Post Summary: Fun things to do in Sandpoint, Idaho, that are adventurous, yummy, and unique.
For such a small town, there is no shortage of adventurous and fun things to do in Sandpoint, Idaho. This idyllic spot along Lake Pend Oreille is for travelers or adventurers who yearn for big nature and small-town charm. Once a secret gem to Pacific Northwest travelers in the know, Sandpoint is in a massive growth stage with families and millennials moving north to claim their own slice of the “my private Idaho” dream.
With Brad’s family going back three generations in Sandpoint and our son representing the fourth, Sandpoint is a place that holds a heavy dose of sentimental weight.
While Brad is no stranger to Sandpoint, I’ve spent the last two years exploring the best things to do in Sandpoint and trying to weed out what I think are the best attractions in Sandpoint. It’s safe to say Sandpoint is for someone who loves the outdoors.
Here’s our list of what to do in Sandpoint that’s fun, adventurous, and perfect for the whole family. Some of these things can be done in the winter, but most are geared toward spring through fall.
For a full write-up of winter activities, check out our post on the best winter adventures to have in our Sandpoint in winter write up.
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*This post contains affiliate links, which means we might earn a small commission if you purchase from them. This is at no extra cost to you. We only suggest what we think is helpful to you.
QUICK GUIDE TO SANDPOINT, IDAHO
Before we jump into the best things to do in Sandpoint, Idaho, here’s a quick guide on where to stay in Sandpoint and useful info for first-timers who are planning a trip to Sandpoint. You can keep on scrolling if you want to get right to the fun Sandpoint activities!
Closest Airport To Sandpoint
The best airport for getting to Sandpoint is the Spokane Airport (GEG), located in Spokane, Washington. It’s 20 miles from the border of Idaho and about a 1.5-hour drive from the airport to downtown Sandpoint. Currently, GEG offers flights with Southwest, United Airlines, Delta, Alaskan, American Airlines, and Allegiant. If you’re not driving into Sandpoint, this is the most common way to get to Sandpoint.
To look for good flight deals, I use Going (formerly known as Scott’s Cheap Flights) and WayAway.
Car Rentals In Sandpoint
Sandpoint does have a free bus system (SPOT) that you can use to get around town, but in general, most visitors will want a car to easily explore Sandpoint and the surrounding areas. While you can rent a car in Sandpoint, you will get a much better deal if you rent in Spokane at or near the airport.
You can rent a car and price compare for the best deals through Rentalcars.com and Discovercars.com.
Where To Stay In Sandpoint
When visiting in the summer months, it’s ideal to stay in town or in the nearby city of Ponderay, which can sometimes be a little cheaper. Here are some nice options below:
Cedar Street Hotel and Suites – A basic hotel with an excellent location in Downtown Sandpoint. Can walk to everything in town from this hotel.
Talus Rock Retreat – An alternative stay on a sprawling property in town with uniquely designed bedrooms and an outdoor hot tub.
VRBO House Rental – Two-bedroom house in town that sleeps six. Bunk beds make it great for families.
VRBO Condo Rental – Upscale one-bedroom condo with a lake view. Sleeps four. Perfect if you want to be in town.
I personally think a VRBO house rental is where you can get nicer home options. You can browse through other home rentals in Sandpoint here:
Hotel Ruby Sandpoint – A simple hotel with a more sleek modern design and free breakfast.
Outdoor Inn – A gem of a roadside motel. Affordable with stylish interiors. A great choice for anyone traveling on a budget.
25 THINGS TO DO IN SANDPOINT, IDAHO
SANDPOINT CITY BEACH
When summertime hits, everyone flocks to the water to play in the gorgeous waters of Idaho’s biggest and deepest lake, Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced pond ah ray). City Beach is a 22-acre park with lakeside access and sectioned-off spots for swimming only.
The park also includes pickleball courts, tennis courts, basketball courts, a playground, a walking/bike path, food concessions, a boat launch, a marina, restrooms, and free parking. Bring some tubes, a paddleboard, or a kayak, and see why everyone is obsessed with the beauty of Lake Pend Oreille.
