Many of the places in Idaho’s panhandle feature memorable names. Some are drawn from French, such as Coeur d’Alene or Lake Pend Oreille, while others have intriguing historical connotations, like Priest Lake and Bonners Ferry. And then there’s Sandpoint, a town whose name evokes the stirring image of some guy pointing at a pile of sand. Yep, we see it. You’ve found the sand.

But despite its uninspiring name, Sandpoint is the nicest little city we visited in northern Idaho; more relaxed than the comparative metropolis of Coeur d’Alene, and more lovely than rustic Bonners Ferry. Situated at the northwestern end of Lake Pend Oreille, entering the town from the south requires a breathtaking journey over a long bridge. Right from the outset, Sandpoint begins to impress.

The town is most famed around Idaho as home to Schweitzer Ski Resort: the only resort in the world named after a Swiss hermit with a penchant for stealing and eating cats. It was the beginning of October when we visited, too early to hit the slopes, but everyone we talked to kept bringing conversation around to the opening of ski season. It’s a safe bet that everyone in Sandpoint skis, and that the town empties out entirely when there’s fresh powder.

We stayed in the Sweet Magnolia Bed and Breakfast, run by Calvin and Jill Ogle, originally from Georgia. This was a comfortable place to rest our heads, conveniently located downtown. Breakfast was awesome. Along with homemade granola and cookies, Calvin had fashioned up a southern egg bake. Despite our time in Savannah, we were unable to identify the secret ingredient in the crust (hint: rhymes with “Fritz”).

Sandpoint itself has cute shops and off-key cafes that cater to a well-to-do crowd. The highlight for us was City Beach, a park on Lake Pend Oreille where we found a replica Statue of Liberty, holding her torch out over Northern Idaho. She was considerably smaller than her New York City sister, but enjoys the more tranquil view. And is less likely to be torn asunder by terrorists.

We only had one night in Sandpoint, so were lucky to be invited for dinner at the best restaurant in town: Trinity at City Beach, which boasts a great view over the lake. We got to meet the owner, a former Idaho State football player whose left forearm was roughly the size of my left thigh. As we were leaving, he asked how our dinner was. “Oh, great, very good, thank you very much, thank you, please don’t crush me.” Luckily, I wasn’t forced to lie; I had ordered baked halibut on a bed of creamy linguine, and it was as delicious as it sounds.

Location on our Idaho Map

Sweet Magnolia B&B – Website

Trinity at City Beach – Website

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Brenda Balint

    The excellent photography and equally engrossing “blogoggraphy” couple well to portray an area in these here United States that I would love to see first hand one day.

  2. Amber Wright

    I was born and raised in Sandpoint and always enjoy going back, I used to be friends with the old owners of that bed and breakfast back when it was the Coitt house. I have walked those streets many times in my younger years and can tell you every amazing spot to fish, to hunt and to eat. I love my home town.

  3. Linda Mitchell

    Karen Ballard had told us you would be looking us up for a cruise on the Shawnodese!  We were looking forward to getting you out on Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho’s largest lake!  You must have run out of time…sorry we missed you–maybe next time.  Enjoy the rest of your 91 days in the fabulous state of Idaho!

    1. Juergen

      Hello Linda, Thank you for stopping by…. yes Karen told us about your cruises but we were in the CDA area on a weekdays only and we found out that you only run cruises for the fall/winter … we would have loved taking the cruise.

  4. Sarah Olson

    I grew up in Sagle (about 15 minutes south of Sandpoint), but live on the other side of the country now. Thank you for your blog–it helps with the homesickness :). It is too bad you didn’t get up to Schweitzer anyway–the view is amazing (I worked there for a summer and the view made the pay worth it).

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