The city beach

Sandpoint is a popular city and tourist destination in Northern Idaho on the shore of lake Pend Oreille (Pond-Orr-Ay) in northwestern United States. (although Idaho is generally recognized as a Mountain State, Sandpoint and other far northern Idaho cities are most often categorized as officially being part of the Pacific Northwest. At last census, the population of Sandpoint was 6,853 (est. 2006 was 8,206). The closest city of 100,000+ people is Spokane Washington (78 miles away), 500,000+ is Seattle Washington (390 mi), and 1,000,000+ is Los Angeles California (1,000 mi). The zip code is 83864, the time zone is Pacific (UTC-8), and the area code is 208. The official currency is United States Dollars, but most stores and restaurants will accept Canadian currency due to Sandpoint's proximity to the Canadian border and the large number of Canadian tourists who visit the region.



Sandpoint is a region in transition. From humble timber and fishing beginnings, Sandpoint has been rocketed to among the top destinations in the West, indeed the nation. It was number one on USA Today's List of Unforgettable Summer Vacations, as well as Sunset Magazine's top small Western Town, along with numerous other distinctions.

Geographical Layout

This article could perhaps be more accurately titled East Bonner County. The region generally known as Sandpoint is actually a collection of small communities lining highways 2, 95 & 200, the largest of which being the actual Sandpoint. Excluding Sandpoint, they are the following:


Located just north of the 48th parallel, Sandpoint's climate is unique in the region. Although found not far from the deserts of Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho is on the rainy side of the next mountain chain - the Rocky Mountains. Many climate maps show Sandpoint as arid or semi-arid but this is not accurate. With long, usually cold winters (average temperatures are generally below freezing, and dip to -20F for a week or two in February) and short, hot summers, (80-90F is the average, but be prepared for up to 100F for short periods) Sandpoint resembles a hemiboreal or even boreal climate, similar to the southern interior of Alaska (Fairbanks and the like, with milder winters). Winter lasts from late November to March, whereas summer weather doesn't hit until July and peaks in August. Spring (April–June) and autumn (September-early November) are generally rainy and cool. Storms are common - thunderstorms are the norm for hot summer afternoons and windstorms strike the most in spring.

Get in

By plane

Sandpoint does have an airport, unfortunately it is only serviced by charter planes and even then, getting in and out is complex and expensive. If you want to fly in, Spokane International Airport (GEG) is your best bet. Located about 2 hours southwest of Sandpoint, it is a hub for Horizon Air, Delta Air Lines, Frontier, and Big Sky Air, and airlines like United and Southwest also fly there. Most flights bound for, and departing from, GEG leave from/go to Seattle/Portland, so be prepared to fly to Seattle or Portland even if you are heading east. You can get a flight directly to Minneapolis, but expect to pay more.

By car

By train

The historic Sandpoint station.

Sandpoint has a small Amtrak station served by Empire Builder, which runs between Chicago and Seattle/Portland services most of the northern Midwest and Northwest. Unfortunately, all trains depart arrive and depart at from Sandpoint late at night.   Sandpoint station is at 450 Railroad Ave, just next to the marina. Despite the impressive station, amesties are basic with no enclosed waiting area or restrooms.

By bus

Greyhound Bus Lines operate a station in Coeur d'Alene, a large town south of Sandpoint. From Coeur d'Alene, you can take a N.I.C.E (The North Idaho Community Express) Bus to Sandpoint.

Get around

Although Sandpoint bills itself as a walking town, you can't really see everything without a car, or even a bike if you're athletic.

Public transportation

Spot Bus serves Sandpoint, Dover, Ponderay and Kootenai.

Other buses are privately owned ones that take you up and down Schweitzer Mountain during Ski Season.

NICE Bus, which ran from Sandpoint to Coeur d'Alene is no longer in service.


Car Rental

For car rentals from the airport, see Spokane.




Art Galleries

Clothing Shops


Grocery Stores


Locally Owned


For a small town in a relatively remote region, Sandpoint contains a disproportionate number (60 but not all are listed here) of restaurants of all sorts, likely because of its strong tourist economy. In addition to locally owned restaurants listed below, Sandpoint hosts several fast food chains.

Sandpoint holds two "food festivals" annually- 'A Taste of Sandpoint in February (part of the Winter Carnival) and Sandpoint Summer Sampler in late June. Both feature many local restaurants in a fun and artsy setting. Foster's Crossing Antiques holds a fudge contest during the Winter Carnival, and for a small fee anyone can test then judge entries.

Every town has a specialty, and Sandpoint's is huckleberries. From huckleberry pie to huckleberry syrup to huckleberry daiquiris, you can find just about everything in huckleberry come summer. Local stores often carry some of the prepackaged stuff, like huckleberry candy bars, and restaurants usually serve some sort of huckleberry dessert. Huckleberry Ice Cream in particular seems to be the local favorite.

All of Sandpoint's restaurants are casual, that is to say none of them have dress requirements. Even the most expensive restaurants will let you in wearing ripped jeans, but you may get some looks. That being said, you will probably also see many others dressed as you are!
Price guide for an average entrée: $ = <$10, $$ = $10-20, $$$ = >$20







Go next

After all, there's way more to the region than just Sandpoint! In fact, Sandpoint makes a great hub from which to visit smaller (or sometimes larger) communities. Here are some places to start...

Hwy 95 Northbound

Hwy 2 Westbound

Routes through Sandpoint

Seattle/Portland Spokane  W  E  Libby Minot
Spokane Newport  W  E  Bonners Ferry Kalispell
Cranbrook Bonners Ferry  N  S  Coeur d'Alene Ontario

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, February 23, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.