Full disclosure: visiting Idaho for a summer vacation never really crossed my mind either. I mean, isn’t it just the land of potatoes? (That last question is verbatim what one friend asked when I mentioned I was going on a trip to Idaho.)
My one-week journey in July through Northern Idaho has now proven that this magical land is anything but boring and only potatoes. Quite honestly, the stunning landscape and plethora of outdoor adventures blew me away and was beyond anything I could have imagined. Let me show you.
My journey began with arrival into Missoula, Montana (which BTW, has daily non-stop flights on both United and American from Chicago) to meet up with my friend Mandy. We spent two days visiting Thompson Falls, MT before embarking on our road trip through Northern Idaho. Our journey took us in one big loop starting in Sandpoint, ID on to Coeur d’Alene, ID, ending in Wallace, ID before returning to Missoula, MT for my flight home.
I’m sharing some favorite things to see and do in or around each location:
Schweitzer Mountain Resort- This year-round mountain resort has so many amazing activities and views, it’s worth spending at least one full day exploring, but I recommend more time if your schedule permits. We enjoyed our time at Schweitzer Mountain riding the chair lift to the top of the mountain (several times because we just could not get enough of those incredible views), horseback riding to the top of Picnic Point and enjoying a lovely lunch at the Sky House.
Cruise Lake Pend Oreille– Idaho’s largest and deepest lake is perfect for a fun day of boating, wildlife viewing and relaxing. We took a lovely afternoon trip with Lake Pend Oreille Cruises soaking in the sun and some gorgeous views, while getting a little history download on the area.
Explore Downtown Sandpoint– This quaint downtown area is definitely worth checking out and can easily be done by foot. A few favorite spots to discover are the mural art alley, food truck park and beachfront area with a miniature Statue of Liberty replica.
Farragut State Park– A must visit on the drive to Coeur d’Alene, this state park was once a World War II-era naval training site, but is now a favorite spot for camping, hiking and boating. We hiked around Beaver Bay which has a great family-friendly beach, beautiful blue-green waters and spectacular views. We also visited the Museum at the Brig to see and learn more about how the site was used for naval training. Don’t miss Farragut State Park, it’s a real gem!
Check out the Instagram Reel (short form video) I created on Farragut State Park here!
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (CDA)
Bike the Centennial Trail– The North Idaho Centennial Trail is 23 miles long, extending from the Idaho/Washington state line to Higgins Point, about 6 miles east of Coeur d’Alene. I had my first e-bike experience on the roundtrip bike ride to Higgins Point and absolutely loved it (both the trail and the e-bike experience)! You still must pedal on an e-bike, but it helps to put it in to turbo mode on those steep uphill climbs, which is exactly what I did. Highly recommend for whatever distance you plan to ride on the Centennial Trail (we rented the bikes from CDA Bike Co. in downtown Coeur d’Alene).
Sunset Kayak Tour– One of the best kayak tours I’ve been on! The waters were so calm on Fernan Lake, the majestic hues during the sunset were fantastic, and the best part, there was no one else around! It was such a peaceful evening and ROW Adventure Center was a great outfitter for the experience. Our tour even included a pit stop on an island where we had snacks and champagne as the sun began to set.
Check out my Instagram Reel on the sunset kayak tour here!
Zipline Adventure– Truth be told, I was scared out of my mind to go ziplining! But, I embraced stepping WAY outside of my comfort zone and went for it on this trip. We did the 7-line zipline course with Timberline Adventures, which also includes crossing two sky bridges and two auto-belays. Let’s just my heart was racing and I was barely breathing, but it was absolutely worth every ounce of fear seeing those stunning views over Lake Coeur d’Alene. I’m proud of myself for taking the chance!
Here’s the Instagram Reel I created from my suspension bridge crossing, click here!
Downtown Coeur d’Alene– Situated right on Lake Coeur d’Alene, I loved the vibe of this fun downtown area with all the shops and restaurants. It was a nice reprieve from all the adventures to leisurely stroll and pop by one of the many awesome coffee shops and grab an iced coffee, and then walk along the world’s longest floating boardwalk!
Old Mission State Park– We visited Old Mission State Park on the way to Wallace from Coeur d’Alene. Home to Idaho’s oldest building and rich with history of missionaries, we spent our visit going on a quick hike around the grounds while also taking in the beautiful views and a stop at the Cataldo Mission.
Downtown Wallace– A quintessential small American town, I loved the vibe and atmosphere of Wallace. Wallace is known as the world’s largest silver producer, making it the richest mining town still in existence. There are decorated mining carts throughout the town, a man-hole cover claiming Wallace to be “The Center of the Universe” and lots of fun, quirky sights. Such a unique place.
Silver Mining Tour– This was my first time in a mine and learning about the intensely laborious and risky job of a miner. Through Sierra Silver Mine Tours, we took a trolley to the site of an actual silver mine and donning a hard hat, walked through the mine with a history lesson and newfound appreciation for what it takes to excavate and extract silver. Definitely looking at any silver items I own with a huge sense of gratitude.
Route of the Hiawatha Trail– After an incredible week of exploration and adventures, biking the Hiawatha Trail was absolutely the cherry on top and my favorite activity of the trip. I will boldly say this is the best bike ride of my entire life! The 15-mile, all downhill, scenic bike trail on the Idaho/Montana border is something that you can not miss. Through tunnels, over trestles and with the most incredible views, I think I said the word “WOW” about every minute!! The best part is there are shuttles to meet you at the end of the trail and take you and your bike back up to the top of the mountain (although I saw plenty of people riding the trail back uphill). Perfect for families and anyone really, do not miss the Hiawatha trail, it’s truly spectacular!
Check out my Instagram Reel on the Hiawatha Trail here.
I hope through my words and more so, through my pictures, I’ve brought to light what an incredible place Northern Idaho is. After living 16 months cooped up in quarantine life, this was the most ideal excursion; spending almost all of our time outdoors, enjoying the beauty and gifts of Mother Nature. I highly recommend visiting Idaho, as it is a year-round outdoor playground, with stunning landscapes and incredible hospitality.
Please Note: While this post is in collaboration with the Idaho Tourism Board, all opinions are my own.