What to See and Do During Fall Family Weekend

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Soon, families from all around the country (and possibly around the world!) will descend into Spokane for Gonzaga’s Fall Family Weekend. If you’re one of those family members flying in, or a Gonzaga student wondering what you should show your family, we have a great list from an expert – me!

Gonzaga Fall Family Weekend is a great time to show off your school pride, take your parents and family to all the cool places in Spokane they don’t know about – and, of course, have a ton of fun.

What Happened to Zag Fam Weekend?

Up until 2017, Zag Fam Weekend was known as Fall Family Weekend. Last year, in 2018, Gonzaga changed the name to Zag Fam Weekend. For 2019, it is called Fall Family Weekend again. No, I’m not sure what’s going on with the names!

My favorite activity for Fall Family Weekend was always S’mores by the Shore – and it was clearly everyone else’s too, since it would always get crowded! However, there’s a lot more to do in Spokane than there was when I was here in the early 2000s, so let’s get to all the “must do’s” for Fall Family Weekend. Let us know if there’s anything you think we should add to this list!

When is Fall Family Weekend?

Fall Family Weekend will be held this year from October 4 to October 6. It costs $55 for two attendees and $15 for every person added thereafter. You can register here.

Best of all? Parking is free all weekend on the Gonzaga campus! You can check out the current map of Gonzaga’s campus here. There’s typically plenty of parking on the Gonzaga campus, but if you find a good spot (close to the action) consider staying put and taking an Uber or Lyft to get around. You can learn more about the event here.

How to Avoid Fall Family Weekend as a Spokanite

Yes, the area near Gonzaga will be congested and crowded. In general, most of the families are just excited to be here and are respectful of people’s space and time, but clearly things around Gonzaga will be packed. If you’re planning on doing anything near Gonzaga during Fall Family Weekend (like visiting The Ultimate Bagel), prepare for a long wait.

In addition, many popular attractions (like Green Bluff and Manito) will also be more crowded than usual. All this is great for tourism and showing off our spectacular city! On the other hand, if you wanted a more private experience at Green Bluff for instance, Fall Family Weekend is not the time for that.

Your best bet is to avoid the downtown/university and Gonzaga areas during Fall Family Weekend if you’re looking for fewer crowds and the short wait times we’re accustomed to. Kendall Yards might be very busy, particularly for brunch and happy hours, so you may want to head north for your brunching and happy hour needs. This is a great time to visit Frank’s up north for breakfast and check out a delicious happy hour at one of the many restaurants around town.

What To Do During Fall Family Weekend

If you are in town for Fall Family Weekend, here’s a list of must-sees and visits from a Gonzaga Fall Family Weekend expert – a Gonzaga grad!

On Campus

The Gonzaga Chapel and The Grotto

If you haven’t visited the chapel on Gonzaga’s campus, what are you waiting for?! The chapel will probably be very busy (since it’s beautiful and a must-see even for the non-religious), so while you’re waiting, visit the Grotto.

The Grotto, around the corner from the chapel, is so well tucked away it’s easy for even Gonzaga students to overlook it. Don’t! It’s a beautiful, serene and peaceful place to visit – especially while you’re waiting to get into the Chapel.

Tour of the Campus – Don’t Forget Bing Crosby’s House!

A visit for Zag Fam Weekend isn’t complete without a tour of the campus. In addition to the Student Center and Jundt, take your family to Bing Crosby’s house and show them to Crosby memorabilia.

The Zag Shop – Get Some New Gear for Basketball Season!

This almost goes without saying, but if you’re visiting Gonzaga for Zag Fam Weekend, you shouldn’t leave without getting at least one item from the Zag Shop. Get an alumni shirt if you’re a senior, get a Gonzaga Mom mug, or get a cute Spike the Bulldog plush. There’s an endless amount of stuff to get at the shop, so no matter how small your suitcase, you can leave with at least one thing.

Get a Picture with Spike the Bulldog

Near the McCarthy Center is a large statue of Spike the Bulldog – no visit to Gonzaga is complete with a requisite picture of you (and your fam or friends) with Spike! There will be plenty of people around to take your photo, so gather around Spike and say “Go Gonzaga!”

Spike the Gonzaga bulldog image
No visit to Gonzaga is complete without a Spike picture!

Off Campus

Ultimate Bagel for breakfast

The Ultimate Bagel will probably be very busy no matter when you get there, but the earlier the better so they don’t run out of your favorite bagels! Get the lowdown on the best things to order from the Ultimate Bagel here.

Walk Downtown Along the River

Walking from Gonzaga to downtown Spokane is so easy (mostly flat the whole way), plus it’s a pretty and enjoyable walk. Visit the Red Wagon on your way to downtown, hang out with Garbage Goat and then go eat something tasty at any of the many downtown restaurants!

Find even more free things to do around Spokane here!

Manito Park and Rockwood Bakery

While parking at Manito will probably be horrible, it’s still worth it to go, find a spot, and view all the beautiful gardens, paths and more at Manito. Take your parents to the FREE Japanese or Rose Hill Gardens, take plenty of pictures and enjoy the weather while it’s still nice! Plus, no trip to the South Hill is complete without a tasty visit to Rockwood Bakery!

Clinkerdagger or Anthony’s at Spokane Falls

Clinkerdagger used to be THE place to have parents take you when you were a broke student, but now Clinkerdagger has some competition in the “beautiful scenery and expensive but delicious food” category.

You should go to Clinkerdagger if you want the authentic, historical Gonzaga experience. Clinkerdagger is a unique venue all on its own, and if you’re lucky enough to get a spot near the river, it will be a terrific experience.

Go to Anthony’s at Spokane Falls especially if you love seafood and to get an overall better view of the river. Anthony’s windows are larger, which means there’s almost no “bad seat in the house” to see the flowing Spokane river. And after all, how many downtowns can say they have a gorgeous river and fall running through them?

Green Bluff

Green Bluff is always a good time, particularly if you like picking your own fruit, supporting local farmers, or celebrating fall fest on the Bluff! You can learn more about Green Bluff and some of the best place to visit here.

Coeur d’Alene

Coeur d’Alene (or CdA) is one of those places to visit if you want to be overwhelmed with the beauty of Lake Coeur d’Alene. In addition to the lake, there are plenty of things to do and see in Coeur d’Alene, like visit Tubbs Hill, boat tours and more.

Coeur d’Alene is only a short 30 minutes away from Spokane, too, so you can always visit it for a half day.

What’s Going on With Gonzaga Reunions?

Gonzaga reunions are no longer held the same weekend as Fall Family Weekend! The alumni, from what I can determine, didn’t like sharing the spotlight with future Gonzaga students. Oh, fellow Gonzaga alumni…

If you’re looking for this year’s Gonzaga reunion, it will be held on the weekend of October 11 – October 13. You can learn more about upcoming Gonzaga reunions here, where you can find out when your reunion is being held, how much reunion tickets cost, and what events are held during Gonzaga reunion events.

Let us know on our Facebook page – have you been to a Gonzaga Fall Family weekend or Gonzaga reunion?

Want to enjoy more of Spokane and Washington in the fall? Check out our fall-related articles below:

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