With a little over 9000 residents, Sandpoint in northern Idaho is a small city but it has so much to offer visitors with its incredible, surrounding natural beauty. And honestly, Idaho has some of the most beautiful small towns and cities in the country.
It sits at the bottom of the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountains which are a part of the northern Rockies and borders Lake Pend Oreille, the largest lake in the state.
Visitors flock here during the summer and the winter to enjoy an array of outdoor activities; hiking and biking when the weather is fine and skiing and snowboarding when the snow season opens at the nearby Schweitzer Mountain Resort.
There is so much to enjoy in Sandpoint all-year round and this guide will give travelers details on what to see and do, how to get around, and where to stay in this Idaho oasis.
Best Time To Go To Sandpoint
Sandpoint beach, Idaho
The best time to visit Sandpoint will come down to whether travelers prefer skiing on the slopes or sunbathing by the lake.
In the summers, visitors can expect plenty of sunshine to enjoy some outdoor activities like spending the day kayaking or paddle boarding on the lake or exploring the surrounding mountains.
The big summer festival is the Festival at Sandpoint and is very popular with tourists and usually occurs in the first two weeks of August. Summer temperatures can reach the 80s or 90s.
Additionally, the Sandpoint winter season is a dream for skiers and snowboarders. The ski season at the city’s Schweitzer Mountain Resort, located just outside of town, typically starts in mid-December and closes at the end of March, but this can vary from year to year. Winter temperatures can drop to the 20s and 30s.
What To Know When Visiting Sandpoint
Sandpoint, ID, USA
Sandpoint is in the panhandle of Idaho, near the border with Washington state, and is accessible by several major highways. To get to Sandpoint, Idaho, travelers can fly into Spokane International Airport in Washington and then drive east on I-90 for about an hour and a half.
Shuttle services are also available from Spokane to Sandpoint. Alternatively, Coeur d’Alene Airport is located just south of Sandpoint, or Missoula International Airport in Missoula, Montana is about two and half hours aware from Sandpoint and is accessible from the I-90.
Sandpoint is a great place to visit any time of the year but there are some festivals that take place that are a big draw for visitors during the summer months, the biggest one being the Festival of Sandpoint which typically takes place during the first two weeks of August and includes amazing shows, live concerts, music, and dancing.
The downtown area in Sandpoint has some great options for foodies but then again, Idaho as a state has some fantastic cuisine.
Best Ways To Get Around Sandpoint
Schweitzer Mountain Road in Sandpoint Idaho
There are a number of ways to get around Sandpoint. Tourists can opt to rent a car or use taxi services, here are some options.
- local car rental companies in Sandpoint: Hertz Rent a Car: (208) 263-9102,
Thrifty Car Rental: (208) 255-7909,
- Local Taxi companies in Sandpoint: Bonner Taxi – (208) 597-FINE and 7B Taxi – (208) 820-1862
Sandpoint is also considered to be a bike-friendly city with plenty of bike trails and paths available. There are also a number of bike shops situated in the city so tourists have the option to rent while exploring. Selkirk Wilderness Ski & Bike and Sandpoint Sports are two bike shops found in the downtown area.
In terms of public transport, Sandpoint offers a free bus service called SPOT which also has a mobile app that can be downloaded to keep an eye on the bus’ location. Schedules and stop locations are found online.
Sandpoint is a fairly walkable city during the warmer months but the cold, winter months make it a bit more difficult to get around on foot. The downtown area is considered particularly walkable due to its proximity to local attractions as well as bars, restaurants, shops, and cafes.
Where To Stay In Sandpoint
Train bridge in Sandpoint Idaho
Tourists typically opt to stay near Lake Pend Oreille when visiting the city or in the downtown area to be close to the city’s bars and restaurants. Popular accommodation spots also include the Schweitzer Mountain Resort for skiers, hikers, and bikers.
Here are some hotels to consider for all budgets:
Luxury hotels in Sandpoint:
The Lodge at Sandpoint: Prices for rooms at The Lodge at Sandpoint start at around $200 per night.
