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A Wonderful Winter Wonderland

Enjoy the sights and sounds of Sandpoint this holiday season By Christian Weaner | Photo Courtesy of Schweitzer

Winter Wonderland

Picture this … it's early evening in downtown Sandpoint, and light snow is beginning to fall. Each snowflake dances to the ground as the lights and decorations of each storefront glisten in the distance. The magic of a hometown Christmas is in the air.

With 2023 just around the corner and the holiday season in full swing in the Sandpoint area, the list of fun winter activities is nearly endless. Nothing is better than filling your December days with a warm drink from a local coffee shop or a trip downtown to do some last-minute shopping.

Although this will only scratch the surface of all that there is to do, here are some must-see places and experiences to check out before the New Year.

Santa on the Slopes

The first stop on any holiday excursion in Sandpoint must be a trip up the mountain to check out the slopes and walk around the ski village at Schweitzer—Idaho’s largest ski resort.

Whether you love skiing and snowboarding and are ready to hit the slopes or want to enjoy a nice scenic drive while taking in the breathtaking views of Lake Pend Oreille and the surrounding snowy mountain tops, the trek up to Schweitzer will be well worth your time.

"All of our Christmas lights are up for the winter," Schweitzer Marketing Communications Manager Taylor Prather noted. "So, if you are looking for a snowy scene to come up and take those Christmas photos and be in that mountain, alpine-style village, Schweitzer is definitely the place to be."

If you really want to get into the Christmas spirit at Schweitzer this winter, then be sure to stop by December 23 or 24 for a special "Ski with Santa" event. Jolly old Saint Nicholas will be making his way through the village and down the slopes to visit with children and spread some holiday cheer. Bring your kids of all ages to come and meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus—either on the mountainside or inside the lodge—for this heart-warming Christmas event.

Not a skier or snowboarder? Not to worry—Schweitzer has a wide variety of cafes and restaurants where you can dine in style and enjoy the hustle and bustle of Christmastime on the mountain, as well as snowshoeing trails and a tubing hill scheduled to open December 17.

To learn more about all that Schweitzer has to offer this holiday season, go to

Christmas Shopping in Downtown

One of the best ways to take in the seasonal spirit of Sandpoint—while simultaneously finding all of those last-minute Christmas gifts you have been looking for—is taking a walk around downtown to check out the myriad of retail shops and restaurants that line the streets.

Starting on Cedar Street, you can pop into shops like Sand Creek Custom Wears, Corner Book Store or Grace & Joy Clothing Co. You could also grab a bite to eat at Connie's Café & Lounge or try out a local craft beer from MickDuff's Brewing Co. Then, you can end up at the Cedar Street Bridge, where you can scan through the selection of local retailers and artisans who have shops set up in the unique marketplace setting.

As you make the turn down North First Avenue, be sure to stop in at stores such as Campfire Couture, Out West Trading Co., Northwest Handmade, or Burl Wood Dreams. If you need a warm drink, Monarch Mountain Coffee will have you covered, and 219 Lounge, Sandpoint's oldest bar, can provide a great place to end the night for some drinks and live music.

For a full list of Sandpoint's local businesses in Downtown and a calendar of events going on in the area, go to

Sleigh Rides and Tree Hunting

Let the magic of a classic Christmas tune—Jingle Bells—come alive by taking a ride on a real horse-drawn sleigh this winter at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch. Plus, connect this once-in-a-lifetime experience with another holiday tradition—picking out your family's Christmas tree—for an adventure you will never forget.

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch has a wide variety of sleighs to host groups ranging from two to 12 people. Either take the two-mile loop around their property for the traditional trek or upgrade for a scenic ride to the tree lot, where you can pick out a fresh-cut, locally grown Christmas tree to take home with you.

You and your group will be sure to laugh all the way and have your spirits made bright as you dash through the beautiful North Idaho scenery this winter.

To get a full list of pricing and make a reservation for a sleigh ride, visit

Concerts, Music, Movies and More

Another way to soak in the holiday cheer of Sandpoint this month is by taking in the sights and sounds of the town's entertainment scene. From holiday concerts and classic Christmas movies to piano bars and open mic nights, Sandpoint has no shortage of events that are sure to get you in the Christmas spirit this December. One great spot to grab a drink and hear some tunes is the Pend d'Oreille Winery in downtown Sandpoint.

The winery is known for its award-winning selection of wines and welcoming atmosphere where people love to gather year-round. That cheerful aura is brought up another notch at this time of year, making Pend d'Oreille Winery a great spot to enjoy a glass of your favorite wine, listen to live music and get into the Christmas spirit. Possibly the premiere location for holiday entertainment this month, however, is the Panida Theater.

The Panida’s slate of shows and events kicks off Saturday, December 3, with a double feature of Christmas classics The Polar Express at 2:30pm and It's a Wonderful Life at 7:30. The proceeds for this event will be matched by Ting Internet to help the theater raise money to go toward the Panida Century Fund.

Other holiday performances at the Panida include A Celtic Christmas featuring music, ballet and dance on December 7, Into the Land of the Nutcracker presented by Suzuki String Academy and Allegro Dance Studio December 9 through 11, and the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint's Music Matters! concert on December 13, among others.

"You won’t want to miss out on these sensational holiday offerings," Panida Board Treasurer and Vice Chair Tari Pardini said. "There is literally something for everyone." To learn more about the Panida Theater's holiday performances and buy tickets online, go to

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