This post was most recently updated on December 18th, 2020
I recently visited Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, for the first time on a getaway with my husband. While we had a wonderful time, I kept thinking it was a place our kids would have loved. So now I’m sharing why I believe Coeur D’Alene is one of the best places to take your family, so you don’t wait till your kids are grown like I did. I guarantee you’ll find something for everyone.
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1. Coeur D’Alene has a big, beautiful lake by the same name
And with that lake comes some of the best water activities — boating, beaches, fishing, kayaking, water skiing, parasailing, lake cruises, stand-up paddle boarding, jet skiing, and even seaplane rides.
My husband and I took a powerboat out on the lake and explored several inlets. My father even drove over from Spokane and joined us! We loved the scenery and the spray on our faces as we sped across the water. Add a tube, and you’ve got instant family fun! You can rent from the Boardwalk Marina directly behind the Lake Coeur D’Alene Resort.
As we were returning our powerboat, we enjoyed watching these kids jumping from the rocks. Our kids would have loved watching, too — no, actually they would have wanted to be the ones jumping!
We also enjoyed a relaxing sunset dinner cruise. The lake has a different look and feel as the sun is going down, and the dinner was delicious – thanks to the culinary creations of Lake CDA Cruises. There were several families on board; the kids seemed to savor the views and food just as much as we did!
2. Coeur D’Alene is surrounded by mountains and forest
I don’t know about your family, but our kids always loved being outdoors. Whether it was camping, hiking, spotting wildlife, or just playing in the dirt, that was when they were happiest. As we explored Coeur D’Alene, we were amazed at the beautiful scenery and all of the options — including river-rafting, ATV rentals, and a ziplining adventure in the treetops.
I thought ziplining so high might be a little scary, but once I stepped off the platform, I felt like I was flying! With incredible views of the lake and forest and the thrill of soaring like a bird, who wouldn’t love this? It’s a favorite among families visiting Coeur D’Alene, and you can read more about ziplining with Timberline Adventures here.
One of our favorite hikes was so close to town — we walked along the trails of Tubbs Hill, overlooking the lake right next to McEuen Park. Parking was free, and it couldn’t have been easier to access.
3. Coeur D’Alene has so many wonderful parks
My personal favorite is McEuen Park, right next to the lake and the Lake Coeur D’Alene Resort. It has a huge playground, a splash pad, a dog park, a waterfall, picnic areas, art, and even a lakeside restaurant.
Besides McEuen Park, there are 35 more parks in the city of Coeur D’Alene! There’s also the 24-mile long North Idaho Centennial Trail, where you can walk, run, skate or cycle along the lake and Spokane River.
Coeur D’Alene’s City Park has a large beach and playground patterned after the historic Fort Sherman. On a summer day, this is a very popular place to be!
4. Amusement Parks and a Museum
The Coeur D’Alene area is fortunate to have not one, but two family amusement parks and an excellent museum, too.
Only seven miles away in Hayden, ID, Triple Play Family Fun Park hosts a Go-Kart race track, an indoor water park, miniature golf, bumper cars, bowling, laser tag, a climbing wall and more.
Silverwood Theme Park and Boulder Beach water park are only 19 miles from downtown Coeur D’Alene. With over 30 rides, your family will enjoy lots of thrills, regardless of age, because Silverwood has plenty of rides for toddlers as well as for teens!
The Museum of North Idaho has exhibits specific to the region around Coeur D’Alene. You and your family will learn about the sawmills, logging, agriculture, steamboats, and railroads of north Idaho, as well as the Coeur D’Alene native American tribe. You can also visit the restored Fort Sherman Chapel, built in 1880.
5. Coeur D’Alene is pretty and festive!
I was pleasantly surprised to find so many pretty little streets and shops, and well-maintained cottages and homes. Downtown Coeur D’Alene has a Flower Basket program that provides beautifully blooming flower baskets to add to its appeal.
And they really know how to throw a good party. With festivals like Car D’Lane (a classic car show), Art on the Green, Taste of Coeur D’Alene, and The Street Fair, there’s almost sure to be something special going on while you’re in town. For kids, it can’t get any better than visiting the annual Mac and Cheese Festival! Or a downtown walking food tour. For more family adventure, try this Coeur D’Alene scavenger hunt: Lovin’ the Lake Life!
6. Lots of great day trip options
Only a short drive away (10 miles) is the town of Post Falls. There you can explore Post Falls Park with its rugged falls and hydroelectric plant, and historic Treaty Rock Park. Wonderful views, a duck pond, picnic sites, and interesting information about the river and history make this a great family outing. Q’Emiln Park is well-known for its rock-climbing, but also has a beautiful park and beach along the Spokane River.
