Tag Archives: beer

4 Can’t-Miss Autumn Adventures in Spokane

Spokane, Washington is absolutely stunning in the fall.  

Though I’m a Seattleite now, the “Lilac City” will always be a second home for me, after living there for several years.  I loved being so close to nature, feeling the stark seasonal changes, and seeing new restaurants and shops open up as downtown grew. 

Every year when the days begin to shorten, I always get a bit nostalgic about my time there.   The heat loses its bite and the city is transformed into a canvas of bright colors as the trees prepare to drop their leaves.  For those of us not lucky enough to live there, it’s a beautiful place for a peaceful weekend away.

Here are some of my favorite autumn adventures to enjoy in Spokane.

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Pavillion By Night by Matt Reinbold is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Marvel over the Victorian houses and bright colors of Browne’s Addition

If you’re visiting Spokane for a short trip, you’ll probably be staying in one of the downtown hotels.  Once you’ve dropped off your bags, a good place to stretch your legs is by walking to Browne’s Addition, which is widely known as one of the best neighborhoods in Spokane, and is just west of downtown.  Spend an hour or an afternoon strolling through its quiet streets, enjoying the stately homes and marveling at the bright colors of the trees lining the roads.  The sugar maples, which blaze in bright reds and oranges throughout the fall, are particularly vibrant.

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EJ Roberts Mansion by Tracy Hunter is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

If you have extra time, stop by the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture on 1st avenue (which is having a Halloween party this year!), or lengthen your walk by heading north, crossing the Spokane River on a footbridge.  From there, head East on the Centennial Trial to loop through Riverfront Park, where you’ll see more dazzling colors, before heading back to downtown Spokane.

Go apple picking at Green Bluff

A fantastic way to spend one of Spokane’s brisk, sunny autumn days is a visit to the orchards.  Greenbluff excursions are a strong tradition in Spokane, and it was always the day trip I looked forward to the most in the fall.  After your morning coffee, pile into the car with friends and family to make the short drive out of town to the north.  After about 30 minutes you’ll find yourself on a plateau, surrounded by a collection of orchards and farms.  Reserve an afternoon to stroll through the trees, filling a bucket with crisp, bright apples.  There’s a reason Washington is famous for this fruit! In fact, more than 100 million boxes of apples (at 40 pounds each) are produced in the state each year. 

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Apples by Shinya Suzuki is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Several Green Bluff orchards also have small presses where you can make a jug of sweet apple cider.  It doesn’t get any fresher than that! Just make sure to enjoy it over the next day or two, since there are no preservatives.  One way to use up that cider is to  try your hand at making a fancy fall cocktail

Taste seasonal beer from award-winning breweries

Though apples are Washington State’s most famous crop, did you know the Evergreen State also dominates the hop industry, producing around 70% of all hops grown in North America?

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Beer Sampler by Quinn Dombrowski is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Though cities like Seattle and Denver are well-known as craft beer havens, Spokane has been quietly been producing award-winning breweries.   There are plenty of good breweries around town, but No-Li Brewhouse on the river in the Logan Neighborhood, and Steam Plant Brewing downtown are great places to start. This time of year is particularly special, because “fresh hop” beers are in season, which is a must-try if you’ve never tasted them before.  

If beer’s not your thing, taste a “farm to table” craft liquor from DryFly Distilling or take a distilling class at Tinbender Craft Distillery

Take a scenic drive to Schweitzer and Lake Pend Orielle

When you think of the Rocky Mountains, what do you imagine?  It’s likely you thought of the wilds of Colorado, or perhaps Wyoming or Montana.  You might be surprised at how close Spokane is to the northern Rockies, which spill over into the narrow neck of neighboring Idaho.  Schweitzer Mountain Resort is a favorite skiing destination in the winter, but it’s also a gorgeous place to visit in the fall, and only about a 2-hour scenic drive.

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Lake Pend Orielle at Sunset by Bjorn is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Pack a picnic and make a detour to Farragut State Park, where you can explore Lake Pend Orielle or go on a hike.  Or, stop for lunch and window shopping in the quaint town of Sandpoint, located at the north end of the lake.  Shortly after leaving Sandpoint, you’ll begin the zig-zagging journey up the mountain, feeling the temperature cool as you climb.  When you reach the resort, stunning views of the mountain range reward you.  For adventurers who’d like an even better view, grab a chairlift ticket to the top of the mountain, where 360-degree views will take your breath away.  

Martha Burwell

Hola, Bonjour, Sabaidee! Having traveled the world, Martha Burwell is a writer and consultant based in Seattle who loves sharing stories about places she’s been. But her heart will always be in the Pacific Northwest, where she explores the nearby mountains on foot, by mountain bike, and by snowboard. Martha regularly writes for www.StreetAdvisor.com, and also consults on gender equity via www.MarthaBurwell.com and blogs about intersectional gender equity at www.EqualiSea.org.

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Time to Float On a Root Beer Boat

August 6 is National Root Beer Float Day, and it couldn’t come at a better time! The dog days of August practically demand fizzy, frozen goodness. It’s a simple treat that’s all about the quality of the root beer, and some places do it better than others. If you’re craving the perfect root beer float, check out some of these locations.

A&W

A&W is a classic root beer brewer, and the company now has restaurant locations all over the country where you can order a float anytime you like! On National Root Beer Float Day, A&W offers their delicious, classic treats to customers for free from 2 pm until closing.

