by Erica Simek Sloniker
It’s always been a dream of mine to live in a neighborhood around Manito Park in Spokane, Washington. With its meandering, tree-lined streets of towering oaks and craftsman and Victorian homes, it’s a pedestrian’s strolling residential dreamscape. I usually imagine it’s a late summer evening. The air is cool and I’ve just made a stop at the Rockwood Bakery for a foamy latte and decadent chocolate croissant. As I wander through the neighborhood a bit more, I say hello and wave at my neighbors, who have made their way to their rocking chairs atop their garden porches.
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Ok, ok. A girl can dream!
Yet, the best part about wondering through these charming neighborhoods is that they all lead to Manito Park. A park that can be enjoyed by one and all, and easily accessible to Spokane residents. Established in 1904, and designed by the legendary Olmsted brothers - designers of Central Park - Manito Park is known for its horticulture displays. It features 20 acres of world-class botanical gardens which include rose, lilac, Japanese, and perennial gardens. A greenhouse near the center of the park, The Gaiser Conservatory, contains tropical, subtropical, and temperate plant specimens from around the world. Wonderfully, the conservatory – as is the rest of the park - is open to the public, free of charge, throughout the year.
A mix of trails across all 95 acres of the park, leads you through the elegant landscape as though all you ever needed to do in the world was stroll and admire nature in all its glory. Manito Park contains such delights that any sorrow from not possessing a residence nearby (hmmm), or simply having a bad day, quickly fades. And, isn’t that often the case while getting outside in nature?
I once read a quote from the famed naturalist John Muir that said, “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
In my state of contemplation, I pull up to Mirror Pond and watch my reflection wavy in the blustery breeze. I’m reminded of Spokane’s motto, “Near Nature, Near Perfect”.
You can find both nature and perfection in Manito Park.