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How to spend a day in CDA (Coeur d’Alene)

Coeur d’Alene is both rugged and refined. Hike in its hills, kayak on its water, or bike down its trails. Afterwards, dine on heightened casual fare with Northwestern flair and drink craft cocktails made from locally distilled spirits. We enjoyed some of CDA’s (aka the Playground of the Northwest’s) best in just over a day’s time. 

We Ate

Bardenay has a fantastic waterside patio next to Riverstone park. The first time we went — yes, we went there twice, I devoured the Bardenay Club (slow-roasted turkey breast, applewood smoked ham, thick peppered bacon, lettuce and tomato served cold on toasted sourdough with sun-dried tomato mayonnaise) with a side of Apricot Walnut Couscous. Chris dined on Fish Tacos (flash-fried Pacific cod on yellow corn tortillas with red radish and cucumber salsa, Mexican Cotija cheese, and shredded lettuce, topped with tomatillo and cilantro verde sauce). Both were refreshing eats that hit all the laid back vacation feels.

On our second night, a Monday Night Date Night, steak sandwiches with red onion marmalade and sides of greens satisfied our famished post-hike appetites on our second night.

Rating: Double-Thumbs-Up Yum!

We Hiked Tubbs Hill

It’s the hiking hill that almost wasn’t. The 165-acre natural peninsula within CDA city limits avoided becoming a municipal power plant, a convention center, and a condo development. In 1974, Tubbs Hill was spared from further possibilities and became a place for locals and visitors to enjoy its natural beauty.

While hiking beneath 150-year-old Ponderosa pines, some as many feet high as they are old, it doesn’t feel as if you’re within city limits. The gorgeous main loop of the Tubbs Hill Nature Trail  is a two mile hike, yet two hours is the prescribed amount of time to spend on it. When you visit, chances are, you’ll want to look around. There are beaches to picnic at and swim from, as well as trails beyond the main loop worth taking the time to explore. 

Rating: Double-Thumbs-Up Fun!

We Drank

Bardenay is an Idaho restaurant and it’s a distillery. In their craft cocktails, it shows. Gin is one of our favorite liquors, so we decided to try their Basil Instinct. It’s made using their own Bardenay Gin, Patron Citronage, fresh basil, pressed (fresh squeezed in-house) margarita and sweet and sour mixes. Refreshing, well-balanced — in a word, delish. We enjoyed a couple of rounds without veering from Basil Instinct. 

Rating: Double-Thumbs-Up Yum!

WE strolled

A couple of blocks beyond Bardenay is the Spokane River. Next to the river is a boardwalk. It’d been a hot mid-August day, yet the early evening air smelled crisp like winter as we strolled down it.

Rating: Double-Thumbs Up Fun!

And we wished we had time for more

There’s so much to do in Coeur d’Alene: kayaking, paddleboarding, parasailing, jet skiing, biking The Centennial Trail, shopping charming downtown Coeur d’Alene and treating ourselves to ice cream, and if we had grandkids with, taking them on Mudgy Moose’s trail.

Who is Mudgy Moose? He’s a children’s book character created by Susan Nipp, illustrated by Charles Reasoner, and sculpted by Terry Lee, a CDA native. Mudgy Moose even has his own trail in Coeur d’Alene. The Mudgy Moose Trail is a 2.25 mile, kid-friendly jaunt with five Mudgy Moose sculptures marking points where he stops to look for his friend Millie the Mouse.

Where to stay

We stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites Coeur d’Alene and loved the location. It’s within an easy walk to Starbucks, Bardenay, and the boardwalk along the Spokane River and about a 25 minute drive from Lake Coeur d’Alene. I enjoyed sitting on our room’s balcony while I worked. We always have work to do, whether we’re on the road, or not. 

Watch our video for all the double-thumbs-up details:

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