“It’s still got that small town feel,” says my taxi driver as we pull into town. From first appearance at least, he’s right. Charm oozes as we drive down a quaint main street full of shops, restaurants and pubs – all just around the corner I’m told from Couer d’Alene Resort, where I’ll be staying.
Couer d’Alene Resort nudged up beside scenic Lake Couer d’Alene, offers views from many vantage points throughout the property, and my room is no exception.
From a private balcony, I’m afforded a stunning marina view. The best part though is when I learn how I can take in the view from my bed via remote control blinds that open onto wall-wall windows. A sunken living space below allows no obstruction of the picturesque panorama.
Couer d’Alene, Idaho is surprising – in more ways than one.
Well firstly, its idyllic landscape.
I had NO idea Idaho was so beautiful. Isn’t there some old adage about it being potato country? Yes, there actually is as I learned via Google (they are famous for potatoes after all), which better explains why the visual was stuck in my head. However, with its beautiful lake vistas, forests, trails and more, Couer d’Alene is truly far from what I expected.
The opportunity to discover; to be surprised with places I may not have even ever considered – it’s one of the best parts of travel, in my opinion. And Couer d’Alene is so pleasantly suprising.
The city with a population hovering around 46,000, is found in Idaho’s northwest corner – about 40 miles from Spokane International Airport. At first chance I head out for a morning of exploration along Sherman Avenue (aka Main Street, in search of a healthy (read: green) breakfast.
Before hitting up Sherman, I start my stroll just outside the resort where a boardwalk marina beckons. There I take in the sights and sounds of an absolutely still and serene morning.
Starlings sing with passion from the treetops above where I sit on the boardwalk overlooking the lake.
The water around the marina is glassy, reflective and seriously photogenic. I spend a good amount of time taking shots of minimal styled boat houses, the pier and the many geese who’ve made their home in each and every planter that surround the marina.
Across the lake I spot a park where a man is playing guitar on a large lake front rock at the bottom of a grassy hill. A short distance from him kids plunge off of rocks creating fun summer sounds and big splashes.
I smile and soak it all in, all the while thinking that it feels like a scene from a summer camp movie.
Finally I make it onto Sherman Avenue. It’s still pretty early so most everything is closed. I peek into the windows of a few galleries and boutiques. The quintessential small town feel is even stronger afoot as I amble along.
I turn just off of Sherman onto North 4th Street to seek out what I’ve been told is a great little green spot, The Wellness Bar.
After staring at the menu for a while – I find myself having trouble choosing. Everything is so appealing. There are bowls with fresh raw ingredients – pressed juices – smoothies galore. I want one of each. “Our bowls are the most popular item,” says the lady behind the counter. I opt for a smoothie called the Green Goddess and promise to come back the next day for a bowl.
Couer d’Alene is chock full of adventure
Later that day, it’s time to trek again – this time however it’s up 700ft in elevation to the top of Mineral Ridge via a 2-hour trail hike with ROW Adventures. ROW Adventures I learn, is a worldwide company recognized by National Geographic as one of the best adventure companies in the world. What’s super interesting is that the company has been rooted in Couer d’Alene since its inception.
I hear repeatedly throughout my day that the city is touted as a “lakeside playground,” and it completely makes sense. ROW Adventures couldn’t be in a better spot to offer activities such as white water rafting, kayaking, fly fishing, SUP’ing, hiking, biking and more.
The trail we head out on is a 3.3 mile loop. Along the way, we hear about local flora from Ponderosa Pines to Douglas Firs, and learn how the trail is tied into the area’s rich mining history. Once the country’s second-largest silver mining district, the area attracted miners and settlers alike hoping to make it big from the region’s silver deposits. We stop and peek into what was once a mining site and then continue along to other vantage points overlooking the 23 mile-long Couer D’Alene Lake.
We pause to admire Beauty Bay before looping back.
The day ends perfectly with a few colleagues at a hotspot resto on Sherman called Crafted. The urban style brew pub with giant garage doors features a tons of taps sprawled across an entire wall.
However, its cool factor goes through the roof when we learn about the turtle racing that has been happening on Friday nights for nearly three years. Sadly, it’s not a Friday; however we leave with a good tip from our waitress. “Stalin wins a lot.” Insider tip: If you happen to be there on a Friday, put all your money on him for the chance to win a shirt and pay $1/draught for the night!