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Spokane, WA (Population: 196,818)

Spokane Falls was originally a gathering place for the area's indigenous people where they harvested from the abundance of salmon in the Spokane River. In October 1880, Camp Spokane was established by the U.S. Army to protect the construction of the Northern Pacific Railway, and to secure the location for a European settlement. In 1883, Spokane officially became a U.S. city, taking its name from the Spokane Indians - their name meaning "Children of the Sun." Spokane is also known as the "Lilac City," highlighting the city's popular flowering bush.

In 1907, Spokane's park commissioners employed the Olmsted Brothers to devise a long-range plan for area parks. With over 75 parks totaling 3,500 acres, visitors and residents can enjoy Riverfront Park, where various festivals are held throughout the year or The Centennial Trail, with over thirty-seven miles of paved trails running along the Spokane River. Other parks include Manito Park and Botanical Gardens, Riverside State Park, Highbridge Park, People's Park, The John A. Finch Arboretum, and Downriver Park, along with award-winning, city-owned golf courses. Summer brings Spokane residents to Lake Coeur d'Alene, Priest Lake, Lake Pend Oreille, or one of the other nearby bodies of water for fishing, rafting, camping and other water sports. Nearby Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park also has trails for dog sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing in the winter months and in summer is used by bikers and hikers.

Large crowds are drawn to its annual events including The Lilac Bloomsday Run, a 7.46 mile race for walkers and competitive runners; Hoopfest, the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world; The Garland Village Arts & Music Festival; Pig-Out In The Park, an annual summer festival celebrating the joy of food; and the Tour Des Lacs, a two-day benefit bike ride. If culture and history are your thing you can choose from The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, The Spokane Symphony, Mobius Science Center, or enjoy The Spokane Folklore Society's annual Fall Folk Festival.