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Revision as of 23:37, 28 July 2007
City name is a city in Region name.
First Things First
Vistors to Sandpoint must realize that it is a region in transition. From humble timber and fishing beginnings, Sandpoint has suddenly been rocketed to among the top destinations in the West, indeed the nation. It was number one on USA Today's List of Unforgettable Summer Vacations, as well as Sunset Magazine's top small Western Town, along with numerous other distinctions. Obviously, the locals have mixed feelings about this. Along with much-needed additional revenue and diversity, tourists and new transplants bring with them additional traffic in an already choked town, pollution from all those extra cars, and a crowded downtown. The average cost of a house in Sandpoint has skyrocketed, and property taxes are through the roof.
Although most residents are at least tolerant of the added load and many are overtly friendly with tourists, any and all visitors must be prepared to read some anti-tourist bumper stickers. Few, however, will ever encounter the wrath of a truly ticked local, a force to be reckoned with indeed. To avoid this, one only needs to arm oneself with some basic knowledge of the town, as most of this stems from annoyance with perceived ignorance.
The bottom line- don't skip this beautiful resort town because of the rumors of California haters. Just read up on the town in advance, and please don't walk out in front of cars in a crosswalk under the assumption that they'll [be able to] stop!
This article could perhaps be more accurately titled East Bonner County. The region generally known as Sandpoint is actually a collection of small communities lining highways 2, 95 & 200, the largest of which being the actual Sandpoint. Excluding Sandpoint, they are the following:
- Careywood 18 miles south of Sandpoint, Hwy 95.
- Cocallala 12 miles south of Sandpoint, Hwy 95.
- Westmond 10 miles south of Sandpoint, Hwy 95.
- Dufort 8 miles south of Sandpoint, Hwy 95.
- Algoma 6 miles south of Sandpoint, Hwy 95
- Sagle 5 miles south of Sandpoint, Hwy 95
- Ponderay 3 miles north of Sandpoint, sandwiched between Hwy 95/2 and Hwy 200.
- Kootenai 4 miles north of Sandpoint, Hwy 200.
- Sunnyside 6 miles east of Sandpoint, Hwy 200
- Oden Bay 8 miles east of Sandpoint, Hwy 200.
- Trestle Creek 14 miles east of Sandpoint, Hwy 200.
- Hope 16 miles east of Sandpoint, Hwy 200.
- East Hope 17 miles east of Sandpoint, Hwy 200
- Beyond Hope 21 miles east of Sandpoint, Hwy 200
- Dover 3 miles west of Sandpoint, Hwy 2.
- Wrencoe 9 miles west of Sandpoint, Hwy 2
- LaClede 14 miles west of Sandpoint, Hwy 2.
Sandpoint does have an airport, unfortunately it is only serviced by charter planes and even then, getting in and out is complex and expensive. If you want to fly in, Spokane International Airport (GEG) is your best bet. Located about 2 hours southwest of Sandpoint,
In Europe, it may be true that all roads lead to Rome, but in the Northwest all roads lead to Seattle. Sandpoint is no exception, as two of its three highways will eventually take you there.
- From Seattle/Portland Driving east from the west coast, you have two options. I-90 eastboand is the fastest, but it is mostly barren steppe and scrubland. In Coeur d'Alene, take Hwy 95 north to Sandpoint. The scenic alternative to I-90 is Hwy 2- which winds through northern Washington and drops you off right in Sandpoint. It is slightly longer, though.
- From Boise Instead of taking Hwy 95 northbound through the state, take I-84 out of the city and follow it north (it becomes Hwy 395 along the way), then hop on I-90 and drive east until you reach Coeur d'Alene. Although on a map 95 seems shorter, it is a winding road that has fallen into disrepair in many places with few stops along the way.
- From the East I-90 westbound is your best bet. Same drill- take 95 at Coeur d'Alene. For an alternative, Hwy 200 winds through northern Montana, passing through Kalispell/Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park
Sandpoint has a small station on the Amtrak Empire Builder Line,  which runs from Chicago to Seattle/Portland, and services most of the northern Midwest and Northwest. All Amtrak trains arrive and depart from Sandpoint at ungodly hours, but bunks and other accommodations are available.
