Tag Archives: Free

McCroskey State Park/Skyline Drive (Idaho)

On a recent Sunday we decided to go on an exploratory drive.  We chose the 18 mile Skyline Drive of the Mary Minerva McCrosky State Park in Idaho.

Skyline Drive offers beautiful views of the Palouse, even on a slightly rainy day like the one we had. It is very interesting in that it takes you through a typically western forest to a typically eastern one.

From the website:

“This 5300-acre ridgeline park is dedicated to pioneer women. McCroskey State Park’s highlight is an 18-mile skyline drive through the park on unimproved roads provides spectacular views of the rolling Palouse country and access to 32 miles of multi-purpose trails. Facilities include a group day use shelter, primitive camping areas and picnic areas along the road. The road is not recommended for large RVs and may be too rough for your family car.”

We did the road in our light SUV, and it was fine.  Here is a photo of the typical road condition:

It is free.  It has campsites, parking, restrooms, and vault toilets (whatever that is!). I think I saw hiking trails, but we did not do any hiking around.  It is open all year.

Info:

http://www.visitidaho.org/thingstodo/parks/mccroskey-state-park.aspx

http://www.wildernet.com/pages/area.cfm?areaID=IDSPMC&CU_ID=1

We bookended our drive with some snacks, of course.  On the way there we went to Potlatch, Idaho and visited the Wagon Wheel Bar & Grille and Laundromat.

Yes, laundromat.  Meaning there are two washers and dryers in the front part of the establishment, next to the pool table and video games (you eat in the rear part).  Kind of kooky, but fun, friendly, good burgers, open on Sunday, and they allowed kids.

Wagon Wheel Bar & Grille
220 6th St

Potlatch, ID 83855

Phone:  (208) 875-1067

At the end of our journey we went to Garfield and had ice cream and beer at Smokin’ Papas BBQ Cafe.  I have been told the BBQ is very good, and I hope to get back to try it.  They also have pizza. We were really thankful to find another place open on Sunday.

Smokin’ Papas

(509) 635-1290

216 W California St, Garfield, WA

It was a nice way to spend a rainy Sunday, and we got to see some nooks and crannies, and sweeping vistas, of the lovely Palouse.

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Pullman Page Turners (Book Club): Grown-Up Time

One of my favorite non-kid activities is book club.  I am in the Pullman Page Turners, sponsored by the Neill Public Library.  Once a month we meet at a member’s home to discuss a book, drink wine and socialize.

For information, see the Pullman Page Turners page on the library website:

http://www.neill-lib.org/Departments/Library/DrawOnePage.aspx?PageID=777

Neill Public Library also hosts another book club, The Grand Avenue Book Club.  I have not attended that one, but its reading list looks similar to the Pullman Page Turners.  Their meetings are held in the library.

The library website has a GAB page:

http://www.neill-lib.org/Departments/Library/DrawOnePage.aspx?PageID=1146

and they have their own site/blog:

http://grandavenuebookclub.wetpaint.com/

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Filed under Culture, Free, Inside Activities, Pullman Washington, Things to Do, Things to do without kids, Uncategorized

Conservation Park (Pullman, WA)

Path, Conservation park

I love to get the boys outside, especially when it is close and easy.  Today we went to Conservation Park, and it was both.

Conservation Park Entrance

Pullman’s website gives the story of Conservation Park:

“The City’s ‘old nursery’ site having outgrown it’s initial purpose made it’s transformation into the Conservation Park as a result of WSU student Angie Kenney’s Master Thesis; Environmental and Societal Benefits of Conserving Open Space: An in Depth Analysis and formal Park Proposal for Pullman, Washington. The Boy Scouts have improved trails and made the initial improvements to the entrance site at the western terminus of Darrow Street, Park staff added a pergola and volunteers from Windermere Realty installed the landscape. Cub Scouts have added plantings and a bench site overlooking the Palouse River. The future vision includes pedestrian connections to Cooper  Basin, Military Hill and Grand Avenue Greenway.”

A new friend

The park is basically just open space with a rough trail.  The trail is probably about a half mile, winding downhill to the road where the water treatment plant is(!)  It took us about 45 minutes to go all the way down and back – and that included breaks for finding sticks, throwing rocks, and a bit of arguing (naturally).

This was a mini nature experience- not the wilderness by any means, but a good chance to run around and enjoy the sunshine.  In the summer it should be beautiful.

And you get to see the water treatment plant!