At Old Mission State Park, you can visit Cataldo Mission (oldest building in Idaho) and learn about the Jesuit mission to the Salish and Coeur D’Alene tribes. The Sacred Encounters exhibit is a multi-media presentation about the tribes — children will love hearing the music and seeing the artifacts. This state park is only 25 miles from Coeur D’Alene.
Take the family to Wallace (47 miles) where every building is on the National Register of Historic Places. You can ride a trolley to the Sierra Silver Mine and see a real miner demonstrate mining equipment, or you can visit the Northern Pacific Railroad Museum. Hike the Pulaski Tunnel Trail to learn about a local firefighting hero, hiss at the villain in an old-fashioned melodrama, or stand at the Center of the Universe. Your kids will enjoy looking for unique photo ops, like the UFO at the Red Light Garage.
And finally, if you like to bicycle, there isn’t a better option than the Route of the Hiawatha, a rails-to-trails project that allows you to ride through old train tunnels and across train trestles, with the most incredible views. It’s all downhill and easy for children of all ages.
7. There’s a resort at the heart of Coeur D’Alene
You can’t miss the resort if you visit the town because it’s right on the north shore of the lake, and it’s the tallest building around. It’s a landmark, luxury hotel, marina, convention center, and restaurants. Add to that a shopping plaza and a golf course with a famous floating green. The Coeur D’Alene Resort opened in 1965 and has played an important role in town ever since. Even if you’re not staying at the Resort, be sure to check it out, or visit its shopping plaza. Rent a pontoon or jet skis for the family, or hang out on the boardwalk to watch the sun set. You can also watch sea-planes take off right next door!
(We actually stayed at the Best Western Plus Coeur D’Alene. We found the accommodations to be very comfortable and the breakfast buffet was wonderful — lots of variety and very family-friendly! It’s only 2 miles from downtown Coeur D’Alene, with easy freeway access for day trips.)
Check out more Coeur D’Alene accommodations here: Booking.com
8. Lots of fun surprises!
As we were wandering around Coeur D’Alene, we found lots of surprises that would have delighted our children. First of all, the floating boardwalk at the Resort is nearly 3/4 mile long and is the longest in the world. Take a walk and climb the steps to cross over the archway, and see amazing views of the lake!
You’ll see lots of moose in Coeur D’Alene! That’s because there are five bronze statues of Mudgy the Moose and Millie the House, characters from a children’s book entitled “Mudgy & Millie in Coeur d’Alene” written by local author, Susan Nipp. It’s also possible to see a living moose!
There’s a house called the ‘Pearl’ on Lake Couer D’Alene and it’s built entirely on top of a huge rock. See if the kids can spot it when you’re out exploring on the lake! The owner likes to wave to all the passersby.
There are alpaca in town — well, not quite in town, but on a ranch eight miles away. It’s called Seven Stars Alpaca Ranch, and you can take guided tours.
9. You can play here summer or winter
I visited in August when the weather was warm and sunny, and of course there’s so much to do outdoors, especially in and around the lake. But there’s another side to Coeur D’Alene — it’s wintry side. And from what I hear, it’s just as much fun.
A holiday lights parade on Sherman Avenue kicks off Christmas festivities the day after Thanksgiving and then that’s followed by a Holiday Light Show and tree-lighting ceremony at the Resort. The light show starts off with a bang — 15 minutes of beautiful fireworks. There’s also a Journey to the North Pole cruise that will take you across the lake to visit Santa while you enjoy all the Christmas lights along the shore. Enjoy horse-drawn sleigh rides and a Festival of Trees.
Of course, with winter comes the snow. Your family can enjoy excellent skiing and snowboarding at Schweitzer Mountain, Silver Mountain or Lookout Pass. Snowmobiling provides a fun family adventure, too.
10. You Only Have 18 Summers
Visit Idaho has a campaign called “18 Summers” — a reminder that you only have 18 summers with your children to spend quality vacation time together. You need to be sure to plan great experiences with your family, and I think Coeur D’Alene is one of those places you won’t want to miss! Spending more time with your family, especially outdoors, helps you “unplug” and grow closer. Sharing adventures big and small will create memories that last a lifetime. If I’d known what I know now about Coeur D’Alene, I would have taken my children there when they were younger. But hey, it’s not too late for the grandchildren!
If you are flying into Coeur D’Alene, the closest airport is actually in Spokane, Washington — just 40 miles away. Search Cheap-O Air for prices that will make your family happy.
You’ll be glad to know I have partnered with GPSmyCity to create a GPS-guided tour of Coeur D’Alene and surrounding areas, so you can easily visit the places mentioned in this post. You can download the article free or upgrade for a small fee to download it with GPS coordinates to guide you from place to place without data or internet. If you do, I will receive a small commission.
As is common in the travel industry, I was invited to explore Coeur D’Alene for the purpose of sharing my experience with you. I would like to thank Visit Idaho, and assure you that I have given an honest summary of my visit.