A North Idaho Christmas

Options abound for seasonal fun

By Colin Anderson

There is nothing quite like the holiday season to put a smile on our faces. Crisp winter nights with bright lights illuminated by a fresh dusting of snow can make all of us take a deep relaxing breath; something we can all surely benefit from. Families have many long-standing traditions. Some might continue this year while others take a pause. The same goes for our regional entertainment venues, businesses and events. Some of these might look a little different in 2020, but the spirit remains the same. Enjoy a sampling of our favorite holiday activities and traditions this December, and let’s end 2020 with a smile on our face and joy in our hearts!


Coeur d’Alene Resort

Downtown in the lake city is beaming this holiday season as the Coeur d’Alene Resort tries to outdo itself again with more than a million twinkling lights switching on each evening. Just taking a stroll through the grounds is enough to bring a smile to your face. After seeing the incredible display up close, you can visit any of the restaurants, lounges or cafés for a warm drink and relaxing environment.


Also, the resort’s fleet of tour boats is again delivering children young and old to Santa’s waterfront workshop with its annual holiday lake cruises. Hop on board now through New Year’s Day and you’ll get a view of the lit-up resort from the lake as you make your way to see Santa, his elves, the world’s tallest Christmas tree and even a fireworks display. Tickets can be purchased at the resort or ahead of time at CdAResort.com.


Christmas at the Slopes

Although there are limited day passes being sold at our area mountains, that doesn’t mean any of the holiday fun has been left by the wayside. Santa will arrive as scheduled up at Schweitzer Mountain on both December 23 and 24, and you can watch as he takes a few runs down his favorite slopes. If you book an overnight stay at Schweitzer between December 19 and January 3, you will be guaranteed a lift ticket during this most popular time.


A night or two at Silver Mountain will also provide plenty of entertainment for the family. Other than deep powder, guests can enjoy on-mountain tubing and dining, as well as access to the indoor water park.


At the time of publication, Lookout Pass Ski Area had not yet released its festivities. Visit SkiLookout.com for the latest.


Holiday Show

Tickets are on sale for the Traditions of Christmas holiday show, held annually at the KROC Center in Coeur d’Alene. While seating capacity is reduced this year, additional shows have been added to make sure as many who want to attend are able to do so. The Radio City Music Hall-style performance includes all your favorite holiday tunes, a kick line, beautiful musical solos and ensembles, Nativity scene, and an emotional tribute to the troops. Show times are at 3, 5 and 7pm on December 12, 13, 19, 20 and 22. There is a 7pm show also available on Friday, December 18. This is a great way to share in the holiday spirit while also showing your appreciation for the local arts community.


The Perfect Tree

Whether you like the Douglas, Spruce, Noble or Grand, options are plentiful when it comes to finding just the right tree for your home. Seasonal lots are an easy way to quickly grab one if you’re in a hurry, but if you want to make a mini-adventure out of your search for the perfect tree, consider one of the more fun tree farms or cut your own! At Crowell’s Land of Christmas in Sandpoint you can meander the property, choose your perfect tree, and have staff members cut it for you. There’s a roaring fire with cocoa and candy canes available, as well as hayrides. The farm is open Thursday through Sunday.


A trip to The Rusty Gate Tree farm is worth the beautiful drive to Harrison. Here you can choose pre-cut, or borrow a saw and cut your own tree. Kids receive candy canes upon arrival, and you can also try your luck at getting through the Tree Maze. Rusty Gate also has special tree watering systems for sale and tree stands they’ve claimed have helped save marriages. If you can’t make it to Harrison, they’ve also set up a lot of pre-cut trees and wreaths at the Skate Plaza off Highway 95 in Coeur d’Alene.


Those who want to go old school can load up the 4-wheel drive, head up into public land and cut their own tree from nature. A free permit is available at Recreation.gov/tree-permits. Click on the Idaho Panhandle Forest for detailed maps on where you can cut as well as a few guidelines and regulations. By removing smaller trees from the forest floor, you are also helping with fire prevention—an added bonus!


Helping Out

Kinderhaven is a Sandpoint-based group foster home and emergency shelter for abused and neglected children, and its biggest annual fundraiser is the Festival of Trees—this year the Tour of Trees. Donated items from the community will be placed alongside trees which are decorated and displayed by local businesses. You can visit the businesses in person or view them online beginning December 9. An online auction will be up with the highest bids taking home the trees and treasures within them on December 12. Visit KinderhavenSandpoint.com/festival-of-trees for all the details.


If you plan on crossing over into Spokane for holiday shopping, also know that Christmas Tree Elegance is taking place this year, however all trees will be displayed at River Park Square instead of the Davenport Hotel, due to social distancing restrictions. You can purchase $1 raffle tickets in hopes of landing a tree with prize value typically over $10,000. Proceeds benefit the Spokane Symphony, and more than $400,000 was raised last year alone.


Sleigh Rides

Another fun night-time activity for couples, families or small groups is taking a sleigh ride out at Western Pleasures Guest Ranch in Sandpoint. Sleighs can accommodate anywhere from two to 12 guests and cover 2 miles of serene wilderness on the ranch property. There are packages available that include taking home a Christmas tree or following up your ride with a gourmet dinner on property.


Make it a point to keep the “Merry” in Christmas this year. And Happy Holidays!

Please be sure to call ahead for up-to-date information, as things are continually changing due to the health pandemic.


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