Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Coeur d'Alene, ID

  • Published 2023/03/12

Coeur d’Alene is a picturesque lakeside community in Kootenai County, Idaho, that has recently gained widespread attention.

It was a well-kept secret for years.

The city took its name after the Native American people settled around its waterways in the early days of settlement.

French fur traders in the late 18th and early 19th centuries gave the local traders the nickname “Coeur d’Alene” from the French for “sharp as an awl” because of their shrewdness and commercial acumen.

Spectacular beauty and abundant natural resources make visitors unwind and enjoy the outdoors.

Coeur d’Alene is a fantastic destination for outdoor activities and adventure sports, and its expansive lake is an excellent place to go sailing or try other water sports.

Tourists now make up the majority of business in the city’s once-bustling but now-calm downtown, which was once a major mining and forestry hub.

Coeur d’Alene is great for visitors of all ages, and its various free activities are only the icing on the cake.

Read on to discover the free things to do in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Ride through North Idaho Centennial Trail

View of the paved North Idaho Centennial Trail

Dave Jonasen /

Do not pass up the opportunity to go along the North Idaho Centennial Trail if you want to see more of the city and the surrounding area.

From Higgens Point to Washington, you may walk the gorgeous paved trail 24 miles long and through some beautiful scenery.

It becomes the Spokane River Centennial Trail as it travels along the northern side of the lake and then the Spokane River to the border.

You may revel in the beautiful vistas over its sparkling waters regardless of whether you want to stroll, jog, run, or ride your bike along the meandering course.

Signage of North Idaho Centennial Trail

Kirk Fisher /

Above the still lake, you can spot adult eagles and young eaglets flying about from time to time.

The North Idaho Centennial Trail travels along its route through numerous beautiful parks and unspoiled natural areas.

While some sections are peaceful and secluded, others wind their way through crowded neighborhoods and densely populated city regions.

Go Paddling at Coeur d’Alene Lake Parkway State Park

People travel from all around to see the wonders of Coeur d’Alene Parkway State Park.

The park is home to a public boat launch, picnic spots, and a nicely paved parkway with stunning lake vistas.

Enjoy sailboats, canoes, and other paddle sports in the park throughout the year’s warmer months.

In this park, hikers, bikers, and those who want to stroll can enjoy 24 miles of routes designed for their activities.

One popular segment of the Millennium Legacy Trail system, the North Idaho Centennial Trail, passes through the Coeur d’Alene Parkway State Park and is managed by the park.

Weekends are the best time to explore this open space park’s 24 acres by foot or bike.

Catch the Sunset at Fernan Lake Natural Area

The waters of Fernan Lake Natural Area

Kirk Fisher /

On the southwestern shore of Lake Fernan is the 50-acre Fernan Lake Natural Area.

There is already more than a mile of hiking trails throughout three loops on this property.

Fernan Lake Natural Area does not allow camping or hunting.

A three-kilometer walk over the mountain offers spectacular views of the lake and the city below.

Sunsets here are breathtaking, so don’t miss out!

Go Trekking at Canfield Mountain Natural Area

Canfield Mountain Natural Area is a mile and a half long, with some challenging spots.

The rough and mountainous region may be exciting for families with the correct hiking gear and expertise.

Research the trails you intend to hike and know your capabilities.

McEuen Park or other gentler paths may be more suitable for toddlers not used to strenuous excursions.

The uphill jog is open to pets, too!

Spend the day at Canfield Mountain Natural Area.

Spot Birds at Mineral Ridge Scenic Area and National Recreation Trail

Scenic views from Mineral Ridge Scenic Area and National Recreation Trail

Andriy Blokhin /

The Mineral Ridge Scenic Area and National Recreation Trail is a 3.3-mile loop around Coeur d’Alene Lake.

It has stunning vistas of the lake’s Beauty and Wolf Lodge bays and informative signs.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) maintained since 1962 was the BLM’s first constructed recreation location in Idaho.

The Mineral Ridge Scenic Area and National Recreation Trail received its current name as a National Recreation Trail in 1982.

