Directly north of the Coeur d’Alene, Hayden is a relatively young city surrounded by amazing natural scenery and a wealth of family attractions.
Hayden is bordered by large expanses of prairie, and on the horizon in almost every direction are the peaks of the Coeur d’Alene and Spokane Mountains.
The two largest lakes in Idaho are also minutes away, while Hayden has a lovely beachfront park at its own lake on the east side of the city.
Being so close to a regional tourism destination like Coeur d’Alene means you won’t have to travel more than a few minutes for theme parks, water parks and unforgettable recreation experiences.
And closer to home, Hayden has a choice of all-weather attractions like a waterpark, indoor family fun centers and a petting zoo.
1. Triple Play Family Fun Park
Just around the corner from Hayden City Hall and attached to the Holiday In Express and Suites is a family activity center bursting with things to do.
Just to sum up, Triple Play Family Fun Park, has an 18-hole indoor mini golf course, a bowling alley, laser tag, a climbing wall, ropes course, a three-story indoor playground, arcade, bumper cars, VR games and an interactive dark ride.
When summer comes around there’s a ton of fun outside too, with go-karts and bumper boats. Also part of the complex is Raptor Reef Indoor Water Park, which we’ll talk about next.
2. Raptor Reef Indoor Water Park
Attached to Triple Play is a 25,000 square-foot water park that stays open even as the mercury drops outside.
At Raptor Reef Water Park there’s a constant temperature of 86 °F and plenty to keep everyone from toddlers and teenagers entertained.
For bigger kids the focus of attention will be the new waterslide, The Constrictor dropping 350 feet at high speed through three tight curves.
This is the fastest of Raptor Reef’s four slides, and the park also has a wave pool with three-foot waves, indoor/outdoor hot tubs and a two-storey play area for younger kids with a tipping bucket and water jets.
3. Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center
A fascinating figure tied to North Idaho is the inventor and aviator Forrest Bird (1921-2015) who lived not far away in Sagle.
A technical training officer in WWII, Bird embarked on a career inventing respirators and ventilators for the medical industry after finding a German oxygen regulator in the war and working out how to make it more functional.
The Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center is in a hangar at Coeur d’Alene Airport and has a rotating fleet of aircraft from before WWI to the present day.
To name a few there’s a 1947 Republic RC-7 “Sea Bee”, a North American AT-6 similar to the one Forrest flew in his WWII days and a 1927 WACO model GXE-10, like the one in which he made his first solo flight at the age of just 14.
These aircraft are accompanied by exhibits about Bird’s medical inventions, as well as famous innovations in general, like Ruth Handler’s Barbie and the Mac II, mostly by Steve Wozniak.
4. Hayden City Park (McIntire Family Park)
Renamed in 2016 after former mayor Ronald B. McIntire, this charming park sits right behind Hayden City Hall.
The plot of land has real historic significance for Hayden as in the mid-20th century it was donated to what was then a village for its City Hall, fire station, community center and main park.
The latter has extensive green space, to go with a baseball field, basketball court and children’s playground.
The bandstand is an anchor for Thursday Night Concerts in the Park throughout July and August, as well as the Hayden Days event every July.
5. Hayden Lake
The east side Hayden is bordered by a beautiful natural lake with a mountainous and heavily indented shoreline.
Parts of Hayden Lake are surprisingly deep, descending 800 feet, while the mountains that cradle the lake on every side except Hayden proper, rise as high as 6,000 feet.
You can spend a day by the water at Honeysuckle Beach (more next), which also offers one of only three boat launches on the lake.
On land you can take a scenic drive on the narrow road that weaves around the lakeshore for 40 miles, leading you through dense pine forest and past summer homes, both modern and historic.
6. Honeysuckle Beach
One of only three public access points on Hayden Hayden is a public park managed by the City of Hayden.
Honeysuckle Beach is in a nook in the lake’s west shore and was created in the early 1990s after community fundraising efforts.
Backed by tall evergreen trees is a welcoming patch of golden sand beside a shallow swimming area. On the water the swimming area is contained by a walkable wooden dock for fishing.
The beach is staffed by lifeguards mid-June through late-August, noon to 6 pm. During this time there’s always a concession stand open, and you can take a picnic on the shaded grassy space behind.
7. Big Red’s Barn Indoor Animal Experience
Fully licensed by the USDA, this indoor petting zoo just to the south of Hayden offers hands-on animal experiences for children all year round.
Among the species and breeds greeting you at Big Red’s Barn are dwarf goats, miniature pigs, zebus, a miniature donkey, wallabies, guinea pigs, rabbits, an array of birds, sheep, a capybara, as well as tarantulas, tortoises and snakes.
Kept in clean and spacious enclosures, these animals are used to interacting with humans, and you can purchase a cup of fresh veggies to feed most of them. Depending on the weather, kids will also be able to take camel and “unicorn” rides outside.
