Wallace, Idaho - What to see, do, where to stay, and more!
Welcome to our comprehensive travel guide to Wallace, Idaho! We're thrilled to share with you the hidden gem that is Wallace, a town that's rich with history, boundless natural beauty, and a vibrant community spirit. Whether you're an adventurer at heart seeking thrilling outdoor pursuits, a history buff eager to delve into the past, or a traveler looking for a unique, off-beat destination, Wallace has something for everyone. Let us guide you through this charming town, highlighting the must-visit spots and providing insider tips to make your visit to Wallace, Idaho, an unforgettable experience.
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Wallace, Idaho is nestled in the stunning Silver Valley region of the Idaho Panhandle in the USA's Pacific Northwest. It's approximately 84 miles east of Spokane, Washington, and a quick drive off Interstate 90. The city is surrounded by the Coeur d’Alene National Forest, which is known for its abundant wildlife and breathtaking landscapes.
Spokane, WA to Wallace, ID: 80 mi | 1 hr 19 min | Google Maps
Coeur d'Alene, ID to Wallace, ID: 47 mi | 49 min | Google Maps
Boise, ID to Wallace, ID: 404 mi | 7 hr 36 min | Google Maps
Seattle, WA to Wallace, ID: 359 mi | 5 hr 30 min | Google Maps
Missoula, MT to Wallace, ID: 118 mi | 1 hr 15 min | Google Maps
What is Special About This Town?
Wallace, Idaho holds a unique charm that sets it apart from other towns. Known as the "Silver Capital of the World," Wallace's rich mining history is a testament to its resilient past. This quaint town, with its well-preserved late 19th-century architecture, is the only town in the United States entirely listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Wallace's location at the heart of Idaho's beautiful Silver Valley makes it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts with its numerous bike trails, ski resorts, and hiking spots.
Is Wallace Worth Visiting?
Absolutely, Wallace is a gem worth visiting! This historic mining town is brimming with charm and character, offering visitors a unique blend of history, stunning natural beauty, and outdoor adventures. The town is home to beautifully preserved late 19th-century architecture and a wealth of recreational activities from hiking and biking to skiing and snowboarding. Furthermore, Wallace's status as the epicenter of the world's longest traffic light-free stretch of Interstate makes it a quirky point of interest. With its friendly locals and vibrant atmosphere, Wallace, Idaho definitely deserves a spot on your travel itinerary.
While we think Wallace, Idaho is charming and 100% worth a visit, it should be noted that unless you plan to participate extensively in activities in the surrounding areas of Wallace, it's probably not worth its own separate trip due to the fact that the town itself is small and pretty sleepy (which is part of what makes it so charming!). We always find ourselves stopping into Wallace on our way to and from other places along I-90 such as visiting Glacier National Park or Seattle, Washington.
What to do in Wallace, Idaho
Wallace, Idaho is home to an array of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages and interests. This section is designed to guide you through an eclectic mix of activities ranging from exploring historical sites to venturing into the great outdoors. So whether you're a fan of history, nature, or adventure, you won't run out of memorable things to do in this charming town. Let's delve into the unique experiences that await you in Wallace, Idaho!
Visit the Wallace District Mining Museum
Delve into the rich mining history of Wallace by visiting the Wallace District Mining Museum. This museum gives visitors an intriguing glimpse into the mining practices and life in the Silver Valley during the mining boom. With its fascinating displays of mining artifacts, historic photos, and mineral samples, you will find yourself transported back in time, gaining a deeper appreciation for the town's significant mining heritage. Don't miss the chance to hear captivating stories from the friendly museum staff, many of whom are ex-miners themselves.
Getting there: 509 High Bank St, Wallace, ID 83873 | Google Maps
Stand at the "Center of the Universe"
In the heart of Wallace, Idaho, you’ll find an unassuming manhole cover that declares itself the "Center of the Universe". This quirky landmark has an interesting story behind it. In 2004, Mayor Ron Garitone declared Wallace to be the "Center of the Universe" because no one could prove it otherwise. Since then, this spot has become a must-see for visitors, adding to the town's unique charm and sense of humor.
If you decide to visit the famous manhole cover, be careful and watch for cars! The manhole is in the middle of an intersection so we'd recommend posing for a photo in front of the sign on the corner instead.
Getting there: 414 6th St, Wallace, ID 83873 | Google Maps
Explore the Northern Pacific Depot Railroad Museum
The Northern Pacific Depot Railroad Museum is another must-visit in Wallace. Here, you can learn about the pivotal role the railroad played in the development and growth of the town. This beautiful château-esque building, which once served as a bustling train station, now houses a collection of exhibits, including vintage railroad equipment, historical photographs, and artifacts. Traversing through the museum, you'll not only gain a deeper understanding of Wallace's railroad heritage but also the pivotal role railroads played in the westward expansion of the United States. Don't miss the model train exhibit, a favorite among visitors young and old.
