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A Pastoral Paradise

Coeur d’Alene in northern Idaho stuns attendees with a natural landscape that brings a little adventure to meetings and events

By Amanda Christensen

Aerial view of The Coeur d’Alene Resort
Aerial view of The Coeur d’Alene Resort || Courtesy of Visit Coeur d’Alene

Situated in northern Idaho, Coeur d’Alene eases into warm temperatures in the 70s and 80s during the months of May and June as summer sets in. Named after the Coeur d’Alene Tribe that has long called the area home and well known for the large Lake Coeur d’Alene and its surrounding natural landscape of forests and mountains, the city gives outdoor enthusiasts in any group the chance to get outside and breathe the fresh air between meetings.

“The fact that our downtown is located directly on the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene offers attendees easy access to and views of the beautiful lake, and features several unique venues for meetings and events—including historic buildings, vineyards, and outdoor amphitheaters,” says Mark Robitaille, executive director at Visit Coeur d’Alene. “The town offers a unique blend of natural beauty, outdoor recreation, cultural attractions, and small-town charm—making it a popular destination for visitors.”

Coeur d’Alene is in Kootenai County and is about a 40-minute drive from Spokane International Airport in Washington, which offers nonstop service to 15 airports and myriad flight options through six passenger airlines—namely Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines. The city is also directly accessible via Interstate 90.

Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises;
Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises || Courtesy of Visit Coeur d’Alene

Best of Both Worlds

Just over 50,000 people call Coeur d’Alene home, and the area has long been a destination for recreational and business tourism alike due to its quaint, yet lively downtown and stunning natural landscape. The city has 1,500 hotel rooms spanning large-scale resorts to smaller chain properties. The Coeur d’Alene Resort on the lakefront offers 338 guest rooms and 25 event rooms totaling more than 32,000 square feet. It stands out with its iconic Floating Green, a portion of its golf course situated right on Lake Coeur d’Alene—yes, on the water and accessible by boat. The resort’s Hagadone Event Center & Garden features sprawling views of both the lake and mountains, retractable glass walls, and space for up to 450 attendees. Get more panoramic views on the Lakeview Terrace adorned with greenery walls and fire pits—this outdoor space has capacity for 300 attendees. Additional venues include the Conference Center Ballroom, the Bayview Rooms, the Resort Front Lawn, and eight executive boardrooms on the seventh floor. Planners can take their event on the water by hosting on one of Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises’ private boats—its climate-controlled watercraft feature double decks for premier sightseeing, full-service bars, and space for groups of up to 350.

“We are seeing a trend toward more experiential events, with business groups looking to incorporate outdoor activities and team-building exercises into their agendas,” says Amy VanSickle, director of marketing for the resort. “Venue selection is also important, with groups seeking unique and memorable locations for their events, such as our rooftop terrace.”

The Best Western Plus Coeur d’Alene Inn provides 122 overnight rooms and 13,000 square feet of function space spanning eight meeting rooms—all located in the hotel’s first-floor convention center. Its on-site ballroom can be rented as one 8,000-square-foot space or can be broken down into five separate rooms. Attendees can stop by the cocktail lounge for a drink post-meeting or catch some rays on the sun deck. Another option with a view, One Lakeside hotel sits at the corner of North First Street and East Lakeside Avenue, featuring guest suites complete with floor-to-ceiling windows for views of both downtown and the lake. Overnight accommodations are available for varying group sizes, and there are several on-site common areas available for meetings. For a touch of Coeur d’Alene history, choose the 19th-century Fort Sherman Chapel—the city’s oldest church, school, library, and meeting hall. The bright red exterior of the building stands out against the surrounding greenery, and the venue is available for groups of up to 100.

Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel
Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel || Courtesy of Visit Coeur d’Alene

A Great Escape

To get away from the bustle of downtown and host an event that will keep attendees in touch with nature and connected with each other, the Coeur d’Alene and greater Kootenai County area offers options where only the stars and moon in the sky brighten the landscape at night. The Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel is at the southwestern end of the lake near Worley and sits amid rolling hills and sprawling forests. It contains more than 40,000 square feet of function space spanning 10 meeting rooms in addition to 300 guest rooms. The hotel  also has specialized corporate meeting packages for groups of 12 to 1,200, and planners will appreciate the on-site state-of-the-art sound system, a mix of fine and casual dining options, an 18-hole championship golf course, and a luxury spa.

