Sandpoint is just a little more than an hour from Spokane and once you cross the Long Bridge over the Pend Oreille River you can simply just feel your stress level go down.
Don’t get me wrong: though many of the events we have come to love and associate with Sandpoint have been canceled or postponed because of COVID, there are still lots of things to do for everyone in the family.
Sandpoint is best discovered on foot. Parking is free for the first couple of hours downtown, so find a shady spot and head out. You can also park in the large parking lot at City Beach. If you are coming in by boat, there are many boat mooring areas including the Windbag Marina and the City Beach Marina. For overnight moorage call (208) 263-3613 in advance of your visit.
You can confidently head out on foot knowing that the free bus system, affectionately known as SPOT, can be accessed via a smart phone app, in case you need a ride back to your car.
Characteristic century-old, red brick buildings line the downtown shopping district, which offers everything from rustic log cabin furniture to clothing, accessories and lots of places to eat and drink. Farmers Markets are in downtown Farmin Park on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Bikes and kayaks can easily be rented for the day from Outdoor Experience (314 N First Ave. Call: (208) 263-6028). If you are in the mood for a longer excursion, connect with Long Drift Outfitters (4816 Upper Pack River Road). Call (303) 917-2822 ahead of time to set up your dream floating or fishing trip on the Kootenai River.
Don’t miss the Cedar Street Bridge Public Market downtown (334 N. Frist Avenue. Call: (208) 304-7383). It’s a real bridge that’s been covered and turned into market full of little stores and cafes – locals like to tell you it’s the only market on a covered bridge in the entire nation. It straddles Sandcreek and will connect you to the Sandcreek Trail that takes you down to City Beach.
City Beach is really all the reason you need to go to Sandpoint. A large grassy park area slopes down to beaches on all sides. There are easily accessible bathrooms, a great big picnic shelter and lots of room to play. Please wear a life jacket if you go in or on the water – it can be surprisingly cold, even in the shallow areas.
And the view from the beach is just stunning: Lake Pend Oreille stretches its sparkling waters out in front of you, while blue-gray mountains rest in the distance. It’s the perfect place to pause and recharge your batteries.