Wandering in Wallace, ID

By Melinda Larke - Cherry Valley Macaroni Kid Publisher June 21, 2018

Last summer my husband spent a lot of time working around our house and on our property.  This summer my husband asked for more family time, more work/fun balance with an emphasis on fun.  I just heard vacation and got to work on planning!

As a family we tend to plan one big vacation every year and several weekend trips throughout the year. Weekend trips mean road trips!  I love road trips but when you only have 3-4 days I have to choose a place close to home.  We had driven through Idaho many times over the years, but we have never stopped to see what Idaho could offer us.  Now is the time! All I knew about Idaho was Silverwood Theme Park.  While I knew that Silverwood would have to be part of the trip, I thought that we should also explore other areas.  Really, I was trying to give my husband, who is not super found of theme parks, something that he would enjoy also.  After all it is the nice thing to do.  

I had no clue where to begin.  I did remember the Visit Idaho commercials that I kept seeing on TV and went to their website to see what I could find.  I had hit the mother load!  Everything I needed was right there sitting in front of me.  It was from Visit Idaho that I learned about the town of Wallace and the Route of the Hiawatha.  Plans were easily made and we were ready to have a weekend of fun!  

We left very early (not my preference at all) on Friday morning and started our journey east.  We decided to drive Hwy 2 up and over and visit Grand Coulee Dam along the way.  That is not the shortest way to get to Idaho, but we enjoyed the scenery. The spot at the Grand Coulee Dam that we stopped at for lunch had picnic tables and lots of grass to run around on, the kids were happy.  After lunch we stopped by the visitor’s center.  The visitor’s center was small enough that it was a great little break but also engaging enough that the kids found it interesting.  We arrived in Wallace, Idaho about 3 hours later. Overall I thought it was a really easy drive.  It took us about 8 hours, but I have done 8 hours drives where I was just done and exhausted, after this drive I was ready for more. 

While in Wallace we choose to stay at the Wallace Inn.  The price was right, the reviews were terrific, and I had to communicate with the manager, Rick, several times before our trip and he was such a pleasure to speak with. Oh, and it had an indoor pool, a must for my kids!  We were not disappointed.  My kids loved the pool, my husband loved the hot tub (which was especially great after our 15 mile bike ride), and I loved the fridge in the room! Mom life right?  But, it was an awesome fridge; it was big for a hotel fridge, had can holders, and kept all the food I brought nice and cold without freezing it. The staff was amazing also.  They were cheerful and helpful; we felt very welcome.  

Each evening we walked into downtown Wallace for dinner.  I loved that we could walk everywhere in Wallace.  Wallace calls itself the “Center of the Universe,” because of its long mining history.  It is a little quirky and the town itself has some quirk to it that made it all go together very well.  We had many options for dinner and really enjoyed both places we decided to try. While in town I saw a place that did silver mine tours.  I really wanted to check it out but unfortunately we didn’t have the time to go. (Swimming and sitting in the hot tub were way more important to the rest of my family, I was out voted.)

On Saturday we had our first big adventure in Idaho.  We rode the Route of the Hiawatha!  Only about 15 minutes east of Wallace, The Route of the Hiawatha is the crown jewel of the rail –to- trail projects in the country. It is a 15 mile downhill bike ride that follows an old railroad path, with 10 train tunnels and 7 sky high train trestles that you get to ride in and over.  I really enjoyed the scenery of the Bitterroot Mountains, the fact that I got to ride through old train tunnels and trestles (big history buff here), and that is was all downhill.  The trail is very family friendly, able to accommodate young children up to the grandparents.  My kids left wanting to do it again.  To ride the Route of the Hiawatha you need to have trail passes, bike lights, and shuttle tickets to get back up the mountain to your car.  I would also recommend dressing in layers; those tunnels are very cold and some are over a mile long.  We were able to rent bikes, get trail passes, shuttle tickets, and get everything else we needed up at Lookout Pass right on the Idaho/Montana boarder.  

The staff were so helpful with us first timers.  On our way back to Wallace the rain started to pour as a storm went through the area.  That was our cue to stay near the hotel for the rest of the afternoon/evening. Sunday, we woke up, checked out, and made our way west to our next big adventure, Silverwood Theme Park

While I came to Idaho mostly for Silverwood, I really enjoyed the town of Wallace and the activities it had to offer myself and my family! My son has asked to return and do the Route of the Hiawatha again, and I really want to check out the silver mine tour!  If you are thinking about a fun family vacation or coming through the area consider Wallace and the Wallace Inn

Disclosure - I received discounts exchange for a review.  All opinions are my own.