Getting there: 219 6th St, Wallace, ID 83873 | Google Maps
Ride the Route of the Hiawatha
Embark on an unforgettable adventure by riding the Route of the Hiawatha, a scenic bike trail which is often dubbed as the "Crown Jewel of Rail-to-Trail" adventures in the United States. This 15-mile trail takes you through the breathtakingly beautiful Bitterroot Mountains between Idaho and Montana and features ten train tunnels and seven towering trestle bridges. The highlight of the trail is the 1.66-mile long St. Paul Pass, or "Taft" Tunnel, which takes you right under the state line. Make sure to have your lights ready as it's completely dark in there! Its well-maintained paths and gentle gradients (mostly downhill when ridden east to west) make it suitable for riders of all ages and skill levels. The trail is usually open from the end of May through September each year, but it's best to check the website for the most current information. Bike rentals are available at the Lookout Pass Lodge and Bike Rental Shop.
Getting there: 1-90 I-90, Mullan, ID 838463 | Google Maps
Tour the Sierra Silver Mine
Just a short distance from downtown Wallace, you can find the Sierra Silver Mine, a crucial part of Wallace's rich mining history. The mine offers guided tours that are 1 hr and 15 min and take you deep into the mountain, providing an unforgettable glimpse into the life of a miner in the Silver Valley. The mine is open from May-mid October every year, so be sure to visit during open months. Don't forget to bring a jacket for the tour since the mines are consistently around 50 degree Fahrenheit.
Getting there: 509 Cedar St, Wallace, ID 83873 | Google Maps
Go for a Hike
Wallace, Idaho, offers access to a myriad of beautiful and scenic hiking trails. Among the best is the Pulaski Tunnel Trail, a 4-mile round trip hike that offers intriguing historical insights into the Great Fire of 1910 and the heroics of ranger Ed Pulaski. Then there's the Route of the Hiawatha, a gentle and scenic trail that was once a railroad track and has now been transformed into a breathtaking hiking and biking trail. For the more adventurous, the Stevens Lakes Trail offers a challenging hike with the reward of stunning alpine lake views at the summit. These trails promise a mix of history, natural beauty, and physical challenge that will satiate the appetite of any hiking enthusiast. Remember to pack plenty of water, snacks, and good hiking shoes!
Walk the Historic District
One of the most enjoyable things to do in Wallace, Idaho, is simply walking around the Historic District. With every building in downtown Wallace listed on the National Register of Historic Places, you feel as if you've stepped back in time. As you stroll the streets, admire the beautiful late 19th and early 20th-century architecture, soak up the small-town ambiance, and browse through a variety of shops offering everything from antiques and artwork to unique souvenirs. Don't forget to stop by one of the local cafes or restaurants to sample the local cuisine or enjoy a refreshing beer at one of the town's famous silver mining-themed pubs.
Visit the Oasis Bordello Museum
Take a step into the risqué past of Wallace, Idaho with a visit to the Oasis Bordello Museum. This hidden gem offers a look into Wallace’s wilder days as a historic mining town. The museum is an actual preserved bordello, closed abruptly in 1988, leaving behind a time capsule of the life and times of the women who worked there. The tour, guided by knowledgeable locals, provides a candid, respectful, and intriguing exploration of an often overlooked aspect of Western history. Please note, due to the mature subject matter, the museum may not be suitable for younger visitors.
Getting there: 605 Cedar St, Wallace, ID 83873 | Google Maps
Hike the Pulaski Tunnel Trail
For nature lovers and history buffs, hiking the Pulaski Tunnel Trail is an unmissable experience in Wallace, Idaho. This 2-mile trail leads you to the historic Pulaski Tunnel, site of the infamous 1910 fire that devastated the surrounding area. As you hike, interpretive signs along the way tell the story of Ed Pulaski and his heroic efforts to save his firefighting crew during the Great Fire. Besides its historical significance, the trail offers stunning views of the surrounding wilderness, making it a popular choice among locals and tourists alike.
Just a few miles northeast of Wallace, nestled in the narrow, steep-walled canyon of Burke-Canyon Creek, lie the haunting remains of the Burke Ghost Town. Once a bustling mining town in the late 19th and early 20th century, it is now abandoned, with remnants of old buildings, including the historic Tiger Hotel, standing as silent witnesses to its past glory. Walking around Burke today, you can still sense the echoes of its vibrant history. The town, with its weather-beaten structures and stunning natural surroundings, offers a unique, off-the-beaten-path experience for those seeking to dive deeper into Idaho's rich mining heritage.
