Embarking on a quest to uncover the best things to do in Sandpoint, Idaho?
In this comprehensive guide, we've melded insights from locals and travelers to present you with a mosaic of experiences that define this remarkable place. While we've highlighted some must-visit spots, it's imperative to understand that these recommendations are shaped by personal opinions and experiences.
There are countless other wonderful places awaiting your discovery. Our goal isn't just to point you to the well-trodden paths, but to inspire you to explore and truly immerse yourself in the city's essence.
Soak Up the Sun at Sandpoint City Beach Park
You haven't truly experienced the beauty of Idaho until you've spent a day at Sandpoint City Beach Park.
The moment you step foot on the sandy beach, you're greeted by the tranquil, placid waters.
Sometimes, I like to arrive early in the morning, just to witness the sun rise, painting the sky in hues of orange and pink.
One of my favorite things to do is to walk along the paved path, dotted with benches.
The mini Statue of Liberty always catches my eye.
I've spent countless hours just sitting on one of those benches, taking in the gorgeous scenery that surrounds me.
If you're anything like me and enjoy a good splash, then you're in for a treat.
The park offers a little dock from where you can jump right into the water.
It's a thrill watching the boats lining up and leaving the pier, creating gentle waves in the water.
Just be mindful of the waves they create, as they can make swimming a bit more challenging.
However, it's all part of the fun!
There's also a great pavilion where you can find shade and relax.
Just be sure to bring your beach shoes to avoid bird droppings.
And remember, dogs aren't allowed in the park, a rule I really appreciate as it keeps the beach clean.
After a fun day at the park, I often head over to the nearby downtown area.
It's filled with quaint shops and charming attractions that add to the whole experience.
But be warned, once you visit Sandpoint City Beach Park, you may find yourself wanting to come back again and again.
It's not just a park; it's a destination that offers a little bit of everything, and there's always something new to discover.
Pamper Yourself Western Pleasure Guest Ranch
Every now and then, I find myself drawn towards a slice of paradise tucked away in the mountains, a place that has become my go-to retreat for some relaxation and adventure.
This haven is none other than the Western Pleasure Guest Ranch.
From the moment I step onto this ranch, I am welcomed by the friendly faces of the hosts, Janice, Roley, and their ever-accommodating staff.
They create an atmosphere that makes it feel like a home away from home.
It's not just the people, though.
The warm, comfortable cabins, the well-stocked amenities, and the spectacular views that greet me from every window truly complete the experience.
The ranch isn't merely about rest and relaxation; it's also a place of action and excitement.
I've spent countless hours horseback riding, with attentive wranglers ensuring every ride is a memorable one.
The daily and nightly activities offer something for everyone, making every moment at the ranch a new adventure.
I remember one particular occasion when the ranch hosted a winter wedding.
The effort the staff put in to make the bride's dreams come true was nothing short of commendable.
The lodge, with its ability to host small or large gatherings, was beautifully decorated, and the food was out of this world.
I still can't forget the taste of the best prime rib I've ever eaten.
But the highlight of my experiences at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch is the magical Christmas I spent there with a large group.
It was like stepping into a winter wonderland.
The snow-covered landscape, the twinkling Christmas lights, and the spirit of the holiday season infused into every corner of the ranch made it an unforgettable experience.
Journey through Time at the Bonner County Historical Society & Museum
Every time I visit the Bonner County Historical Society & Museum, I feel like I am stepping into a time machine.
It's an amazing place to immerse myself in the rich cultural and geological history of our area, from the northernmost tip of the Idaho panhandle to Sandpoint and Bonner County.
The admission is reasonable, just $4 for adults, and trust me, it's worth every penny.
The museum might be small in size, but it is massive in terms of the depth of exhibits and the extent of collections.
Each exhibit is meticulously arranged and easy to comprehend, making a tour around the museum a fulfilling journey.
Besides, the way the museum handles some of the socially and historically challenging aspects of human behavior is something I admire greatly.
Instead of brushing the less savory parts of our past under the rug, the museum presents it just as it is - raw, real, and without judgment.
