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This author is a paid content writer for Idaho Tourism.

If you’re looking to explore some unfamiliar territory, all you have to do is take a short drive east of Seattle to Idaho, and you’ll be in the heart of some of the Northwest’s most beautiful destinations. These adventures are close enough to home that you can pack up the kids, leave on Friday, and be back before school starts on Monday. Check out these five vacations and make plans for your family’s holiday weekend in Idaho.

1. Spend a day at the beach in Coeur d’Alene

Soaking up the sun at City Park & Beach in Coeur d'Alene.
Soaking up the sun at City Park & Beach in Coeur d’Alene. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Who’d of thought you could spend a day at the beach in the northern mountains of Idaho? Nestled in Idaho’s panhandle in the quaint city of Coeur d’Alene, you’ll find City Park & Beach – a diverse park that offers a Summer Concert Series, family and group picnic facilities, barbecue pits, a swim beach and outdoor shower, volleyball, basketball, and Fort Sherman Playground.

Soaking up the sun at City Park & Beach in Coeur d'Alene.
Playing on the shore at City Park & Beach in Coeur d’Alene. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

The locals will tell you, there’s no better feeling on a hot summer day than swimming in fresh Idaho mountain water.

Map from Seattle to North Idaho.
Drive time from Seattle, WA to City Park & Beach, Coeur d’Alene, ID.

2. Play cowboy at Red Horse Mountain Ranch

Guided horseback rides at Red Horse Mountain Ranch.
Guided horseback rides at Red Horse Mountain Ranch. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Head on over to Harrison, Idaho, and experience first-rate western hospitality on 300,000 acres of untamed Idaho wilderness. Red Horse Mountain Ranch offers guided ranch adventures through some of Idaho’s most scenic backcountry.

Guided horseback rides at Red Horse Mountain Ranch.
Experience the horse run at Red Horse Mountain Ranch. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Try your hand at horseback trail riding, take a riding lesson, cast a line, go clay shooting, or try one of the many other activities offered such as zip lining, climbing, yoga, hiking, bike tours, kayaking, boat tours, and swimming. All-inclusive dude ranch vacation is an understatement.

Map from Seattle to North Idaho.
Drive time from Seattle, WA to Red Horse Mountain Ranch, Harrison, ID.

3. Live like a local in Moscow

A field of gold Canola flowers on highway 95
A field of gold Canola flowers on highway 95. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Moscow is a lively college town in North Central Idaho surrounded by the rolling Palouse Hills. There’s a reason why Idahoans frequent this city on the regular- the food is out of this world, the scenery is spectacular, and it’s within a day’s drive.

Coffee & cinnamon rolls at the Moscow Coop
Coffee & cinnamon rolls at the Moscow Coop. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Take a short drive on the weekend, stroll through the Saturday Market, and snack on mouth-watering homemade baked goods, or take the kids on a hike up Moscow Mountain and enjoy the sweeping valley views.

Map from Seattle to North Idaho.
Drive time from Seattle, WA to Moscow, ID.

4. Ride the Route of the Hiawatha

Riding over a trestle bridge on the Route of the Hiawatha
Riding over a trestle bridge on the Route of the Hiawatha. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Discover one of the most spectacular destinations in the Northwest – ride your bike on a beautiful downhill biking and walking trail that stretches more than 15 miles. The Route of the Hiawatha was once a railroad track winding through the northern mountains of Idaho.

Coasting down the Route of the Hiawatha in Northern Idaho
Coasting down the Route of the Hiawatha in Northern Idaho. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Now visitors can coast through 10 train tunnels, glide over seven trestle bridges that stand over 230 feet high, and gaze in wonder at the mountains that surround the trail.

Riding over a trestle bridge on the Route of the Hiawatha
Riding over a trestle bridge on the Route of the Hiawatha. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

The journey begins at Lookout Pass Ski Area where you can get mountain bike rentals, helmets and lights, and an optional return shuttle service. Be sure to call ahead and reserve rentals ahead of time, spots for this popular attraction fill quickly!

Map from Seattle to North Idaho.
Drive time from Seattle, WA to Route of the Hiawatha, Mullan, ID.

5. Fish at Lake Pend Oreille

Fishing on Lake Pend Oreille
Fishing on Lake Pend Oreille. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Lake Pend Oreille spans nearly 50 miles from Sandpoint to Idlewilde Bay at Farragut State Park and is known for its diverse catchable species. Anglers who journey here find Kamloops, whitefish, cutthroat and brown trout, lake trout, large and smallmouth bass, crappie, pumpkinseed sunfish, perch and bullhead catfish.

Fishing on Lake Pend Oreille
Fishing on Lake Pend Oreille. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

If you’re lucky, you may even real in the famous trout hybrid known as the “cutbow,” that is said to be lurking in Pend Oreille’s vast waters. It’s rumored that the biggest cutbow ever caught in the Gem State was a 24-pounder at Lake Pend Oreille by Irwin Donart in 1991.

Map from Seattle to North Idaho.
Drive time from Seattle, WA to Lake Pend Oreille, ID.

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Published on August 30, 2016