Note: Due to the abandonment of the town we do not recommend going inside any of the caves, buildings, or mines.
Getting there: Burke, ID 83873 | Google Maps
Try Local Brews at Wallace Brewing Company
Wrap up your day in Wallace, Idaho with a trip to the Wallace Brewing Company. Nestled in the heart of downtown, this microbrewery is a testament to the town's resilient spirit and love for quality craft beer. Their beer menu boasts a range of brews, from the light and refreshing "1910 Black Lager" to the bold and robust "Vindicator IPA". Each glass you sip carries the stories of the Silver Valley's rich history. The friendly staff, inviting atmosphere, and, of course, the great beer make this stop a must for any visitor.
Getting there: 610 Bank St, Wallace, ID 83873 | Google Maps
Ski at Silver Mountain Resort or Lookout Pass Ski Area
Whether you're an experienced skier or a beginner hitting the slopes for the first time, Wallace, Idaho has got you covered. The Silver Mountain Resort and Lookout Pass Ski Area are two popular skiing destinations near Wallace, offering a variety of trails to suit all skill levels. The breathtaking mountain vistas combined with exhilarating winter sports make for an unforgettable experience. Post-ski, you can warm up and relax in one of the many cozy lodges in the area.
Getting to Silver Mountain Resort: Silver Mountain Resort: 610 Bunker Ave, Kellogg, ID 83837 | Google Maps
Getting to Lookout Pass Ski Area: I-90 Exit 0, Mullan, ID 83846 | Google Maps
Visit the Sixth Street Melodrama
Immerse yourself in the local culture of Wallace, Idaho at the Sixth Street Melodrama. As the only live community theatre in the Silver Valley, it offers a variety of entertaining performances throughout the year. From traditional melodramas to locally written plays, there's always something to enjoy. The actors' passion and talent, combined with the historic charm of the venue, make for a unique experience.
Getting there: 212 Sixth St, Wallace, ID 83873 | Google Maps
Run, Walk, or Bike the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene
The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes is a 73-mile paved path stretching from Mullan to Plummer. Perfect for biking, running, or a leisurely walk, it offers spectacular views of Idaho's beautiful landscapes, including lush meadows, serene lakes, and charming small towns. It's a great way to enjoy the outdoors and see a different side of Wallace, Idaho.
We've ridden and run on this trail many times and always thoroughly enjoy it! The scenery is beautiful and we've even seen moose on multiple occasions. Always keep your distance from moose though because they can be very dangerous! If you decide to do a large section or even the entire length of the trail we'd highly recommend a stop in Harrison for ice cream.
A highlight of summer in Wallace, Idaho is the annual Huckleberry Festival. This fun-filled weekend event celebrates the region's beloved huckleberry with a variety of activities, including a huckleberry pancake breakfast, a huckleberry dessert contest, and even a huckleberry parade. It's a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the local culture, taste some delicious huckleberry treats, and enjoy the camaraderie of the community. If you've never tried huckleberry before, you're in for a treat! Getting all the huckleberry goodies is something we always look forward to during our annual trip to the PNW.
Explore the Silver Valley
Dive into the heart of Idaho's mining history by exploring the Silver Valley. Known for its rich deposits of silver, lead, and zinc, the Silver Valley offers a glimpse into the region's mineral-rich past. Visit historic mining towns like Kellogg and Mullan, or take an underground mine tour to see the legacy of the Silver Valley up close. With the stunning Bitterroot Mountains as a backdrop, any trip through the Silver Valley promises both natural beauty and a fascinating look into Wallace, Idaho's storied past. The Silver Valley is not just a trip back in time, but a journey into the natural and cultural heritage of Idaho.
Where to Eat in Wallace, Idaho
The food scene in Wallace, Idaho is a delightful blend of traditional American fare and innovative culinary treats. Known for its cozy eateries and friendly service, dining in Wallace is as much about the warm, welcoming atmosphere as it is about the food. From the hearty burgers and huckleberry milkshakes at the iconic Red Light Garage to Italian dishes at The Fainting Goat Wine Bar and Restaurant, there's something to satisfy every palate.
The Blackboard Café
Delight your palate at the Blackboard Café, known for its array of delectable dishes made from locally sourced ingredients. From hearty breakfast options to their famous Idaho Trout dinners, there's something for everyone.
Location: 600 Cedar St, Wallace, ID 83873 | Google Maps
City Limits Pub & Grill
For burger lovers, City Limits Pub & Grill is a must-visit. Pair their signature burgers with a refreshing house-brewed beer for an authentic Wallace experience.