What truly stands out about the Bonner County Historical Society & Museum, though, are the outdoor displays.
They offer a wonderful, diverse look at artifacts from the area spanning over the past two centuries.
Each piece tells a unique story of the native peoples, early settlers, pioneers, and notable local citizens.
As if the exhibits aren't enough, the Bonner County Historical Society & Museum staff are just as remarkable.
The docents are always cordial and more than willing to answer any questions.
Plus, they have a knack for curating the displays with such an aesthetic eye, making each visit a visual delight.
Satisfy Your Sweet Cravings at Panhandle Cone & Coffee
There's no denying it - my sweet tooth has found its home at Panhandle Cone & Coffee.
It has become something of a ritual for me to finish my day, no matter how hectic, with a scoop (or two) of their unique and diverse range of ice cream flavors.
Every time I visit, I'm greeted with the warmest smiles and friendliest of services.
It's as if they're welcoming me back home.
And then, of course, there's the ice cream.
Oh, the ice cream!
The flavors are not your run-of-the-mill vanilla or chocolate.
No, they are artfully crafted, and each one tells a story.
My taste buds are always excited, and they never fail to surprise me.
And let's not forget the waffle cones.
They're just as delightful, crispy, and flavorful.
They are an absolute treat, although they do have a tendency to fall apart if you don't hurry with your treat.
But who could blame them?
The ice cream is so good that even the cone can't resist!
Don't even get me started on the location.
Nestled in the heart of Sandpoint, Panhandle Cone & Coffee is the perfect place to unwind after a busy day in town.
It's open late, so you can always count on it for that late-night craving.
And trust me, once you've been there, you'll definitely crave it.
Feel the Adrenalin Rush at Silverwood Theme Park
It's always a pleasure to have Silverwood Theme Park, the largest theme park in the Northwest, practically in my backyard.
You won't believe the numerous times I've been there, but every visit feels like the first time.
This local gem offers over 65 rides, a water park, casual dining options, and even boasts an on-site RV Park.
I vividly remember the excitement of my last visit right after school let out.
We got there at about 10:45 am and found a parking spot without any hassle.
And can you believe it, parking was just $10!
In no time, we were inside the park and onto the first ride, thanks to the surprisingly short lines.
Even the Ferris wheel, which took a little longer due to safety checks, was worth the wait.
What I love about Silverwood is that they seem to have thought of everything.
Their food options are both affordable and varied.
I recall enjoying a delicious burrito bowl with chicken, priced fairly at $10.
And talk about the staff!
They can't be praised enough for their friendly and helpful attitude, always ready to make our time there as enjoyable as possible.
The park's cleanliness is another point worth mentioning.
Despite the crowds, the staff work tirelessly to keep everything spotless.
And the gardeners, oh, they do an excellent job of keeping the place beautiful with flowers and well-maintained landscaping.
It's as if you're in a fun-packed garden!
They also have a quarter arcade that's a big hit, especially when you need a little rest.
I remember giving my kids $20, and they were entertained for a good hour and a half, giving me some much-needed downtime.
The best part is that the fun doesn't stop at the amusement park.
Silverwood's water park is a delightful experience on its own, with fun shows that are paired with food options.
It’s a chance for the family to sit down, eat, and take a break while being entertained.
Hop on a Heart-Pumping Adventure at Gold Hill Trailhead
Have you ever wished to be surrounded by nature, to have your heart beating fast from the excitement of conquering new heights, and at the same time, feel at peace?
The Gold Hill Trailhead manages to serve all of these on a silver platter.
You see, I've been working my way up to hike the McKinnick trail, and Gold Hill Trailhead has been my training ground.
I might be a touch out of shape, but this trail has been very kind to me.
It's a wonderful hike that really gets the heart rate up, but it's manageable, even for someone who's not in peak physical condition.
There's elevation, sure, but nothing too strenuous.
While the hike itself is rewarding, it's the view that you get once you reach the top that makes all the effort worth it.
The sprawling panorama of lush greenery and the soothing sounds of nature are enough to take your breath away.
