Off-season visits to ski destinations like Schweitzer Resort have become a favorite vacation for my non-skiing family. It’s hard to top the allure of mountain views glimpsed from a chairlift and the built-in amenities resort towns can offer.
Embarking on a road trip to Schweitzer, Sand Point Idaho
This year, I decided to explore a new-to-us ski resort and put my kids’ increasing endurance of long car rides to the ultimate test. We embarked on a solo-parent road trip, driving over six hours to Schweitzer Resort’s Humbird Hotel. Nestled in the Selkirk Mountains just above Sandpoint, Idaho, the 31-room boutique hotel joined Schweitzer’s lodging family this year. Schweitzer also manages the Selkirk and White Pine Lodges as well as other mountain condos. We found family-friendly accommodations with the perfect balance of relaxation and activity. Read on for all the things that made the long drive worthwhile.
Cozy setting with thoughtful touches
Humbird’s relatively small size makes it feel welcoming right from the get-go. After a quick flight of stairs from the covered garage, we were greeted with an offering of a much-needed coffee for me and steamers for the kids, before venturing up to explore our room.
I appreciated the family-oriented attention to detail. Black-out curtains helped prevent early morning wake-ups. The queen beds were low enough that my kids could climb in themselves. An open closet and movable pegs on the wall allowed them to easily access their own clothes and there was even a glove and boot dryer by the door for winter stays.
The third floor, where we stayed, is also where you’ll find most of the special amenities. After bedtime, I snuck in a little “me time” and headed over to the small, but well-equipped, fitness center before borrowing the co-working space to plan the next leg of our trip. We visited the spectacular Glass Room most mornings to play foosball, while admiring views of Lake Pend Oreille (there’s also a large TV, projector, cozy sectional, fireplace and a backgammon board). While it wasn’t open during our stay, an ADA-accessible rooftop hot tub is expected to open before this winter’s ski season.
The Humbird’s timber-laden decor memorializes the natural surroundings and the hotel’s namesake, the Humbird Logging Company, which operated in the area in the early 1900s. I especially loved the creative wallpaper — a forest landscape rises through the three floors of guest rooms starting with water on the ground floor and ending with snowcapped treetops on top.
If you ask my kids, the best part of our stay was the day we used our Ultimate Fun Pass. This all-inclusive ticket gets you a bag of jewels for gem mining plus unlimited rides on the chairlift, trampoline jumper, climbing wall and zip line.
A couple of activities were off the table for our family at Schweitzer Resort. Zipline riders must be at least 8 years old and weigh at least 60 pounds, while horseback riders have to be at least 10. I worried my kids would be disappointed, but they said a quick hello to the horses and never looked back because there were lots of other options.
Mining for gems went quickly, but my 3-year-old enjoyed turning the sluice boxes into boats he could send down the current while my 6-year-old identified her gems with the included chart.
Both kids liked scaling the climbing wall, which has different levels of difficulty on each side, but the real show-stealer was the Trampoline Thing. Strapped to bungees on each side, my kids tested the meaning of “unlimited” as they jumped high in the sky and practiced flips for hours. With engaging employees (who are parents themselves) giving the kids tips and encouragement, I got to cheer them on from a shady seat before managing a handful of my own flips.
If you only choose one activity while on site, make it the chairlift. We passed over wildflowers and impressive mountain bikers hurtling down 40 miles of bike trails before having lunch at the Sky House. On our second day, we took the half-mile Summit View loop to pick juicy huckleberries. Tip: hike counter-clockwise so your uphill return is in the shade. The 2.5-mile Nature Trail will take you down the mountain, but high temperatures made it more fun for us to hop back on the lift. Since the lift starts near the playground, we made sure to spend a little time riding the cute pedal-operated merry-go-round and testing the monkey bars.
Even during an active vacation, our family needs some downtime. Schweitzer Resort offers a selection of party pails for about $5-10 per 24-hour period. My daughter loved perching on the window seat to make paper bag puppets and tissue paper butterflies with the Craft Time bucket. My son played “Keepy Uppy” (raise your hands, Bluey fans!) with the balloons from the Indoor Energy Buster pail. After everyone rested, we popped a load of laundry in Selkirk Lodge’s basement facility before heading to relax in the pool and three hot tubs on the third floor.
If you run out of things to do on the mountain, Sandpoint’s shopping and dining center is just 30 minutes down the road. We meant to rent a paddleboard from Action Water Sports, but ended up just enjoying the protected swimming area at City Beach Park instead. You can also rent motorized watercraft (jet skis, pontoon and ski boats) for a longer day on Lake Pend Oreille.
Where to eat on and off the mountain
After our long drive to Schweitzer, we took full advantage of the walkable on-site dining options. Gourmandie offers casual breakfast items (think espresso beverages, alongside breakfast sandwiches) and small plates for lunch. We ate sandwiches and pasta at the Sky House (located at the top of the chairlift), but its mountaintop location makes it a great stop for a beer or an ice cream sandwich, too. My kids were a little wiggly for our gourmet dinner at the Crow’s Bench (open for cocktail hour and dinner), but sharing the fondue appetizer gave them full bellies and a fun activity.
On our night in Sandpoint, we loved the arcade games and historic federal building setting of MickDuff’s Brewpub. Their house-brewed root beer and quirky touches like the nursing area located in a former vault in the women’s restroom were unique and fun. After dinner, we stopped at Panhandle Cone & Coffee for ice cream flavors like roasted strawberry and wildflower honey and lavender.
Was the road trip worth it?
This was easily the longest road trip I’ve ever done solo with my kids. Reserving a few nights at Schweitzer and bookending our stay with stops in Spokane helped us relax. There were definitely some backseat fights about who got to choose the next podcast, but my kids excitedly recounted the trip highlights to my husband when we got back. They especially like the trampoline activity! Next time maybe we’ll make it a full-family trip and sneak in a lake day or two!
What to know before you stay
- Rates: Rooms at the Humbird start at $278 per night in the summer and $361 in the winter. Spring and fall rates are lower (starting at $216 per night).
- The Ultimate Fun Pass is $30 for kids 7 and under and $40 for guests 8 and over. Chairlift rides are about $20 per person and the trampoline is $8 per ride. It’s easy to get your money’s worth on the pass.
- When to visit: Schweitzer resort’s summer season lasts from late June through Labor Day, with winter activities opening around Thanksgiving and continuing through April depending on snow conditions.
- Winter fun: In addition to downhill skiing, Schweitzer offers tubing, Nordic skiing, guided snowshoeing and fat tire biking. During the winter season, families can book ski lessons for kids starting at age 4 or take advantage of KinderKamp daycare for children ages 4 months to 6 years old. On Saturdays and some holidays, enjoy a date night by booking Kids’ Night Out for children ages 4 months to 11 years old.
- Getting there and nearby fun: Schweitzer Resort is about 6 hours without stops from Seattle. We spent a night in Spokane on either side and explored the playgrounds and historic Louff Carrousel in Riverfront Park. Another highlight was a day at Silverwood. Located in Athol, ID, midway between Spokane and Sandpoint, it’s the largest theme park in the Pacific Northwest with 70 rides and a water park full of slides. Coeur d’Alene is within an hour of Sandpoint if you haven’t gotten enough lake time. Both cities are good stopping points on a road trip towards Glacier National Park.