8. Lake Coeur d’Alene
A regional honeypot in summer, Lake Coeur d’Alene, the second-largest lake in Idaho, is no more than five miles south of Hayden.
Formed at the end of the last Ice Age, the lake has more than 100 miles of scenic shoreline fringed by steep slopes covered with giant Ponderosa pines.
This is a natural wonder to admire on boat cruises, embarking from the city of Coeur d’Alene, or from the north shore along the paved North Idaho Centennial Trail or Tubbs Hill.
Coeur d’Alene has gorgeous waterside public spaces, like McEuen Park, loved by families for its splash pad.
You’ll also have endless inspiration for days out, from fishing trips to paragliding, jet ski, kayak and paddle boarding trips along the Spokane River and visits to open farms.
9. Silverwood Theme Park
With more than 70 rides, attractions, slides and shows, Silverwood Theme Park is the largest attraction of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.
There’s more than enough for a whole day’s entertainment, just ten miles out of Hayden. The rides here run a whole gamut of intensity levels, and at the extreme end is Aftershock, shooting you forwards through a cobra roll and inverted loop, and then backwards.
This is one of six roller coasters at Silverwood, along with a world of crowd-pleasing water rides, carnival-style amusements and exciting stunt and magic shows.
Included with admission is Boulder Beach, a high-end water park, with two wave pools, a lazy river, a water play area for wee ones and slides that ramp up in intensity to the 55mph Velocity Peak.
10. Croffoot Park
North of the airport is 25 acres set aside for outdoor recreation. Croffoot Park also has a picturesque location with unbroken vistas across the flat prairie to the Bitterroot Mountains in the east and the Spokane Mountains to the west.
Much of the park is taken up by a sports complex comprising two softball fields, two little league baseball fields, two basketball courts, two soccer fields, horseshoe pits and a tot lot.
If you have a four-legged friend with you there’s a fenced dog park on the east side with the affectionate nickname, Pawfoot Park.
11. Farragut State Park
If you’re craving more wilderness, the largest body of water in the state, Lake Pend Oreille can be reached within 20 minutes of Hayden.
At the closest, southwestern shore is Farragut State Park, which has a story of its own to tell. This is the site of a WWII naval training station, giving basic training to close to 300,000 sailors in the space of just 30 months.
In 4,000 acres, the park is blessed with some of the best views of Lake Pend Oreille, particularly at Bernard Peak, one of several scenic overlooks connected by some 40 miles of trails.
Added to that there’s a disc golf course, facilities for mountain biking and horseback riding, hundreds of campsites, ten camping cabins and a visitor center exploring the history of the park and its flora and fauna.
12. Mad Bomber Brewing Company
If you’re curious about the name of this craft brewery in Hayden, the founders are three United States Army veterans who served in Afghanistan in the bomb squad.
The explosive theme doesn’t stop there, as the taproom has tables fashioned from old munitions crates, and the brews themselves are references to famous weapons or historical events involving explosives.
Take the 1605 Rye (year of the Gunpowder Plot), the Fatman IPA, the Marksman India Brown or the MK84 Porter. There are eight beers on tap at any time (six flagship beers and six seasonals) and in winter you can pull up a chair by the cozy fireside.
13. The Clark House
In a prominent position at Clark Point on the Hayden Lake Road stands a historic property with an intriguing story. This is the Clark House, built in 1912 as a summer home for the industrialist Francis Lewis Clark (1861-?).
Just two years later, in 1914, Clark disappeared during a trip to Santa Barbara, California the circumstances of which have never been verified.
The Clark House is culturally significant, designed in an American Colonial style by prominent architect Kirtland Cutter (1860-1939) and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978.
After Clark’s disappearance the building was used as a boys’ home, convalescent center, resort and restaurant, before a period of neglect up to the 1990s. After being restored the building has most recently served as a bed and breakfast.
14. Timberline Adventures
The ultimate way to discover the full beauty of Lake Coeur d’Alene is high on a zip line suspended in the forest canopy.
This is made possible through Timberline Adventures, which has a storefront in the city and will then take you on an open-air UTV to its massive property on the lake’s northeast shore at the aptly named Beauty Bay.
There you’ll have a choice of seven zip lines; you can ride all seven or opt for a shorter tour, always zooming from one treetop platform to the next.
Timberline has a cute treehouse on the property, which you can also visit to make s’mores, toasted over an open flame.
15. Avondale Golf Course
A membership club open to the public, Avondale Golf Course has a very picturesque location next to Hayden Lake.
All around is some of North Idaho’s most beautiful wooded scenery, providing tricky OB at a tough but fun 18-hole Par 72, across 6,600 yards.
Every now and then the peaks of the Bitterroot Mountains will come into view between the corridor of towering pines.
The course is matched with a perfectly groomed putting green and a natural turf driving range, while the pro shop, run by PGA pro Dan Porter, has all the necessary gear for beginners right up to low-handicappers.