- Amenities: fitness center
- Address: 41 Lakeshore Drive Sagle, ID 83860
Talus Rock Retreat Sandpoint: Prices for rooms at Talus Rock Retreat start at around $200 per night.
- Amenities: a spa, movie theater, fire pits, hot tub, sauna
- Address: 291 Syringa Heights Rd. Sandpoint, ID 83864
Stoneridge Resort: Prices for rooms at Stoneridge Resort start at around $200 per night.
- Amenities: indoor saltwater pool, a fitness center, sauna
- Address: 150 Holiday Loop, Blanchard, Idaho 83804
Mid-range hotels in Sandpoint:
Hotel Ruby Sandpoint/Ponderay: Prices for rooms at Hotel Ruby start at $100 per night.
- Amenities: heated indoor pool, a fitness center, and a ski room
- Address: 477255, Highway 95, Ponderay, ID 83852
Cedar Street Hotel and Suites: Prices for rooms at Cedar Street Hotel and Suites start at around $100 per night.
- Amenities: outdoor pool, a fitness center, hot tub
- Address: 415 Cedar Street, Sandpoint, Idaho 83864
The Best Western Edgewater Resort: Prices for rooms at The Best Western Edgewater Resort start at around $130 per night.
- Amenities: indoor pool, restaurant, and fitness center
- Address: 56 Bridge Street, Sandpoint, ID 83864
Budget hotels in Sandpoint:
America’s Best Value Inn Sandpoint: Prices for rooms at America’s Best Value Inn Sandpoint start at around $60 per night.
- Amenities: Free wifi, flat-screen TV, coffee/tea maker
- Address: 807 Fifth Ave, Sandpoint, ID 83864, United States
Fairbridge Inn and Suites Sandpoint: Prices for rooms at Fairbridge Inn and Suites Sandpoint start at around $100 per night
- Amenities: Free Hot Waffle Deluxe Breakfast, Hot Tub, Ski Wax Area
- Address: 476841 Highway 95 North, Sandpoint, ID 83852
Where To Eat and Drink in Sandpoint:
Sandpoint has a great foodie scene and plenty of bars, restaurants, and coffee shops too.
- Best breakfast spots in Sandpoint: Connie’s Cafe & Lounge, Di Luna’s, Hoot Owl cafe
- Delicious lunches in Sandpoint: The Fat Pig, Joel’s, Spuds Waterfront Grill
- Dinner options in Sandpoint: Trinity At City Beach, The Pend d’Oreille Winery, Arlo’s Ristorante
- Great coffee shops in Sandpoint: Evans Brothers Coffee, Kokanee Coffee, Monarch Mountain
- Fun bars in Sandpoint: The MickDuff’s Beer Hall, Eichardt’s Pub Grill & Coffee, 219 Lounge
Top Things To Do
The snowpine lodge has endless skiing excursions during the winter months.
Sandpoint is definitely a destination for lovers of the Great Outdoors but there are some other local attractions that will certainly add to a visit after a morning of hiking in the mountains. Here are some of the top things to do in Sandpoint:
Hike some of Sandpoint’s beautiful trails
Male deer in Sandpoint, Idaho
There are numerous rewarding hikes in Sandpoint that suit beginner to experienced hikers and can be enjoyed at their best from April to October. Here are some options:
- The Gold Hill Trail: This is a popular 3.7-mile hike that offers views of Sandpoint across Lake Pend Oreille and includes the perfect backdrop of the Selkirk Mountains.
- The Round Lake Trail: This trail is about 10 miles south of Sandpoint in the beautiful Round Lake State Park, which is certainly a park all travelers should add to their Idaho state park bucket list. It’s a pretty easy to moderate 3.5-mile loop that takes hikers through forests and meadows, with views of Round Lake and the surrounding mountains.
- Schweitzer Mountain Trails: Multiple hiking trails from easy to moderate can be found on Schweitzer Mountain.
- Sam Owen Trails: About 18 miles east of Sandpoint, hikers will find the Sam Owen campsite surrounded by a number of trails that will offer great views of Lake Pend Oreille and Sam Owens Bay.
