Denim shorts; swimsuit; coverup shirt; Tory Burch slides; straw handbag; sunglasses
Happy Tuesday, friends! If you’ve been following along on Instagram, then you probably saw a few snaps from a recent vacation and road trip that Eric and I took through Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. All in all it was a great trip, the longest one we’ve taken together actually. Can you believe I got Eric out of the office for two whole weeks? That’s never happened before, but it sure was great spending lots of time on the road with my best bud.
We kicked off the trip in Sandpoint, Idaho with a whole bunch of family members from Eric’s side – 18 of us, including a couple of kiddos and one all-star 5-month-old traveler. We stayed in this Airbnb which was really great for a large group – plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms, spacious living spaces to hang out together, its own dock on the lake, and a great neighborhood for our morning walks.
We mostly just hung out, took it easy, spent some time puzzling, caught up on a little reading, ate 1,000 Doritos, spent a beautiful day on a pontoon boat, made s’mores with the littles, and watched one hell of a lightening storm one night. In the town of Sandpoint, here were a few of our favorite spots.
Lunch at Matchwood Brewing Company – One day a big group of us roamed around downtown Sandpoint for a little shopping, sipping, and general tourist-ing. We ended up at Matchwood Brewing Company for a late lunch and flights of beer. We loved that we could mix and match and choose the beers included in our flights, and the food was really good. If in doubt, get the soft pretzel because the stoneground mustard and spicy maple syrup that accompany it are the real stars of the show.
Dinner and Drinks at Forty-One South at The Lodge at Sandpoint – There were lots of restaurants to try in Sandpoint, but somehow we found ourselves at Forty-One South at The Lodge at Sandpoint for three different dinners. And for good reason. The view is beautiful, the outdoor deck seating is so ideal, and the food was delicious. Everything we tried – House-Smoked Trout Plate, Crab Lettuce Wraps, Crab Bisque (OMG!), Goat Cheese Salad, the Smoked Filet – was something I would absolutely order again.
Wine Tasting at Pend d’Oreille Winery – This is a cute little wine spot right in the heart of downtown that’s definitely worth a stop if you’re a wine-lover. Flights and tastings are really affordable, and I actually tasted and purchased a couple of bottles that changed my (previously prejudiced) California mind about Washington wines. The Bistro Rouge, Pinot Gris, and Red Dessert Wine were group favorites.
Shops at Cedar St. Bridge – Cedar St. Bridge is home to a public marketplace right in the middle of downtown Sandpoint offering touristy tees and souvenirs as well as some really great local shops. We loved all of the flavored oils, vinegars and sea salts at Gethsemane; the spicy, sweet pecans from Panhandle Nut House; and ALL the pickled things at The Pickled Kitchen.
Swimsuit; tie-dye bag; sunglasses Beer flights at Matchwood Brewing Company Sweater; shorts; straw bag; sandals; sunglasses Dinner at Forty-One South View from The Lodge at Sandpoint After hitting the road from Sandpoint, we really didn’t have a plan or any reservations for the rest of the trip. We knew that we had to eventually end up in Jackson, Wyoming because we had booked flights home from the Jackson airport, but we wanted to keep our options open and play it by ear for all of the nights in between.
We had gotten several suggestions for Bozeman, Montana, so we figured we’d check it out. While trying to “loosely plan” the trip ahead of time, I had searched and searched for Bozeman hotels that would fit our vibe, but my searches kept coming up short. This is probably because we were both last minute and traveling smack in the middle of summer when all the families with kids are traveling. By the end of our first day of driving though, we found the perfect spot.
Gallatin River Lodge – I had seen Gallatin River Lodge coming up in my searches for boutique hotels in Bozeman, but I never really considered it because, full disclosure, it was pretty pricey. When we were an hour outside of Bozeman with no other appealing options, I decided to give them a call anyway, and it turns out, if you call around 8:00 pm (when it’s still plenty sunny out in Montana in the summertime), you can get a really significant discount.
After separating from Eric’s entire family earlier in the day and driving 6+ hours, this place could not have been more perfect for our first night on the road. It’s actually about 20 minutes outside of Downtown Bozeman, in a pretty remote area, on a beautiful piece of property. It’s crazy quiet with huge rooms and a restaurant that served up one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. They also offer guided fly fishing trips, but we just enjoyed a couple of meals, caught up on sleep, and hit the road again the next day. The one (and only) thing we might have changed about Gallatin River Lodge would have been some comfy rockers, hammocks, or chairs outside to enjoy the beautiful views by the pond. Other than that, we would 100% recommend this cozy spot.
Gallatin River Lodge Gallatin River Lodge Shorts; Tee; Cardigan; Slides; Handbag; SunglassesOver the river and through the woods and several lookout points later, we found ourselves in Big Sky around lunchtime. The whole Gallatin area was so pretty and made for such an easy drive. We first made our way up to Big Sky Resort (which we quickly decided wasn’t really our jam) but lucked out and stopped at Lone Mountain Ranch on our way back down.
Lunch at Lone Mountain Ranch – This ranch resort was like something out of a movie – the prettiest grounds dotted with a bunch of idyllic cabins, outdoor firepits, horseback riding, trailrides, and one seriously yummy restaurant. The cabins were completely booked (I’m guessing months out and for a pretty penny), but we stayed for lunch on the deck of Horn & Cantle which was 100% worth it.
