By Ben Olson
Every summer for the past 37 years, the Festival at Sandpoint has raised its iconic white tent and drawn folks from all over the country to our little corner of paradise in North Idaho. If you’re one of the many newcomers in town for music or other reasons, here’s a quick list of activities you might check out in Sandpoint and surrounding areas. *Note, there are so many great spots to check out here — this isn’t supposed to be a cumulative list, just a sampling.
Beet & Basil at the Creek
With their tagline “Global Street Food,” Beet & Basil, 105 S. First Ave., offers something for everyone. Head chef Jessica Vouk uses her experience with world cuisine to create fresh, unique dishes exploding with flavor. One of my go-to meals is the vermicelli noodle bowl, which is very similar to a traditional Vietnamese dish I had once in Hanoi. Also, the kung-pao cauliflower is quite possibly the best preparation of cauliflower known to man.
Don’t make the mistake of visiting Sandpoint without grabbing a pint and a delicious meal at Eichardt’s, 212 Cedar St. For more than 25 years, locals and visitors alike have congregated in “Sandpoint’s living room,” where the staff treat you like family and the food is made with heart and skill. Garlic fries are the easy favorite, but don’t overlook the specials board.
This unassuming little eatery is one of the Reader staff’s favorite haunts. Their traditional Thai dishes are created not only with love but experience from years of cooking in Thailand. The pad thai is the best in Sandpoint, and the cashew chicken and pad gra prow are divine. Secret Thai is great for take-out after a long day playing in the sun. Located in the alley behind Eichardt’s at 218 Cedar St.
Uptown Bagel Co.
A quality bagel shop is integral to a vibrant community. With a dedication to using fresh ingredients and spinning a positive vibe from the moment you walk in the door, the crew at Uptown Bagel Co. treats their customers right. Serving New York-style bagels (think crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside) and frischkäse instead of cream cheese (it’s softer and more spreadable, plain or combined with flavors like blueberry, roasted red pepper or honey), Uptown has everything from a quick schmear to elaborate ’80s-themed sandwiches. They’re open from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. every day at 301 Cedar St., just south of the Pend d’Oreille Winery.
Idaho Pour Authority
With a dozen rotating taps and more than 300 unique bottles of beer from all over the world for sale, Idaho Pour Authority is a great stop for those looking to stock up on suds for the Festival. They also fill growlers and have a super-knowledgeable staff to help guide you along your path to craft beer enlightenment. Idaho Pour Authority is a favorite after-work watering hole for locals, and if I’ve learned anything about traveling it’s “go where the locals go.” Check them out at 203 Cedar St.
Matchwood Brewing Co.
One of the two newest breweries in Sandpoint, Matchwood Brewing Co., 513 Oak St. is a great spot to hole up for a couple of locally brewed beers, either inside or on their patio. They have a wide variety available: anything from IPAs to chocolate milk porters to the crisp kölsch, which is my summertime favorite. Also, their food offerings like pork belly and burger sliders hit the spot.
Normally when people start throwing axes at a bar, you should clear out of there fast. But at the Tervan Tavern, that’s just part of a night out. Sandpoint’s oldest bar, the Tervan, 411 Cedar St., is a jumping little hole in the wall where the beer is the coldest in town. Bonus points for singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” at karaoke Saturday and Sunday nights.
Coins Arcade – Cedar St. Bridge
Bring the kiddos or leave them at home while you catch up on nostalgic arcade games at Coins Arcade in the top level of the Cedar St. Bridge. There are more than 60 retro arcade games to play here, plus there’s a bar serving bottled and draft beers, as well as bar food. It’s family friendly until 8 p.m. Thursday–Saturday when you must be 21 or older to enter.
Now calm down, locals, I’m not giving away any big secret here. Green Bay is a beautiful campground and beach south of Sandpoint with a view of the Green Monarch Mountains across the lake, hiking and biking trails and picnic spots if you’re not camping. Take Sagle Road to Garfield Bay, then follow the signs to Green Bay from there. Keep a few things in mind: Locals don’t like it when you leave their beaches dirty, so please pack out what you bring.
Schweitzer Mountain Resort
Work off that Festival hangover with a trip up to Schweitzer Mountain Resort. They have a ton of activities in the village for kids and the chairlift will take you to the summit for a beautiful view of Lake Pend Oreille, the Cabinet and Selkirk Mountains, and even Canada on a clear day. Rent mountain bikes or hike the many trails —it’s all good. Just take Schweitzer Cutoff Road north of Sandpoint and you’ll be there in a jiffy.
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