For a small town in a relatively remote region, Sandpoint contains an inordinate amount (last count was 60, but not all are listed here) of restaurants of all shapes and colors, likely because of its strong tourist economy and a very hungry population. In addition to the locally owned restaurants listed below, Sandpoint also plays host to several fast food chains throughout town.
Visitors with a particularly discerning palette may be pleased to learn that Sandpoint holds two major "food festivals" annually- A Taste of Sandpoint in February (part of the Winter Carnival) and the Sandpoint Summer Sampler in late June. Both feature many local restaurants serving up their most popular fare in a fun and artsy setting. Foster's Crossing Antiques also holds a fudge contest during the Winter Carnival, and for a small fee anyone can test then judge a preset amount of entries.
Every town has a specialty, and Sandpoint's is huckleberries. From huckleberry pie to huckleberry syrup to huckleberry daiquiris, you can find just about everything in huckleberry come summer. Local stores often carry some of the prepackaged stuff, like huckleberry candy bars, and restaurants usually serve some sort of huckleberry dessert. Huckleberry Ice Cream in particular seems to be the local favorite.
All of Sandpoint's restaurants are casual, that is to say none of them have dress requirements. Even the most expensive restaurants will let you in wearing ripped jeans, but you may get some looks. That being said, you will probably also see many others dressed as you are!
Price guide for an average entrée: $ = <$10, $$ = $10-20, $$$ = >$20
- Spuds Rotisserie & Grill, 102 N 1st Ave, ☎ (208) 265-4311, . Perhaps Sandpoint's most well known local restaurant, Spuds' lunch menu is chock full of freshly made sandwiches of all sorts, plus delectable rotisserie chicken and, of course, lots of potatoes. At night, they pull the curtain on their walk up counter and do table service, with steaks, rotisserie chicken, tri-tip, and all sorts of other savory meals, plus several to-die-for desserts. $$
- Cricket Original Bbq House, 212 N 4th Ave, ☎ (208) 265-9600. This cute roadside stand has an excellent location- across from Farmin park. They serve up all sorts of barbequed meats, plus wraps and sandwiches. Particularly observant visitors may notice their truck around town, which has a large menu strapped to the back. $
- The Hydra Restaurant, 115 E Lake St, ☎ (208) 263-7123, . Located in a beautiful blue house on the corner of Lake & 2nd, just far enough from the bustle of the main strip, the Hydra is well known for their buffet, but their steaks are also excellent, as well as their extensive dessert menu. $$
- Duke's Cowboy Grill, 30340 Highway 200, Ponderay, ☎ (208) 263-0600. Out in Ponderay, Duke's serves up barbequed everything, from pulled pork to chili to chicken, along with all the chips and salsa you can eat, in a very authentic Texas-style building. $$
- Eichardts Pub & Grill, 212 Cedar St, ☎ (208) 263-4005. Gourmet burgers seem to be the order of the day at Eichardts, but they also feature sandwiches, salads, and a full service bar. Sitting upstairs is recommended, especially with children. $-$$
- Sand Creek Grill, 105 S. First Avenue, ☎ 208-255-5736, . Serving up Northwest cuisine with a unique flair, this popular restaurant has it all: beautiful views, a huge garden/patio for the summer and fireplaces for the winter, and a large menu of fresh fish, steaks, chicken, and more. $$-$$$
- Slates Prime Time Grill & Sports Bar, 204 N. Triangle Drive, Ponderay, ☎ 208-263-1381, . Although slightly off the beaten path, pool fans will revel in the numerous pool tables scattered throughout the restaurant, along with typical bar food and several big screen TVs. $
- Beyond Hope Resort Restaurant, Off Highway 200, Beyond Hope, ☎ 208-264-5251. Located right on the lake with a beautiful lawn, this upscale restaurant offers all sorts of entrées, from steak and chicken to appetizers and a full service bar. $$