- The Pend Oreille Bay Trail: This is a flat, easy 1.5-mile trail that follows the shoreline of Lake Pend Oreille. It’s a great option for a leisurely walk or bike ride, with beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
- The Pack River Falls Trail: This is a moderate trail that takes hikers to the stunning Pack River Falls, a beautiful waterfall in a shady forest. It will take around 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete.
View of water and mountains in the distance in Idaho
Visit the Sandpoint City beach
Sandpoint City Beach is a great place to enjoy a very chilled afternoon during the summer. With great lake and mountain views and plenty of activities going on, it’s an ideal, family-friendly activity. It’s open from 7 am to 11 pm and lifeguards are on standby
- Admission: Free
- Address: 102 Bridge Street Sandpoint, ID 83864
Enjoy Watersports on Lake Pend Oreille
One of the most popular summer activities in Sandpoint is to take a cruise on Lake Pend Oreille to take in the beauty of the mountains and surrounding nature. Boat trips with Lake Pend Oreille Cruises start from $50.
Other activities available include stand-up paddle boarding, water skiing, kayaking and so much more.
- Admission: Costs for various water sport activity will vary
- Address: Activities usually start out from Sandpoint City beach – 102 Bridge Street Sandpoint, ID 83864
Explore a Sandpoint Art Gallery
While enjoying the great outdoors is generally high on the agenda for those visiting Sandpoint, there are plenty of indoor activities too with exhibitions and galleries open to the public. The Pend Oreille Arts Council gallery showcases local art and regularly holds arts and crafts-related events.
- Admission: Admission is free but donations accepted
- Address: 110 Main St., Ste. 101, Sandpoint, ID 83864
Visit Schweitzer Mountain Resort for activities in all seasons
With around 2,900 acres of skiable terrain and multiple runs to suit all abilities, skiing and snowboarding at Schweitzer Mountain are very popular.
There are a number of restaurants at the resort as well as ski and snowboard rental shops and lessons for learners are available too. Snowshoe hiking and cross-country skiing are popular in Schweitzer too.
During the spring and summer, the mountain resort is a haven for mountain bikers and hikers too.
- Admission: Costs vary depending on the chosen activity
- Address: 10000 Schweitzer Mountain Rd, Sandpoint, ID 83864
How To Spend The Perfect Day In Sandpoint
Lake Pend Oreille, Sandpoint, Idaho
Start the day with a leisurely breakfast at one of Sandpoint’s local coffee shops or cafes, try the cinnamon French toast in Di Luna’s. After fueling up for the day, it’s time to enjoy one of the nearby hiking trails.
Try the Pend Oreille Bay Trail for an easy start or rent a bike and take in some lakeside views. Drop into Trinity at City Beach for a bite to eat or maybe grab some food to go and find a scenic spot on the beach.
There’s time for a quick dip in the afternoon or book a cruise across the water for sunset. In the evening, make a reservation at Pend d’Oreille Winery for a special dining experience and finish the evening off with a cocktail at the 219 Lounge.
Q: Is Sandpoint Idaho worth visiting?
Sandpoint, Idaho is worth visiting for those interested in experiencing the great outdoors. It’s located at the bottom of the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountains, it also borders the largest lake in Idaho, Lake Pend Oreille.
Visitors during the summer months enjoy the Sandpoint city beach, surrounding hiking and bike trails, and water sports activities like kayaking and boat rides. In December, skiers and snowboarders head to the nearby Schweitzer Mountain Resort for a host of winter activities.
Q: What is Sandpoint Idaho known for?
Sandpoint Idaho, like the rest of the state, is known for its picturesque landscape. It sits at the foot of the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountains and borders Lake Pend Oreille, the largest lake in the state.
There are numerous walking and hiking trails close by and the Schweitzer Mountain Resort is popular with skiers, mountain bikers, and hikers plus there are plenty of water sports-related activities on the lake available during the summer months.
Q: How far is Sandpoint Idaho from the Canadian border?
Sandpoint, Idaho is a great travel destination for everyone, including Canadians! The Canadian border is just over an hour’s drive from Sandpoint. For road trip enthusiasts, a drive from Calgary to Vancouver (or vice versa) might be in order to see the beauty of both Idaho and Canada.