Caboose on the Mountain
Hope Market Cafe
Pend Oreille Sunrise
Pend Oreille Sunset
Looking up at East Hope
Long Bridge Swim
Old Ice House Pizzeria
Schweitzer from Hwy 200
Gary's Radio Show
Every place has at least these problems or very similar ones. Most
places have so much more that detract from their ambiance. This is North
Idaho. The place and the people are unique. Friendly to a fault. Great
neighbors. Most people not from here have never had as many friends in
their circles as they find here. Low, low crime. Quality of life.
Spectacular and beautiful surroundings. More fun than should be allowed
by law. Forget the petty politics. Forget the 'so-called' rising housing
prices from the recent past.
One great measure of a
place is how happy the people there tend to be. In a recent study,
Idaho was just named the Nation's
14th Happiest State in an article published in the journal
Science. Pretty cool.
We have a growing manufacturing base that is
typical in Idaho. Sandpoint has the national headquarters for
over a billion in sales and 500 new stores within five
Week article on Coldwater),
a new aircraft manufacturer -
Quest Aircraft Company,
Aircraft Towing manufacturer,
Harrison Dock Builders
just moved here,
Litehouse Salad Dressings,
a manufacturer of coffee roasting equipment, generators, wood products,
etc., etc. Others capturing a national and/or regional audience are
Thorne Research, and let's not
forget to mention the tremendous expansion of
Panhandle State Bank.
2009 saw Litehouse break the billion dollar mark, giving us two
companies in that exclusive club. In an Article in 2004 in the Bonner Daily Bee
BCEDC Executive Director Mark Williams
stated, "Over the past
three years, manufacturing jobs in our county have increased by 21
percent while Idaho has lost 14 percent and the nation 16 percent,"
That trend for Idaho overall has now increased like
fold. Other national companies are moving to the area also. Last year,
moved their national HQ to the Coeur díAlene area. In Boise, we are
creating a new Silicon Valley. Finally, Idaho set a record for exports
According to a study published
by Moody's, Idaho is one of five states that will lead the nation out of
have a fantastic tourist industry.
Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort
wins accolades year after year. In fact, 2007 ski season set a
For the 2008
season they implemented plans to put another $10,000,000 into their
infrastructure, and 2009 saw the first use of their extensive man-made
snow making equipment. According to weather reports, we were one of the few
places that even had a ski season in 2006-2007. And we didnít even have
that harsh a winter. Except for 1996, we have had wonderfully snowy, yet
mild winters. People who come here from places like Minnesota and
Colorado find our winters so pleasant they never want to leave. Roads
are passable, and life is good. 2008 and 2009 saw record snowfall, and though
Schweitzer Ski Resort had already been named to Sunset Magazine's Top 10
Resorts, for the 2007-08 season, Schweitzer was named to Skiing
Magazine's Top 25, a milestone. Even better, Schweitzer was named #3 for
Tree Skiing. Predictions for 2009-2010 from the NOAA are for a milder
winter, and thus far, while the ski resort is getting snow, down in the
valleys, the winter has seen much less snow, and temps have been
Summers are even better. With the second largest fresh water lake in the West,
Lake Pend Oreille affords some of the best water skiing, boating, and
fishing in the world. We have numerous marinas, boat docks, and boat
launches. And that is only one of many, many spectacular lakes. Hayden
Lake, Lake Coeur díAlene, Lake Cocolalla, and Priest Lake are surrounded
by mountains and primeval forests, and are at once serene and exciting.
Read about our historical weather patterns in
We have hosted the
championships, and ironman events, and have so many celebrations it is
hard to keep up. (See
Calendar of Events)
Carnival and Madcap Mardi
Gras is a week-long end of winter fest. We have three (or is it four)
Oktoberfests. Last year we had our first international film festival (IPIFF
Lakedance). Many people call
our area a banana belt, with the lake influencing our climate for the
Art communities are everywhere, and with over 400 local artists, it is no small surprise
we have two
Plein Aire Art fest,
an Arts and Crafts fest, and many galleries and studios. In fact, this
year our group sponsored a new five day art event in support of the
Lakedance Film Festival called the Sandpoint Art Break at the Cedar
Street Bridge Mall. On the Hope Peninsula the world-famous artists
Edward Kienholz and
Nancy Redin-Kienholz settled over a quarter century ago, and so many have followed that
if you live here and donít have at least a handful of artist
friends, you probably are a
music scene is constant. We have many venues, many bands and
artists, and lots of styles. One of our most popular places is the
Every kind of play, comedy, and music reverberates within those walls.
Writers also make our area home. Ben Stein and Mark Furmann live here.
So does Viggo Mortensen. Lots of others, but we donít like to mention
too many of them. They like their privacy, and we like them, so we
respect their lives. Most important of all our musical activities is the
Festival at Sandpoint.
