Coeur d’Alene is a quintessential lake town located not far from the Washington-Idaho border. It is easily accessed via Interstate 90, or you can fly into Spokane, Washington. The area is beautifully picturesque with Lake Coeur D’Alene dominating the scenery. The downtown area is very walkable with cute shops and quaint sidewalk cafes. The city has lovely parks nestled alongside the lake. There are plenty of options for day trips with numerous small towns less than a one-hour drive from Coeur D’Alene.
Pro Tip: There is plenty of public parking in Coeur D’Alene, but parking enforcement is very strict. Make sure when you park you promptly pay the parking fees.
Note: Lodging for my Coeur d’Alene trip was provided by Visit Coeur D’Alene and Green Rubino. All opinions are my own.
Things To Do In Coeur D’Alene
Biking, hiking, and water activities abound in Coeur D’Alene in addition to museums and shopping. The town’s central location makes it a great base to explore all that Northern Idaho has to offer.
In the warmer months, plan to spend some time on the lake by either visiting one of the many beaches in the area or renting a watercraft. Try your hand at kayaking or standup paddleboarding for non-motorized options, or rent a ski boat, pontoon boat, or jet ski for a faster-pace option. The Coeur d’Alene Resort is a convenient location for watercraft rentals, and their prices are comparable to other locations in the area.
Tubbs Hill Nature Trails
This urban wilderness needs to be on everyone’s bucket list. Tubbs Hill consists of 165 acres of largely undeveloped public land. It offers stunning scenery on a variety of trails. The 2.2-mile trail that circles the perimeter of the hill has interpretive signs along the way. You can download a Friends of Tubbs Hill guided nature hike brochure to access on your phone. It offers information for each of the numbered signs along the trail. Tubbs Hill is a peninsula and is surrounded on three sides by Lake Coeur D’Alene. The trailhead can be accessed via McEuen Park next to the Coeur d’Alene Resort. The trail is rocky with uneven terrain. Those with mobility concerns can read the interpretive signs at the trailhead then stroll along the McEuen paved trails to enjoy the area and views of Tubbs Hill.
Museum Of North Idaho
The Museum of North Idaho has a variety of interesting exhibits covering the history of the area. It is a good place to start before you venture out of town to visit other historical sites. In the summer months, Robert Singletary, staff historian for the museum, leads two tours. Singletary plays the historic character Peter Sorensen, a steamboat captain, for the tour of downtown Coeur d’Alene and General William Carlin, the Commander of Fort Sherman, for the tour of the site of Fort Sherman, which is now a college campus.
Old Mission State Park
The oldest building in Idaho sits on what is now Old Mission State Park. The beautiful Mission Church of the Sacred Heart was built between 1850 and 1853 by members of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and Catholic missionaries and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Take time to explore the grounds, which include the mission church, a restored parish house, and the cemetery. The fascinating story of the Jesuit Missionaries and the Coeur d’Alene and Salish tribes is told in the $3.26 million exhibit Sacred Encounters: Father De Smet & the Indians of the Rocky Mountain West. The exhibits include artifacts from the Smithsonian and the Museum of Natural History. Not many realize that the tribes invited the missionaries, or black robes, as they called them, to come minister to them after a vision received by a tribal elder.
Begin this day trip from Coeur d’Alene by hiking the Pulaski Tunnel Trail one mile south of Wallace. The interpretive signs on this trail tell the heroic tale of “Big Ed” Pulaski who saved 39 of his 45-man firefighting crew during the August 1910 fires. The trail follows the route he took to save his men. It is a 2-mile hike along Placer Creek to an overlook across the creek to see the entrance to what is now known as the Pulaski Tunnel. The hike is gorgeous as it follows the ravine for two miles. At about three-quarters of a mile in, it has a steep section, but don’t let this discourage you. After that, it’s a gradual uphill until about 1.5 miles in, where another steeper ascent begins. The first section is paved and takes you to the creek. The trail is accessible on the paved section.
Enjoy lunch and shopping in Wallace after your hike. The Northern Pacific Railroad Depot Museum is worth a stop. If you have time, you can also take a mine tour. The entire town is on the National Register of Historic Places — it’s one of only four cities in the United States with that designation.
