This is technically a live it in two days post. When I tried to separate Spokane and Coeur d'Alene areas, it just didn't make sense, so here is what I came up with! Hope it helps.
Spokane is a cute little town with a lot to offer in a day. The best times to travel to Spokane are for Hoopfest or Bloomsday the most popular three on three basketball tournament and 12k race. At both you get to see the locals and be right in downtown area walking around, shopping, and tasting local foods as well as hanging out in riverfront park (with the option of taking a gondola ride over the falls). At Bloomsday though you really get to run through some cute neighborhoods too.
|The hubster after running Bloomsday a few years ago|
If you are in Spokane at any other time, I'd recommend doing the following:
Check out the Davenport Hotel. There are cool photos everywhere of the olden days and you feel like you've stepped back in time.
Take a walk around Gonzaga University's campus and waterfront area and get a slice of pizza at Davids Pizza (which I just found out closed a few years ago and I'm working on figuring out where the new location is. So sorry!).
|Near Gonzaga University in Spokane|
Check out Anemone Handmade Paper flowers on Second Ave.
Go to The Elk for a meal (I usually get anything with the roasted corn pasta salad, but everything is amazing!). Then go to the northwest arts and culture museum. It's small but they do a really nice job.
If it is fall time, a drive to Greenbluff area is a must. It's this cool area with a coop of farmers.
|The beauty of Greenbluff near Spokane|
At any time, head to the South Hill to see cute older houses and to check out Manito Park. They have a really pretty and free Japanese tea garden.
If you happen to be heading to
Couer d'alene for your next live it in a day experience, you MUST stop for dinner at Hay J's in Liberty Lake. It is seriously so yummy and has a great ambiance even though you'd never guess it as it is in a gas stations strip mall!
When in Coeur d'Alene, the best thing to do is to walk, walk, and walk more. Walk around their super cute downtown area to window shop. Walk around by the lake or the river. Hike Tubs Hill, which is right near the famed Coeur D'Alene resort (which is way over priced, but definitely a good location). Get on a boat and out in the water if it is summer. Coeur d'Alene nightlife is fun with The Beacon, The Moose Lounge, Mic N Mac's, and a few other local places. If you want a true view of Idaho life, head to the Iron Horse, but beware of the smoke.
|Ahhh Coeur d'Alene Lake|
While in Idaho, you must eat out for breakfast. A few favorites are Blue Plate ( a little drive to Hayden, ID), Old European, and The Breakfast Nook.
|My favorite breakfast spot: Blue Plate Cafe|
|Love those Idaho breakfasts!|
For lunch my vote is for MoonTime (especially if you didn't go to the Elk in Spokane). I could eat at Moon Time every day for weeks. And the prices are just my style too.
If you are in the area for more than a day, definitely take the 30 minute drive to Sandpoint. Sandpoint has a really cute downtown with good restaurants, nice people, some nice art galleries and of course the seriously good (and pretty cheap) Pend Oreille Winery. Sandpoint also has a nice public beach on the lake (which is so deep the Navy tests out submarines in it!). Also in the area, are the Bottle Bay trail, with a spectacular view of the lake and downtown Sandpoint.
|The Beach in Sandpoint, Idaho|
|Bottle Bay hiking with my In Laws|
I should also say that I've heard that Priest Lake is one of the most pristine lakes that should not be missed, but unfortunately I do not have first hand knowledge of it. Husband fail #1, I'd say! ;-)
If you are in the area during winter time and like to partake in snow sports, I would personally recommend skipping the whole scene at Schweitzer Mountain Resort (unless you really like spending top dollar and getting a Vail or Tahoe experience and unless you just can't miss the views of the lake). I've been to Schweitzer several times and although the views are spectacular, it is often super windy, overcrowded, and overpriced. Instead, go to Silver Mountain Resort or to my favorite, Lookout Pass. Silver is still a large mountain with an amazing gondola ride to start your day. When there we've seen moose and had great snow and amazing rides. I am more particular to smaller, cheaper, and less crowded mountains, so Lookout is my favorite. It is right on the Montana and Idaho border and gives you the opportunity to relax and have so much fun.
|Snowboarding Lookout Pass|
So basically the area is great for golfers, swimmers, sun bathers, people just interested in window shopping and eating good food, skiers, snowboarders, and everyone in between. The area is not too excited about liberal California types, but I managed to survive life there for a few years, so don't be too worried! ;-)