Playing on the world’s only floating golf course green would be reason enough to visit Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
But there’s far more to do in this western U.S. city 500 kilometers east of Seattle, Washington, including a sparkling blue mountain lake surrounded by woods that led famous U.S. television personality Barbara Walters to call it “a little slice of heaven” on her list of most fascinating places to visit.
What to Do in Summer
Outdoor recreation comes easy and relaxed — much of it revolving around Lake Coeur d’Alene. Skim over the water on a hovercraft or enjoy a scenic dinner cruise. Watch osprey diving for fish on a boat ride down the St. Joe River, the highest navigable river in the world, at 671 meters. Then there’s the Coeur d’Alene golf course with its floating green. It’s one of the most admired golf courses in North America.
Coeur d’Alene itself was built on lumber and mining, and other recreational offerings reflect both. The 24-kilometer Route of the Hiawatha, a bicycling trail 111 kilometers east of Coeur d’Alene, follows an abandoned railroad line through tunnels and over trestles. Interpretive signs tell stories of the past. Bicycles with bike lights can be rented at nearby Lookout Pass.
The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes bike path follows 114 kilometers of railroad right of way from the mining town of Mullan (near the state of Montana) across Idaho to the town of Plummer, near the border with the state of Washington. A portion of the trail follows along the shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene. And the 38-kilometer North Idaho Centennial Trail bike path winds from Coeur d’Alene into the state of Washington.
The town of Wallace, 77 kilometers to the east of Coeur d’Alene, is full of historic buildings, including a former bordello now open to the public as a museum. Go underground at the Sierra Silver Mine to experience the dangers of hard-rock mining.
The world’s only floating golf course green is just one attraction in the Coeur d’Alene area.
What to Do in Winter
Snow blankets the mountains around Coeur d’Alene during winter, turning the area into a place to play. At Schweitzer Mountain Resort, 72 kilometers to the north, the skiing overlooks Lake Pend Oreille. Silver Mountain Resort, 96 kilometers east and near the Bavarian-style town of Kellogg, also features the state’s biggest indoor waterpark.
Want more nature? Watch bald eagles and their young feed on spawning kokanee salmon in Wolf Lodge Bay from November through February.
The slopes of Schweitzer Mountain Resort are as beautiful as the views. The ski area overlooks Lake Pend Oreille.
Where to Eat and Stay
Huckleberry is like currency in north Idaho. Sample the tiny purple berry in the triple berry crepes and pecan rolls at Jimmy’s Down the Street. Wash it down with Huckleberry Ale at River City Brewing in nearby Spokane, Washington.
Numerous hotels sit along the lakeshore. The Coeur d’Alene Resort features a floating restaurant and fabulous views from its towers overlooking the lake. Another notable option is the Greenbriar Inn, a bed-and-breakfast filled with antiques three blocks from downtown Coeur d’Alene.
The Greenbriar Inn offers a sense of the area’s history near downtown Coeur d’Alene.