Up to 150 bald eagles stop by yearly to feast on spawning kokanee salmon and make this journey between November and February.

Interpretive watching programs are held annually from Christmas to New Year’s, coinciding with the peak migratory period.

At each of the 22 stations along the path, the BLM Trail Guide provides information about the local flora, fauna, and ecological relationships.

There are flush toilets and garbage cans at the trailhead, drinking water, pit toilets, and paved parking.

Disabled hikers can use the trailhead amenities.

Admire Local Works at the Art Spirit Gallery

The Art Spirit Gallery is the place to find unique, high-quality artwork created by local artists.

Since its founding in 1997, the 4,000-square-foot Art Spirit Gallery has been committed to exhibiting artists and their distinctive expressions.

Nearly two hundred exhibitions have taken place at the Art Spirit Gallery, each visited by a wide range of art collectors and admirers.

The museum features work by local sculptors in addition to paintings.

Steve Gibbs was a driving factor in the gallery’s mission to promote art education through partnerships, opened it.

Take a Swim at Coeur d’Alene City Park

People playing volleyball at Coeur d'Alene City Park

Kirk Fisher /

Coeur d’Alene City Park is conveniently situated close to the Coeur d’Alene Resort and the city’s downtown district.

The park contains an attractive beach, an area designated for swimming, seats, and water elements.

There are many fantastic facilities to explore, including seaplanes, parasailing, tour boats, and various other water-based activities that guarantee an exciting and memorable journey.

People swimming at Coeur d'Alene City Park

T85cr1ft19m1n, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The park hosts many joyous occasions annually to entertain guests, including the Bike to Work Week, the Earth Day Fair, the Summer Concert Series, and Movie in the Park.

In addition, you can join various activities at Coeur D’Alene City Park, including baseball, basketball, football, golf, and dodgeball.

See Cute Works of Art at Free Little Art Gallery

Do you want to see something unique in Coeur d’Alene?

Check out the Free Little Art Gallery.

Free Little Art Gallery is a mini art display that imitates a life-size gallery.

It follows the Little Free Library model, which calls itself the “biggest book-sharing organization in the world.”

Likewise, it invites passers-by to take home little art pieces or leave their own.

This gallery stands outside the Redbrick Art Studio at 602 East Garden Avenue.

This project was made possible in 2022 thanks to a Project Neighborly Grant from the Idaho Community Foundation.

Let Your Children Run Free at McEuen Park

The grounds of McEuen Park

Kirk Fisher /

McEuen Park features many first-rate facilities and aesthetically pleasing outdoor areas.

Playgrounds, a splash pad, and playing fields abound in this area, hidden between Tubbs Hill and downtown and along the Centennial Trail.

It comprises a relatively wide area and includes luscious grass, geological features, and a short stretch of lakefront land.

Pavilions, outdoor exercise equipment, and a dog park that does not require leashes are available here, in addition to basketball and tennis courts.

A sculpture at McEuen Park

Kirk Fisher /

In addition, you’ll find several fascinating public art projects lining the pathways used by pedestrians and cyclists.

McEuen Park is home to the city’s largest playground and splash pad, which should appeal to children.

In addition, the theater in the park has some excellent live music that anybody may enjoy.

In addition, you may visit its moving military memorial or hire boats at its marina.

Catch Performances at Art on the Green

The North Idaho College campus hosts an annual Art on the Green art festival.

For over 54 years, it has been a highlight of the summer season in Coeur d’Alene.

The all-volunteer team behind Art on the Green organizes three days of free entertainment on two stages, hundreds of handmade art pieces, a juried art show, and an art garden for kids.

Local musicians from various genres will also be performing at the event.

This art celebration draws over 30,000 people yearly.

Enjoy the Breathtaking Views of Tubbs Hill

People enjoying the view from Tubbs Hill

Gregory Johnston /

The massive and impressive Tubbs Hill protrudes into the lake’s water to the south of the central business district.

The craggy and rocky peninsula now serves as a park and features many alluring nature paths that wind their way over the area.

