By Mark Howard

Growing up in Kansas City, MO, I would have been geographically challenged to find Spokane, WA, on a map. And because most people in the Midwest pronounced it “Spo-cane, Worshington,” I likely would have too!

Yet I quickly learned where Spokane was and how to pronounce it correctly when the Air Force Survival School found a home for me here in the mid-‘80s. For nearly 30 years, I was a family man in the Spokane Valley. When I had the opportunity to move downtown in 2018, it wasn’t an easy decision, but I quickly realized how “near nature, near perfect” it was for me.

Living downtown is almost like living in the “center of the universe.” Number one is the close proximity to everything our community has to offer. Our downtown is rich with a multitude of things to do, and selfishly, the things I like to do.

Weekends – even during the winter – bring a welcome invitation to cross the Monroe Street Bridge, walk through the newly redesigned Riverfront Park, and take a side trip to Huntington Park below city hall.

Huntington Park is amazing and still a bit of a hidden treasure for many Spokanites. It offers an incredibly intimate yet safe look at the powerful Falls, the lifeblood of our city. It also has great informational signs that share history about the river and how it has served so many people for hundreds of years.

This trip wouldn’t be complete without stopping at the new library plaza overlook above the park that has local art, water features and history about the Children of the Sun. I can’t wait for the day when I can ride a zipline that soars from the platform down to Glover Field in Peaceful Valley!

After a walk, a stop for fuel is definitely in order. Hmm, where to go? Light breakfast at The Rocket Bakery or First Avenue Coffee? Heritage Bar & Kitchen for the best pork tenderloin sandwich (a Midwestern favorite)? Or nothing beats a local brew at Brick West Brewing Co. in downtown’s reimagined West End. With so many options for any kind of food and drink – right in my own neighborhood – the greatest challenge is always making up my mind!

One of my absolute favorite retreats is the Spokane Club. I became a member as soon as I moved downtown and instantly found a family and community that has enriched every part of my life. The staff, food, gym, events, and most importantly, the inviting welcome I receive as soon as I walk in the front door, has made it an essential part of my downtown life.

However, the greatest gem I’ve discovered about living downtown is sharing all these things with a very special downtown resident and her celebrity Doberman. She has made every part of this city even better. I have found where I want to live and the person I want to be with in downtown Spokane. If only we could all be so lucky …