Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho

Situated next to the all-seasons tourist town of Sandpoint in the scenic Idaho panhandle, Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced pon-der-ay) is an outdoors-lover’s heaven. By winter, it serves as base camp to popular ski resort Schweitzer, and in summer it’s the ideal family playground for water sports, swimming, boating, hiking, fishing, and just about any other outdoorsy activity you can think of! We love this large, beautiful lake’s sandy, welcoming shores, Sandpoint’s friendly, casual atmosphere, and the surrounding wilderness’ promise of adventure.

Pend Oreille Idaho

Distance from the interstate: Right on I-95, approximately two hours from Spokane, WA.

Date last visited: June 2010.

Where to stay: This depends upon what you want from your vacation. Schweitzer Mountain Resort has a beautiful location high in the mountains overlooking the lake (and we usually, we recommend staying at major ski resorts in the summer months to take advantage of five-star amenities at a reduced rate), but be advised that lakeside activities such as swimming and boating are a thirty minute commute away. If the lake is what you’re after, try the Best Western Edgewater Resort, which is indeed right on the edge of the lake, near the city beach park and downtown shops and restaurants. If you plan to stay a week or more, save money and spread out in a beautiful mountain or lake house rental!

What to do: Mountainside, there’s much for families to do at Schweitzer. Mountain bike along their cut trails (rent bikes in the pro shop), rock climb on their ‘power tower’, or take a turn on the bungee trampoline. We recommend at least one day spent up at this resort (located 30 minutes from town).

Lakeside, start in City Beach Park (located along Bridge Street), where the sand is soft and white, swimming areas are safely designated, and the snack shack is always open. For more adventure, stop by the Sandpoint Marina (195 N. Triangle Dr.) to rent kayaks, canoes, and Sea Doos or take a hike in the Selkirk Mountains (trail maps available at the visitor’s welcome center in town).

Schweitzer-Summer

Where to eat: Downtown Sandpoint is chock full of family-friendly cafes, sandwich shops, and coffee bars. One of our favorites is the Blue Moon Cafe (124 S 2nd Ave), but really, you can’t go wrong no matter where you end up! For something special, try a relaxing dinner right on the lake at Trinity at City Beach, where you can watch the summer sun set while sipping Mojitos.

If you’re just passing through: If you’re driving I-95 and need a place to get out and stretch, hold out for Sandpoint! Parking is ample at City Beach Park on Bridge Street; start there and let the kids swim and play in the sand. Grab sandwiches to go, or eat at Panhandler Pies (120 S. 1st) as you leave town. If you have a dog in tow, Lake Pend Oreille has a great dog beach located near City Beach along Long Bridge.

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About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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