From lush, green forests and large alpine lakes to charming mountain towns brimming with activities and areas just waiting to be explored, Northern Idaho is a spectacular summer destination for travelers seeking adventure and splendor. To help you plan your Idaho vacation, here are three destinations you won’t want to miss.

Getting There

If you’re traveling by plane, the easiest way to access northern Idaho is through Spokane International Airport, which is just 18 miles from the Idaho border.

Priest Lake (and the communities of Nordman & Coolin)

Surrounded by dense Idaho wilderness, Priest Lake is a refuge for those looking to unwind and recharge in nature. The 19-mile long lake sits at the base of the Selkirk Mountains and offers an impressive array of activities for all ages and levels. Rent a canoe, kayak, paddleboard or pontoon from a variety of local outfitters to explore the lake’s beauty. Priest Lake State Park lies along the eastern shore and is bursting with outdoor opportunities including fishing, hiking and camping below the brightest of stars. There is a small fee to enter the park, and camping reservations can be made through Idaho State Parks. Those looking for a little more luxury in their lodging will find comfort and picturesque views at Hill’s Resort and Elkins Resort. Both offer lakeside cabins and/or in-lodge rooms.


If there was a photo sitting next to the adage “Big things come in small packages,” it would be of Sandpoint. This small but majestic city lies along the shore of Idaho’s largest and deepest body of water, Lake Pend Oreille (pond oh-RAY), and is surrounded by the Selkirk, Cabinet and Bitterroot Mountain Ranges, making it a base camp for outdoor fun and relaxation. When you’re not off hiking, biking, backpacking or camping in the great outdoors, cool off at City Beach where you can rent a paddleboard, kayak or jet ski or take a relaxing lake cruise. The twice-a-week farmers market features a bounty of fresh, local produce along with arts, crafts and live music. If you’re visiting in August, enjoy live music under the stars. When it’s time to refuel from all your exploring, Sandpoint offers culinary delights to please any palate. Baxter’s on Cedar serves up proper pub cuisine, or for a fancier fare with waterfront settings and sweeping views, check out Trinity at City Beach and Forty One South.

Nearby & Noteworthy

Enjoy Ultimate Fun at Schweitzer Mountain Resort

Towering over the city of Sandpoint and Lake Pend Oreille is one of Idaho’s most unforgettable mountain experiences. Schweitzer Mountain Resort is a year-round resort offering activity at every turn. For a great deal in summer, book an Ultimate Fun Pass, which gets you one day of unlimited use of the trampoline jumper, zip line, climbing wall and scenic chairlift rides. Add on mountain biking to explore the Selkirk Mountains from Schweitzer’s miles and miles of well-maintained trails for all levels.

Saddle Up at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

Treat the family to a true western experience with horseback riding, hiking, biking, skeet shooting, fishing, fireside gourmet cookouts and more at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch.

Coeur d’Alene

Perched on the banks of lovely Lake Coeur d’Alene (kore-duh-LANE) lies its namesake city — a charming resort town drawing visitors from all over to experience its beauty and outdoor recreation. Set upon the shore and surrounded by boutique shops and eateries, the Coeur d’Alene Resort offers luxurious, lakeside lodging, dining and a scenic golf course featuring a floating green. For summertime fun, there’s no better place to cool down than splashing around in the lake, where you can rent your preferred watercraft at the resort marina. Kick back and relax aboard one of several scenic lake cruises. Take a hike on Tubbs Hill, where the various trails will lead you to the top or down to secluded beaches — all with splendid views of the lake. Feeling hungry? For quick and easy, pop into Hudson’s Hamburgers for a classic burger-joint experience. Quench your thirst for a cold, frothy brew on the patio at Crafted Tap House + Kitchen, featuring 62 rotating taps and scratch-made gastropub-style fare, or snag a pint at The Crown & Thistle, a traditional British-style pub complete with a belly-pleasing plate of Cod & Chips.

Nearby & Noteworthy

Scream with Delight at Silverwood Theme Park & Boulder Beach

Just north of Coeur d’Alene, you’ll find Silverwood Theme Park and Boulder Beach, the Northwest’s largest theme and water park. Take a ride on Spin Cycle, the world’s largest pendulum-style ride that will have you completely upside down or slow it down and soak up some rays along the lazy river.

Journey to the Center of the Universe in Wallace

For a step into Idaho’s mining history, take a day trip to Wallace. Fans of hard rock will enjoy tours of the Sierra Silver Mine and the Wallace District Mining Museum. Then head to the historic downtown area, where you’ll find the Center of the Universe in an unexpected location.

For more Idaho adventures and events, view the Idaho Travel Guide.

Visit Idaho

Published on February 13, 2020