From pristine beaches to three-story views, Sandpoint’s best stays
By Abigail Thorpe
Every year as the summer sun shines down on Lake Pend Oreille, our quaint little town receives an influx of visitors looking to enjoy the lake, explore the surroundings and enjoy a little slice of paradise. And we don’t blame them—every year when the temps rise to comfortable camping and swimming levels, we’re ready to hit the beaches, trails and campsites that dot our Northwest landscape.
Lucky for us, Sandpoint is filled with a myriad of options to stay and explore from—whether you’re looking for off-the-grid adventure or something a little more glamorous and comfy. And while Sandpoint boasts some wonderful hotels, inns and resorts, some of the best options for overnight stays go outside the box.
For any summer Sandpoint stay, Lake Pend Oreille features heavily on visitors’ (and locals’) activities list, with everything from boating, skiing, wakeboarding and swimming to kayaking, paddle boarding and fishing. There’s a host of options to either camp or stay in a rental overnight that sits right on the water, but if you adventure out of town, there are some prize locations to stay the night that locals will enjoy just as much as the out-of-towners.
As an added bonus, many overnight options in the area are ready to live in, much like a hotel, so you can arrive and enjoy the adventure without so much of the hassle. This summer, plan some adventures to Sandpoint’s surrounding hotspots, or even get a head start on 2022 with some of our favorite ways to overnight in our little town on the lake.
Lakeside vacation …
Sandpoint is home to some incredible vacation rentals that take the cake when it comes to a home base from which to set out on area adventures. You can find rentals that vary in size and can accommodate anywhere from two people to more than 15, so if you’re looking for group stay accommodations with all of the amenities and comforts of home, this is a good place to start.
Of course, the well-known international companies like VRBO and Airbnb offer a variety of options to stay in Sandpoint, from room rentals to entire homes, cabins and even tents. But there are also some great local management companies like Go Sandpoint Vacation Rentals and Daugherty Management Vacation Rentals that offer local vacation rentals that are professionally maintained and cared for, and that make the process streamlined and easy.
You can choose from a variety of options, including lakeside residences, luxury accommodations, downtown condos or even rentals atop Schweitzer Mountain or at the posh and relaxed Idaho Club. Lakeside rentals often come with a dock option so you can bring your boat or rent one locally—a good idea if you’re looking to take advantage of the lake for some watersports or to explore some far-to-reach areas of the lake that offer primarily boat access. Even if you’re just looking for a one-night stay, vacation rentals offer that homey feel while providing more versatility and location options than a standard hotel.
Roughing it …
Maybe your idea of an overnighter is a bit more adventurous than a vacation rental with all of the bells and whistles, or maybe you’re just looking to tough it out in the rough in true North Idaho style. Sandpoint is full of incredible campgrounds and more remote hike- or boat-in options that will keep you exploring every summer weekend. And to be honest, there’s not much that equals a peaceful night in the solitude of North Idaho taking in the stars far from the lights and noise of the city.
State parks and campgrounds around the lake like Springy Point, Sam Owens and Garfield Bay offer comfortable campsites for RVs and tents, with toilets and potable water access. For the more intrepid traveler looking to pack in their supplies by foot or boat, North Idaho is home to incredible remote camping spots that don’t require a reservation—you just have to get there first.
From pristine mountain lakes like Harrison Lake, the Beehive Lakes and Roman Nose Lakes to private secluded boat or hike-in shoreline on Lake Pend Oreille, this area is full of untouched spots to enjoy the Idaho wilderness. Just keep in mind these campsites are truly roughing it—you might get a firepit or picnic table if you’re lucky. But with a crystal-clear lake to dive in, who needs a shower? And if you’re a lucky fisherman, dinner might even present itself as well.
If you’re looking for some of the more popular and accessible campgrounds in the area, SandpointOnline.com has a list of local RV parks, campgrounds and more, and serves as a great resource.
If roughing it camping isn’t your idea of the ideal weekend retreat, but you’re looking for something a bit more unique than a waterfront vacation rental, Sandpoint has got you covered. If you want the camping experience but want a warm bed, bathroom and even some cooking space, an RV is the perfect middle ground to keep camping “glamorous.”
The best part is, if you don’t have your own RV or simply don’t want the hassle of hauling it around, there are several RV rentals in Sandpoint, including Sandpoint Boat and RV Rentals and North Idaho RV Rentals—which has been renting for 22 years now, and strictly rents travel trailers. An added bonus? They’ll take the trailer to your campsite and set it up before you even get there.
“My customers come from all over the country to this area, and we deliver the units to their campground and set it up,” explains owner Don Helms. “People fly in, people drive their economy cars in. They go straight to the campsite, and the trailer’s all set up. It pretty much takes out the stress of an RV vacation.” Helms even delivers trailers to homes for people looking for overflow lodging for friends or family, or for weddings and family reunions.
Beyond RV rentals, there are several yurts, teepees and posh “tents” in the area that allow you to still be in nature, but with an actual bed, bathroom facilities and even breakfast—like you get if you stay at Huckleberry Tent and Breakfast in Clark Fork. It’s the true glamping experience, so you can enjoy all of the peace and relaxation without all of the mess. Websites like Glamping.com and GlampingHub.com are an easy way to find what’s available in the Sandpoint area.
Unique stays …
Ready for a real adventure? Camping, glamping and staying at a vacation rental are all fine and dandy, but if you’re looking for something completely different then you’ve come to the right place. Due to Sandpoint’s incredible location between mountains and lake, there are some truly unique overnight options that can help you make the most of your stay.
If you’re looking for a great view, the Treehouse on Lake Pend Oreille that’s rented out on Airbnb has stunning views from all three—yes three—of its levels, along with lake access and some pretty incredible amenities for a treehouse.
If more remote is to your liking, you can take a trek into the wilderness to rent a Fire Lookout for the night. Lunch Peak Lookout is the closest to Sandpoint, but there are several throughout North Idaho. These rent out quickly though, so plan on making reservations months in advance at Recreation.gov.
For those for whom being waterfront is not enough, yes, you can stay on the water. VRBO has a selection of houseboat rental options so you can enjoy the water all day long, then hop into a comfy bed and still enjoy the sound of water as you drift off to sleep.
Whether your vacation takes you to an epic rental overlooking the lake with rooms to spare, or to a remote wilderness lookout that offers breathtaking views and a canopy of stars, there are lots of options to get out and enjoy a Sandpoint summer with new surroundings and new experiences.