There are picnic benches and barbecues, so pack a lunch or pick up some food in downtown Sandpoint. City Beach Organics and the Burger Dock are both within walking distance from City Beach.
STROLL DOWNTOWN SANDPOINT
In my biased opinion, Sandpoint has one of the most charming downtown areas. With no big box stores in sight, everything is a locally owned, small business. You’ll find restaurants, the Cedar Street Bridge public market, clothing stores, art galleries, the historic Panida Theater, breweries, and more. Sandpoint has a strong community spirit, so you’ll often find there’s some festival or community event happening downtown. You could easily spend a half day walking, eating, and shopping in Sandpoint’s downtown area.
Outside of Sandpoint city proper are acres of lush farmland, with a handful of farms that invite visitors to pick from their bounty. Fun options are blueberry picking at Shingle Mill Blueberry Farm, flower picking at Grumpy Chicken Farm, lavender picking at Blooming Fields Lavender Farm (technically in nearby Sagle), raspberry picking at Sandpoint Organic Agriculture Center, and choosing pumpkins at Hickey Farms.
Many are located in close proximity, so you can make a day of touring Sandpoint’s best U-Pick farms. Be sure to check their Facebook pages for up-to-date info on opening dates and fun events.
From May to October, Sandpoint offers a bustling farmers market every Wednesday and Saturday at Farmin Park. Saturday is typically a livelier day with more vendors and live music. Grab a loaf of fresh bread from Blue Fingers Farm, gourmet mushrooms, goat cheese, or handmade crafts from the many artisans of Sandpoint and the surrounding areas. Check here for the location and hours.
SCHWEITZER MOUNTAIN RESORT
Twenty-five minutes from downtown Sandpoint is Idaho’s biggest ski resort, Schweitzer. It’s an amazing ski hill and a must-do in the wintertime. Since this post is focused on things to do in Sandpoint for the warmer months, I’m going to focus on Schweitzer’s activities from spring to fall. The good thing is Schweitzer in summer is just as great!
From hiking trails, astounding views, incredible mountain biking, scenic chairlift rides, delicious food, disc golf, and hosted events…Schweitzer has something for everyone. You can hike the moderately difficult Nature Path hike to The Nest restaurant and look out at the million-dollar view. On a clear day, you can see Canada, Montana, and Washington.
You can rent mountain bikes and check out some of the best mountain biking in North Idaho. If mountain biking isn’t your thing, they also have e-bikes you can rent to explore the mountain. We did this hosted E-Bike tour and absolutely loved it! Fantastic for anyone who wants a little guidance for their first time on an e-bike. Be sure to check their social media for any fun festivals like Fall Fest or Wine Fest.
With huckleberries being the official state fruit of Idaho, come July and August, locals and visitors alike start scouring mountain slopes for the sweet-tart berries that cover the hillsides. North Idaho is prime huckleberry territory and a fun activity on a warm summer day. If you don’t feel like trying to discover your own huckleberry patch (it’s kind of a guarded secret, and I’m not spilling the beans), you can do a huckleberry shuttle or an E-bike tour through Schweitzer Resort.
*Remember to be bear-aware (bring bear spray) when you’re picking and to hand-pick the berries. We want those berry bushes to last for years!
If you don’t feel like picking it yourself, go into town, and almost every restaurant, bar, or winery is going to have something featuring the beloved huckleberry.
Sandpoint is a fantastic destination for getting out on the trails and immersing in a thick green pine forest. There are hundreds of trails to explore, and a great resource is checking All Trails to see user reviews on what trail would be best for you. Here are a few of the most well-known (and beautiful) hiking trails near Sandpoint. All of the links lead to All Trails and will have an address or coordinates to help reach the trailhead. As always, let’s keep Idaho beautiful, and remember never to leave trash behind and to pick up after your pets.