Hikers frequently come across breathtaking panoramas across the lake due to the enormous hill’s location in a region dominated by water on three sides.

The site has a variety of sceneries, some of which include rugged terrain, coniferous woodlands, and pebble-strewn coves.

Hiking trail at Tubbs Hill

TravelingOtter from Houston, Texas, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As a result, it is home to some beautiful scenery and natural wonders.

In addition to taking in all its breathtaking vistas, you can swim and sunbathe at some secluded locations scattered around its borders.

Despite their widespread appeal, Tubbs Hill and the quiet nature paths give visitors the impression that they are in a completely different world from the urban core.

Rocky shoreline of Tubbs Hill

Kirk Fisher /

Groove to the Music at Riverstone Summer Concert Series

Spending an afternoon or evening outside during the warmer months in the Inland Northwest is one of the best ways to take advantage of the region’s mild climate and stunning natural beauty.

In addition, there is no better way to unwind and spend time with loved ones than attending one of the numerous free summer concert series held in the neighborhood.

Every Thursday evening in July and August, the Coeur d’Alene Arts & Culture Alliance holds the Riverstone Summer Concert Series in Riverstone Park.

Feel free to “rock out” at the Riverstone Concert Series!

It features talented local and regional performers and opening acts by up-and-coming local musicians, singers, and songwriters.

Bring a blanket or lawn chair!

Enter a Storybook World at Mudgy Moose Trail

Statue of Mudgy Moose near the lake

Kirk Fisher /

The Mudgy Moose Trail (or Mudgy & Millie Trail) is a trail based on the beloved children’s book of the same name.

Along with the City of Coeur d’Alene Parks Department, Mudgy Moose blazed a course from the foot of Tubbs Hill to Independence Point, where he found Millie.

Five life-size bronze sculptures of Mudgy halt along the 14-mile Mudgy Moose Trail that runs beside Lake Coeur d’Alene and downtown Coeur d’Alene.

These sculptures represent different points in the story where Mudgy searches for Millie.

Keep an eye out for the Mudgy Moose Trail markers, which will lead you down this open path.

Coeur d’Alene, resident and renowned sculptor/painter Terry Lee, created the five bronze figures.

See Stunning Boats at Coeur d’Alene Boat Expo

Learn more about boats at the annual Coeur d’Alene Boat Expo, held every February.

It features top boat brands such as Regal, Malibu, Axis, Cobalt, Chris-Craft, Barletta, Harris, Coeur Custom, Cruisers Yachts, and many more.

Here, you and your loved ones may take advantage of the extensive selection of brand-new boats on the market.

Prepare for the next boating season by browsing the ideal vessel for your needs.

The Coeur d’Alene Boat Expo has many entertaining events, such as the kids’ surfing competition.

Grab Your New Favorite Book at Coeur d’Alene Public Library

Exterior of Coeur d'Alene Public Library

Antony-22, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to library services in the community, the Coeur d’Alene Public Library strives to be the best.

The library is open to all and gives free access to its extensive collection of historical, intellectual, and cultural materials in the interest of lifelong education.

It opened its doors in April 1905, using the space of the E.B. Keller & Company shop two doors east of the junction of Fourth Street and Sherman Avenue.

Interior of Coeur d'Alene Public Library

Antony-22, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In 2007, the Coeur d’Alene Public Library launched its most recent and official location on Front Avenue.

It also features the Seagrave Children’s Library, which offers a healthy collection that reflects the community’s social, emotional, and intellectual knowledge.

You may also visit the library’s Community Room, home to a Heritage Wall, which showcases 90 photographs spanning more than a century of local history.

Final Thoughts

Coeur d’Alene is a fantastic destination with a wide variety of exciting activities, scenic locations, and convenient amenities.

Swimming, diving, snorkeling, sailing, waterskiing, windsurfing, kayaking, and more are just some fantastic things to do here.

Moreover, it is home to a vibrant cultural scene.

Use this guide to the free things to do in Coeur d’Alene for a budget-friendly adventure.

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