Bell, Book and Candle

NYC residents, rejoice! Bell, Book and Candle off of West 10th Street makes some of the most indisputably delicious root beer floats around. Every ingredient at this renowned spot is made from scratch, giving the resident root beer float that homemade flavor you won’t find in a franchise store. Check out hotels in New York City and surrounding areas when you’re planning a visit during the root beer madness.

Old Town House of Jerky and Root Beer

San Diego has a delectable secret: the Old Town House of Jerky and Root Beer. This place offers a variety of unforgettably delicious root beers and jerky made of every imaginable kind of meat. Stay at the La Quinta Inn in Old Town to be nearby for return trips.

Jake’s Ice Cream

Being able to enjoy a root beer float from Jake’s Ice Cream in Atlanta is a bit of a unicorn experience: People rave about the float, but it’s not always available because it sells out so fast. This August 6, though, the establishment plans to go out of its way to keep their beloved refreshment on tap.

Red Robin

Red Robin is famous for its burgers and its bottomless root beer floats. Load up and keep going, because you can stuff your belly with as much of this sweet concoction as you want. If you’re hanging your hat at a hotel in Los Angeles, Cleveland or any other major U.S. city, there’s sure to be a nearby location where you can check out this scrumptious deal.

Beat the August heat with a root beer float at one of these convenient locations. Whether you travel specifically for the fizz or just happen to be in the area, don’t forget to honor this American tradition and cool yourself off in the process!

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The Hottest New Destination for American Craft Beer

Move over, Wisconsin: Another state is making a name for itself as the destination for beer lovers. The craft beer industry in upstate New York’s Finger Lakes region has been undergoing explosive growth over the past several years, and there’s no better time to visit than now. Peak foliage and locally sourced brewskies? Don’t mind if we do.

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The Rise of Beer Country

In the past four years alone, the Finger Lakes have become home to an additional 54 breweries, bringing the region’s total to 70. The Finger Lakes Beer Trail, a local trade group, expects another twelve breweries to open in the coming months.

The region attracts beer lovers from all walks of life and boasts unique brews thanks to its ability to source most ingredients locally, reports the New York Times. Clean water, hops, malted barley, and other ingredients for beer-making are all available from the region’s farms and natural resources. Wannabe brewers have an extra incentive to take advantage of this local bounty: New York’s Farm Brewery law (signed into effect in 2012) gives breweries tax breaks and lets them serve beer on site in exchange for utilizing local ingredients.

Among the many breweries cashing in on these ideal conditions are:

  • Abandon Brewing Company, a farm brewery that includes a functioning fruit farm. The brewers source locally grown hops, barley, fruits, herbs, and honey for their beers.
  • The Brewery of Broken Dreams, which offers a variety of American-style beers including India Pale Ales, porters, and pilsners.
  • The Boathouse Beer Garden, a family-owned establishment that features views of Cayuga Lake and is a favorite among locals.
  • Cider Creek Hard Cider, which boasts award-winning, gluten-free craft ciders derived exclusively from New York state apples.
  • Grist Iron Brewery, a new brewery on the block (it opened in the spring of 2015) that provides a high-quality dining and sipping experience with views of Seneca Lake.
  • The Syracuse Suds Factory, a microbrewery established in 1991 that credits itself with “[bringing] locally brewed beer back to the City of Syracuse.”  

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With 70 local breweries and counting, the region offers something for virtually every palate.

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Planning Your Trip

Overwhelmed by all the choices? Your best bet is to concentrate on a particular segment of the Finger Lakes region, such as Cayuga Lake, Seneca Lake, the Southern Tier, the Western Finger Lakes, or Ithaca.

Ithaca makes for a particularly great home base thanks to its lively downtown, variety of budget-friendly hotels, and proximity to several of the region’s local breweries. Check in at the Hotel Ithaca, the Homewood Suites by Hilton Ithaca, or the Courtyard Marriott Ithaca, all of which offer pleasant accommodations and convenient locations at reasonable rates.

After settling into Ithaca, it will be easy to visit some of the area’s best breweries, including Bandwagon Beer, Scale House Brewery and Pub, Ithaca Beer Company, and Stouthearted Brewing. Visit them over the course of a few days, or if you’re feeling industrious, head to all four breweries in the same day and use the rest of your trip to visit breweries that are within a few hours’ drive of Ithaca. Find a full list of the Finger Lakes’ breweries here.

No matter which breweries you choose to visit, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Most breweries with tasting rooms will charge a nominal fee for tastings, typically in the range of $3 to $5.
  • Many of the area’s brew pubs will offer tasting flights, but some serve only pints.
  • Some breweries require advance reservations for groups of more than six people. If you’re not sure whether a reservation is necessary, check with the brewery before arriving.
  • Remember to always drive responsibly; it’s a great idea to choose a designated driver for each day of the trip. In more metropolitan areas (including Ithaca), you may be able to enlist taxi services to shuttle you between breweries.

Craft beer and brewing may just be one of the best things to ever happen to the Finger Lakes. Not only is the practice allowing small-scale brewers and brew pubs to thrive, but it’s supporting local farmers and economies. When you head to upstate New York and sample their brews, you join with the brewers in celebrating all that the region has to offer.