Beaver Bay Beach On Lake Pend Oreille
Beaver Bay Beach On Lake Pend Oreille via Lee Stone on Flickr

Summer road trip season is upon us and I’m making good on my promise to get my wife’s toes wet along the shores of Lake Pend Oreille in Northern Idaho.

Last summer we had a trip booked and everyone was eager. Then, 48 hours before lift off, I realized my passport had expired. There would be no summer of 2014 in Idaho, instead we took the scenic route from Calgary to Vancouver.

I screwed up last year. This year I will not screw up. Since early spring I have been researching our summer vacation in Idaho. I’m finding festivals, excursions, activities, and places to relax. After doing it wrong, this year I’m doing it right.

How To Plan A Summer Vacation In Idaho (or anywhere, really):


North Idaho is a popular escape for Calgarians. A quick survey of Facebook friends, or local community groups should get you pointed in the right direction for visitors. They’ll help you with VRBO recommendations, Air BNB suggestions, and areas you should focus on.

What are the pros and cons to staying in Coeur D’Alene versus Sandpoint, or going up Schweitzer Mountain?

Schweitzer Mountain via Shawn Anderson on Flickr
Schweitzer Mountain via Shawn Anderson on Flickr

A browse of Trip Advisor can also quickly get you interested in the highlights to hit or miss.

Going through the tourism board will give you all the highlights to plan your trip. You can pick and choose them a la carte, or you can see what’s recommended and do it on your own.

Visit Idaho has tourism ideas and itineraries broken down for each region of the state. Lake Pend Oreille is popular in Northern Idaho, while Balanced Rock is a must visit in South Central Idaho. The tourism website will also help you co-ordinate your schedule with any local festivals that may be happening across the region to help you better plan your route.

Barnes Creek Trestle on Route of the Hiawatha
Barnes Creek Trestle on Route of the Hiawatha via PAH on Flickr

Go to the local subreddit and ask what’s up. Find out what the locals are talking about by doing a geo search on twitter. Those two tips should lead you to find some local bloggers sharing their local knowledge.

Phil Corless is Idaho Dad. He writes stories about life with his kids, but he also gives insight into his backyard. His post, 10 Cool Things To Do With Kids In North Idaho, is a great thought starter on how to plan a family summer vacation in Idaho.

So after asking on Facebook, talking to the tourism board, and canvassing the locals, I’ve got everything sorted. Our summer vacation in Idaho will feature something for everyone in the family.

Our Perfect North Idaho Summer Vacation Itinerary:

A stay at Schweitzer Mountain and visit to the Huckleberry Festival
A visit to Lake Pend Oreille and Sandpoint
A kayak on Lake Coeur D’Alene and lunch at Coeur D’Alene Resort
A family daytrip to Silverwood Theme Park and Boulder Beach
More water fun and go-karting at Triple Play Family Fun Centre
A bike ride across the Route of the Hiawatha
A visit to Wallace, Idaho, the true center of the universe

Lake Coeur D'Alene
Lake Coeur D’Alene via Kami Jo on Flickr

Still not sorted out: random hikes, swims, eats, and explorations. I mean you want to plan a route, but you want to leave time for ad libbing, right?

What are your plans for summer? You only get 18 of them with your kids you know. 🙂 Any tips you’d offer for a North Idaho vacation?

Disclosure: Portions of our vacation will be hosted by Visit Idaho

Feature image via Washingtonydc on Flickr

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Planning The Perfect Idaho Vacation

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