Lake Pend Oreille: art galleries, kayaks, and a restored theater
Forty-six miles north of Coeur d'Alene on U.S. 95, we cross the 2-mile Long Bridge into Sandpoint, at the northern end of 43-mile-long Lake Pend Oreille. Some think French trappers named this lake for the ear pendants worn by the Kalispel Indians; others think the name describes the lake's hook shape. We drive through downtown Sandpoint, which, with its boutiques, espresso shops, art galleries, and restaurants, has the mellow atmosphere of a university town without the university.
These days Sandpoint is most famous for Coldwater Creek. The women's clothing company is headquartered here and has a store in town; nearby are the shops of Cedar Street Bridge, Sandpoint's answer to Florence's Ponte Vecchio. I slip off to do some shopping while everyone else goes for a leisurely swim at City Beach. That evening we have dinner at Hydra, a small house turned restaurant, then see a series of short animated films at the restored 1927 Spanish mission-style Panida Theater. Renovated thanks to the hard work of Sandpoint residents, it's one of the most beautiful little movie palaces in the West.