320 Guest Ranch in Big Sky, Montana – Someone at Lone Mountain Ranch told us that we should check out 320 Guest Ranch, so we called from lunch and booked it, site unseen. And it didn’t disappoint. Check-in was a bit of an unorganized mess (remote location technology problems), but once we got to our riverfront cabin, we were thrilled. The cabin was spacious, updated, and cozy, with a wood-burning fireplace and the cutest porch looking out on the river. The ranch itself offers tons of land to explore, a variety of horseback riding options, and great casual dining at the on-property restaurant. We loved our stay and would definitely recommend it if you’re in the area.
320 Guest Ranch 320 Guest RanchOn day number three on the road, Eric woke me up at 5:30 (IN THE AM) and we booked it to Yellowstone National Park. The entrance to the park was less than an hour from 320 Ranch, but Eric insisted that we had to get there early to beat the crowds and see the park at dawn. (Also, he’s a morning person. I am…NOT. But it was his vacation too, so I somehow made it into the car before he left without me.)
Yellowstone was awesome. It’s as beautiful as I was hoping it would be, a place that’s seriously worth seeing, and as much as I hate to admit it, it was really beautiful seeing it first thing in the morning. (Don’t tell Eric.) We hadn’t really planned on staying in the park, but once we were there, we figured we should try. We stopped at one of the lodges and asked if there were any cancellations for the night. (Lodges in national parks can be notoriously hard to book last minute, but Eric and I have had some great luck with cancellations in the past.) The lodges had nada, not a single room available in the park. I had seen something about Lake Yellowstone Hotel online the day before, so we headed that way thinking maybe we’d get lucky.
Lake Yellowstone Hotel – As soon as we turned a corner and saw this beautiful yellow hotel facing the most gorgeous blue lake, we had our fingers and toes crossed for an available room. It’s the oldest hotel inside of a national park, and it’s just plain cool. Keeping our string of luck going, we totally scored on a lake-facing suite (and a same-day discount to boot).
The room was updated and beautiful, with a comfy bed, spacious living room, and a black and white bathroom that I’d expect to find on Pinterest. The restaurant was SO good, good enough that we ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner there. (Pro tip – if you can only get a 10:00 pm reservation for dinner, show up at 5:00 and get on the waitlist. It moves quickly.) The lobby area is HUGE with tons of oversized, comfy leather chairs and couches looking out of giant windows onto Lake Yellowstone. Eric and I finished up dinner, grabbed a glass of wine, and hung out in the lobby with a book (for me) and a newspaper (for him). Staying here and waking up to the glass-like lake was a total experience that I won’t forget.
One thing to note: Lake Yellowstone Hotel does NOT have WIFI, and cell service is pretty minimal. It’s great if you’re looking to unplug, but if you need access to email or are looking to work a bit while you travel, you may want to look into one of the other lodges that does offer WIFI. There was a plug-in internet connection in the room, but it was very limited.
Bison in Yellowstone National Park The view outside Lake Yellowstone Hotel
After one last meal overlooking the lake, we headed out of Yellowstone and onto the last leg of our trip, and if you know us, then you won’t be surprised to hear that we spent it in Jackson Hole. We’ve visited a few times in the past and really just always love going back.
The Rustic Inn at Jackson Hole – This time we stayed at The Rustic Inn, and it might be my new favorite place to stay in Jackson. The property is beyond beautiful, the location is great, and the creekside cabins were really nice, perfect for lazy front porch hangs. Dinner at the restaurant was really good, and the included breakfast every day was delicious. (Eric and I are still trying to figure out how they get the bacon so perfect and crispy.) The spa was small but nice, and we enjoyed getting to hang by the pool for a few hours one day. The one (pretty big) downside to The Rustic was the customer service. It was almost comically bad. Everything from scheduling a shuttle to luggage delivery to even getting acknowledged when standing right in front of a check-in/checkout desk was met with so much resistance. I would probably still stay here again, but for a resort this nice (with a price tag to match), they really need to get it together on the service side.
Dinner at King Sushi – We’ve had LOTS of great food in Jackson over the years, and King Sushi is now at the top of that list for me. Holy moly, this place is so good. The fish was all super fresh, and the ramen was a serious day-maker. I’m not even a big ramen fan, but inspired by someone sitting by us at the sushi bar, I had to try it. And it was delicious. I could live off of that broth, and I’m still thinking about the tempura fried soft boiled egg. As we were finishing up our meal, I looked over and saw Ina Garten and her husband Jeffrey sitting down to a patio table. I mean, it’s gotta be good if it’s approved by the Barefoot Contessa herself, right?
Sandwiches and Sloshies from Creekside Market & Deli – My love for a good sandwich runs DEEP, and Creekside Market makes one hell of a sandwich. We discovered “Sloshies” at Creekside during our trip last summer but had no idea we were missing out on some seriously killer sandwiches. Now that we know, we’ll definitely be back. The fact that this place is literally right next door to The Rustic Inn meant that we were popping in and out of here like a couple of regulars.
Dinner at Snake River Grill (again) – I’ve chatted about this place before, but it really is a must for us anytime we’re in Jackson. Eric has to get his fix of the Steak Tartare Pizza, and this time we added on the Fried Duck Spring Rolls, Truffle Fries, and Crispy Pork Shank which were all delicious. If you’re looking to try SRG, I’d probably recommend reservations.
Burgers and beers at The Bird – I’ve also chatted about The Bird here before, but it really is one of our favorite spots for brunch or lunch. As soon as we made it to Jackson this time, we made plans to hit The Bird before heading to the airport to go home. What better way to fly than with a belly full of English muffin burgers and some sort of yummy craft beer? No better way to end the trip either.
Pants; tee; YSL handbag Pool area at The Rustic Inn