And if you're a wildlife enthusiast, you're in for a treat.
I've seen so many different animals on my hikes - it's a regular wildlife parade up there.
The trail is well-developed with lots of switchbacks, making it a perfect choice for an afternoon hike.
It's about 5 miles out and back, so you can easily complete it in a few hours.
And the best part?
There are plenty of open spots where you can take a break and sunbathe if you want to.
That's right – hiking, wildlife spotting, and sunbathing, all in one trip!
Take in the City's Beauty on Lake Pend Oreille Cruises
Living here, nestled among the vast beauty of Idaho, comes with its own unique set of blessings.
One of them is the opportunity to appreciate the breathtaking scenery of Lake Pend Oreille through the relaxing, informative, and entertaining cruises offered by Lake Pend Oreille Cruises.
My friends and I recently embarked on the Clark Fork Delta cruise.
It was truly an awe-inspiring experience.
The staff, with their warm smiles and friendly conversations, make you feel at home right away.
The captain, with his wealth of knowledge about the area, brings the history and natural beauty of the surroundings to life.
Ordering food on board was an added delight.
The flavors were as pleasing to the palate as the lake views were to the eyes.
The system of boarding in the order of reservation of Lake Pend Oreille Cruises added a fair and organized touch to the experience.
So, if you're planning to take this cruise, I'd suggest reserving your spots early.
Trust me, you wouldn't want to miss the chance of getting the best views of the stunning Lake Pend Oreille.
Another trip that my family deeply enjoyed was the Castle and Eagle cruise.
The affordability of the tickets was a pleasant surprise.
However, the highlight was when my little one got to “Captain” the ship for part of our journey.
Seeing his face light up with joy is a memory I’ll surely cherish.
Have a Movie Date at Panida Theatre
I’ve always been in awe of the Panida Theatre.
It’s not just a theatre, it’s a piece of history sitting right in our town.
The first time I visited this place, I was taken by the charm of the small, quaint lobby.
It felt nostalgic, like a step back in time.
It’s true the lobby is quite small and not very functional, but that's part of its old-world charm.
My favorite thing about the Panida Theatre is the cozy loveseats.
There’s something undeniably romantic about them.
Yes, they're a bit far from the screen, but the charm and comfort make up for it.
I must mention the red cushion seats; they have been refurbished and are now the best seats in the house.
The video and sound quality are surprisingly good for such a small theater.
One of the reasons I regularly visit Panida Theatre is to support this historical gem.
Over the years, it has been restored, but still needs help.
Whether it’s a movie or a live performance, I make it a point to attend as often as I can.
You might see me at the end of the month, catching the dirt bike movie.
I'm really looking forward to it.
The Panida Theatre is more than just a local place; it’s a part of our community, and I'm happy to support it.
Plus, the street parking is free, which is always a bonus.
Hike through Mickinnick Trail Head 13
When I'm in need of a little nature therapy, I lace up my hiking boots and head to one of Sandpoint's hidden gems, the Mickinnick Trail Head 13.
This trail weaves its way through the wilderness, offering awe-inspiring views and a peaceful respite from the bustle of city life.
As soon as you start your hike, you're surrounded by an explosion of wildflowers in late spring.
Be prepared, though, as the beauty comes with a lively buzz of mosquitoes.
But don't worry, it's all worth it as the trail unfolds into stunning vistas.
Even if you're not up for the full hike, just about a mile in, there's a bench that offers a lovely view.
The trail can be challenging, especially for those of us who are not seasoned hikers.
I recall my first hike up the Mickinnick Trail Head 13.
It was a bit of a struggle, but reaching that bench about halfway up was a reward in itself.
The view was simply breathtaking.
And for those who like their hikes with a side of thrill, this trail certainly delivers.
It's a steep climb of 3.5 miles to the top, through rocks and roots, on a well-kept trail.
The sight that greets you at the top is the stunning panorama of Sandpoint and the massive lake.
If you time it right, you might even find a bounty of huckleberries waiting for you at the top!
While the Mickinnick Trail Head 13 can be a challenge, it's also a spot where you can find solitude.
