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Best Of 2017 | RECREATION 

click to enlarge JACOB GREIF
  • Jacob Greif

Best Golf Course

DOWNRIVER

The Spokane/North Idaho region has some of the best public and private golf courses in the Northwest. Downriver is no exception; it's a true gem in the city of Spokane's offering of outstanding (and affordable, and not overcrowded) municipal golf courses. Located just off the Spokane River near Riverside State Park, the long, narrow fairways and towering pines are a signature of Spokane golf. And a disc golf course across the road lets you try both types of golf in one day. Score — and fore! (SCOTT A. LEADINGHAM)

2nd PLACE: The Creek at Qualchan; 3rd PLACE: Kalispel Golf & Country Club; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Circling Raven, Worley


Best Running Club

FLYING IRISH

Now in its 12th year, the Flying Irish have come (and run) a long way since the club's founding with a small handful of runners meeting for a run (and, of course, beer) at O'Doherty's in downtown Spokane. So many people joined that they outgrew the bar and now meet every Thursday at 6 pm at the Red Lion River Inn. People of all shapes, sizes and speeds (including walkers) are welcome, about 400 every week. Be warned: Your sixth run requires that you tell an Irish joke on stage to become an official member. Boos may ensue for jokes everyone has heard. The more original, the better. (SAL)

2nd PLACE: Bloomsday Road Runners Club; 3rd PLACE: Fleet Feet Racing


Best Martial Arts Studio

WARHORSE MARTIAL ARTS

The karate and Jiu Jitsu offered at Warhorse is just one aspect of the business that has been around since the early 1990s and has three locations in Spokane and North Idaho. The programs for kids and adults focus on strong character development while learning the physical arts. They also have a laudable charitable operation, giving to causes including combating childhood cancer and the Spokane Humane Society. They even host birthday parties, complete with the birthday kid cutting the cake with a sword. (SAL)

2nd PLACE: Jung Kim's Martial Arts; 3rd PLACE: Warrior Camp; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Trevor Prangley's AKA, CdA


Best Bike Shop

WHEEL SPORT

There's an unfortunate stereotype about some bike shops; that they can be, shall we say, a little "holier than thou" if you're not wearing the right gear, or know enough cycling lingo. Wheel Sport isn't one of those shops. The three Spokane-area locations are as approachable for the newbies looking for a recreational bike as they are for the Lycra ninjas with dreams of being in the Tour de France's peloton. If you don't know what that means, don't worry. Just ask the Wheel Sport folks. (SAL)

2nd PLACE: The Bike Hub; 3rd PLACE: Two Wheel Transit; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Vertical Earth, CdA


Best Ski/ Snowboard Shop

SPORTS CREEL

Walk into Sports Creel and you immediately get the feeling that it's the kind of place where you want to buy skiing and snowboarding gear. That is, if you're in the market for high-quality, long-lasting gear that will fit well — and, most important, feel good, matching your skill level. A place like Sports Creel has the staff and experience to outfit you correctly and comfortably. They've been doing it since 1954. (SAL)

2nd PLACE: Spokane Alpine Haus; 3rd PLACE: Ski Shack (Hayden)


Best Place to Ski

Best Place to Snowboard

MT. SPOKANE

Being so close to Spokane, the "Kan," as the locals call it, is an ideal place for a family of snow-sports lovers. Or if you prefer to stay in the lodge and drink schnapps-infused hot chocolate, Mt. Spokane's main lodge is big and comfy enough for that. The bar is also quite welcoming. The Wednesday-through-Saturday night skiing offers some of the most frequent, wide-open after-dark skiing and boarding in the Northwest. And the sunsets from Vista House are, well, something you have to experience for yourself. (SAL)

Best Place to Ski: 2nd PLACE: Schweitzer; 3rd PLACE: 49 Degrees North

Best Place to Snowboard: 2nd PLACE: Schweitzer; 3rd PLACE: 49 Degrees North


Best Health Club

YMCA

Yes, the YMCA was historically pitched at young men looking for a fun place to stay when they're new in town. But the biggest strength of the "Y" is how great it is for the whole family. It's not unusual to see dad lifting weights, mom swimming in the pool, your sister in a Zumba class, and the baby in daycare. The YMCA is a jack of all trades, and a master of all of them. (DANIEL WALTERS)

2nd PLACE: MÜV Fitness; 3rd PLACE: The Spokane Club


Best Outdoor Recreation Supplies

REI

Are you new to camping/hiking/backpacking/biking or a seasoned pro? There's a little something for everyone at REI. In addition to all gear having a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee (exchange it or get a refund if you don't like it), the store offers classes ranging from outdoor cooking to changing a flat bike tire. And you can try before you buy with outdoor rentals. (SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL)

2nd PLACE: Mountain Gear; 3rd PLACE: The General Store; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Cabela's, Post Falls

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(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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