Sandpoint, Idaho, is an especially beautiful mountain and lake town that is tucked into the potato state’s upper panhandle.
So lovely is this town – which is home to the state’s largest body of water, Lake Pend Oreille, and Schweitzer Mountain ski resort in the Selkirk Mountains – Rand McNally recently chose Sandpoint as the most beautiful small town in America in the map and travel giant’s “Best of the Road” competition, said Mack Deibel, communication specialist for the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce.
The contest victory brings along a slew of publicity. A page in both the upcoming Rand McNally atlas and an issue of USA Today will be dedicated to the town. An hourlong Travel Channel special will also feature the contest winners.
“We are really excited about this plan to use it for promotion for a long time,” Deibel said.
A strong collaboration between the town’s lake community and the ski resort makes for an active, fun and exciting town to visit.
Schweitzer, for instance, offers a new zipline, hiking, huckleberry picking and mountain biking, while on the lake there’s everything from the Aug. 11-12 arts and crafts fair on the Sandpoint City Beach and the Festival at Sandpoint, an annual outdoor concert on the lake that draws some of the biggest musical groups in the country.
This summer, the Festival at Sandpoint celebrates its 30th annual summer concert series, August 2-12, with eight nights of eclectic music under the stars, on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille, Deibel said.
The season line-up includes headliners Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Johnny Clegg, Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas, Barenaked Ladies, Pink Martini, Counting Crows, and Kenny Loggins as well as rising stars LeRoy Bell & His Only Friends, Kacey Musgraves, Sugarcane Collins, Stephen Ashbrook, and local favorites Doug Bond and BackBeat Drum Group.
The Festival is audience friendly, Deibel said. It is a customized concert experience without equal. You can feast on fabulous food and beverages on “Festival Street,” or bring your own picnic basket and cooler from home. You can stretch out on a blanket, cruise in a lawn chair (bring your own or rent), sit in the grandstands or let loose in the dancing areas.
A limited number of Early Bird Season Passes are available for all eight nights of music for only $179. Individual pricing is available.
Other things to do in Sandpoint
Lake Pend Oreille offers a tremendous variety of water sports, from swimming to waterskiing and boating, fishing for the huge Kamloops and mackinaw trout, or a peaceful outing in a kayak. The Sandpoint City Beach right in downtown Sandpoint is a favorite family-friendly setting that has sandy beaches, playgrounds, volleyball, tennis, basketball, boat ramps and docks, plus a paved strolling path at water’s edge.
A Day on the Lake Rentals offers full-service rentals of ski boats, pontoons, SeaDoos, and vacation homes on Lake Pend Oreille. Make your vacation memorable by touring the lake by boat. Delivery available. 877-890-2444 or 208-755-4958; adayonthelake.com.
All About Adventures guides a variety of excellent flat-water kayak tours on Lake Pend Oreille (plus some on Priest Lake, to the north). allaboutadventures.com.
Sandpoint Marine & Motor Sports offers a variety of watercraft rentals, from speedboats to pontoon boats to jet ski and kayak rentals. Half day, full day or hourly rentals, all from downtown Sandpoint. 208-263-1535; sandpointmarineandmotorsports.com.
Action Water Sports helmed by U.S. World Cup snowboarders Nate and Pat Holland, offers lake tours, wakeboard lessons, waterskiing, paddle board and kayak rentals and more. Operating out of Sand Creek adjacent to Sandpoint Marina; 208-255-7100. actionwatersportslessons.com
The Spa at Seasons offers spa packages, skin care, spa nail treatments, massage, body treatments and more. Make it a party – they can accommodate groups of 3 to 6 people for services and can also customize packages. 888-263-5616; spaatseasons.com.
Chairlift rides. Schweitzer Mountain ResortVisit Sandpoint preferred member, 11 miles from Sandpoint, runs chairlift rides during summer, offering easy access to the resort’s peaks for hikers and mountain bikers and magnificent views of Lake Pend Oreille and surrounding mountains. There are also a host of other activities for young and old alike, including a bungee trampoline, climbing wall and much more. 208-263-9555; schweitzer.com
Take a scenic drive
International Selkirk Loop. Discover wonderful surprises around every corner during this 280-mile international driving tour through Idaho, Washington and Canada. The loop is rated as one of Rand McNally’s top 5 “Best of the Roads.” selkirkloop.org.