While Idaho may be a landlocked state, it still boasts plenty of gorgeous dog-friendly beaches. Additionally, enjoy the abundance of off-leash areas and pet-friendly businesses in exciting cities like Coeur d’Alene and McCall. If you’re looking for waterfront Idaho vacation rentals where you and your furry, four-legged friend can easily go for a swim, check out the following locations.
1. Payette Lake, McCall
The stunning mountain backdrop and sparkling blue glacial waters are the first thing visitors tend to notice about Payette Lake. Located in the resort town of McCall and surrounded by the Payette National Forest, this lake is a popular spot for fishing, boating, and swimming. The best access spots are through Ponderosa State Park, and on-leash dogs are welcome on all beaches, except the buoyed swim areas. Payette Lake also has a few beaches were dogs are allowed off-leash, but they are not fenced, so only bring dogs with good manners and a strong recall command. If you want a change of scenery, the Upper Payette River has plenty of dog-friendly trails and access spots. After a day on the water, you can enjoy a nice meal at one of McCall’s many dog-friendly restaurants, such as My Father’s Place or Bistro 45.
2. Dog Beach Park, Sandpoint
Nestled between three mountain ranges and full of picturesque cabins and charming old brick buildings, Sandpoint offers its visitors plenty to do. One of the most popular attractions is the gorgeous Lake Pend Oreille, which attracts swimmers, kayakers, and boaters. On its shores lies Dog Beach Park, where dogs are not only welcome but encouraged. This is an off-leash park, so your pup can run, swim, and play until he gets tired. For adventurous dogs, there’s a launching ramp for dock jumping and other water games. Just be sure you’re in the right place before you let your dog off-leash, as nearby City Beach does not allow dogs at all. The rest of Sandpoint is also quite dog-friendly, with many of the shops and boutiques even allowing well-behaved dogs inside.
3. Lake Cascade State Park, Cascade
With less than 1,000 residents, the small town of Cascade offers modern convenience and still lets you feel like you’re getting away from it all. Lake Cascade State Park is just outside of town and is a lovely spot to enjoy with your dog. The entire park is dog-friendly with the exception of a few designated beaches. Take advantage of the miles of shoreline available for your dog to splash around in and explore. If you and your dog like boating, there are several docks and launches to choose from, as well as miles of water trails you can explore by canoe or kayak. Cascade is also only about 30 miles from McCall, so it’s easy to take a day trip there if you want to enjoy a little change of scenery and a more tourist-focused experience.
4. Redfish Lake, Stanley
This hidden gem isn’t as well known as some other Idaho vacation destination spots, but it’s a great spot for a summer getaway. Stanley is located in the Sawtooth Mountains, so there are endless dog-friendly trails to enjoy on foot or on your mountain bike. When it comes to water recreation, Redfish Lake is the crown jewel. Leashed dogs are allowed on most of the beaches, although there are a few areas where no dogs are permitted, so be sure to read the regulations. There is also a designated dog beach near the Redfish Lake Lodge, and you can let your pooch off-leash there. This tends to be a popular spot among locals and visitors alike, so it’s best for friendly dogs. The Salmon River also runs through the area and has several swimming spots that you can hike to. Be prepared, though. This area’s high elevation and cold nighttime temperatures mean that these waterways stay nice and chilly, so plan your visit for a hot summer day. Stanley itself has a surprising number of restaurants and shops for such a small town, but many of them are not dog-friendly so it’s usually best to drop your four-legged friend off at your vacation rental if you plan to dine out or shop.
5. Lake Coeur d’Alene, Coeur d’Alene
Since it was named the winner of Dog Fancy Magazine’s 2011 DogTown USA competition, it’s no secret that Coeur d’Alene is a great place to visit with your pup. It lies on the edge of Lake Coeur d’Alene, the second-largest lake in Idaho. Due to its massive size, there are miles of shoreline to explore. Dogs do have to be leashed in most areas and are not allowed on some of the busier swim beaches, but there are a few out-of-the-way places where they can roam more freely, such as Beacon Point. When you get tired of swimming and wading, you can explore the countless dog-friendly trails in the area. Tubbs Hill and Centennial Trail are two particularly popular options that are close to the water in case your dog feels like taking a quick dip to cool off. In the evening, you can bring your dog along as you enjoy the sunset from the floating boardwalk. If you feel like seeing the lake from a different vantage point, Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises offers pet-friendly boat tours. Be sure to call ahead, and plan to get there early so the captain can make sure your dog is friendly.
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