Savor Late Summer at Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
The quaint lake town offers easy access to sparkling waters, eclectic dining, and a floating green and boardwalk.
Unless you’re an Ironman triathlete or have golfed the world’s only floating green, you’ve probably never stopped in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. An outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, tourists are drawn to the cool waters of Lake Coeur d’Alene as temperatures rise, but a late summer visit means you escape warm weather crowds while days are still long enough to soak up the sun. Whether your idea of a vacation is pedaling to a picnic, wakeboarding the cool waters of the lake, or chowing down at eclectic restaurants, we’ve mapped out an itinerary for a weekend escape to the northern Idaho town. Pencil in a last summer vacation or save the date for a Labor Day getaway.
Fly directly from Oakland to the Spokane International Airport (about an hour and a half), but don’t get too used to the Washington air. Jump into a rental car and head east to Coeur d’Alene, about a 40-minute drive. If you’re feeling adventurous, make a pit stop in Post Falls (15 minutes from Coeur d’Alene) at the towering Cabela’s, an outdoor recreation outfitter that boasts a 1,500-gallon aquarium and indoor archery range, for camo and elk jerky.
After you get situated at your accommodations (suggestions below), stroll downtown to walk the world’s longest floating boardwalk, admire the breathtaking view of the lake, and grab some grub at Cricket’s Downtown Bar & Grill. The family-friendly pub is the only oyster bar in town, but also does justice to dishes such as a demi-glazed rib eye and a parmesan-crusted New York steak. 424 E. Sherman Ave.
Make a splash:
The next morning, remember to pack towels, sunscreen, snacks, and swimsuits for a refreshing day in the water. Beat the summer sun and head to sleepy Sandpoint for bagels and coffee before hitting the Silverwood Theme Park and Boulder Beach Water Park (27843 N. Hwy. 95, Athol), which opens at 11 a.m. The kids will be happy darting between the water rides and roller coasters, including the 63-mph thriller, Tremors. Theme parks make you queasy? For views of custom lakefront homes and the surrounding forest, rent a ski boat from KJ Water Sports (1621 Northwest Blvd.) and spend the day splashing in the fresh mountain water of Lake Coeur d’Alene with rental tubes and wakeboards.
Depending on your level of exhaustion, order pizza to go, or sit back and swig a beer from Capones Pub & Grill (featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives). Sink your teeth into a thick slice and let your eyes wander over the walls plastered with sports memorabilia, including more than 300 antique baseball mitts. 751 N. 4th St.
Breathe the fresh air:
Appreciate sleeping in your second full day, because you’ll need energy for the bike ride on Centennial Trail in Harrison, which follows glistening Lake Coeur d’Alene. Make the 37-mile scenic drive into town to grab deli sandwiches from Harrison Trading Company Inc. (101 S. Coeur d’Alene Ave., Harrison) and rent bikes from the passionate staff at Pedal Pushers in Harrison (101 N. Coeur d’Alene Ave.).
Ride a mellow seven miles to the Chatcolet Bridge for a 360-degree view of the lake, and rest at one of the many picnic tables dotted along the trail for your packed lunch. Save room for a heaping scoop of huckleberry ice cream from the Creamery & Fudge Factory (105 S. Coeur d’Alene Ave., Harrison).
Back in Coeur d’Alene, amble through downtown before snagging a booth at Scratch, a fancier bistro-style restaurant with crispy bruschetta and artistically arranged dishes, for dinner. 501 Sherman Ave.
Savor the day:
On your last morning, visit Java On Sherman for a final taste of Coeur d’Alene. Go bananas for the restaurant’s Monkey Cake pancakes, made with fresh banana and granola, and compliment your stack with its signature Bowl of Soul, a delicious mixture of drip coffee, espresso, Mexican chocolate, and house made whip. The baristas can also whip up a lavender salted caramel cappuccino instead, if that’s more your speed. 324 Sherman Ave.
Bid farewell to the rural-chic town and make the quick trek back to Spokane. If the pancakes didn’t tide you over and you have 30 minutes to spare before your flight, order deli-style sandwiches to go from Domini’s, a 15 minute drive from the airport. 703 W. Sprague Ave., Spokane.
Where to bunk:
Hotel: Get spoiled lakeside at the Coeur d’Alene Resort by indulging at the spa or on the green, where pre-game massages are offered and a water taxi will take you to the movable floating island green. 115 S. 2nd St., cdaresort.com.
B&B: Relax in elegance at the Roosevelt Inn Bed and Breakfast. In 1994, the oldest remaining schoolhouse in Coeur d’Alene was converted into the five-story, 15-room, historic inn. Just a few blocks from the city parks and trails, this inn makes for a cozy home away from home. 105 E. Wallace Ave., therooseveltinn.com.
Rental: Pretend you actually live in Coeur d’Alene for a few days with HomeAway. It lets you choose from a variety of residences—from cottages to lakefront homes—available for rent.