When exploring Priest Lake, Idaho, don't just stick to the lakeside resorts and assume you've seen it all.
There's definitely more. One gem you don't want to miss is the Nordman Bar.
Well, technically, it's the Nordman Store/Post Office/Motel/RV Park/Bar... yes, all one business. And it's been going strong since 1947.
You'll likely be greeted on the front porch by a big, fat, grey cat named Gary.
He sits motionless, staring at you, and you may note that he looks just like Church from Pet Semetary. He's scary. Scary Gary. And now know you'll never forget his name.
Step inside to be surrounded by an endless array of collectible historic rifles and taxidermied animals. It's a lot to take in, so you'll want to order a cocktail now.
It's the kind of place that feels local. Local, as in many of the customers seem to live nearby and come in every day, or are possibly related to the employees somehow.
Don't feel like you're intruding, though. The servers are super friendly, chatty, and happy to serve you whatever you want (order the Huckleberry Press). We talked for a long time with our server, as well as with some locals who were sitting at the end of the bar. We got into a pretty good debate with them over the diameter of Priest Lake. Well, actually they got into a debate. And no one could figure it out.
We felt very welcome and taken care of. The atmosphere, even while surrounded by dead animals, was unforgettable. We'll be back!
Check out other highlights around the area at Northern Exposure: Discovering Priest Lake.
For other local cocktail and food recommendations, see Great Food with a Stunning View: What to Eat at Priest Lake.