The City’s “old nursery” site having outgrown it’s initial purpose made it’s transformation into the Conservation Park as a result of WSU student Angie Kenney’s Master Thesis; Environmental and Societal Benefits of Conserving Open Space: An in Depth Analysis and formal Park Proposal for Pullman, Washington. The Boy Scouts have improved trails and made the initial improvements to the entrance site at the western terminus of Darrow Street, Park staff added a pergola and volunteers from Windermere Realty installed the landscape. Cub Scouts have added plantings and a bench site overlooking the Palouse River. The future vision includes pedestrian connections to Cooper Basin, Military Hill and Grand Avenue Greenway.

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Indoor Play Places

Pullman McDonald's Play Area

It’s too cold to go outside, and the kids are bored.  More to the point, YOU need to get them out of the house, or you will all go crazy.  Enter the indoor play area.

Longer View, Pullman McDonald's Play Area

The only indoor play area I know of in Pullman itself is McDonald’s.  (If there are others, PLEASE let me know!)  Even if you would never have stepped foot in a McDonald’s before moving to Pullman, you will do it once you live here.  And it is actually quite pleasant- it is clean and bright, and is the nicest of the area McDonald’s and McDonald’s play areas.  Order some coffee if you are anti-McD’s food, and let the kids run wild.

1620 GRAND AVE S – PULLMAN, WA 99163-4905 – (509)332-6725

Pullman McD's

Other McD locations with play areas:

Lewiston McDonald's Play Area

Lewiston:  This is the second best.  It is the largest, and it can help make the drive to Lewiston worth it for kids.  There is a sign that says Mondays are Family Nights, which I think means the whole family can play on it.  Like all these McD play structures, if your kid gets stuck/scared or just refuses to come out, extracting him or her would be basically impossible.

119 THAIN ROAD – LEWISTON, ID 83501 – (208)746-3032

(The McDonald’s website indicates there is also one in Clarkston, WA with a play area, but I have never been there.  Address: 350 BRIDGE ST – CLARKSTON, WA 99403-1929 – (509)758-9603)

Moscow, Idaho McDonald's Play Area

Moscow, Idaho:  This one is my least favorite, as it seems like the least clean of the three (just my take on it from looking!).  But it is still not bad, and you know, it is something to do.

1404 MOSCOW-PULLMAN HIGHWAY – MOSCOW, ID 83843 – (208)882-2900

OTHER INDOOR PLAY AREAS:

Eastside Marketplace, Play Area

The Eastside Marketplace in Moscow has a nice indoor play area.  It is in front of the movie theater.  It is clean and free.  You can even have a birthday party there.  I highly recommend this play area.

Eastside Marketplace Rules

The play area is also in front of Wild At Art, the paint-your-own pottery place, which is an excellent thing to do with kids (maybe I’ll do an entry on that too).

Eastside Marketplace

1420 South Blaine Street
Moscow, ID 83843-3973
(208) 882-1533

www.eastsidemarketplace.com

Eastside Marketplace

And then, there is Bumpers.

Bumpers, Palouse Mall, Moscow, Idaho

Bumpers is in the Palouse Mall in Moscow, Idaho.  It is kind of notorious around here because it truly appears to never have been cleaned.  [Note, I do not mean to libel Bumpers.  This is just my opinion, which I have formed from going there and from hearing stories of other parents who have gone there.]  It is obnoxious and way overpriced, and of course, kids LOVE it.  I walked by many times without relenting.  Finally I had to use it as a bribe to get the kids through a particularly long Bed, Bath and Beyond trip, and I lived to tell about it.  I doubt I will ever again get through a trip to the mall with the boys without going there.

Bumpers, Palouse Mall, Moscow, Idaho

Bumpers has arcade games, air hockey, Foosball, etc. for bigger kids (which the little kids will want to do) and a play area for small kids.  You will not want to let your kids play in the play area because it seems so gross.  But over time, you will probably do it!  (Full disclosure:  I have not let my kids on the play area yet.  I have let them do the arcade games and skeeball.  I am sure this winter we’ll finally go on the play structure!)  There are also bumper cars, but I have not seen anyone on them.

Bottom line is that the kids are really thrilled by this place.  And it is pretty cool to impart so much joy for a hand full of quarters and some Purell.

Bumpers Small Kids Play Area

Right outside Bumpers is the coin centrifuge.  It is cool.  It will make you feel a little better about going to Bumpers.

