Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho is to Seattle as the Hamptons are to New York – a city dweller’s lakeside playground. Located in Northern Idaho and a 40-minute drive from Spokane, Wash., CDA offers skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling on Schweitzer Mountain in the winter and fishing, boating, and jet skiing on the crystal clear waters of Lake Coeur d’Alene.
We headed to Coeur d’ Alene (pronounced core-da-lane, which means ‘heart of awl’ in French) to explore the area’s wintertime adventures. For those wondering like we were, “awl” is a sharp tool for piercing leather. The name was given by French Canadian explorers to describe the shrewd trading skills of the local Native American tribe.
Here are the highlights Of our Eats, Plays, and Loves in Coeur D’Alene:
Eagle watching – Back in the 1980’s the bald eagle was endangered. It was a joy to see so many dotting the tall trees like Christmas ornaments, then take a sweeping dive into the river to fish for Kokanee salmon. Truly, the idea of “bird watching” can send us into a panic for fear of boredom. But beholding a sight like this is anything but boring, not to mention how happy it makes us to see our bald eagles thriving once again!
Day trip to the historic mining town of Wallace – this gem of a town sits alongside the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River and has a population of about 800 people. Drive around the outskirts and you’ll literally see towns with a population of two people! We’re not kidding. Once a bustling silver mining area (producing more silver than any other district in the U.S.), exploring the areas surrounding Wallace is like venturing through a closed, deserted, and abandoned movie set with the architectural shells of homes and mining facilities still mostly intact set against the dramatic snowy landscapes (in winter) and mountainous beauty (in summer). While in Wallace, go antique shopping, buy silver, check out the six ray star garnet (Idaho is the only place in the world you can find it in its raw and natural form) and visit the Wallace Brewing Company for a sampling of in-house handcrafted microbrews that you won’t find anywhere else.
One of the most fascinating parts of Wallace? Its very naughty past. Visit the Oasis Bordello, a functioning brothel until 1988 when Secret Service arrived in town and the space was abandoned, left and preserved as it was, dirty dishes and all! Don’t leave without checking out the menu of services and asking what “frills vs. no frills” and “French vs. regular” means but be forewarned: you will blush when you find out the answer… (And a little piece of trivia: Lana Turner was born in Wallace.)
Hiking at Tubbs Hill – a gentle, easy hike to start the day and conveniently located right next to the Coeur d’Alene Resort with gorgeous views of the lake. This is where to go for a romantic picnic, to watch the Fourth of July Fireworks, or just to enjoy a little nature.
A disco bath at Coeur d’ Alene Resort‘s spa – it is as it sounds… sort of. There’s no disco ball or Donna Summer playing but the chromatherapy will have you feeling like you’re in an oddly relaxing nightclub surrounded by warm water. Strange, yes, but an absolutely enjoyable soak. Lanee went for the fast multicolored show. Lindsay chose to keep it on soothing blue the entire bath. Each bath is booked individually in a private room pre- or post-massage or other treatment.
Chat with the Cork Jockey aka Coeur d’Alene Resort’s Sommelier – Eric Cook is filled with wine knowledge fromthe Pacific Northwest to the Rhone varietals of France. With more than 1,200 bottles to oversee in the resort’s three cellars, it’s impressive. If you’re lucky, he’ll give you a lesson in how to saber the cork off a champagne bottle without causing bodily injury.
Snowmobiling on Schweitzer Mountain – despite Lanee ending up in a tree at one point and both of us taking dumps (the snowmobile kind of course!), this was the highlight of the trip for us, zipping through the fresh and plentiful powder. The team at Selkirk Powder were fantastic guides and while there were moments of near white out conditions, we made it back to the chalet safely. We even came across a momma moose and her three babies! Incredible moment.
Favorite Eats: Wine tasting at Pend d’ Orielle in Sandpoint, green eggs and ham at CDA’s Garnet Cafe, the fresh zucchini bread and market spice tea at Michael D’s, and the unique pizzas at Fire Artisan Pizza on Main Street.
North Idaho Bloggers Shout Out: We love to spread the word about great local bloggers/writers we meet during our travels. For Coeur d’ Alene and Northern Idaho, check this out: North Idaho Weekend Wanderer
Head here for more travel information about Coeur d’Alene.
***And stay tuned for our CDA video coming soon to YouTube*** (youtube.com/thevoyagevixens)