- Gold Hill – A 5.6-mile out-and-back trail located across the long bridge in Sagle. At the top are great views of Sandpoint, the long bridge, and the lake. A 1500 feet elevation gain makes it a moderate hike. It’s a great hike if you want another perspective of Sandpoint. There is limited parking, so get there early if it’s the weekend in the summer.
- Mickinnick Trail – A 7-mile out-and-back trail with beautiful views of the water. A difficult hike with switchbacks and an elevation gain of 2100 feet. Great for the hiker who wants to feel a physical challenge to get to the top. We did it with our toddler and wouldn’t recommend it for families with young children unless you plan to use a carrier.
- Mineral Point Trail – A 4.3-mile out-and-back trail with fantastic views of the lake, beautiful cedar groves, and a pebble beach for swimming. With a 692 feet elevation gain, it’s a moderately easy hike that is a good choice for families with kids who love to hike. We suggest parking at Green Bay campground so that you start the hike going uphill first. You’ll also avoid a tough dirt road. It can be crowded at times, so get there early if it’s summer, a weekend, or a holiday.
- Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail – A 3.3-mile trail that follows along the lake. A flat easy trail that’s frequented by dog walkers, runners, and families. Perfect for anyone who wants a casual walk along the water with stops to look out and gaze upon Lake Pend d’Oreille.
If you are looking to do a deep dive into the hiking trails of North Idaho, I suggest checking out the books, Trails of the Wild Cabinets and Trails of the Wild Selkirks. The books go into great detail and offer hikes you won’t find on the internet. A great resource for anyone who wants to explore more off-the-beaten-path trails.
Kayaking through the pristine waterways is an iconic Sandpoint activity. Popular spots include City Beach, Dover, Springy Point, Round Lake State Park, Pack River, and Memorial Field boat launch.
If you’re visiting Sandpoint, a great spot that’s accessible from downtown Sandpoint is Sand Creek. It’s a meandering, peaceful waterway that takes you along town and under a picturesque railroad bridge. Keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles and osprey. It is along the highway, so it’s not ideal for anyone who wants to feel “alone” in the wilderness.
For a quieter experience, I would head to Dover. You can rent kayaks or canoes from Action Water Sports or Outdoor Experience. For kayakers who want a deeper immersion into where to go, check out this article from Sandpoint Magazine on three short kayaking trips near Sandpoint. The Clark Fork Delta trip looks amazing.
STAND UP PADDLEBOARDING
If you haven’t tried stand-up paddleboarding or, as it’s more commonly called SUP, Sandpoint has a treasure trove of calm waters to try your hand at it. Sand Creek or City Beach is the best spot for anyone renting paddleboards in town if you don’t want to drive with your boards, but you can also hit up any of the spots listed above for kayaking and canoeing.
You can rent paddleboards from Action WaterSports or Outdoor Experience.
Sandpoint is a town that likes to bike. Whether you’re looking for family-friendly casual trails or adrenaline-pumping mountain biking, it’s safe to say you can find a trail that’s right for you. Two easy bike paths located in town are the Dover Sandpoint Community Trail and the Sandpoint Trail. They are both paved urban trails that are great for anyone looking for a simple
The Dover Sandpoint Community Trail is a flat 3.3-mile trail that starts at Larch and 5th and connects Sandpoint to Dover, a waterfront resort-style community. A great choice for anyone who wants to hang out at Dover’s beach as well as check out the upscale riverfront homes.
The Sandpoint Trail is most commonly used as an out-and-back 3.6-mile trail that runs along Sand Creek. You can also make it a loop by crossing Popsicle Bridge at the end and riding back to town on Boyer Avenue. As long as you have a map on your phone, you can choose your own path from there back to downtown. It’s tough to get lost in this town!
For mountain biking, you can read up on mountain biking on Schweitzer or check out recommendations from local business Outdoor Experience. You can also rent bikes from Outdoor Experience. For more insight into biking in Sandpoint, you can check out POP or talk to the staff at Outdoor Experience.
