Last Updated on September 28, 2022 by Snezana Grcak
Driving from Seattle to Coeur d’Alene is so much more exciting with our travel itinerary, which features awesome cities and recreation areas along the highway. You’ll discover the most beautiful forests, rivers, lakes, parks, and restaurants on your way to the destination and in Coeur d’Alene. We also offer information on top routes and average driving time. Use it along with our hot tips to enjoy the scenic ride and all the tourist attractions from Washington to Idaho.
What Route To Take to Coeur d’Alene
Most travelers opt for Interstate 90, and rightfully so since it’s the straightforward route that goes directly to your destination. The alternative is taking Highway 2 to Spokane and then switching to I-90, but it’s longer and not really a better option.
The distance from Seattle to Coeur d’Alene is approximately 310 miles via I-90, and the drive takes less than 5 hours. However, we suggest you prolong the trip and take a few breaks along the way. Keep reading to discover the best stops en route, gorgeous natural sites, and places to eat or sleep.
Best Stops Along the Way
Before you leave for Coeur d’Alene, we suggest checking out the most attractive spots in Seattle, such as Seattle Center, Seattle Aquarium, and Seattle Art Museum. Then, you’ll come across many beautiful places, lakes, and forests on your way to the final destination; we singled out the best ones below.
This 268-foot waterfall is one of the state’s most popular attractions that welcomes over 1.5 million visitors every year. The viewing area and parking spaces are free and open until dusk. The Snoqualmie Falls viewing platform is around 200 feet from the lot and accessible by wheelchair, so it’s suitable for physically impaired visitors as well.
Wenatchee National Forest
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is gorgeous and undoubtedly worth the visit. It’s 50 miles away from Seattle, and a Day Pass is only $5. The forest offers hikes with spectacular views, but you can also drive through scenic turnouts if you don’t want to or cannot hike. Our favorite hike is to Sheep Lake and Sourdough Gap, and the views of the Chrystal Lakes at the gap are breathtaking.
The forest has multiple campgrounds, such as Crawfish Campground, and there’s also a free camping area past Beverly Campground with creek access. On hot summer days, you may also enjoy swimming in the Wenatchee River.
Even if you don’t decide to stop by Keechelus Lake, you’ll enjoy the views of it while driving from Seattle to Coeur d’Alene. It’s a charming, quiet lake with easy access and ample parking. Locals and visitors love to fish, hike, and camp by Keechelus Lake or the two nearby lakes, Kachess and Cle Elum, which are also beautiful.
Wanapum Recreation Area
Alternatively known as the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park, the area covers Columbia River’s western shoreline. It’s great for hikers, and there’s also a clean and well-kept campground, swimming area, and boat ramp. The discovery pass is $30 and includes watercraft.
The largest city in Grant County provides several recreation and relaxation opportunities. Blue Heron Park has nice swimming and fishing areas and is also an excellent place for biking or barbecuing. Our favorite is the Japanese Peace Garden, which is beautiful, well-maintained, and free to enter. If you’re into history and art, check out Moses Lake Museum & Art Center, which offers a fascinating look into the county’s rich history and free lectures.
Tourists who prefer more active outdoor activities must visit Mud Flats and Sand Dunes. It’s easy to get to from the freeway and has awesome trails for off-roading enthusiasts and beginners.
Spokane is approximately a 4-hour drive away from Seattle, and its downtown is packed with great breweries and restaurants. If you like pizza, be sure to stop by DiNardi’s. Riverfront Park is the most popular place in the downtown area, and a gondola lift is there to take you over magnificent Spokane Falls.
There’s another beautiful park a 5-minute drive away, Manito Park, which has unique gardens, walking paths, playgrounds, and a large duck pond. And, if you’re willing to take a small detour, go about 20 miles north of the city to visit the amazing Riverside State Park. It’s a huge park with breathtaking views of the Spokane River and hiking and camping opportunities.
Cool Activities & Spots in Coeur d’Alene
The City of Coeur d’Alene, located around 30 miles east of Spokane and 300 miles of Seattle, has a population of nearly 55,000 people. After the importance of mining diminished in the 1940s, tourism became the main economic driver, and visitors now arrive year-round.
The city’s arts scene is thriving, and visitors who appreciate art should check out the galleries along Sherman Avenue, such as The Art Spirit Gallery. However, the most defining feature of Coeur d’Alene is its lake, and one of the most popular activities is hiking the Tubbs Hill trail. If you want to enjoy the magnificent lake views, we also recommend the Mineral Ridge hike; the view at the top is undoubtedly worth the climb. Zip-line tours are a must, and you can learn more about them here.
Other recreational activities include camping, boating, and fishing, while winter visitors enjoy skiing and snowboarding. The Shuttle Fare team suggests going on a Lake Coeur d’Alene cruise or renting a boat from the resort.
Coeur d’Alene offers plenty of dining options, and we discovered a few of the locals’ favorites.
- Moon Time: tasty food, vegetarian options, good beer selection, and great cocktails
- Satay Bistro: delicious meals, impeccable service, and pleasant ambiance
- The Garnet Cafe: ideal for breakfast or brunch with a few vegan options
- Hudson’s Hamburgers: go-to for (cheese)burger lovers
When it comes to accommodation options, The Coeur d’Alene Resort is the most popular, but visitors also love Blackwell Hotel, Springhill Suites, Holiday Inn Express & Suites, and One Lakeside.