This is our 25th year celebration, and the lineup in the past have
included names like Lou Rawls, Jim Messina, Wynton Marsalis, Tony
Bennet, The Beach Boys, The Bellamy Brothers, Natalie Cole, Alison
Krauss & Union Station, Neil Sedaka, George Benson, The Doobie Brothers,
Al Jarreau, The Pretenders, The Robert Cray Band, Peter Frampton, Little
Feat, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Los Lobos, Tanya
Tucker and many more. The range is from Jazz to Country, Symphonies to
Blue Grass. And it is always, very, very cool.
So it is no wonder that jobs are plentiful.
Entrepreneurs are creating wealth for themselves and the community. We
have consistently had lower unemployment than the rest of the nation
though, like the rest of the country, we are suffering. However, our
current rates are not unprecedented.
Historically winters have been hard in North Idaho, but Idaho has had
lower unemployment than the rest of the nation, even during this
recession. See our
Historical Unemployment Data. Construction may be driving the boom, but retail, manufacturing,
engineering, internet and virtual companies, and intellectual endeavors
are creating a place that many envy, and few can copy.
so many events and festivals that it is hard to keep up (see
Calendar of Events). Besides Lakedance, The Festival at
Sandpoint, and the ArtWalks complete with live music, there is Lost in
the 50s, with its vintage car parade, the Wooden
Boat Festival, the Arts and Crafts Fair, The County Fair, Winter
Carnival, Mardi Gras, boat races, bike races (the NORBA Nationals were
held here), The Long Bridge Swim, live music everywhere every week, five
(or is it six?) wine bars, five (or is it six?) new top restaurants,
chili cook offs, the Holly Eve Gala, events and concerts at the Panida,
as well as free music and concerts everywhere for every event, gun
shows, horse shows, the Taste of Sandpoint, Schweitzer Summer
Celebration and concerts, Oktoberfests, and much, much more. In fact,
this has been our busiest event year ever. Schweitzer had a record
season, and so did Sandpoint. The message is clear. On my North Idaho
Business radio show, we featured Mayor Ray Miller, the editor of
the Bonner Daily Bee, David Keyes, and the head of the Chamber of
Commerce, Amy Little, on a show we called our State of the Village.
With record numbers of people visiting and enjoying our community,
as well as record numbers of things to do, our future looks bright
you read in the first part of this web page, we have gotten quite a lot
of press, due to everything we have going for us. The Herbert family was
Extreme Home Makeover, and recently, our amazing Dr. Bird was
featured on 60 Minutes. We are
continually getting very positive press, and while we have had good
growth, our community is far from the fastest growing in Idaho. We are
growing at an even pace, and we are maintaining our wonderful, small
Shopping isnít bad either. So, we donít have the mega malls, and
some of our stores and shops cater to tourists. But we have unique
offerings, eclectic little places where you can find unique North Idaho
styled wares and furnishings. We have great ski and winter wares. We
have fantastic sporting goods. Some of the auto dealers not far away are
rated #1 in the nation for price and service. And we have good big box
stores like a Super Wal-mart, Home Depot, and Safeway. Yokes is a great
regional supermarket, a Super One is being built, and smaller places like Merwynís Hardware have a
surprisingly varied selection of merchandise. A short drive away is
Coeur díAlene (We call it CdA) and Spokane, which have every conceivable
kind of offering, from antiques to Target. Nope, shopping ainít bad.
Health is another of our wonderful assets.
While quality of life is an oft-mentioned term nowadays, we have it
here. We live
it. Fresh air, some of the tastiest water in the world, and good health
facilities. We have a decent local hospital for our size.
does most of what a population needs. However, a very close drive away
is Kootenai Medical Center, world-class in many areas of health care.
And Spokane is known throughout the Inland Northwest for some of the
finest medical facilities anywhere. Recently, Idaho was named the
8th Healthiest State.
generously bearable. Traffic jams are things of the past. We have good
roads, a local airport, and Spokaneís Airport is better than airports
servicing cities two or three times larger. It takes about an hour and a
half to drive from downtown Sandpoint to the Spokane Airport. How long
does it take to get to LaGuardia or San Francisco airports during
traffic. We are in the process of getting Highway 95 widened all the way
to Canada, and the Sand Creek Byway is under construction going around Sandpoint. Even in the much larger cities of CdA and Spokane, the
roads have already been improved for future growth, and traffic jams are
bearable and infrequent.
Hunting is a dream for the sportsman here. We have wildlife that has
disappeared in other parts of the country. Fishing is also great. Our
lakes have more and bigger fish. You can hike for hours without seeing
another human being. We are surrounded by National and State Forest
lands. Estimates are that these two entities hold 75% of the land. That
insures we will have limited growth in the future, and make hunting
something that will be a sport for much of the population as long as it
Certainly, with so many rivers
and lakes, Idaho is a
Mecca. Check out our
Lakes Guide and our
Rivers Guide. Our own Lake Pend Oreille has
a surface area of 148 square miles. With 111 miles of coastline, it is
65 miles long, and 1,150 feet deep in some regions, making it the fifth
deepest in the US.
While we donít have that much in the form of college or university
education, CdA and Spokane have some fine universities. We will have our
own university soon. One of the founders of Coldwater Creek, David
Pence, has donated $20 million for the establishment of an extension of
the University of Idaho to be built here within the next three years.