Palouse Mall

1850 West Pullman Road
Moscow, ID 83843-4014
(208) 882-8893

www.palousemall.com

Palouse Mall Coin Centrifuge

I know Pullman parks and Rec opens the Sunnyside Elementary gym sometimes over winter break, and I have heard there is a Moscow rec center (?) that has something similar.  You may also be able to play at Gladdish Community Center and the Pioneer Center (both in Pullman) but I have not done it.

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Charles R. Conner Museum (WSU)

A Cougar... Probably the only way we'll see one!

I took the boys to the Conner Museum on the Washington State University campus this morning.  Very worthwhile!

The Conner Museum has lots of dead stuff.  The variety is impressive (though make no mistake, this is a small collection) and the displays and collection are high quality.

The history (from the website):

“Conner Museum traces its beginnings back to 1894, when Charles R. Conner, president of the Board of Regents, persuaded the state of Washington to donate its exhibits from the Chicago World’s Fair to the fledgling Washington Agricultural College. Those first exhibits were a mixture of several disciplines including anthropology, geology, biology and, of course, agriculture. Over time and through the influence of successive curators, the museum’s theme gradually narrowed and focused on vertebrate animals. Today the museum’s exhibits display over 700 mounts of birds and mammals and the scientific collection used by researchers houses over 65,000 specimens.”

One of the coolest things about the museum is the table of stuff the kids can touch.  We took full advantage of this!

The museum is located on the first floor of Abelson Hall, in a few different rooms (just follow the signs).  It is open seven days a week from 8 AM to 5 PM, except on holidays or other times when the buildings on campus are closed. Admission is FREE, but the museum could really use donations, so drop some money in the donation box if you can.  There is no specific parking lot.  We parked at a meter in front of Daggy Hall on College.  It was $1.50 for an hour. I was afraid parking was going to be a pain, but it wasn’t.

From there, it was a short walk to Abelson.  The boys had a great time running up the stairs.

Abelson Hall

We also saw the famous Bryan clock tower and took the obligatory photo.

Bryan Clock Tower

Finally, on the way back to the car, we stopped at every mound of snow (leftover and totally icy) that we could see.  I only mention this because the boys would have been happy doing this for hours, and it was great because there are no cars to worry about- maybe when we get bored this winter we can wander around campus kicking at snowpiles?

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Locomotive Park Holiday Lights (Lewiston, ID)

The Locomotive that gives Locomotive Park its name

Last night we drove to Lewiston to see the holiday light display at Locomotive park.  The kids loved it.

Locomotive Park Arches

The park is 17 acres in size, and every part of it has a light display and Christmas music.  There is a pathway with lighted arches that runs through most of it, which is nice for strolling.

The Musical Tree

A few of the displays have coordinated music, including the huge Musical Tree.  There is also a cute penguin display coordinated to “Lucy & Linus” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio (the “Charlie Brown” Christmas music) that the boys loved (my pictures were too blurry!).

Winter Spirit Outdoor Fireplace

Locomotive Park has a large outdoor gas fireplace by which you can warm up.  It was a bit crowded, but had a nice community feel.

To see all of the lights could take as little as 15 minutes with kids, though they probably would have run around for an hour if we let them (it was cold, so we hurried them along).  This outing would probably be best paired with something else in Lewiston if you are driving the 45 minutes from Pullman.

When you get into Lewiston from Pullman or Moscow, you will see the park on the right – there is no missing it!  The park has plenty of free parking and has port-o-lets.  The light display runs from the Saturday before Thanksgiving through the first Saturday after New Year’s Eve.

Here is the City’s website:

http://www.cityoflewiston.org/index.aspx?NID=515

Happy holidays!

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Filed under Free, Holiday, Idaho, Nature and Outdoors, Things to Do

WSU Museum of Art and CUB (Compton Union Building)

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Today was cloudy and we did not have a lot of time for an adventure.  Perfect day for a visit to the WSU Museum of Art and the CUB (Compton Union Building).

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The Museum of Art is located in the Fine Arts Building directly across from Martin Stadium.  As you would expect, it is small, which means you can get a dose of art without having to set aside a lot of time.  For my visit with my boys, it meant I could give them a little bit of the museum/gallery experience without wearing their patience too thin.  (Even so, I was very glad I brought a stroller, because one of my wild things had to be restrained from touching the art.)

Gallery 1 View (Photography is prohibited, as I was told after I took this!)

Gallery 1 View (Photography is prohibited, as I was told after I took this!)

The exhibitions change about every three months, and have seemed varied and impressive (though this is the first time I have made a visit).  OK, this is not MOMA, but it is very enjoyable! It is also free!

