The small town of Wallace, located in Idaho’s panhandle, is known as the “Silver Capital of the World.” Although silver mining still occurs, it is the historical charm that draws visitors. This mountain village has a small-town atmosphere that kids will love.
Stepping back in time
Every building in Wallace’s downtown area is on the National Register of Historical Places. This gives you a clue as to how old the architecture in the town is. One of these houses the Northern Pacific Depot Railroad Museum, which is sure to be a hit with kids. The museum used to serve as a railroad station within the town; today it is filled with actual pieces of history. Your child will feel as if he or she has stepped back in time. Walking through the museum, children can ring an old-fashioned brass bell, crank two hand-operated telephones and play with a train from a model railroad. Parents will enjoy the photographs, historical documents and recreations of scenes from railroad depots.
If you visit in May, the museum hosts a classic car show called Depot Days. Wallace’s streets are blocked off and filled with old cars of all shapes and sizes. Live music from the town’s gazebo will get your kids dancing and the museum also hosts kid-friendly activities on the front lawn.
Huckleberry all around
The Coeur d’Alene Mountains that tower over the city are filled with huckleberries, which also happen to be the state fruit. If you are not familiar with a huckleberry, it is because they grow only in the wild at high elevations. These small berries—about the size of a blueberry—come from several different plants so they range in color from bright red to deep blues and purples. Before they have matured, huckleberries taste bitter, but once they ripen, they are sweet and extremely flavorful.
Walking through the town, you can find huckleberry everything! Stop into the shops that line the downtown streets to buy huckleberry-flavored jams, syrups and jellies or huckleberry-scented soaps, candles, lotions or lip balms. Your kids will love the candy—get them huckleberry licorice or a lollipop.
Swing by the Red Light Garage Restaurant and Antique Store; it will put a big grin on your child’s face. There is a red and white spaceship in the parking lot—have your kids climb the metal stairs and take a seat on the benches inside. The words “Wallace” and “Idaho” line each side of the doorway, creating a unique photo opportunity.
When you step inside the restaurant, a dog may be there to greet you. The ceiling and walls are covered with license plates, foreign currency and other eccentric antiques. Order old-fashioned huckleberry milkshakes for the whole family; this is the only place in town where you can get one and they are delicious!
Center of the universe
Some of the more notable things around town are the “Center of the Universe” signs posted on all four corners of the intersection at Bank and Sixth Streets. After the town’s mayor declared it so in 2004, signs were put up and a monumental manhole cover was placed in the middle of the intersection. Kids will be thrilled to return home and tell their friends that they’ve been to the center of the universe.