- Captn's Table, 16469 Garfield Bay Road, Sagle, ☎ 208-265-6351, . Located off the beaten path in Sagle, the Captn's Table is a modern take on a wild west saloon, complete with first class meals and a bar. Their specialty is their homemade cheesecake!$$
- Chimney Rock Grill, Selkirk Lodge, Schweitzer Village, ☎ 208-255-3071. Specializing in Northwest cuisine, this grill boasts incredible views of Sandpoint, along with fresh fish, steaks, and a large dessert menu. $$
- Dock of the Bay, Holiday Shores Marina, Hope, ☎ Phone: 208-264-5057. This restaurant on the water features unbelievably fresh fish and other goodies, in a gorgeous wooden Alaska-themed building with a nice patio right on the bay, this restaurant could easily be Sandpoint's best. $$$
- Sunset Saloon, 126 W. Main Street, Hope, ☎ 208-264-6004, . Located in the historic Hope Hotel, this cute little diner features an array of burgers, steaks, salads and more, with a full service bar. $
- Long Bridge Grill, Highway 95 South, Sagle, ☎ 208-265-7929. Right at the Sagle end of the Long Bridge, you will find this fun family restaurant, with steaks, seafood, and other typical steakhouse fare. $$
- The Pastime, 209 N. First Ave, ☎ 208-265-1535. Steaks are the order of the day here, but you can also find lots of other meals, including salads and fresh sandwiches. Upstairs is the Synergy Nightclub. $$
- Floating Restaurant, Highway 200, Hope, ☎ Phone: 208-264-5311. Bonner County's only restaurant not actually attached to the ground (hence the name), the Floating Restaurant serves all sorts of Northwest specialties and is a great restaurant, but beware: the restrooms are on their own separate (small) floats, and during choppy water seasickness may be induced. (!) $$
- Bamboo Chinese Restaurant, 417 Church St, ☎ (208) 263-9593. Located on busy Church street across from the Post Office, Bamboo Chinese restaurant is a great place for lunch, but parking can be an issue. $$
- Bangkok Cuisine Thai Restaurant, 202 N 2nd Ave, ☎ (208) 265-4149. A local favorite, Bangkok is a hole in the wall place that serves up all sorts of authentic Thai meals in a delightfully decorated building. $$
- Golden Dragon, 100 Tibbetts Dr, Ponderay, ☎ (208) 265-5425. With a huge menu and lots of tables, this is the best Chinese place to go when you have a crowd. It's often overlooked, and is never crowded, but the food is excellent. Just make sure you are very clear with your order, as the staff speaks very little English. $$
- Arlos Ristorante, 330 N 1st Ave, ☎ (208) 255-4186. Sandwiched between the Cedar Street Bridge and Eve's Leaves, this is perhaps the most underrated restaurant in all of Sandpoint. Their fresh homemade marinara sauce is full of ripe tomatoes, garlic, shallots, and tons of other goodies. Don't leave without having a slice of their Chocolate Mousse Pie or a Chocolate-Chip Cannoli! $$
- Ivanos Ristoranté & Café, 102 S 1st Ave Ste 101, ☎ (208) 263-0211. Formerly located in the in the house that now houses the Blue Moon Café, Ivanos serves up Italian dishes of all sorts with a lovely outdoor patio and a cute little café and bakery. $$-$$$
- Second Avenue Pizza, ☎ NN. Sandpoint's classic pizzeria, Second Avenue features pizzas piled high with toppings as well as all sorts of local beers in a cute building filled with 50's memorabilia.$-$$
- Old Ice House Pizza, 140 W. Main Street, Hope, ☎ NN. Although Hope is about a 20 minute drive from Sandpoint, it is well worth it with spectacular views of the lake and wetlands. Located on the side of a mountain overlooking the lake, Ice House Pizza serves up great pizza in a fun atmosphere, with occasional live music and a ping pong table. $-$$
- Thor's Pizza, Schweitzer Village, ☎ NN. Perched atop Schweitzer mountain among some of the best skiing the west has to offer, Thor's has been serving up excellent pizza for years. $-$$