WINE TASTINGS AT PEND D’OREILLE WINERY
Since 1995, Pend d’Oreille Winery has been producing award-winning wine from grapes cultivated in the Northwest. Production is done in Sandpoint, and you can visit their lovely winery, where you can do a pre-selected tasting menu or a flight of your choice. The Huckleberry Blush is a standout and one you’ll want to try. They also offer light fare and delicious pizzas. With high ceilings and a bright corner building with large windows, the space invites you to stay awhile and chat. They often have live music playing, so check their website for any events they’re hosting.
With four breweries to choose from, you can easily tour all the breweries in Sandpoint in one day. Each one has its own distinct vibe and will appeal to different beer lovers/travelers. Laughing Dog Brewery is located in Ponderay, the small town next to Sandpoint, but seeing that it’s a seven-minute drive from downtown Sandpoint, that shouldn’t be a problem. Operating since 2005, you might have already seen their most popular beer, the Huckleberry Cream Ale.
The three other breweries are all in town and within a 6-10 minute walk of each other. There’s no official tour to go on, so lace up your walking shoes, open up Google Maps, and taste the best of Sandpoint beer at your own leisure. Matchwood Brewing is a hip brewery with a fantastic eating area and family-friendly vibe, Mick Duffs Brewing Company is a classic brewpub located in the old Federal Building and a favorite amongst locals, and Utara Brewing Company is a low-key neighborhood brewery that offers tasty Indian food with their IPA’s. You can also add in Idaho Pour Authority, a taproom that showcases 16 rotating craft beers.
TRY THE BEST COFFEE IN NORTH IDAHO
Sandpoint is home to one of the best coffee roasters in Idaho, Evans Brothers. Head to the Granary Arts District to their flagship cafe to see why the coffee shop is a much-beloved spot in Sandpoint. With immaculate attention to detail, they roast exceptional coffee, and there’s always a line of locals and visitors looking to get their coffee fix. Check here for their hours and address.
PANHANDLE CONE AND COFFEE
After you’ve tried the best coffee in Idaho, try the best ice cream in Idaho (according to Yelp) at Panhandle Cone and Coffee. Sourcing their products locally, they have a variety of flavors that will make every ice cream fan happy. How does Salted Carmel & Brown Butter Cookie, Buttermilk Huckleberry, or Roasted Strawberry sound to you? Check their Instagram page for seasonal offerings and up-to-date news.
A 5 COURSE TASTING MENU AT A GAS STATION
Did you know you could have a fine dining five-course tasting menu in Sandpoint? While Sandpoint is a laid-back, non-ritzy kind of town, foodies can delight in the hand-crafted, locally sourced tasting menu Alex Jacobson whips up monthly at the Pack River Store. The Pack River Store has been in operation since 1975 and is a general store, gas station, and eatery that’s located off the beaten track in a rural setting on the Pack River. It’s a unique Sandpoint experience you can’t get anywhere else. Check here for upcoming dates and times.
**READ NEXT: Our Favorite Places To Eat In Sandpoint
ROUND LAKE STATE PARK
Fifteen minutes from downtown Sandpoint, located in neighboring Sagle, is the 142-acre Round Lake State Park. With a beautiful lake that can be enjoyed for swimming, kayaking, or fishing Round Lake is a great day spot to recreate with your friends and family. The Trapper Trail is an easy 3-mile hike that hugs the water and loops you around the 58-acre lake. Waterfowl, felled trees, dams, cedar groves, and beautiful lake views are part of this charming walk that can be done by young kids as well.
FARRAGUT STATE PARK
Located further away than Round Lake State Park, Farragut State Park is a gem in North Idaho. I’m not the only one who thinks so! Conde Nast agrees and lists it as the best state park in Idaho. Located on the southern tip of Lake Pend Oreille, what was once a World War II-era naval training station is now 4000 acres of land to hike, bike, fish, kayak, swim, camp, and explore. In addition, they have an amazing aerial adventure course that features zip lines, Tarzan swings, and ladders. You can also check out the 18-hole disc golf course for all skill levels. It’s a fantastic state park and highly recommended. The views of the water are incredible!