Even on busy days, you can find spots where it's just you, the trail, and nature.
Plus, with ample parking and a public restroom, it's a conveniently equipped spot for a day's adventure.
Go Skiing at Pine Street Woods
One of the best-kept secrets of Sandpoint is the Pine Street Woods.
Nestled on the outskirts of downtown, it's the perfect escape for those craving a touch of nature's splendor.
As you step into the forest, your senses are immediately flooded with the natural beauty of the deep woods.
The trails, offering a combination of dense forests and open fields, are a delight for hikers and skiers.
Regular grooming ensures that the ski trails are kept separate from the hiking trails, so there's no fear of getting in each other's way!
What truly stands out about Pine Street Woods is its thoughtfulness towards accessibility.
Wheelchair-accessible facilities make it an inclusive space for all outdoor enthusiasts.
Explore the woods with their excellent maps and lose yourself in the tranquility of the trails while still feeling secure.
A visit during the winter months offers a different kind of charm.
The trails blanketed in pristine snow and the occasional ice give you a unique hiking experience.
My kids love to frolic around these parts when the snow sets in, making it an approved family outing.
And the best part?
The trails are always kept in top-notch condition, irrespective of the season.
For those who prefer a relaxed outing, park in the lower parking lot and take a leisurely hike up the trail.
It's an experience that never disappoints.
Pine Street Woods is truly a refuge for locals like me who love nature.
It's a slice of paradise right in the heart of Sandpoint.
Go Camping at Farragut State Park
I have to admit, one of the best things about living in Idaho is being so close to Farragut State Park.
If you've never visited this gem, I highly recommend taking some time to explore.
The park's sprawling landscape is impressive, to say the least.
It's so large that you can easily lose track of time while exploring the hiking and skiing trails.
And if you're a fan of water sports, disc golf, or just enjoying a relaxing picnic in a picturesque setting, this park has got you covered.
I also appreciate the range of camping options available, from full hookups to more traditional tent sites.
One thing to note is that the park is really serious about their check-in process.
I've seen a few visitors get caught out by this since they'd booked online and didn't realize they also had to check in at the front office upon arrival.
The office isn't located within the campgrounds but in its own separate section.
It's a bit of a hassle, especially if you arrive late in the day, but it's a small price to pay for the experience.
If you plan on visiting, make sure to pack your own portable toilet, as the Farragut State Park's restrooms can be a bit hit-and-miss.
They're generally clean but can get a little smelly at times.
Now, let's talk about the lake.
It's a bit of a challenge to find, but trust me, the search is well worth it.
Whether you choose to drive or cycle to the lake, you're in for a treat.
The lake is absolutely stunning, a picture-perfect scene straight out of a postcard.
Go Wine Tasting at Pend d'Oreille Winery Tasting Room
Every now and then, after a long week of work, I feel the need to unwind and treat myself to a night of good food, delightful ambiance, and, most importantly, superb wine.
Pend d'Oreille Winery Tasting Room, located right here in Sandpoint, is my preferred destination to indulge in these pleasures.
Stepping into Pend d'Oreille Winery Tasting Room feels like stumbling into an intimate party – an enchanting blend of warm vibes, tuneful live music, and spirited chatter.
The Moose Drool beer is an unquestionable favorite of mine, but I always make sure to save room for their wine – arguably the best in Sandpoint.
Whether you're a wine connoisseur or a casual drinker, their tasting sessions are a must-try.
I often find myself savoring their variety of flavors, each sip is an adventure.
No trip to Pend d'Oreille is complete without sampling their food.
The drunken mushroom pizza is a revelation, a burst of flavors that complements the wine perfectly.
But the real star of the show is the smoked salmon board.
Locally sourced and perfectly smoked, it's the kind of culinary delight that makes you go, “chef's kiss!”
As I'm lucky enough to live in town, I often find myself popping over to Pend d'Oreille, sometimes just to sit on their charming patio with a pizza and a bottle of wine, watching the world go by.
The inside seating area is just as inviting, the perfect cozy retreat for colder evenings.