To the southeast of downtown Coeur d’Alene, Red Horse Mountain Ranch provides a wondrous escape for the horse lovers in your group. The ranch has three indoor meeting spaces in addition to plenty of outdoor space for groups and events. Its largest indoor room is 2,500 square feet in size, and audiovisual equipment is provided. Most notably, the ranch offers team-building activities and guided adventures ranging in activity and skill levels. The extensive challenge course features a zip line, 60-foot climbing wall, and other elements that will get attendees up and moving. Guided adventure options include horseback riding, kayaking, archery, fishing trips, mountain biking, and more.

Recreation in Abundance

There’s no doubt that between the lake, the forests, and the mountains, the city’s natural landscape affords a thriving recreational scene that will keep attendees energized before, after, and between meetings. Get on the water with a scenic boat tour or kayak/paddleboard rentals—or choose to sunbathe along any of the sandy beaches including Coeur d’Alene City Park and Beach. The lake is, as expected, also a hub for water sports, from fishing and waterskiing to wakeboarding and wake surfing.

View of Lake Coeur d’Alene from the Mineral Ridge Scenic Area and National Recreation Trail;
View of Lake Coeur d’Alene from the Mineral Ridge Scenic Area and National Recreation Trail || Courtesy of Visit Coeur d’Alene

“The access to abundant recreation and natural landscapes in Coeur d’Alene allows business groups to incorporate outdoor activities into their events, providing a unique and memorable experience for attendees,” says VanSickle. “Additionally, the natural beauty of the area serves as a stunning backdrop for events, enhancing the overall atmosphere.”

Tubbs Hill is a nearby lakeside park on the southeastern side of the city featuring hiking trails and stunning scenery that would be the perfect corporate cookout backdrop. For the more experienced hikers or mountain bikers in your group, the Route of the Hiawatha and the Mineral Ridge Scenic Area and National Recreation Trail will take you up in elevation for striking views of the glimmering lake. Planners can add a zip line excursion through Timberline Adventures, which offers seven zip lines, two sky bridges, and a new treehouse suspended 30 feet in the air that is available for small group lunches. The 7-Line Zip Tour takes groups on a scenic 12-mile shuttle to its zip line property above Beauty Bay, followed by an open-air ATV ride up the mountain to the launch point from which attendees will glide from tree to tree up to 400 feet above the forest floor. The tour and other offerings work best for groups up to nine; larger groups can be split into several tours.

Living room in three-bedroom suite at One Lakeside
Living room in three-bedroom suite at One Lakeside || Courtesy of Visit Coeur d’Alene

Just north of Coeur d’Alene, Silverwood Theme Park is the largest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and will open for its 2024 season in early May. If you have attendees bringing family along, this is the perfect place to enjoy thrilling rides, a water park, and family-friendly entertainment. The park also features on-site indoor and outdoor meeting spaces alongside customizable group add-ons like private cabana rentals at the park’s Boulder Beach. “These are just a few examples of the many activities available in the Coeur d’Alene area,” says Robitaille. “Whether you enjoy outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or simply relaxing by the lake, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this beautiful region.”

Culinary Experiences

Whether it’s a brief window of free time before an event or a social hour between meetings, attendees can stroll along Northwest Boulevard/Sherman Avenue for a lineup of local boutique shops, restaurants, cafes, and art galleries. Located in the former Exchange National Bank of Coeur d’Alene building, Vault Coffee serves locally roasted coffee, loose-leaf tea, and small bites for breakfast and lunch. Helmed by Chef Tim Henig, Tito’s Italian Grill & Wine Shop serves up comfort Italian fare. The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating alongside a private dining room for groups, a fully stocked bar, and a premium wine collection.

“We have resort-owned restaurants with over 50 menus offering a wide variety of cuisines,” adds VanSickle. “From fresh steak and seafood at The Cedars Floating Restaurant to casual Northwest fare at Dockside with world-famous ‘gooey’ desserts, our dining options stand out. These restaurants provide exceptional catering services and have been favorites for past events, ensuring a delightful culinary experience for all guests.”

Beyond catering, The Cedars can host small groups of up to six in its indoor dining space and up to eight on its outdoor patio providing gorgeous views of the lake and surrounding mountains from its on-the-water location. Dockside can take groups of up to 10 in its main dining room indoors, and larger parties can be accommodated on a case-by-case basis with arrangements made ahead of time. VanSickle notes that groups and event planners are leaning toward locally sourced and high-quality food options for catering and dining experiences. She adds, “Overall, business groups hosting in Coeur d’Alene are looking for ways to create meaningful and memorable experiences that promote relaxation, well-being, and team cohesion.”