Sculpture in Front of Museum

Sculpture in Front of Museum

After the museum, we crossed the wide sidewalk and went to the CUB.

Walking to the CUB (CUB in the distance)

Walking to the CUB (CUB in the distance)

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I intended to take the boys to Starbucks, which is located in the bookstore.  However, the line was too long (as it notoriously is).

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So we changed plans and went to the food court.

CUB Food Court

CUB Food Court

We ended up getting juice and zucchini bread at Carlita’s, which had basically the same kind of stuff as Starbucks would have had.  The zucchini bread was made by the WSU Dining Services, and was very good.  Also, at $1.19, I would bet it cost a lot less than it would have at Starbucks.

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The CUB food court also has a Villa, a Panda Express (with sushi) and a Subway.  Standard food court fare.  The seating area is nice and light and was not too crowded (though we were there before the lunch rush).

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Getting there was really easy.  The place to park is at Smith Center, which has a sign on Stadium Way.  You have to pay, but it was only around $3 for our visit.  I think there might be validation available if you spend over a certain amount, and I think there is a promotion now where you can park for free after 5 pm. You take the elevator up the sidewalk level.  Both the CUB and the Museum also have handicap buttons on the doors, so it is not a struggle to get through with a stroller.  I did not check on changing tables, but there are bathrooms readily available in both buildings.

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All in all, I think our adventure took about an hour and a half and cost a grand total of around $6.  Well worth it to beat cabin fever and do something a little different.

Useful websites:

Museum of Art

http://museum.wsu.edu/index.html

CUB

http://cub.wsu.edu/

WSU Parking Info

http://www.parking.wsu.edu/

WSU Campus Map

http://www.campusmap.wsu.edu/campus-map/FULL/index.html

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Filed under Culture, Food, Free, Pullman Washington, Things to Do, Washington State University, What to do if it is snowing

University of Idaho Arboretum & Botanical Garden

View of the Arboretum from Nez Perce Drive

View of the Arboretum from Nez Perce Drive

Ah, the UI Arboretum. This is one of my favorite places to go.  Yesterday we made a trip there to catch some fall leaves before they are gone.

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The UI Arboretum and Botanical Garden is a 63 acre “living museum of documented plants.”  45 of the acres are planted and the other 18 will be developed in the future (they are currently in wheat, so they are pretty as well).

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The Arboretum has two large ponds, a smaller pond, and a small creek.  The ponds are the main attraction for my boys – of course, because playing in the water maximizes messiness!

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There is a 1.5 mile gravel path that encircles the whole Arboretum.  There are some cut-across paths so that you do not have to do the entire circle (which is helpful with little ones who can’t make the whole loop), and there are numerous bark paths off the main gravel path.

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The gravel path is excellent for jogging, and a jogging stroller can handle it easily.  You can also bike on the gravel path.  Dogs are not allowed.

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From the UI Arboretum website (http://www.uiweb.uidaho.edu/arboretum/about.html):

Organized into geographical groupings of Asian, European, Eastern, and Western North American sections, and display plantings are hundreds of species and cultivars of North Temperate trees and shrubs and a xeriscape garden. In addition to native Idaho species, there are over 120 dedicated trees and groves, trails, water features, and 27 granite benches for viewing, study, contemplation, enjoying northern Idaho’s spectacular seasonal changes. Walking trails range from easy grades through steeper climbs to the most spectacular overview sites from which the Blue Mountains of Oregon can be seen.”

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The Arboretum is beautiful year round, but if there is snow on the ground, the paths can be difficult to navigate, especially for little kids.  This year we may try snow-shoeing (though skiing is prohibited).

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There is a map on the website for locating the different areas/types of trees.  Copies of this map are also available at each end (at the Red Barn and at the kiosk).

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When I go with the boys, it takes a good hour and a half or two hours to get all the way around, due to many, many stops to find sticks and play in the water.  When I go on my own, it is about a half hour stroll.

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Educational tours are offered (check the website), and this year there was a summer concert.  There is also a plant sale in the summer, held at the fairgrounds.

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The ducks are also a favorite.  You are not allowed to feed them, but they seem pretty used to people nonetheless.

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Across Nez Perce Drive is the Charles Houston Shattuck Arboretum.  I don’t have photos of this because I have not made it over there, but a friend tells me it is beautiful.  It is a 14 acre slope that was planted with trees in 1910.  I think everyone just calls this the “old Arboretum.”

