Downtown Coeur d’Alene, Idaho


Day 3 began with a brief visit to northern Idaho’s main tourist town, Coeur d’Alene (pronounced core-da-LEAN).  The biggest attraction is the lake of the same name, which laps at the southern end of downtown.  The lake was my first stop.


Coeur d’Alene is located along Interstate 90 in the Idaho panhandle, just east of Spokane and the ID/WA state line.  The downtown area is located south of the interstate.  Follow the Business 90 signs (the green interstate signs) which will take you directly to the lake, and Coeur d’Alene City Park.

My Visit

Lake Coeur d’Alene is long (about 30 miles) but narrow (only about a mile or two wide in most places).  It was brilliantly blue on this cool September morning, but a stiff breeze coming off the lake made Coeur d’Alene City Park less than pleasant.  I was also a little annoyed that I would have to pay to park here–$2 or $3 if I recall, which wasn’t quite worth it, since I only wanted to quickly explore the park and take a few pictures.  Worse yet, it was one of those parking arrangements that required you to walk to a central collections box, fill out an envelope, place a receipt on your dashboard, or some other sort of rigamarole.  Worse yet, it was obvious the city had taken away any other opportunity to park nearby, which I’m sure makes sense for them financially, but didn’t make me happy.

In other words, I took a couple of pictures (quickly, while watching for police to roll up) then headed into town.

Downtown Coeur d’Alene was clean, tidy, and had everything you’d expect from a town that attracts tourists.  The main streets had a nice, small town feel.  Not much was open though, probably because it was still early.

Coeur d’Alene (and many other small towns I visited on this trip) has made its downtown more attractive, with a public art sculpture project.  This one is called “Celestial Sphere”.

At any rate, Coeur d’Alene was nice, but I didn’t find much to occupy my attention.  So I headed out, continuing on Interstate 90…

… where I finally found a good place to view the lake, by the side of the interstate.  This viewpoint was only accessible to eastbound drivers, though, and it required a rather quick slow-down.  If you miss it, don’t sweat it.

If your ultimate destination is Glacier National Park, you could choose to head north from Coeur d’Alene on US 95, eventually hooking up with US 2 for the drive up the Idaho panhandle, then down to Kalispell, MT.  Our route, however, continues on Interstate 90 for now.

Note: This trip was first published in 2006.  Much of the same area was covered in the Big Sky trip in 2014.

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