Best Restaurants In Coeur D’Alene
The dining scene in Coeur d’Alene is eclectic, and there is a wide variety: everything from a historic burger joint to fancy restaurants with views. Make sure to try anything with huckleberry in it. It’s the state berry of Idaho. I saw so many huckleberry options: mimosas, pancakes, muffins, pies, and martinis. The huckleberry is tarter than I expected but oh so good!
Capones Sports Pub & Grill
This casual joint is seriously good. I had a Philly cheesesteak grinder on a fresh house-baked roll that was delicious. It’s the little things like taking the time to finely dice the steak so it doesn’t fall out of the bun when you take a bite. I didn’t try the pizza but wished I had when I saw all the great pies that went past my table.
Tito’s Italian Grill
What a great meal. Once we were seated, we were presented with Tito’s interactive menu on a tablet. This was so fun. You select your menu item and a description and photo pop up. It made choosing so much harder, especially after seeing a video of huckleberry syrup being drizzled over the huckleberry cobbler.
My husband and I shared the delectable fried calamari. The breading was light and crispy without being greasy, and the dish was served with aioli and a marinara sauce. For dinner, I chose one of the house specialties, the CSB Pappardelle. It had me with house-made pappardelle pasta which was so tender. It was topped with chicken, ground sausage, and broccoli and covered with a delicate lemon cream sauce. The sauce was rich without being heavy. For dessert, we opted to share a tiramisu which has a sponge cake base instead of the traditional ladyfingers. So good.
Oval Office In Post Falls
We ventured out of town to check out the Oval Office Bistro and Martini Bar at the recommendation of Kelly Connaway, a volunteer at the Museum of North Idaho. I always try to eat at one place recommended by the locals. This place did not disappoint. It is very unassuming and casual but ranks up there as one of the best meals we have had.
We started off with craft martinis and opted not to try an appetizer as the meals came with a choice of salad, fresh-baked bread hot from the oven with whipped butter, house veggies, and a choice of white rice, potato croquettes, or mac & cheese. We both had the Will Barron steak which is a grilled-to-order ribeye drizzled with a creamy peppercorn steak sauce. This was such a great meal. The food was cooked to perfection and the seasoning was spot on in each dish. I highly recommend, especially considering the reasonable prices. We would easily have paid double back home.
Best Hotels In Coeur d’Alene
There is a variety of lodging in the area from luxury resorts to vacation rentals. If you prefer hotel chains, then the Village at Riverstone just off Interstate 90 offers a variety of options as well as nice shopping and restaurants.
Coeur D’Alene Resort
The Coeur d’Alene Resort is a full-service, luxury resort set on the banks of the lovely Lake Coeur d’Alene. The resort has multiple restaurants, golf, a spa, a marina, a fitness center, multiple pools, and a beach. Take the time to walk the boardwalk that surrounds the marina and is one of the best spots to watch the sun set. We stayed in a Lake Tower Lake View room. These are available between the 8th and 17th floors. A wall of windows provided unobstructed views of Lake Coeur d’Alene. These rooms have private balconies, gas fireplaces, and luxurious bathrooms.
Pro Tip: Have a relaxing morning by ordering the Brunch for Two. In no time we were sipping huckleberry mimosas and enjoying the pot of coffee with a nice breakfast of huckleberry pancakes with fresh fruit, eggs cooked to order, bacon, and sausage. What a wonderful way to start the day.
The brand new One Lakeside offers upscale vacation rentals with one-, two-, and three-bedroom options. Each unit is luxuriously furnished with all the amenities you need to enjoy a relaxing getaway. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer unencumbered city or lake views as does the spacious balcony. The kitchen is stocked with everything you need to cook a meal. The location is within walking distance of all the downtown area has to offer. The resort fee includes access to the 4th-floor outdoor terrace with a dog run and gas grills, plus garage parking and high-speed wireless internet.
Pro Tip: Pay the Enhanced Resort Fee to have access to the Rooftop Terrace with a hot tub, fitness center, and club room with a kitchen. Enjoy 360-degree views of the mountains, lake, and city from the Rooftop Terrace, which is the perfect location for sunset cocktails.
Activities abound in Coeur d’Alene, but you will still find yourself leaving relaxed and refreshed after spending the perfect weekend in this lakefront town. For more Idaho inspiration, consider