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At one end of the Arboretum is the Arboretum Red Barn, which was built in 1908.  It is not open to the public, but it makes for a good photo.

Arboretum Barn

Arboretum Barn

I don’t think there is a water fountain at the Arboretum, but there is an outhouse near the Red Barn.  Not a great place to change a baby, but better than nothing!

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The Arboretum is in a valley adjacent to the UI golf course, south of the President’s Residence and UI water tower, and north of the rolling Palouse hills across West Palouse River Drive.  The address is 1200 West Palouse River Drive.  Mapquest this and it will give you directions through Moscow to the free parking lot by the Red Barn.  (I used to park at the meters on Nez Perce Drive, which goes right through campus.  I think the meters have been removed, though.)  Note that you can also take Sand Road from Pullman, but it is partially unpaved, so can be slow and dusty.  It is pretty, though, and well worth the few extra minutes.

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View of the farm across from the Arboretum, on West Palouse River Drive

View of the farm across from the Arboretum, on West Palouse River Drive

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Klemgard County Park

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I am trying to get in every last bit of summer, so I took the boys on a mid-week picnic tonight at Klemgard County park.  This park is really beautiful – a favorite of mine after only two visits.

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Klemgard is a 59 acre park, a lot of which appears to be in native grasses.  There is a large grassy area with gazebos (above), which is reached by this small bridge:

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which crosses over this small stream:

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That side of the park has a paved path that leads to the hiking trail:

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We did not do the trail because the boys were anxious to picnic and get to the playground.  So we crossed back over the bridge to the side of the park that has the really cool picnic shelter:

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as well as more gazebos, sand volley ball courts, and horseshoe pits.  And, of course, the playground!

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The playground is quite nice. It was just installed in 2006.  It is mostly for kids who are over three, I would say, because the slides are very fast and the overall structure is pretty high.

It also has this cool tunnel:

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The boys LOVE this playground.  They also love the park in general because it has wide green spaces to run in.  It is kind of in the middle of nowhere, so I think it is unlikely you would find a crowd here (and tonight we were the only people there).

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Perhaps it is because it is kind of remote, the park has a lot of “facilities.”  It has two sets of bathrooms and three water fountains; multiple barbecue grills and picnic tables, and free parking.

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It takes 20 minutes to get here from Pullman.  Directions:

Travel 10 miles north on Highway 195 (Pullman-Colfax Highway). You will see a brown Department of Transportation sign. Turn left on Hamilton Hill Road and drive 2.5 miles to the bottom of the canyon flat. Turn west (right) on Union Flat Road (it is a gravel road) and travel 1 mile to the entrance of the park. The first time I went there I was sure I was lost!

Park website:

http://www.whitmancounty.org/ssi.aspx?ssid=82

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Neill Public Library (Pullman)

Let me start by saying, I LOVE Neill Library!

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Rear entrance of the library

Rear entrance of the library

The library is light and clean.  It has a great collection of children’s books, DVDs, and magazines, in addition to a good collection of parenting reference books.

Children and Juvenile Book Collection

Children and Juvenile Book Collection

Play area, in the center of the parent resource section

Play area, in the center of the parent resource section

My kids love the play area, with the play house and play barn.  They also like the play fire engine.

Fire engine, with fire-fighting related books

Fire engine, with fire-fighting related books

The story times are a fantastic resource. There are story times for kids of all ages, and there are even family story times in the evenings.  The librarians who read the stories are excellent.  They incorporate songs and activities into the story reading.  There are also occasional story time guest readers, like the Mayor.

A sculpture/mural on the front of the Neill library building

A sculpture/mural on the front of the Neill library building

The collection for adults seems just as good.  The library also has free Wi-Fi and internet.  There are two book clubs associated with the library which can be accessed from the library website.  (I am in one of them and it is great!)

The area where the library is located is nice as well.

Outdoor sculpture adjacent to the Neill library parking lot

Outdoor sculpture adjacent to the Neill library parking lot

Railroad bridge behind the library

Railroad bridge behind the library

Outdoor clock in front of the library

Outdoor clock in front of the library

The library also has a free parking lot!

More Information:

210 N. Grand Ave
Pullman, WA 99163
509-334-3595

Open Hours
Monday 1-8 pm
Tuesday-Wednesday 10-8 pm
Thursday-Friday 10-6 pm
Saturday-Sunday 1-5 pm

The website has a lot of information.  The address is:

Flowers at Neill Library

Flowers at Neill Library

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Filed under Free, Pullman Washington, Things to Do, Uncategorized, What to do if it is snowing