If you want to know what there is to do in a given place, ask a local, especially one who embodies it the way KAREN BOWERS does Sandpoint. As the Panida Theater’s longtime executive director/manager and a tour de force in support of local arts, Bowers’ summer to-do list mixes work and play.
“I love bringing international award-winning movies to both the Panida and its Little Theater — often before larger cities show them,” says Bowers, a recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence who has managed the Panida since 1987. In the next few months, for example, Panida hosts Sandpoint High School’s choir, a screening of Mother (a South Korean film from the Global Cinema Cafe Film Series) and Ghost Writer (starring Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor), and a concert by Carrie Rodriguez. Visit panida.org.
When she’s not at the Panida, Bowers can be seen biking around town, especially to the farmers market. “Strolling through the small park, listening to live music and nodding to friends is the best,” she says.
Other items on her list include going to baseball games, mushrooming and hiking. She’s already marked her calendar for the CRAZY DAYS annual sidewalk sale downtown (July 31), the ARTS & CRAFTS FAIR (Aug. 7-8), and the FESTIVAL AT SANDPOINT (Aug. 5-15).
Weekends are for sailing — or is that sale-ing? Both, actually. “There are an abundance of yard sales on Friday and Saturday mornings,” says Bowers. “It’s nice to stop off at the PINE STREET BAKERY or COMMON KNOWLEDGE for a coffee — and something sweet to go along with it — before moving on to the next sale.” Other food favorites include many places within walking distance of the Panida: BANGKOK CUISINE, EICHARDT’S, COLDWATER CREEK, IVANO’S, DILUNA’S and, for just hanging out, DOWNTOWN CROSSING.
As for sailing, Bowers echoes the sentiments of residents and visitors alike in her reverence for the lake. “There’s nothing comparable to sailing out in Lake Pend Oreille,” she says, “and realizing the endless beauty, the quiet and the amount of pristine naturalness that abound here.”
Purple mountains majesty in the distance. You, stretched on the blanket, your picnic basket full, your mind empty of worries. Lakeshore breezes whisper and cool as the band warms up. It’s FESTIVAL AT SANDPOINT (www.festivalatsandpoint.com, tickets $5-$45). Boogie to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (Aug. 5) or tap your toes to Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (Aug. 14). Groove to the bluesy reggae sounds of Michael Franti (Aug. 13). Or fall in love with someone new, like sultry Kristina Train, opening for Keb’ Mo’ (Aug. 7). It’s a family-friendly, funky mix of music, food and fun times. Ah, Sandpoint.
Before summer goes to the dogs, bring your dog to YAPPY HOUR, benefiting Panhandle Animal Shelter (free, but donations accepted). On June 24, bring Rover to Dover Bay Marina. On July 29, it’s Trinity at City Beach. No caffeine for canines, but get your own buzz on at Evans Brothers Coffee Aug. 26. And laugh your tail off when you and Fido make a play-date with the lovable Labradors at Laughing Dog Brewing Sept. 30. Visit the shelter's Website.
Best place to have a party? A winery, of course, especially if it’s PEND D’OREILLE WINERY’s 15th Anniversary weekend bash (free). Celebrate the release of Meyer Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon with door prizes, wine tasting and music by Hip Gravy and Not Quite Punk, June 18-20. (La Quinta is just down the street if you exceed your party quotient.) And, if you’d rather celebrate with close friends, round up 30 of ’em and make reservations for POW’s five-course candlelit winemaker’s dinner at 6 pm, June 30 ($65). Visit www.powine.com.
In terms of size, SANDPOINT FARMERS MARKET is relatively petite (although it’s grown out of its original Farmin Park boundary). Yet it’s the heart of Sandpoint on Saturdays and Wednesday evenings, a place to connect with friends, grab a bite to eat and savor the sights, sounds and smells of Sandpoint. We love honey from Chase Honey, plants and produce from Sacred Earth Farm and assorted arts and crafts from area vendors. In fact, on June 12, Sandpoint Fiberarts Guild is celebrating World Wide Knit in Public Day at the Farmers Market. Visit www.sandpointfarmersmarket.com.
