Art galleries outnumber ski shops two to one in this tiny town in Idaho’s panhandle, where 7,500 inhabitants – hippies, jocks, artists, and powderhounds – decline to believe that a ski town can’t also be urbane and cultured. In the six-block historic district, boutiques run by former back-to-the-landers sell everything from impressive landscape photography to chainsaw-carved bear statues. We recommend swinging by the Laughing Dog Brewery for a tour and tasting after you’ve already decided whether you want a whittled grizzly. A few Dogzillas later, they might look pretty appealing.
As tempted as you’ll be to linger in town, the majestic Selkirk Mountains, which loom over Sandpoint, exert a gravitational pull. The two bowls of 2,400-vertical-foot Schweitzer ski resort boast the lightest powder west of Utah and remain a destination for both in-the-know racers and families looking to take advantage of the town’s charm.
More information: The Lodge at Sandpoint is an Arts and Crafts–style masterpiece on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille, which moonlights as a runway for float planes. Rooms begin at $130 a night.