Road Trip: Two Idaho Towns You Never Thought to Visit…But Should
I’m continuing with my road trip series, This week , I'm traveling through northern Idaho. I’m visiting two very different, but equally awesome towns – Coeur d’Alene and Wallace. How did we decide to visit them? Coeur d’Alene was the halfway point on our road trip between Seattle and Montana. As for Wallace, I read about it in a news article and thought it would make a fun stop. Here we go!
Also known as “CDA”or the “Lake City”, Coeur d’Alene (pronounced “KOOR-duh-LANE) is in the northwestern panhandle part of Idaho. It’s actually considered a satellite city of Spokane, Washington, 30 miles to the west. CDA is situated on the north shore of Lake Coeur d'Alene, which is surprisingly big at 25 miles in length. There are roughly 45,000 residents.
We spent the night in CDA on our way to Montana. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was surprised by how fantastic it was. We were there on Memorial Day weekend, a national holiday in the U.S. (which could have been a big mistake, but it wasn’t). The people were so nice. You know, coming from New Jersey you’re not always prepared for people being, uh, super friendly.
What’s there to do?
Alot! There’s tons of outdoorsy stuff to do, the people are nice, it’s clean and I thought the food was pretty darn good, too (you’ll see)! We had spectacularly beautiful weather so we spent time on Lake Coeur d’Alene, and in the downtown. There were kayakers and paddleboarders paddling around, jet skis buzzing along, motorboats – some cruising, some with paragliders, and seaplanes touring - just about every water-related activity imaginable. On land, people were sunbathing, picnicking and barbecuing. And, the scenery is just crazy beautiful. Tall pines blanket the area with rocky outcroppings along the Lake that make for great sunbathing spots.
We decided to rent kayaks for a half day with Kayak Coeur d'Alene (there's the shop above!). The owner, Chip, is a transplant from the east coast, and I understand why - the scenery and quality of life. Don’t get me wrong, I love the east coast, but without being too effusive, I looove CDA.
After kayaking, at Chip’s recommendation, we had lunch at Crafted Tap House + Kitchen, a craft brewery and restaurant. It wasn’t even lunchtime, but Crafted was completely packed! I can see why – the food was incredible! Since we were going to be on the road, we skipped the delicious craft beer (waaah), but it’s ok, the food made up for it. We ordered an “appetizer” which turned out to be a mountain of sweet potato fries with fontina sauce on top. Oh. My. Gosh. For our entrees, I had a salad and Hubby had a burger. We were sick full… but...
…After we walked off lunch, we thought we should stop at Roger’s Ice Cream, because, you know, ya need a little treat before getting on the road...and I was compelled to try the huckleberry ice cream. I had heard about huckleberries, but I knew zero about them. For starters, huckleberries are not just the name of a cartoon character (Huckleberry Hound). To me, they taste like a cross between a blueberry and a blackberry, with a little bit of tart.
Cool Fact: Huckleberries grow in the northwester part of the U.S. and Canada. They can’t be cultivated, only grow wild, and are one of the favorite foods of bears. I understand why people (and bears) are crazy for huckleberries – they’re really tasty!
Completely different from Coeur d’Alene is Wallace, Idaho. About an hour east of CDA, under Interstate 90 (literally), Wallace is in the Silver Valley mining district of the Idaho Panhandle, on the South Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River. Founded in 1884, Wallace is roughly 2,728 feet above sea level with a population of around 800. What’s really unique about Wallace is that every downtown building is on the National Register of Historic Places. How cool is that?
What’d we do?
The best thing to do in Wallace is take in the sites. The downtown isn’t very big, so you can cover it in about an hour. If you’re interested, you can take a silver mine tour led by a retired miner that takes you through a real mine, in addition to taking a tour of Historic Wallace. Unfortunately, we had limited time so we passed on the tour.
After we strolled downtown, we hopped on Yelp to find a place to eat which is how we found the Blackboard Cafe. The interior was quite eclectic, sort of boho chic. It was very busy and all the tables were taken, which may have overwhelmed the kitchen. While our lunch quite good, it took a looong time to get to us and since we were trying to make good time on the road, waiting 25 minutes for what amounted to grilled cheese sandwiches, might not have been the way to go.
After lunch we got back on the road, heading towards our destination for the night. We are we going? Come back next week to find out!
Have you visited either Coeur d’Alene, Wallace or both? I’d love to hear about it on Facebook or in Traveleidoscope’s comment section!