Located on the Idaho Panhandle just 96 kilometres from the U.S.-Canada border, Sandpoint is a hidden gem of a town. This nature lover’s paradise is home to beautiful lakes, snow-capped mountains, and everything in between. Simply put, you won’t want to miss out on your chance to visit Sandpoint.
To make things even easier for you, we’ve compiled the ultimate guide to Sandpoint, Idaho with everything you need to know about this incredible town – from how to get there, what to do, where to stay, and more!
How to Get to Sandpoint, Idaho
The easiest way to get to Sandpoint, Idaho is actually by flying into Spokane International Airport (GEG) in Washington. From there, it’s about a 130 kilometre drive to Sandpoint.
Best Times to Visit Sandpoint, Idaho
There’s honestly never a bad time to visit Sandpoint. Every season brings about beautiful changes in nature – from the fiery colours of fall to the snowy landscapes of winter to the bright blooms of spring.
That said, the most popular time to visit Sandpoint is in the summer. That’s when the temperatures are the most temperate (usually hovering between 8 and 28 degrees Celsius), making you want to spend your whole trip outside.
What to Do in Sandpoint, Idaho
Enjoy a Day at the Lake
Pretty much everything in Sandpoint somehow revolves around Lake Pend Oreille, so you simply have to visit during your time in town. The most popular waterfront spot is Sandpoint City Beach Park, a 22-acre park filled with golden sand and sparkling waters. There, you can simply take some time to relax and soak in the sunshine.
And if you’re okay with relatively chilly water (usually around 20 degrees Celsius in the summer), you can have even more fun at Lake Pend Oreille. Swim, wakesurf, sail, fish, waterskiing, wakeboard, tube, kayak, SUP, and jetski for hours on end! With all of those incredible things to do, you might need more than just one day to enjoy the beautiful Lake Pend Oreille.
Go for a Hike
No trip to Sandpoint would be complete without a hike. After all, this little Idaho town is a nature lover’s paradise! Since we can’t mention all of the stunning trails in Sandpoint, we’ll just mention a few of our favourites.
First up is the 3.8-kilometre Moose Lake Trail. This short and sweet hike is perfect for a little stroll in nature. Along the way, you can take in views of Lake Pend Oreille, keep an eye out for cool wildlife, and even pick some huckleberries!
Then, there’s Scotchman’s Peak. This 14-kilometre out-and-back hike is definitely for more experienced hikers. As you hike up, be sure to take the breaks and keep your eyes peeled for mountain goats! And if you manage to make it to the end, you’ll be rewarded with awe-inspiring views of Lake Pend Oreille and the surrounding mountains.
Last but certainly not least, there’s Mickinnick Trail. At 11.3 kilometres long, this trail is a little lengthy. But if you’re ready and able to take on the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with blooming wildflowers, thriving greenery, and beautiful lake views.
Head out on a Bike Ride
Sandpoint, Idaho, is a haven for both road cycling and mountain biking enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of terrain and stunning natural landscapes.
For road cyclists, the area boasts scenic routes that wind through picturesque countryside, rolling hills, and alongside the crystal-clear waters of Lake Pend Oreille. Whether you’re an avid cyclist or a casual rider, you’ll find a variety of road biking options suitable for all skill levels. The roads are well-maintained, and the traffic is generally light, allowing for a safe and enjoyable riding experience.
For those seeking thrilling off-road adventures, Sandpoint is surrounded by an abundance of world-class mountain biking trails. The nearby Schweitzer Mountain Resort features a network of trails that cater to riders of all abilities. From smooth, flowy singletracks to technical descents, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to challenge yourself and soak in the breathtaking alpine scenery. The area is known for its diverse terrain, including steep climbs, exhilarating descents, and exciting features such as berms, jumps, and rock gardens.
Sandpoint is also home to a vibrant cycling community, with regular group rides, events, and races that cater to both road cyclists and mountain bikers. Whether you prefer the camaraderie of group rides or the solitude of exploring the trails on your own, you’ll find like-minded cycling enthusiasts to share your passion with.
Additionally, the town offers bike rental shops, cycling gear stores, and expert guides who can provide local insights and recommendations for the best routes and trails. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely ride to enjoy the scenic beauty or an adrenaline-pumping mountain biking adventure, Sandpoint, Idaho, is a paradise for cyclists of all types.
Float on the Pack River
In addition to biking during the full moon, Sandpoint locals also love to float down the Pack River. Every summer – or whenever the water gets warm enough – the locals grab their tubes and go for a float. So why not join them?
Depending on where you enter the river, your floating adventure will be completely different. For example, if you enter the Upper Pack River, it’s basically Class IV and Class V whitewater rafting – so a little more adrenaline-inducing. But if you enter the Lower Pack River, you can simply enjoy a calm, beginner-friendly float that’s great for just a relaxing time out on the water.
