Wineries, farm goodness, roaring river, active lifestyle and a compact, vibrant downtown … how does that sound for a getaway? Good, indeed. So much so that we high-tailed it last fall to Spokane, as in Washington, Expo '74, Gonzaga basketball. I was here at the end of a long golf road trip and had a vehicle, so my wife flew in from Santa Barbara. (Five airlines serve Spokane International from the Southland.) The tab: $161 a night, excluding tax and a $22 daily valet parking fee, at the Davenport Tower hotel; $28 for breakfast and $160 for dinner, including wine.
Marriott's Autograph Collection has Spokane in a headlock, with four locations within blocks of one another in downtown. We chose the Davenport Tower (111 S. Post St.,  899-1482, www.lat.ms/1SsZZNf), a ritzy hotel with I-want-one-of-these-at-home beds, Frette linens, L'Occitane bath products and "Out of Africa" décor. The Safari Bar buzzes during happy hour and on game nights.
Spokane is the capital of the Northwest's version of California's Central Valley, which means foodstuffs of every kind. Chaps, a period farmhouse set at the end of a small strip shopping center (4237 S. Cheney-Spokane Road;  624-4182, www.chapsgirl.com), has a comfortable Americana-industrial feel. Sweet and savory is the ticket here for breakfast, with either a berry scone and artisan bacon combo or a 45-rpm-record-size cinnamon roll with a cheesy-eggy quesadilla. The Wandering Table (1242 W. Summit Parkway;  443-4410, www.thewanderingtable.com), across the Spokane River from downtown in the Kendall Yards neighborhood, has a vibrant cocktail and small-plate/shared-plate scene. We tried the tasting menu, selected a price point for food ($25-$65 a person) and paired wines ($15-$40 a person), and let the chef take it from there. We chose $50 and $30, yielding nine courses (whether plated individually or to share), including a quartet of desserts and four wines, three from Washington state. Two courses featured chicharrón, which was odd, but that was the only blip.
Washington's wine industry is riding the tail of a comet, with vineyard acreage and acclaim on the rise. Stride around downtown's Cork District (www.visitspokane.com/cork-district), which features the tasting rooms of 15 wineries. Warm-locale varietals — notably Bordeaux — hold sway across Washington state. We hail from Pinot Noir/Chardonnay country, so this was a welcome change. Barrister Winery (1213 W. Railroad Ave.;  465-3591, www.barristerwinery.com) is housed in a revamped warehouse in the Davenport Arts District. Get in on the ground floor, so to speak, and walk out with the 2012 Cabernet Franc ($31) and the non-vintage Rough Justice red blend ($22).
The lesson learned
Although it's easy to take in the Spokane River and its raging falls at Riverfront Park, we rented bicycles for a more expansive experience. The paved Centennial Trail (www.spokanecentennialtrail.org) extends 37 miles along the river to neighboring Idaho. We cruised for 20 miles up and back. Three-speed bikes can be rented for $10 an hour from MonkeyBoy Bicycles (1206 W. Summit Parkway;  863-9272, www.monkeyboybicycles.com) in Kendall Yards. Spoke 'N Sport (212 N. Division St.;  838-8842, www.spokensportinc.net), near the convention center, offers multi-speed hybrid cruisers ($30 a day) and road bikes ($50 a day). Both shops provide helmets and quick access to the Centennial Trail.