More information is available on their web site at wanderspokane.com. This particular adventure was self-guided due to the state’s phased reopening, and dozens of other teams signed up to compete for points and explore the city over the course of a week in June. 

Metal sculture of Spokane Tribal member sitting atop horse and holding up a salmon. Huntington Park in downtown Spokane, with Spokane River alongside and Monroe Street Bridge above.
Sculpture honoring the Spokane Tribe, Huntington Park. // Photo: Carol Corbin

Wander Spokane partners with restaurants, breweries, wineries, and other businesses to help residents, guests, and transplants experience the best that Spokane has to offer. And they don’t disappoint! Food from Three Ninjas kept us on our feet long enough to peruse Coeur d’Alene Park (oldest park in Spokane), find the labyrinth in Polly Judd Park, and search (unsuccessfully) for the abandoned wagon on the old Haynes Estate. We kept our clothes on in People’s Park (historically a nudist park), took selfies with the namesake for Iron Goat Brewing, made fish faces with the Redband trout statue, and found evidence of the zoo that once existed in Manito. We even learned how to read a sundial. 

As I traipsed through downtown with Gavin, who was just in this for ice cream at Sweet Peaks Ice Cream—another Wander Spokane partner—I was crushed to realize they were closed for the night. I also saw things that reminded me of last year’s hunt. I winked at O’Doherty’s where I stood on the bar and sang, “You Are My Sunshine.” I nodded to the Cochinito pig, the musical instruments bench outside the Bing, and the rotary fountain in Riverfront Park, designed by local artist Harold Balazs.  

This year, it’s been tough not to feel “stuck.” Stuck at home, stuck inside, stuck with immediate family. But thanks to organizations like Wander Spokane, my son and I have challenged ourselves to find the hidden gems that are right around the next curve of the street, hiding behind that clump of bushes.  

Check the fall calendar of events and tours at wanderspokane.com for future scavenger hunts and other opportunities for exploring Spokane at its finest!

Spokane is a perfect fit for Carol and her son who, together, love to hike, run, bike, build trails, kayak, climb, camp, snowshoe, and snowboard.