Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort has the most acreage of any resort in Idaho, but you'll rarely find more than a skier per acre. Set in Sandpoint, halfway between Coeur d'Alene and the Canadian Border, amidst the spectacular setting of Lake Pend Oreille's (Ear Pendant) inlets and fjords, the mountain is renowned as a real skier's mountain.
There are few better-equipped ski resorts, especially for families with smaller kids. The Headquarters Day Lodge is 40,000 square feet of dining and entertainment opportunities. It has huge windows that look out over the Musical Chairs chairlift and the children-only Enchanted Forest trail, so adults can keep an eye on the kids while enjoying the ambience and warmth of the lodge. There is even a fully separate learner's area below the base with its own chair and moving carpet, which is great for practicing beginner skills. Gypsy and Happy Trails are easy, fun runs for the whole family, and when it comes time for something a bit more challenging, there are excellent intermediate runs including Zip Down, Gladeiater, Cathedral Aisle, Timber Cruiser, and the whole Outback Bowl.
For the real expert runs, head for Revenge and No Joke, which will challenge anyone's advanced expertise and bravado. the Stomping Grounds Terrain Park is one of the largest parks in the country, spreading over 50 acres and features an ample selection of beginner, intermediate, and expert terrain and it's even open for night skiing. The Ski and Ride Center offers lessons for all skill levels, rents a full range of skis and all the snowsport equipment, features weekly NASTAR races, plus has a superb day care center.
The Lakeview Lodge is a great place for food and fun. Taps Lounge has live, albeit loud, music on weekends to go with its billiards, foosball, and air hockey. Cabinet Mountain Coffee, with astounding mountain and lake views, serves up delicious breakfasts and lunches to go and the Selkirk Lodge's Chimney Rock has award winning gourmet dishes. One of the real family favorites in Sandpoint has to be Ivano's Ristorante, where everyone will enjoy great Italian pastas, chicken, and even buffalo and vegan dishes. If you're in the mood for a little Creole, try Cafe Trinity, or head to the southern end of the Long Bridge for Swan's Landing and some phenomenal sunset views to go with your Black Angus. Upstairs at Eichardt's, you'll find shuffleboard, billiards, board games, and darts. MickDuff's Brewing Company serves up a freshly microbrewed root beer for the under 21 crowd, and if you're up for a bit of the smelly stuff, the Litehouse Bleu Cheese Factory will let you sample savory cheeses.
Hermit's Hollow Tubing Center is about the most fun you can have, but make sure you buy tickets in advance or you'll be disappointed. One of the big festivals of the season is Sandpoint’s Winter Carnival, which features snow sculpture displays, ice skating celebrations, and all sorts of special events.
This is a phenomenal resort with a total of nine lifts, comprising of one surface lift, one handle tow, two t-bar, four double chairs, one high-speed quad, and one high-speed six-passenger. The lifts take you to 82 trails where you can board on their longest run of 14,256 feet. Their trails are rated 20 percent for beginners, 40 percent for intermediates, 35 percent for advanced, and you can bet that you’ll be heading for the 5 percent of the trails that are ranked for experts.
This is the mountain where snowboarders go in their Idaho dreams. The vast array of natural chutes and bowls are all rated advanced or expert. Try the Outback Bowl and Glade-iater and see if you can avoid becoming a tree ornament. Stomping Grounds Terrain Park is one of the biggest terrain parks in the world, spreading out over a gigantic 50 acres with an incredible selection of beginner, intermediate and expert terrain with all the jumps, rails, and tabletops you can handle. Best of all, it’s open for night riding!
Sandpoint’s Winter Carnival in January has snow sculpture displays, ice skating celebrations, all sorts of special events and most important of all, parties, parties, parties. Hermit’s Hollow Tubing Center is the obligatory weekend activity. Be sure not to miss out on getting a ticket. Schweitzer Mountain is one of the state’s favorite places to get wild and crazy in the powder. You can choose from a selection of pulse-pounding outdoor sports such as hot air ballooning, ice skating, jeeping and off-road driving, cross-country skiing, fishing, rock and ice climbing, snowcatting, horseback riding, sledding, and snowmobiling.
Taps Lounge really gets radical on weekends with live bands that will rock your world. In between sets, check out the billiards, foosball, and air hockey. Jorge’s Cantina serves up absolutely fantastic Tex-Mex with huge margaritas. To sample some really amazing beers and other special drinks, check out A & P Bar and Pucci’s Pub. Great après ski or anytime hangouts include Roxy’s, The Beach House Lounge, and Mitzy’s. For mellow hours, try the piano bar at Downtown Crossing. Go play some shuffleboard, billiards, board games, and darts upstairs at Eichardt’s. There’s a fun cocktail lounge at The Hydra Steakhouse, go crazy on sushi and saketini at Oishii Sushi, and don’t miss Sandpoint’s brewpub, MickDuff’s Brewing Company, where they even serve a microbrewed root beer for the under 21 crowd. Nighttime in Sandpoint is Synergy Nightclub time. You’ll find it on the second floor of the Pastime Building, and delivers the hottest live music every weekend so you can drink, dance, and socialize.