Why you should visit Sandpoint Idaho

visiting Sandpoint Idaho

Lake Pend Oreille, Sandpoint Idaho

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 Idaho

Lake Pend Oreille in Sandpoint Idaho

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:


visiting Sandpoint Idaho

Round Lake State Park near Sandpoint Idaho

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.

visiting Sandpoint Idaho

Lost in the 50’s Parade in Sandpoint Idaho

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.


visiting Sandpoint Idaho

Chairlift rides at Schweitzer Mountain Resort

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!

visiting Sandpoint Idaho

Long Bridge Swim

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.

visiting Sandpoint Idaho

Festival at Sandpoint

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.


visiting Sandpoint Idaho

Fall Fest at Schweitzer Mountain Resort

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.


visiting Sandpoint Idaho

K-9 Keg Pull at the Sandpoint Idaho Winter Carnival

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.

visiting Sandpoint Idaho

This dog knows how to pull a keg!

visiting Sandpoint Idaho

this dog would rather get pets than pull the keg!

visiting Sandpoint Idaho

Me trying my hand at a black diamond

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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22 Responses to Why you should visit Sandpoint Idaho

  1. What a great roundup of things to see and do. I love mountains and skiing so the winter activities are really up my alley, LOVE the sunsets too! Thanks for sharing and happy easter to you!

  2. What a beautiful area!Places like this are why I love the American West.

  3. Ming says:

    I love classic car parades! And the K-9 keg pull is so unique. Love that little chihuahua and her tiny keg!

  4. Sandpoint seems like a great place to visit at anytime of the year. I love snowshoeing. It’s totally entertaining. And beside it’s an excellent exercise. Your bird-eye photo of the Long Bridge swim is fab.

  5. malaysianmeanders says:

    Sandpoint sounds like a great little town. I am so impressed that you did the Long Bridge Swim. I’d be watching from the pedestrian bridge. I think I’d really enjoy the Lost in the 50’s, and that keg pull seems like it’d be really fun to watch.

  6. agnesstramp says:

    Without a doubt, this city has so much to offer regardless the season of the year. I would love to get there in winter to learn snowboarding!

  7. Katrina says:

    If I were ever to pry myself away from the east coast and settle elsewhere, it would be in Montana or Idaho. It’s so beautiful! Great post – thanks!

  8. Lauren says:

    It looks like such a beautiful place! That that K9 keg pull…oh my goodness, that chihuahua is so cute and has such a tiny keg!!! I got such a huge kick out of that. I love the view from up on the mountain, and gotta love festivals!

  9. I’ve never heard of Sandpoints before, but it sounds like there is plenty to offer. I think I’d be up for trying to do that swim, but it does sound far, and chilly! Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler!

    • The swim is far but it’s one of those things that you cross off your list – that you swam a really far distance in open water and survived the Pend Oreille Paddler (the legend of the lake monster!)

  10. Okay, I’m coming for the K-9 Keg Pull…for sure! Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler 🙂

  11. Steven J says:

    was in Sandpoint this summer have been there several times we love going to northern Idaho !!

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