Located in the Idaho Panhandle, Sandpoint is a little hidden gem of a town. Between the beautiful lake and the thriving greenery, it’s a nature lover’s paradise that’s jammed packed with things to do, especially during the warmer months – from hiking to fishing to berry picking. You simply won’t want to miss out! Here are a few of our favourite things to do in Sandpoint in the summer.
Spend the Day at the Lake
The main focal point of Sandpoint, Idaho is Lake Pend Oreille, so going to the lake is a must-do. And the best place to do that is at Sandpoint City Beach Park. This 22-acre park is filled with golden sand and beautiful turquoise waters. It’s an amazing spot to simply soak up the sun and laze around all day long.
But you don’t just have to look at the water. You can head out and enjoy it too! Swim, wakesurf, sail, fish, waterskiing, wakeboard, tube, kayak, SUP, and jetski to your heart’s content! With all of those exciting watersports, you might need more than just one day to enjoy the beautiful Lake Pend Oreille.
Explore the Farmers’ Market at Sandpoint
From May to October, the Farmers’ Market at Sandpoint is open and filled with all sorts of lovely local goodies. Open Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons, you can find everything from freshly baked bread to handcrafted jewellery to fancy mushrooms at this biweekly market.
*Pro Tip: If you have the choice, go to the Farmers’ Market at Sandpoint on Saturday, instead of Wednesday. There are more vendors, as well as live music.
Go Huckleberry Picking
One of the coolest things to do in Sandpoint, Idaho in the summer is pick berries! While there are all sorts of berries in town, including blueberries and blackberries, huckleberries are the beloved local favourite. These tart, yet sweet little berries are found in nearly every green space in the area, so it won’t be long until you’re popping huckleberries off the bushes and into your mouth. The best place to pick them is often up on Schweitzer.
*Note: Before you pick any berries, make sure that they are the correct fruit! While there aren’t many poisonous or harmful berries in the Pacific Northwest, there are still a few. So be sure that what you’re picking is actually a huckleberry. And if you’re still nervous, ask a local for help! A few local accommodations actually run guided huckleberry-picking tours in the summer, so that’s a great option to really put your mind at ease.
Float on the Pack River
Everyone knows that you want to do what the locals do for the best experience in any destination. Well, in Sandpoint, the locals love to float down the Pack River! Once the sun comes out and the water is warm, the locals get their tubes out.
Depending on where you enter the river, your floating experience will be completely different. For example, if you enter the Upper Pack River, it’s basically Class IV and Class V whitewater rafting. But if you enter the Lower Pack River, you can simply enjoy a calm, beginner-friendly float.
Since there’s a good chance that most of us aren’t familiar with floating or the Pack River in general, the Lower Pack River is the spot for us. But even then, there are still three different routes or sections that you can choose from, ranging from 1.5 hours to a whopping four hours on the tube.
*PRO TIP: Make a stop at the Pack River Store for lunch – we promise you won’t regret it!
Bike Schweitzer Mountain
Schweitzer Mountain is the tallest point in Sandpoint, and it’s most well-known for being an incredible skiing destination in the winter. While this mountain may not draw in hundreds of visitors during the warmer months, it’s still a fun place to visit, or, more specifically, to bike.
There are a few different ways to bike on Schweitzer Mountain. First, you can mountain bike over 40 miles of trails on this lovely mountain. Race your way through beautiful greenery and to incredible views of Lake Pend Oreille.
But if you’re looking for more of a workout, you can bike all the way up Schweitzer Mountain from the base! While this 13.8 kilometre climb with 775 metres of altitude gain is certainly not for the faint of heart, you’ll feel like a champion at the end of it all.
Last but not certainly least, if you’d like the experience of biking all the way up Schweitzer Mountain but without putting in a ton of effort, consider booking one of the daily, two-hour e-bike tours instead.
Hike a Few of the Trails
Since Sandpoint is a nature lover’s paradise, it only makes sense that there would be countless gorgeous hikes in the area too. And since we can’t mention them all, we’ll just tell you about a few of our favourites.
First, there’s Moose Lake Trail. This 3.8-kilometre out-and-back hike is a nice, easy hike located in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. As you walk along this trail, you can snap pictures of the lake, pick huckleberries, and keep an eye out for cool wildlife.
Next up is Scotchman’s Peak. This 14-kilometre out-and-back hike is definitely difficult, but worth the effort. At the end, you’ll be rewarded with jaw-dropping views of Lake Pend Oreille and the surrounding mountains. And remember to keep your eyes peeled for mountain goats along the way!
Then, we’ve got Gold Hill Trailhead #3. This nearly 12-kilometre hike is moderately challenging. It’s all uphill at first, and then it’s all downhill later. As you hike this greenery-laden path, you’ll eventually reach a beautiful viewpoint with a bench that will, once again, give you a glimpse of the gorgeous Lake Pend Oreille. And while you can continue on the trail after that, that one viewpoint is really the highlight of the trail.
Finally, there’s Mickinnick Trail. This 11.3-kilometre trail is another hard one that’s worth the hours of trekking. Along the way, there are gorgeous spring and summer blooms. (If you’re like us, you’ll be tempted to stop for photos every five minutes.) And then at the end, Lake Pend Oreille will come into view, and you’ll simply have to add a dozen more photos to your camera roll.
There are so many opportunities for fishing in Sandpoint. Lake Pend Oreille, Cocolalla Lake, Pend Oreille River, and Jewel Lake are just a few beloved local fishing spots. But if you really want to have a successful fishing day, hire a guide to take you out on the water!
Head to the nearby town of Hope for the best fishing charter companies on the lake. The guides at Pend Oreille Charters, Seagull Charters, and Eagle Charters know exactly where to take you to catch the best fish around. So get ready to reel in some incredible bass, trout, and more on your fishing adventure.
Cruise the Lake
So far, we’ve recommended that you hang out by the lake, do water sports on the lake, go fishing on the lake, and check out the views of the lake from fantastic hikes. But we’re still not done with Lake Pend Oreille.
On top of all of that, you should definitely make time to take a cruise of Lake Pend Oreille. Lake Pend Oreille Cruises offers a variety of different tours of the lake, depending on your interests. Whether you’re hoping to learn about the lake’s history, look out for birds of prey, or simply watch the sunset, there’s a cruise that’s perfect for you.
Catch a Show at the Festival at Sandpoint
The Festival at Sandpoint is undoubtedly the biggest festival in this little Idaho town. Since 1983, some of the best musicians in the area and beyond have come to Sandpoint to perform during this eight-day festival. And thousands of visitors have come to enjoy this extensive summer concert too – that said, the maximum capacity for the venue is 4,000 people, so you’ll still get pretty close to some of your favourite artists.
In the past, incredible performers from all different genres of music have graced the Sandpoint Music Festival stage, including The Bare Naked Ladies, ZZ Top, Johnny Cash, Lindsey Stirling, and even The Beach Boys.
As expected, tickets go quickly at the Festival at Sandpoint, so be sure to snatch up your tickets as early as possible if you’d like to attend.
Sandpoint, Idaho is an absolutely fantastic place to go stargazing. This little town is practically surrounded by national forests and wildlife refuges, which means that there isn’t a lot of light pollution to block out the stars. Instead, if you head just a little bit out of town, you’ll get to see magical views of the Milky Way.
To make things even cooler, Sandpoint is also a prime spot for seeing the northern lights in the U.S., when the conditions are right. So bottom line: keep your eyes on the night sky during your time in Sandpoint.
And there you have it! The best things to do in Sandpoint, Idaho in the summer. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!
Looking to tack on a road trip nearby? Check out Gem Peak Lookout Tower.