The 23,000-acre Priest Lake is situated in the Selkirk Mountains of uppermost Idaho, with the Canadian border only 55 miles northward. This lake beckons kids of all ages with endless opportunities for hiking, boating, fishing, hunting, winter sports, or just relaxing on the shores of this pristine body of water. Make sure to visit the homely Priest Lake Museum, a quaint cabin built by the Civilian Conservation Corp during the Great Depression. Visit the many art galleries and take the Navigation Trail to the upper part of the lake and simply sit and take in the view. Have a tipple or two at the local breweries and wineries, and try your luck at the local casinos. Check out Priest Lake vacation rentals and find your new home away from home. Here are the most prominent areas around Priest Lake where you can relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery and activities.
1. Nordman, Idaho
Just a few miles west of the lake on State Highway 57, Nordman is the home of an eponymous restaurant famous for its cocktails and hearty steak-and-egg breakfasts. Other eateries are the Elkins Resort Restaurant and the Grandview Resort, both of which are right on the lake. Reeder Bay Road takes you from downtown Nordman to the Granite Creek or Jim Low Marinas. From there, take a conveyance out to Priest Lake for a day of relaxing or fishing.
2. Lamb Creek, Idaho
Lamb Creek is the home of the Priest Lake Golf Course, so the family duffers can enjoy spending an afternoon or two on the links. For dining, have a meal and drinks at Millies, which has al fresco dining on the deck surrounded by beautiful woods.
3. Coolin, Idaho
Found on the southern banks of Priest Lake, Coolin’s vacation rentals include new homes with two car garages and tiny lawns. If you’re peckish after spending the day on the lake, head to Moose Knuckle for the filling pub food, or the Ardy Bakery & Cafe for the American diner food. Ardy’s is good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
4. Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Bonners Ferry is a good drive around the mountains to get to Priest Lake, but it’s crossed by the Kootenay River and is the home of the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge where you can walk and enjoy the birds, deer, and other wildlife. If you are a book lover, check out Bonner’s Books, or find something irresistible at the 3-Mile Antique Mall.
5. Newport, Washington
Priest Lake may be close to Canada, but it’s even closer to Washington State. Newport is the home of the Pend Oreille County Museum, a tiny, rustic place that’s just the right size for the little ones. The Pend Oreille Playhouse is a tiny community theater that puts on Broadway plays, perfect for date night for the adults. For good, cheap home cooking, go to Audrey’s.
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6. Priest River, Idaho
The restaurants in Priest River are quite something: how can you resist a place called the Mangy Moose Cafe? Don’t worry, this eatery has a reputation for good food, good service, and cleanliness, as do the Village Kitchen and Panhandle Pizza. If you’re too full at the end of the evening, ask for a doggie bag and return to a vacation rental that can be a tiny cabin in the woods or a waterfront cabin with its own deck projecting right into the water. Rent canoes and kayaks, and take an excursion down the Priest River.
7. Ione, Washington
While in this town, go to the Tiger Historical Center & Museum, which is named after a town. It’s a humble but interesting place with a blacksmith shop out back. When you’re hungry, pop into the Block Bar and Grill, which is found in a concrete block of a building and serves large but inexpensive portions of American food. The Hwy 31 Grind is also famous for its coffee and quick eats, and the City Park gives beautiful views of the river.
8. Ponderay, Idaho
This little city is located between the Sandpoint Airport and Lake Pend Oreille. By the way, both the city and the lake are pronounced the same way. The Laughing Dog Brewery in the town is famous for its craft beers and its great bar food. It’s also renown for being dog-friendly, so if you’ve brought your mutt on vacation, you don’t have to leave him tied up outside. The lake is available for fishing, sailing, wildlife watching, and boat tours.
9. Metaline Falls, Washington
Beautiful Metaline Falls is found on the Pend Oreille River in the Colville National Forest, so it’s a draw for the nature lovers in your family. Take the kids and explore Gardner Cave, which is big enough for a substantial waterfall and an RV park. Take the kids to the historic Train Depot and the Metaline Falls view park. One caveat is that sometimes the falls are more present than at other times depending on the water levels. After the falls, attend a play or concert at the Cutter Theatre, then have a very filling dinner at the 5th Avenue Bar & Grill.
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