For most folks contemplating a vacation, the word calls to mind travel by airplane to spend one week a year on a sandy beach with tropical breezes and a cold beverage in hand. But sometimes all you need is a night or two away to return refreshed and rejuvenated. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best destinations to be had within a five hour driving radius. These extraordinary getaways are perfect for a quick escape from your daily routine. So mark up your 2016 calendar, pack your weekender bag, and get out there.
4 hours and 45 minutes, sans traffic (330 miles)
Just shy of a five-hour drive on I-90E will take you across the state and into the Idaho Panhandle, where you should spend a long weekend in the quaint lakefront town of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. French for “heart of the awl,” the heart of this town is the sparkling blue lake surrounded by idyllic pine-covered hills. Stroll the 3,300-foot floating boardwalk while watching for bald eagles and the largest osprey population in the West.
Where to Stay
For many guests, the clear choice is the Coeur d’Alene Resort, which is an upscale lakeside hotel with a spa, golf course, marina, restaurants, and the iconic Lake Tower. Less obvious, a number of bed-and-breakfast options, which offer historic charm. Consider the Blackwell Hotel, which was built in 1904 and underwent renovations that transformed it into a luxury boutique hotel in 2011.
Where to Dine
For delicious Greek food, The Olympia is a classic downtown dining hot spot. Tito’s Italian Grill and Wine Shop includes a small retail wine market. A Spokane favorite, Scratch, opened a second location in Coeur d’Alene in 2010. We also recommend the $4 tapas menu at Bistro on Spruce, served Monday through Friday afternoons.
What to Do
The lake is a great place to enjoy water sports of every kind in the plentiful sunshine. If you’re traveling with children or the young at heart, make sure to include a quick jaunt to the Silverwood Theme Park just 23 miles north, which offers 200 acres of thrill rides and roller coasters, as well as the Boulder Beach Water Park. For a more mature take on a Saturday night, taste local wine and enjoy small bites and live music at Coeur d’Alene Cellars. Hit the greens and experience the legendary floating 14th hole at Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf. An incredibly posh course, teeing off here includes a ride in a mahogany boat. If that’s not enough, there are 29 other golf courses located less than an hour’s drive away.
When to Go
The summer is the peak season for visiting Coeur d’Alene and there are many fun family events including a classic car show, arts and crafts festival, farmers markets and outdoor concerts. Look forward to the Taste of Coeur d’Alene, the Street Fair, and Art on the Green at the end of July. If you do decide on a wintertime visit, be sure to plan ahead to visit one of the three nearby ski areas, like the Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg. Coeur d’Alene’s annual Holiday Light Show adorns the lakefront with more than 1.5 million dazzling lights.