Location: 108 Nine Mile Rd, Wallace, ID 83873 | Google Maps
The Fainting Goat Wine Bar and Restaurant
Indulge in a fine dining experience at The Fainting Goat Wine Bar and Restaurant. Known for its sophisticated menu and extensive wine list, this eatery is a gem in Wallace, Idaho. The chef's creative use of locally-sourced ingredients paired with a warm, rustic atmosphere makes for a memorable culinary encounter.
Location: 516 High Bank St, Wallace, ID 83873 | Google Maps
Red Light Garage
The quirky and fun Red Light Garage offers a unique dining experience. Their huckleberry shakes and homemade pies are not to be missed.
Location: 608 High Bank St, Wallace, ID 83873 | Google Maps
Where to stay in Wallace, Idaho
While Wallace does have a couple of modest hotel options, we've never stayed in any of the in town options personally since we've always been either camping for free in the national forest or staying elsewhere such as Spokane or Coeur d'Alene. Here are a few solid looking options in the Wallace area if staying close to town is your preference.
Airbnb: The Linden Lofts at Albertini's
There are four units in this brick loft located in historic downtown Wallace, Idaho. Nicely renovated with large shower, comfortable bed, and fully kitchen make this place a great option for a getaway.
Highlights: 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, self check-in, free parking on premises, heating and air conditioning, wi-fi
Wallace, Idaho, with its rustic charm and historic backdrop, has served as the shooting location for several notable films. Perhaps the most famous among these is "Dante's Peak," a 1997 disaster thriller where Wallace was dubbed as the fictional town of Dante's Peak. The city's picturesque landscape also made it an ideal location for the 1996 action film "Heaven's Gate." Other notable films include "Breakheart Pass" and "The Cassandra Crossing." It's fascinating to see how the silver-screen has showcased the unique beauty of Wallace, further contributing to its charm and appeal.
Is There Still Mining in the town?
Yes, mining is still a major part of life in Wallace, Idaho. The region is rich in minerals, particularly silver, and has a long history of mining going back to the late 19th century. Currently, the Galena mine is the only active mine in the area. Operated by the Americas Gold and Silver Corporation, it's one of the richest silver mines in the world.
Other Things to do in the Area
Typically when we visit Wallace, Idaho it's on our way to or from other places in the Pacific Northwest. Here are a few of our favorite places that would bring you near Wallace, Idaho:
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Cozy and charming, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho is a must-visit destination on any trip through the Pacific Northwest. Known for its stunning lake views, outdoor recreational activities, and a vibrant downtown filled with shops and restaurants, there's something for every traveler. It's only about an hour's drive from Wallace, making it an ideal spot for a day trip or a longer stay. Here, you can indulge in water sports on the lake in the summer, enjoy a picturesque snowy landscape in the winter, or simply relax and enjoy the friendly and welcoming vibe of this beautiful town year-round.
Coeur d'Alene, ID to Wallace, ID: 47 mi | 51 min | Google Maps
Spokane, Washington, is a lively midsize city that embodies the spirit of the Pacific Northwest. Renowned for its beautiful parks, the centerpiece of which is the stunning Spokane Falls, and a bustling downtown district filled with unique shops, art galleries, and renowned restaurants. The city's proximity to numerous lakes, rivers, and the Rocky Mountain foothills make it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to the natural beauty, Spokane's rich cultural heritage and vibrant arts scene make it a compelling stop on your journey near Wallace, Idaho.
Spokane, WA to Wallace, ID: 80 mi | 1 hr 20 min | Google Maps
Glacier National Park
Known as the "Crown of the Continent," Glacier National Park is a stunning display of nature's grandeur, located within driving distance from Wallace, Idaho. It boasts over a million acres of lush forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, and spectacular lakes. It's a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with over 700 miles of trails for hiking and plenty of opportunities for fishing, boating, and wildlife spotting. A must-see is the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road, a scenic mountain road that provides breathtaking panoramic views. If you're not familiar with what all Glacier National Park has to offer, checkout these photos to get yourself inspired for the trip of a lifetime!
Glacier National Park to Wallace, ID: 193 mi | 3 hr23 min | Google Maps
Wallace, Idaho, captures the heart of the visitor with its rich history, picturesque landscapes, and friendly community. This travel guide offers a comprehensive look at what the town and surrounding areas have to offer, from comfortable accommodations to film history, mining insights, and delightful nearby locations. Whether you're a history buff, nature enthusiast, or just looking for a unique, charming place to unwind, Wallace is a hidden gem that promises a memorable visit. Pack your bags and get ready to be captivated by the charm of this historic town nestled in the heart of Idaho's Silver Valley. Safe travels!
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We're Chris and Sara
A creative husband and wife duo from a small-town in Tennessee with passion for all things travel. Checkout the links below to join us on our past, present, and future adventures!