Each visit feels like a mini vacation, a delightful break from the humdrum of daily life.
So whether you're a resident or a visitor, Pend d'Oreille Winery Tasting Room is a jewel in Sandpoint that's not to be missed.
And if you fall in love with their wine like I did, don't forget to grab a bottle (or two) for home.
Mingle with the Locals at Laughing Dog Brewing
Every so often, you stumble upon a place that becomes your go-to spot.
For me, that's Laughing Dog Brewing.
It’s more than just a brewery; it’s a local hangout, a friendly gathering spot where the IPAs are good, and the people are even better.
I walked in for the first time and was greeted by the friendliest barman, who let me try multiple beers before settling on the one that I liked best.
The Bacon ^2 is something to die for, and the Pulled Pork Sandwich is pure delight!
And talk about efficiency, our food was ready in less than ten minutes.
It's not just the food and beer that keeps me coming back, it's the atmosphere.
It's warm, inviting and relaxed.
You can enjoy a quiet pint with friends or engage in a lively discussion with fellow patrons.
And for someone who loves dogs as much as I do, the dog-friendly nature of the place is a huge plus.
Last night, I ventured out of my usual and gave the Korean chicken sandwich a go.
Let me tell you, it was a revelation.
As always, the service at Laughing Dog Brewing was great.
Experience a Winter Wonderland at Schweitzer Mountain Resort
You've not truly experienced the magic of winter until you've spent a day at Schweitzer Mountain Resort.
Nestled in the rugged Idaho mountains, this quintessential resort is more than just a snowy playground.
It's a lifestyle, a community, and a haven for adventure seekers like myself.
Of course, having lived here for the better part of my life, I am a biased fan.
But trust me when I say that the allure of Schweitzer goes beyond the breathtaking panoramic views and the pristine snow-covered slopes.
Schweitzer Mountain Resort is an eclectic blend of adrenaline-pumping skiing and tubing, relaxing, tranquil spa sessions, and a smorgasbord of delightful dining options.
For the more seasoned skiers, the resort offers a wonderful selection of intermediate and advanced slopes.
I've spent countless afternoons exploring the diverse terrain and challenging myself on the cornices.
But what sets Schweitzer apart for me is the caring staff, who are always willing to help you navigate the slopes.
The resort is also an ideal place to spend quality family time.
I fondly remember taking my kids to the ski school when they were little.
Although it's changed somewhat over the years, it's still a great way for kids to learn to ski.
I know some families have been disappointed that the traditional ski school is no longer available during the weekdays, but private lessons are a great alternative.
When I'm not charging down the slopes, I enjoy spending time at the base of the mountain.
It's a bustling hub with charming shops, and the food options are simply stellar.
Go Horseback Riding at Mountain Horse Adventures
Barely a stone’s throw from my home is an incredible gem - Mountain Horse Adventures.
It's nestled within the stunning Schweitzer ski resort, and I couldn't have asked for a better escapade.
Imagine a morning that starts with a trail ride in the mountains, guided by the enthusiastic and friendly Chrissy and Kristen.
Their skill and affability are infectious, they make everyone feel right at home.
The horses are well cared for, striving to make your ride smooth and enjoyable.
As for me, I had the thrill of riding Galactic, a handsome draft mule who carried me up into the mountains on a breathtaking trail.
Each ride is a new story.
Once, my neighbor’s 11-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son joined me, and we had such a great day.
During our ride, we saw a black bear with her two cubs in the distance.
It was unexpected and brought so much joy to the kids, a perfect start to a day in the mountains.
What sets Mountain Horse Adventures apart is the serene beauty of the surrounding landscape.
Weaving past firs and pines, with a gentle breeze brushing our faces, it was the perfect blend of fun and exercise.
They also offer helpful riding tips and answer any questions you might have about the ride or the landscape.
Complete Your OOTD at La Chic Boutique
There's no joy like stumbling upon a hidden gem, and La Chic Boutique in Sandpoint is just that.
Nestled in the heart of our town, it's a delightful haven for anyone looking for unique, one-of-a-kind items.
