As a travel destination, North Idaho is one of the best-kept secrets in the country. It’s an incredibly scenic area that offers something for everyone, especially if you’re into outdoor activities.
It’s not exactly known as the most cosmopolitan area in the world, but the cities are surprisingly intriguing, too. As a rule, they tend to be small—some are barely cities by most standards, truth be told—but they do offer excellent accommodations along with a surprising number of attractions of their own.
It helps to know your way around, though. With that in mind, let’s take a quick tour of the cities of North Idaho and see what they have to offer.
Sandpoint is one of the most beautiful cities in North Idaho. With its towering mountains and pristine lakes, it’s no wonder that Sandpoint is such a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
However, Sandpoint is also a great place to live, work, and raise a family. The city offers a variety of amenities, including excellent schools, a vibrant downtown, and a variety of cultural and recreational activities.
Sandpoint is also home to many businesses, both large and small. As a result, the city has a thriving economy and a low unemployment rate.
In addition, Sandpoint is located within a short drive of Spokane, Washington, and Coeur D’Alene (which we’ll talk about in a moment) making it an ideal location for those who want to live in an idyllic setting but still have access to all the amenities of a larger city.
2. Coeur D’Alene
Coeur D’Alene is the most recognizable city in North Idaho, and there are plenty of good reasons for that. It sits right off of I-90, so it’s accessible, and it’s also the largest city in the area.
But there’s a lot more to than size and name recognition. It’s known as the Lake City, and some have referred to it as the sparkling jewel of the Gem State.
The lake is the chief attraction, of course. Lake Coeur D’Alene is 25 miles long, and it offers over a hundred miles of shoreline.
That means there’s plenty of boating, swimming, and just about everything else you can think of to do that requires lake access. Moreover, there are plenty of seasonal festivals and concerts, and you can even find art shows and historical attractions if you head into town.
3. Bonners Ferry
If you’re looking for something remote, head north on Route 95. You’ll be close to the Canadian border when you come to Bonners Ferry, which is located in the heart of the Kootenai River Valley.
Bonners Ferry is even more of an outdoor lover’s paradise than Coeur D’Alene. It’s surrounded by three mountain ranges, and there are woods everywhere.
It’s also been designated as “Idaho’s Most Friendly Community,” and the locals are used to getting plenty of visitors who come to enjoy the natural beauty around them.
The location is appealing for another reason, too. Bonners Ferry is so close to Canada that it’s often used as a jumping point to get to the Canadian Rockies, so you can craft your ideal outdoor vacation by capitalizing on the geography of this delightful small town.
If you’re interested in Idaho’s unique history, you definitely need to put Cataldo on your destination list.
If you do, you’ll be able to visit the Old Mission of the Sacred Heart, which was a pivotal stop for travelers back in the 1800s as they made their way west. The mission was also used as a learning center by the Coeur D’Alene Indians, and there are plenty of historical attractions to keep you fascinated and entertained.
The mining industry has been a pivotal player in Idaho’s unique history, and there’s plenty to learn about how that played out in this unique city. Most folks think of California when they visualize the gold rush, but Wallace was part of the frenzy when gold was discovered along the north fork of the Coeur D’Alene River.
Silver mining was part of the action, too, when it was discovered in the Coeur D’Alene, and after those two discoveries, Wallace became a central mining hub for those seeking their fortunes in precious metals.
Needless to say, that drew some serious names when it comes to the history of the Old West. You can learn about the adventures of Wyatt Earp and Calamity Jane, along with plenty of other colorful western characters, and the entire town of Wallace is listed prominently in the national historic register.
Dover is a vibrant town located in north Idaho. Dover is home to a diverse population and offers a variety of amenities and attractions. Dover is an excellent place to live, work (by traveling to Sandpoint a couple of miles down the road), and more.
Dover also offers easy access to Lake Pend Orielle, some awesome nearby mountain biking trails, and plenty of great things to do.
7. St. Maries
Many visitors don’t know that steamships played a major role in the settling of Idaho, but the small city of St. Maries is the ideal place to find out. It’s located at the junction of two prominent rivers, the St. Maries and St. Joe, which made it ideal for logging companies as they transported their products to sawmills for production.
And if you’re not quite as interested in steamships and logging, keep in mind that St. Marie is home to some of the best trout fishing in the country, although there are spots near all the other cities listed here that would provide plenty of competition.
These are just a few of the many delightful small towns you can explore when you’re looking for a unique Idaho vacation experience. From Coeur D’Alene to St. Maries, there’s something for everyone, and you’re sure to find the perfect place to relax and enjoy all that Idaho has to offer.
Now, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and start planning! You won’t regret it.