Grew up in Spokane taking the STA to high school every day dealing with the plaza (about 7-8 yrs. ago) Went downtown recently to walk around check out, did not feel safe. There are ALOT of street kids and shady people blocking side walks and giving shoppers uneasy feeling. Wouldn't go downtown alone anymore like I did when I was in school.
I thought that SPD was cleaning up downtown. The idea of leaving Spokane is becoming easier and easier the more I try to get out. Becoming a big 'ghetto'.
Seems as though business would be sick of these street people loitering outside of their businesses.
If you are new to the area, you might want to keep a map in your car. The city is technically designed so that Division marks the change between East and West streets, while Sprague marks the division between South and North streets. You would think you could navigate easily to any destination once you understand this simple concept. You would also think a city of it's size would not be hard to navigate after driving in cities like L.A. or Seattle. But even locals get confused when streets suddenly end for no reason, the street name changes several times though you are driving in a straight line, or two way streets suddenly become one-way streets. It's nothing dangerous, but it can be time consuming. It's just something to be aware of, since it's one of the first things people complain about when visiting for the first time.
Do NOT visit The Big Easy concert house, even though they bring in a lot of good entertainment. They will take your money and evict you from their facility for the most ridiculous reasons. I know of numerous folks who have been kicked out of the facility for standing in the wrong place, leaning on the rail, dancing and carrying their drink into the bathroom. The security guards outnumber the guests and they are watching for you to do anything wrong and they are counting how many drinks each and every guest has had at all times.
Its probably a good idea to stay away from this area. It is in a nutshell, the area around the courthouse(the castle-like structure seen just north of downtown). There is a high crime rate in the area, though still relatively safe due to the police station being in the neighborhood.
Try to stay away from the south hill and downtown late at night, especially if you have children. There may be some things that you encounter that you wish you wouldn't have. There are great shops downtown, just try to visit in the daylight hours.
There are many homeless people in the downtown area. You DO NOT have to give them money. The best thing is to avoid eye contact and pretend like they do not exist. If you make eye contact they will swear at you when you reject the offer of giving them money.