The state has put up matching funds, so our own college will be here
soon. We also have a
very good K-12 school system, and very well behaved students. We win
accolades in many areas. Arts thrive in our schools, and we have
programs that other schools have abandoned because of budget cuts. When
is the last time you heard of a high school that had a Menís Glee Club.
Ours has one. And we have so many state championships in virtually every
sport, that if you arenít a supporter, you probably donít live here. We
have programs for teaching high school kids to pilot airplanes, a
non-profit dedicated to instructing young film students, a culinary
program, and much more dedicated to the education of our youth and
Sports and outdoor recreation are big here. We
take our bike riding seriously with hundreds of miles of off road
trails, and one of the most extensive paved bike trail systems in the
region. We hike, parasail, bowl, run, and sail. You name it, we do it.
Try cross-country skiing, horse riding of all kinds, kayaking, Mogul
skiing, water skiing, biking, sky diving, scuba diving, jet skiing,
boating, volleyball, archery, spelunking, snowmobiling, basketball,
softball, Frisbee golf, regular golf...wait...let me catch my breath.
Jack Nicklaus just bought Hidden Lakes Golf Course and community and
Idaho Club. It
was already an award-winning course, but now with Jack at the helm...
And rumors are that Arnold Palmer will soon be gracing our rolling
hills. And all with a population that would make Mayberry proud. There
are approximately 8,000 people in Sandpoint, and under 50,000 in the
county. We may have a larger population up on Schweitzer in the winter,
and in the other parts of the county during the rest of the tourist
seasons, but still, only a few of us. Another gratifying aspect of our
community is that we have literally dozens of State Championship
trophies in virtually every sport, from wrestling to softball, football
to volleyball. And high school isn't the only winning we do here. Though
the Boise State/Oklahoma game has been called the most exciting win in
collegiate history, Boise State has been in the top twenty for the
better part of the last decade, not just their fifth place finish in
2007. Boise State continued in 2008, and went undefeated in 2009.
Sandpoint High School won state championships for both boys and girls
soccer in 2009, and the football team went to the state championship at
the Kibbie Dome, and missed by less than a touchdown. Not bad. Not bad.
Let's not forget the
parks. We have
miles of trails, sure, but we also have
numerous city parks, and the
Bonner Healing Garden.
Just make sure you bring a doggy bag, and not for the take-home.
letís not forget that we have great communities all around us: Historic
Hope, Coeur díAlene, Spokane and Seattle, Washington, Creston, BC,
Bonners Ferry, Montana, Boise, Hells Canyon and the Snake River. We have
wine growing regions, mountains, and so much more. Not only do we have
two Starbucks, and two wine bars, we even have our own award-winning
winery: Pend Oreille Winery.
we have one thing that makes us truly special. We have our neighbors.
The best in the world, in the worldís best place.
Some Information About the Best Areas for Real Estate in
Sandpoint and North Idaho
Here is a
little info on the best areas. Most of the people moving here are
looking to be close in to Sandpoint because that is the center of most
activity in the county. I have included a map so that you can get the
best perspective. The best areas of appreciation and with some of the
nicest houses and views are directly north and west of Sandpoint in the
foothills beneath Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort. Those include Baldy
Mountain Road and a few others. South Sandpoint is in town and is
considered a tony area. Many of the homes along the lake in Sandpoint
are fantastic, but the prices are among the highest in the county. Many
parts of Sagle are desirable because of the easy access to town and
Coeur díAlene (We call it CdA). Also, in Sagle there are several areas
of that large peninsula that are nice, but harder access such as
Garfield Bay. Across the Long Bridge from Sandpoint are two areas that
are great: Lakeshore Drive and Bottle Bay. As you drive down Highway 2
toward Washington are a couple of areas that have better values and
still afford mountain, valley, and river views: Laclede and Priest
River. There are two other peninsulas that are considered to be the best
in the area: Hope Peninsula and Sunnyside Peninsula. There are
advantages to each area. As you probably know, Hope is a wildlife
sanctuary with Sam Owen Park. There are hundreds of tame deer and
turkey, some bear, etc. It is also where the Kienholz family, Max Factor
family, and the Groenke's live. The Gronke Estate is where the Berlin
Wall is, with millions of dollars of sculptures and art. The first white
trading post in Idaho is the Kullyspell House, built in 1811. Sunnyside
is slightly crowded and more urban, but it is close to town. Between
these two areas is Oden Bay, one of our most exclusive communities.
Other areas are south on the Lake in Bayview, but with the higher
Kootenai County taxes. There are numerous other lakes, and I have some
literature for you when you visit to check those out.
note. Like elsewhere, many homes have been on the market for some time,
so many sellers are more willing to deal. However, prices seem to have
stabilized and are generally much lower, and sales in the county are
much better than other areas. It is always good in this market to make
lower offers and see what we can get. The only areas that haven't slowed
down in popularity and appreciation are lakefront, though some prices
there too have come down, and at Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort.