So you may be wondering where Sandpoint Idaho is and why you should visit there. Well my friends, I am here to answer both of those questions. Sandpoint is a great town that I firmly believe has the best of both worlds. How often do you find a town with a large lake, great for swimming in the summer and a prestigious ski mountain to keep you entertained in the winter? If you were wondering, Sandpoint has them both! On top of that, Sandpoint was voted Most Beautiful Small Town in America in 2011 by USA Travel. Not bad, right?
Sandpoint is located 60 miles (96km) south of the Canadian border. For me, the centerpiece of the town is definitely Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced pond-o-ray). It covers about 148 square miles and gives you breath-taking views of both the Selkirk and Cabinet mountain ranges.
So what is there to do in Sandpoint? I’ll break it down for you by season:
Sandpoint is at an elevation of 2096 ft (639m), so snow lingers around for awhile during the spring months. It does, however, afford you some warmer weather to head out snowshoeing. If you have your own snowshoes a great spot to visit is Round Lake State Park, about 10 miles south of Sandpoint, located off of Dufort Road. There is a $5 USD entry fee per vehicle. Don’t have your own snowshoes? Check out Schweitzer Mountain Resort. They have rentals for $10 and a trail fee of $6. Guided tours are also offered.
Mid-May hosts one of Sandpoint’s most entertaining events, Lost in the 50’s. A classic car parade that weaves it’s away around town allowing classic car owners to show off their most cherished automobiles. The parade is always on a Friday night, followed by a street dance. The next day you can find the classic cars lined up along the downtown streets of Sandpoint for everyone’s viewing pleasure.
Once summer has rolled around it is time to open the ski mountain back up. Not because it has started to snow again but for the Summer Celebration at Schweitzer Mountain Resort. Complimentary chairlift rides to the top of the mountain are offered as well as live music in the village. Take the chairlift ride up to the top and you get amazing views overlooking the town and Lake Pend Oreille. If it’s a clear day give a shout out to Canada, Montana, and Washington while you’re up there!
Have you ever wanted to test your swimming endurance? Well, Sandpoint has just the event for you, with the Long Bridge Swim. As you enter Sandpoint from the south you drive across the Long Bridge on Highway 95. The swim, which follows along the Long Bridge, is 1.76 miles long (2.83 km). The swim is held in early August each year. I have competed in this event and I recommend wearing a wetsuit. The lake is deep and the water is cool, even in August. If you don’t think you can swim that far, check out the pedestrian part of the Long Bridge that gives you a bird’s-eye view of the entire race.
To me, there is nothing better than an open air music festival and Sandpoint has one of the best around. The Festival at Sandpoint brings in acts from all over for two weeks every August. Music genres range from country to rock and closes each year with a symphony performance. What I like best about the festival is that you can bring in just about anything to the event (as long as it’s legal!). It is festival seating so I recommend showing up early (sometimes early means the morning of depending on how popular the act is). You can bring in coolers, filled with your adult beverages as well as food and snacks. If you don’t want to deal with lugging in all that, take advantage of the food booths, offering tasty foods from local restaurants. There are also beer and wine tents. Be sure to bring in cash as some vendors do not take plastic.
As summer comes to an end one of my favorite Sandpoint events happens, the Fall Fest at Schweitzer Mountain Resort. It is essentially a beer festival, bringing in local breweries as well as the big dogs! P.S. dogs are allowed at this event, leash them up and bring them along! Of course, I go for the beer, but if you are not a fan of beer they also have wine and soda tastings. It is a great way to say goodbye to Summer and welcome the arrival of Fall. This event happens over Labor Day each year. There are chairlift rides and live music to go along with this event.
Shake off your cabin fever with the Sandpoint Idaho Winter Carnival. The event I like best is the K-9 Keg Pull. Kegs are picked based on your dog’s size and then attached to the dog via a harness. The dog (sometimes with some extra convincing) runs down the track and the fastest dog wins bragging rights! There is also skijoring, a torchlight parade at Schweitzer and fireworks. The Winter Carnival happends each February.
Lastly, how could I not mention downhill skiing at Schweitzer Mountain Resort? If you love to ski, stop by the mountain and catch a few runs. The mountain has 2900 acres with a 2400 ft (731 m) vertical drop. There are 7 chairlifts and 92 runs with 20% for beginners, 40% intermediate, 35% advanced and 5% expert.
So what do you think? Would you like to visit Sandpoint Idaho?
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