READ NEXT: Farragut State Park: A Compete Guide + The Best Things To Do
RENT A BOAT OR JET SKIS
See why everyone is in love with lake life by spending a day on the glorious Lake Pend Oreille. If you’ve got a big group, a pontoon rental is a great way to chill together between jumping into the lake and touring the neighboring towns via boat. You can explore neighboring towns like Dover, Bayview, and Hope. If you’re looking for more adventure, you can also rent jet skis, wakeboards, surfboards, and tubes. You can find rentals at Action Watersports.
Are you a lover of antiques, tchotchkes, and vintage finds? Sandpoint is a great town for anyone who loves to shop for antiques! Top on the list is the beloved Foster’s Crossing. What was originally a railroad freight house is now a three-story antique mall with everything you could ever want from an antique store. When you’re done exploring Foster’s Crossing, within walking distance is Marketplace Antiques and Antique Collective.
FLOAT THE PACK RIVER
In the heat of the summer, everyone flocks to the Pack River to float their way down. There is no infrastructure in place (and we like it that way), so you’ll need to have your own tubes, kayaks, or canoes and a second car at the let-out spot. From July to August, it’s a calm float that is perfect for families. The scenery is sublime, with the lush green mountains of North Idaho in the distance.
The most popular spot to start is the bridge on Colburn Colver Road just past Northside Elementary School, ending at the bridge on Rapid Lightning Road near The Pack River Store. A great spot to grab a bite to eat afterward. The float takes about 1.5 -2 hours. You can also opt to start at Rapid Lighting Road and let out at Highway 200. It’s a longer float and takes at least 4 hours. Parking is limited in all entrance and exit spots.
Also, please keep Idaho gorgeous and don’t litter. It’s as easy as bringing a bag and throwing your trash away later.
TEE TIME AT A JACK NICKLAUS SIGNATURE GOLF COURSE
Sandpoint, Idaho, is proud to be home to Idaho’s only Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course. Located near the Lower Pack River and Moose Mountain, the 18-hole golf course effortlessly weaves through the lush green beauty North Idaho is famous for. Click here to learn more about the Idaho Club and its prices.
SILVERWOOD THEME PARK
A 45-minute drive south of Sandpoint will take you to North Idaho’s biggest theme park, Silverwood Theme Park. With more than 70 rides, a water park, four roller coasters, live shows, and a steam engine train, families and the young at heart will enjoy letting loose in an old-fashioned theme park.
If you’re visiting Sandpoint or are a local looking for some fresh ideas of things to do in Sandpoint, a day at the spa is never a bad idea. The Wildflower Spa at Seasons is an Aveda Concept Spa and Salon that’s a relaxing and nourishing respite to the body and soul. I’ve gotten several treatments there, and I’m always happy with the service. I like that they have a small steam room available to use before or after a massage treatment. They often offer new client discounts, so check their website for any new deals happening.
Sandpoint is a town that loves festivals! If you’re visiting in the summer, there is no shortage of fun events happening around town. The summer’s biggest event is The Festival at Sandpoint, a multi-day music festival that brings in a diverse cross-section of musical artists, from headlining bands to indy favorites. There’s also the annual Art and Crafts Fair, Fall Fest at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, the County Fair, Lost in the ’50s, The Rodeo, and more.
BONUS: EXPLORE OUTSIDE OF SANDPOINT
Sandpoint is an excellent jumping-off point for exploring the rest of North Idaho. You can explore the nearby towns of Bonners Ferry and Coeur d’Alene or try out a different lake at Priest Lake State Park.
For more info on what to do, check out our post on the best things to do in North Idaho and 25 fun things to do in Coeur d’Alene.
That’s our shortlist of things to do in Sandpoint, Idaho. We’ll continue to add more to this post, so check back in and follow us on Instagram for more photos and updates on gorgeous Sandpoint.
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