Since most visitors aren’t familiar with the Pack River (or floating in general), the Lower Pack River is likely the ideal place to start. But don’t worry – you’ll still have options for your floating experience! You’ll have three different routes to choose from, ranging from 1.5 hours to a whopping four hours on the tube. So what are you waiting for? Grab your tube and float away!
Pop by the Festival at Sandpoint
While nature is the main highlight of this Idaho town, there are still a few non-nature-related attractions and activities for you to enjoy, like The Festival at Sandpoint.
This lively event is undoubtedly the biggest festival in this little Idaho town. For decades, many of the best musicians in the area and beyond have come to Sandpoint to perform during this eight-day festival. To make things even better, the venue is capped at 4,000 people, so you can get a (relatively) close seat to some of your favourite artists.
As for who exactly has performed at the Sandpoint Music Festival, there are quite a few musical greats. Past performers include The Bare Naked Ladies, ZZ Top, Johnny Cash, Lindsey Stirling, and even The Beach Boys.
*Pro Tip: Tickets for the Sandpoint Music Festival get snatched up quickly, so be sure to grab your tickets early if you’d like to attend.
Check Out the Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival
The Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival showcases some of the best outdoor-focused films. As the name implies, this festival originates in Banff, Canada, but it then tours through hundreds of outdoors-focused cities and towns, including Sandpoint.
If this January event sounds like something you’d be interested in, be sure to purchase your tickets early, because they sell out quickly.
Explore the Farmers’ Market at Sandpoint
From May to October, the Farmers’ Market at Sandpoint is open and filled with all sorts of locally made wares. Every Saturday morning and Wednesday afternoon, you’ll find rows of vendors selling everything from freshly baked bread to handcrafted jewellery to foraged mushrooms at this adorable market.
*Pro Tip: If you have the option, try to go to the Farmers’ Market at Sandpoint on Saturday, instead of Wednesday. There are more booths to peruse, as well as live music.
Ski at Schweitzer
While Sandpoint is incredible in the summer, it’s just as amazing during the winter. You can enjoy practically every winter sport you can dream of in Sandpoint, but the most popular one of all is skiing. And the most popular place to ski is at Schweitzer Mountain.
Schweitzer Mountain is the tallest peak in Sandpoint, and it’s home to some thrilling ski slopes. The 2,000 skiable acres boast all sorts of terrains and difficulties, which means everyone – from beginners to experts – can try their hand at this winter sport.
Where to Stay in Sandpoint, Idaho
Seasons at Sandpoint
Seasons at Sandpoint is an extraordinary choice for those seeking an exceptional stay in the heart of Sandpoint. This remarkable retreat combines luxurious accommodations with a prime location. From the moment you arrive, you’ll be captivated by the resort’s elegant ambiance and attentive service.
If you’re looking for a central location, Seasons at Sandpoint places you in the midst of it all. With a range of exceptional amenities, including a rejuvenating spa, a fitness center, and a breathtaking lakeside pool, you’ll find everything you need for relaxation and recreation.
As you unwind on your private balcony overlooking the lake, you’ll savor the tranquil beauty of the surroundings. Seasons at Sandpoint ensures an unforgettable stay, where each moment is filled with comfort, convenience, and the magic of Sandpoint.
Talus Rock Retreat
By far the highest-rated accommodation in Sandpoint is the Talus Rock Retreat. This luxurious retreat has six cozy rooms, which can be rented individually or as a group.
While the nature-filled location of Talus Rock Retreat is definitely a plus, it’s really the thoughtful touches and top-notch service that make this accommodation stand out. Feel pampered with complimentary massages, play board games in front of the fireplace in the living room, savour a platter of chocolate-covered strawberries, or soak in a hot tub under the stars.
Best Western Edgewater Resort
If you want to stay right on the banks of Lake Pend Oreille, you really can’t get much better than the Best Western Edgewater Resort. The views of the lake framed by the Selkirk Mountains are absolutely picture-perfect.
And while the views are the main selling point of the Best Western Edgewater Resort, this accommodation has a few other things to offer its guests as well. Relax in the sauna, dine at the on-site restaurant, and take a dip in the pool during your stay.
Best Western Plus Ponderay Mountain Lodge
While technically the Best Western Plus Ponderay Mountain Lodge is located in the neighbouring city of Ponderay, it’s just five minutes away from the heart of Sandpoint. And since it’s so lovely, it still deserves a spot on this list.
This charming hotel has everything you need for an incredible stay in Sandpoint. Start with a mouthwatering breakfast, spend a few hours at the indoor pool and hot tub, and cozy up for the night in your spacious guest room.
Like Best Western Plus Ponderay Mountain Lodge, the Outdoors Inn is just outside of Sandpoint’s city lines – but still close enough, at least in our opinion.
The Outdoors Inn is both amazing and affordable. With deals for less than $100 USD per night, you still get access to a shocking number of amenities. Well-equipped kitchenettes, plush bedding, and local coffee are just the beginning.
And there you have it! The ultimate guide to Sandpoint, Idaho! If you have any questions or comments, let us know in the comments!