“Your lake is beautiful,” I said to the hotel clerk as we made small talk by the breakfast bar. We were staying at the Holiday Inn in Hayden, a town just north of Coeur D’Alene and only 15 minutes away from the Lake Coeur D’Alene waterfront.
I stopped stirring my coffee, stunned. We issued some more pleasantries and I walked back to the table still in awe.
How could people come to Coeur D’Alene and NOT go to the lake? How!?
We spent 3 nights at our hotel in Hayden, exploring the Coeur D’Alene area and the lake left us breathless. Yes, there are many things to do in the area (including the amusement parks that seem to pull the attention of the many visitors my busboy had encountered), but the lake is absolutely magical.
Here’s 9 Things To Do In Coeur D’Alene for families
1. The Mudgy And Millie Trail
Your kids will have fun seeking out the 5 bronze statues along The Mudgy and Millie Trail wandering the waterfront of downtown Coeur D’Alene passing playgrounds, shops, beaches, and more. Part hike, part scavenger hunt, part storybook, the trail was created by author Susan Nipp with the City of Coeur d’Alene Parks Department. Mudgy and Millie are a moose and mouse playing hide and seek and you’re off to help one friend find the other. You start at the base of Tubbs Hill and finish 3.6km later at Independence Point, where Mudgy discovers that Millie was hiding close by all along.
2. The Best Playgrounds You’ve Ever Seen
Playgrounds are an overlooked part of planning a family vacation. They can often be as much fun as an amusement park, and they cost you nothing. Coeur D’Alene‘s lakefront playgrounds are some of the most spectacular we have ever seen. From replicas of old forts to modern climbing apparatus to splash pads, they’re inter mixed along the waterfront, shopping district, and Mudgy and Millie Trail. Plan for a few hours of sitting in the shade while the kids run.
3. A Day At The Beach
City Beach may be the most popular beach for people to get some sand and sun in downtown Coeur D’Alene, but if you go just a few steps west, you can find a better place to get in the water with the kids Off the end of North Idaho College there is a beachfront that is much shallower (and therefore warmer). The city beach has a sharp drop off closer to the shore, so the kids can’t go very far. Walk around the point with a tall tree with exposed roots standing in the water, and you’re in the right spot.
4. Kayaking With ROW Adventures
If you want to get on the water, and close to the water, take a kayak trip with ROW Adventures. Their pickup is right in the heart of CDA and they’ll bus you out to Blackwell Island Recreation Area to drop in to a slough, have an easy row of it before entering the lake. From here, it’s up to your abilities and instructor. We headed west to check out some log booms and osprey nests before heading back and stopping at the rope swing. If you don’t want to go with a guide, you can also rent equipment here and head out on your own.
5. Shopping Unique Toy Stores
The shopping district near the waterfront of Coeur D’Alene is just big enough to get a little bit of everything, and small enough to keep the kids’ attention. Mix in visits to the playgrounds, a little jaunt on the Mudgy and Millie Trail, and a visit to Figpickels Toy Emporium, and the kids will be thoroughly entertained.
6. Lunch At The Coeur D’Alene
When I say “lunch” I really mean “dessert.” Sure, lunch at The Coeur D’Alene is a nice affair. The view is spectacular, the service is friendly, the food is delicious, complete with fun choices for kids, but lunch at the Coeur D’Alene is all about the dessert. Their famous Gooeys are twice the size of a 5 year old’s head and will have jaws dropping the moment it is served. The desserts are layers of ice cream, sauce, whipped cream, chocolate bars, cookies, and more. Pick one, it’s enough, and dig in. When you’re done, don’t forget to go for a cruise on Lake Coeur D’Alene.
7. A Little Bit Of Everything At Triple Play Resort
Triple Play Resort is a great home base to explore the Coeur D’Alene area. It’s just south of Silverwood, and just north of town. And you might not even want to leave. With go-karts, bowling alleys, waterslides, amusement games, and more, the Triple Play Resort is a little bit of Las Vegas for kids and perfect to have in your back pocket if the weather goes sideways.
8. A Day (or Two) At Silverwood Theme Park and Boulder Beach
Silverwood Theme Park tries hard to give you that Disney-esque experience. They have a train that Disney wanted to buy, the entrance to the park has the same Main Street feel, there’s happy music, and characters everywhere. It’s ‘not the same,’ but it’s ‘close enough’ for our needs. The offerings for mid-age kids are not quite there, it’s either tot sized rides, or big roller coasters, so plan your visit accordingly. The Boulder Beach side of the park is worth a day on it’s own with dozens of slides, a lazy river, and lots to explore.
9. Take a day trip to ride the Route of the Hiawatha
Here’s a chance to take your family trip downhill. The Route of the Hiawatha follows an old railway path for 15 miles through 10 tunnels and over 7 spectacular trestles. You start just over the border into Montana near Lookout Pass Ski Area (an hour east of Coeur D’Alene) and just coast down the trail and then take a bus back to the top making it a family friendly daytrip. Make sure you stop in Wallace, ID on the way back to CDA for some huckleberry milkshakes and Wallace Brewing Company treats on the way back to town.