Sandpoint and surrounding areas is perfect for navigation of the horse-y kind. The rugged terrain and narrow pathways in some areas are hardly accessible by vehicle and, should you want to extend your travels all day or even overnight, what better way than to share the load with your equine friend? We found several ranches that included riding tours and accommodations. Check out WESTERN PLEASURE GUEST RANCH (we like the name of this place!), with tours like the $1,550 weekly Ranch, Raft and Rest Tour pairing up with RIVERS ODYSSEY WEST and the more affordable two-day Spring Lodging trip (two days in a log cabin, with breakfast served and a scenic trail ride, for $345/couple). Visit westernpleasureranch.com.
Also on the map is MOUNTAIN HORSE ADVENTURES, with trail rides starting at $55 and with an emphasis on wildlife viewing — red hawk, eagles, bear, moose, deer — along with a leisurely gait that’s butt-friendly. If you’re feeling slightly more adventurous, check out the full moon ride ($75), which takes you down Schweitzer Mountain by moonlight over the lake.
Does it get any better than that? Side note: While researching this story, we discovered FROM THE HEART RANCH, which is an alpaca Mecca — although you can’t ride these terminally cute, furry critters, you can stay at From the Heart for $105/night and up. And if you’re in the region of Hellroaring Road, call PACK RIVER YAKS and politely ask them if you can visit the yaks — which, we discovered, do not moo. (Yaks actually grunt. Now you know.) Visit mountainhorseadventures.com, fromtheheartranch.com and packriveryaks.com.
It may be short on horsepower, but who’s in a hurry when you’re out playing golf? In the Sandpoint area, there’s nothing not to like about THE IDAHO CLUB, the former Hidden Lakes course turned private-and-gated development that nonetheless allows some public tee times at a little over $100/round. Another option is STONERIDGE, which isn’t exactly in Sandpoint but is still quite picturesque. (And more affordable: $32-$35/round during peak season; specials include punch passes and twilight fees at around $22-$25). Visit theidahoclub.com and stoneridgeidaho.com.
Just a few times on Lake Pend Oreille, and we were impressed with its vastness — and with the myriad ways you could get lost out there. Having a skilled captain and tour guide at your boat’s helm is a definite advantage. At 40 feet long and 14 feet wide, with an enclosed lower deck, a spacious upper deck and cruising speed of seven knots, the Shawnodese makes any lake trip worry-free. Although LAKE PEND OREILLE CRUISES has other boats, including those built for speed, we love the idea of a lazy-sunset and eagle-watching cruise, complete with dessert service or wine tasting and Pend Oreille Pasta hors d’oeuvres ($22-30). Fees vary by cruise; reservations recommended. Visit lakependoreillecruises.com.
The grandeur of where we live is unmistakable when viewed from on high. That feeling you get when landing at Spokane Airport and know you’re almost home? Multiply that times 60, which is the cost for a 20-minute tour over the splendor of North Idaho (Garfield and Bottle Bay, Clark Fork and the Pack River Delta) with SANDPOINT SEAPLANE. For a few bucks more, you can extend your tour to 45 minutes and check out the rarified air and scenery of Scotchman Peak, Maiden Rock and Char Falls. Visit sandpoint.com/seaplane.
Although Pend Oreille Arts Council and participating businesses have art exhibits throughout the year, ARTWALK I (June 18-25) and II (July 25-Sept. 30) are the big art events in town. As arts enthusiasts know, the “opening” of an arts event is as much about socializing as it is about actually viewing the art.
We like to start our evening in the OLD POWER HOUSE where POAC is headquartered and hosts a group show (I is “Rescued & Redeemed,” II features “Art Aquatic”). From there, it’s up First Avenue and around to Redtail Gallery and the Granary, crisscrossing back with the occasional stop in between for additional refreshments. Favorites include Ivano’s patio in warm weather; Coldwater Creek’s wine bar, especially when they have live music, and either Eichardt’s or MickDuff’s (neither of which show art, but hey, they serve darn fine beer).
And if you happen to meet an artist with whom you’re intrigued or prefer more one-on-one time with, gas up the tank for the ARTISTS’ STUDIO TOUR (Aug. 13-15, 20-22). This self-guided driving tour routes you through 11 artists’ studios in town: a dozen at Schweitzer and thereabouts; five that make it worth the drive up to beautiful Hope, Idaho; and four more back down through Sagle and Garfield. Both arts-intensive events are free. Visit artinsandpoint.org/artwalk.shtml and arttourdrive.org.