I remember finding this incredible art piece there - a calendar with hooks unlike anything I had ever seen!
It’s become one of my favorite pieces in my home, and I always eagerly anticipate my visits to see if they’ve brought in anything new and exciting like it.
If you're anything like me, you know finding the perfect gift can be a challenge.
However, every time I've been in a pinch, this boutique saved the day.
Once, I needed a last-minute anniversary gift, and Justine, the shop owner, was there to the rescue.
Their selection is unparalleled, from fun and different cards to books and jewelry that you won't find anywhere else.
And let's not forget about the fashion.
You can always find a great deal at La Chic Boutique.
The racks are filled with name brands like Free People and Anthropologie, and they carry an impressive selection of jeans.
It’s a shopping experience that never disappoints.
Peruse the Offerings of Cedar Street Bridge Public Market
I was wandering idly one Sunday, seeking a quiet place to retreat from the world, when I stumbled upon the Cedar Street Bridge Public Market.
Now, I must tell you, if you're looking for a bustling marketplace, this isn't the spot for you.
But if you're in search of a peaceful corner where you can browse to your heart's content, then you're in for a pleasant surprise.
Here's my take on the Cedar Street Bridge Public Market.
This quaint little market, nestled on Cedar Street, is a familiar comfort.
It's a place I've visited countless times, but somehow, it always manages to reveal something new.
For instance, the toy store remains a constant source of delight.
It's a twinkling haven, an irresistible magnet that draws you in with its charming array of toys.
It's a place where childhood dreams come alive and is, without a doubt, a must-visit store within the market.
Besides the toy store, there are other shops that are worth a browse.
The carousel shop, for instance, is filled with clothing, discounted shoes, and a variety of gifting items, making it an ideal spot to pick up a unique present or two.
Indulge in Seafood at Sandpoint City Beach Snack Shack
Picture yourself chilling by the lake on a sunny afternoon.
The breeze is cool, the sun is high, and the beach beckons you with its warm sand.
In such a blissful scene, no summer day is complete without a scoop of delightful dessert.
At Sandpoint City Beach Snack Shack, you'll find just that and more!
The first time I walked in, I was met with the vibrant hum of laughter and the tantalizing aroma of fresh food.
The ice cream was what caught my eye.
I'd heard raving reviews about it and I was excited to taste it myself.
It was just as fantastic as everyone had claimed - creamy, refreshing, and the perfect antidote for the summer heat.
Of course, the Sandpoint City Beach Snack Shack isn't only about ice cream.
It's a go-to spot for grabbing a quick bite when hunger strikes mid-sunbathing.
Have a Down Time Scotchman Peaks Wilderness
From the moment I first set foot in the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, I knew this place was special.
This sprawling wilderness is where nature truly unveils its raw beauty.
Imagine rolling hills clothed in verdant foliage, snow-clad peaks reaching for the sky, and the intoxicating scent of wildflowers that fills the air.
It's a place that makes you feel at home with nature, where you can unplug from the hustle and bustle of life.
This captivating wilderness is cared for by the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, an organization that not only protects this magical place but also invites people to be part of their noble mission.
Their dedication to the wilderness is truly inspirational, and their efforts are felt and appreciated by everyone who visits.
I've had the opportunity to interact with the staff and I can vouch for their genuine care and concern for the wilderness.
Their commitment and passion are truly commendable.
If you, like me, appreciate the natural beauty that the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness has to offer and want to support the efforts of those who strive to preserve it, I wholeheartedly recommend supporting the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.
Your help can indeed make a significant difference.
It's not every day you come across an organization that's as dedicated and responsive as they are.
I must confess that the charm of Sandpoint, Idaho, is truly in its diverse offerings.
Whether it's the taste of the locally brewed beer at Laughing Dog Brewing, the thrill of a horseback ride with Mountain Horse Adventures, or a peaceful walk through Pine Street Woods, there's something for everyone here.
I take pride in calling Sandpoint home, a place where the beauty of nature intertwines seamlessly with the warmth of the community.