In many ways northern Idaho feels more like the Pacific Northwest than the Rockies. Perhaps it’s the impressively large lakes speckled with sailboats giving it a nautical vibe. Or maybe it’s the understated mountains, dense forests and rebounding timber industry. Or it could be as simple as sharing a timezone (the panhandle observes Pacific Standard Time) which makes those lazy days on the lake feel all the longer – encouraging you to linger.
Sandpoint reigns as the panhandle's most interesting destination, and not just because of sprawling Lake Pend Oreille (Idaho's largest) but thanks also to its neat, walkable downtown and local ski resort.
The region's largest town, Coeur d'Alene (population 46,402), is an extension of the Spokane metro area, but manages to retain a rural feel. There's a small boardwalk and a manicured park in front of the landmark resort on the north shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene.