17 Best Places to Visit in Idaho

Places to Visit in Idaho

Idaho, known as the “Gem State,” is a hidden gem in itself when it comes to natural beauty and outdoor adventures. With its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and thrilling outdoor activities, Idaho offers something for everyone. From the majestic Yellowstone National Park to the vibrant city of Boise, there are countless places to explore in this scenic state.

In this blog, we will showcase the 17 best places to visit in Idaho, highlighting the unique attractions, must-see landmarks, and hidden gems that make this state a top destination for travelers.

1. Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park, although partially located in Wyoming, is one of the must-visit places in Idaho. Known as the first national park in the United States, Yellowstone is a great place to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. From its famous geysers, including the iconic Old Faithful, to its scenic byways, Yellowstone offers breathtaking views at every turn.

The park is also home to a diverse range of wildlife, including grizzly bears, wolves, and herds of the iconic American bison. Whether you’re hiking, wildlife watching, or simply taking in the awe-inspiring scenery, Yellowstone National Park is a place you don’t want to miss when visiting Idaho.

2. Boise

Boise
Boise

As the largest city in Idaho, Boise has become a vibrant urban destination that offers a variety of attractions for visitors. Nestled along the scenic Boise River, the city boasts plenty of outdoor spaces, including picnic areas, parks, and the popular Boise River Greenbelt, where you can enjoy strolls, biking, and picnicking.

In addition to its natural beauty, Boise also offers a thriving arts and culture scene. The city is home to the Boise Art Museum, which features a diverse collection of contemporary artwork, as well as the Idaho State Capitol Building, a stunning piece of architecture and history. For those looking for live music, Boise has a vibrant music scene, with numerous venues hosting local and national acts throughout the year.

If you’re interested in learning more about the city’s history and culture, a visit to the Basque Block is a must. This unique neighborhood showcases the Basque heritage of the region through its restaurants, shops, and the Basque Museum and Cultural Center. You can explore the vibrant Basque culture and indulge in delicious dining options, immersing yourself in the rich traditions of this community.

No trip to Boise would be complete without a visit to the Boise Visitor Center, where you can gather information about the city’s attractions, events, and outdoor adventures. The friendly staff can help you plan your itinerary and make the most of your time in this dynamic city. Whether you’re a nature lover, art enthusiast, or history buff, Boise has something for everyone.

3. Hells Canyon National Recreation Area Idaho

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area idaho
Hells Canyon National Recreation Area Idaho

Nestled in the heart of the Snake River, Hells Canyon National Recreational Area offers breathtaking views and thrilling outdoor adventures. The canyon, with its rugged cliffs and rolling waters, is a haven for hikers, rafters, and nature enthusiasts. Visitors can explore the deepest river gorge in North America, indulge in water sports, and marvel at the diverse wildlife.

The majestic landscape is complemented by the presence of the visitor center, providing valuable insights into the region’s history and geology. Whether it’s hiking along scenic trails, embarking on a river expedition, or simply enjoying a picnic amidst the natural splendor, Hells Canyon promises an unforgettable experience.

4. Sun Valley

Sun Valley
Sun Valley

Nestled in the heart of the Sawtooth Mountains, Sun Valley is a picturesque mountain town known for its stunning landscapes and world-class ski resort. Whether you’re a winter sports enthusiast or simply want to soak in the natural beauty, Sun Valley offers a perfect mountain getaway.

During the winter months, skiers and snowboarders flock to Sun Valley to experience the thrill of gliding down the slopes of Bald Mountain, also known as “Baldy.” With its wide range of terrain, Bald Mountain offers something for every skill level, from beginner slopes to challenging expert runs. After a day on the mountain, unwind in the charming town of Sun Valley, where you can enjoy après-ski activities, delicious dining options, and boutique shopping.

In the summer, Sun Valley transforms into an outdoor paradise, offering hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and golfing. Explore the scenic trails that wind through the mountains, taking in the fresh mountain air and breathtaking views. Fly fishing enthusiasts can cast their lines in the area’s pristine rivers and streams, known for their abundance of trout.

Beyond its outdoor activities, Sun Valley also hosts a variety of summer festivals and events, including live music performances, art exhibits, and food festivals. Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, Sun Valley is the perfect mountain town to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

5. Bruneau Sand Dunes Idaho State Park

Bruneau Sand Dunes Idaho State Park
Bruneau Sand Dunes Idaho State Park

Situated in Southern Idaho, Bruneau Dunes State Park is home to the tallest single-structured dune in North America, offering a unique outdoor experience for visitors. The park’s impressive dunes, which reach heights of up to 470 feet, provide a stunning backdrop for hiking, sandboarding, and stargazing.

Hiking through the dunes allows you to appreciate the park’s natural beauty, with sweeping views of the surrounding landscape and the opportunity to spot the wildlife that calls the area home. For thrill-seekers, sandboarding down the dunes is a popular activity, providing an adrenaline rush and hours of fun.

At night, Bruneau Dunes offers exceptional stargazing opportunities, as the park is designated as an International Dark Sky Park. Look up at the vast expanse of the night sky, away from the city lights, and witness the brilliance of the stars above.

For those who want to spend more time in the park, camping is available, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the tranquility of the dunes. Wake up to the sound of nature, take a peaceful walk along the dunes, and experience the serenity of this unique state park in Southern Idaho.

6. Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho

Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho
Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho

Nestled in the Gem State, Coeur d’Alene is a great place to visit with its breathtaking views and outdoor recreational activities. Explore the largest city in North Idaho and visit the beautiful Shoshone Falls Park, often referred to as the “Niagara of the West.” Experience the beauty of the Silver Valley and make sure to visit the impressive Bald Mountain.

Don’t miss out on visiting the charming Visitor Center or enjoying the best things that this picturesque city has to offer. With Spokane, Washington at its doorstep, Coeur d’Alene offers a perfect blend of nature and urban amenities.

7. Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls
Idaho Falls

Nestled in eastern Idaho, Idaho Falls is a charming gem city with a rich history and culture. The scenic Snake River meanders through the city, offering a great place for visitors to unwind and connect with nature.

Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the proximity to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, while the Idaho Falls River Walk provides a picturesque pathway to explore.

The city also boasts the Museum of Idaho and the Idaho Falls Arts Council, offering cultural experiences for visitors. With its diverse dining options, shopping, and entertainment, Idaho Falls has something to offer for every visitor.

8. McCall

McCall
McCall

Nestled in the gem state, McCall offers an abundance of outdoor recreation options. During the summer months, visitors can partake in various water sports on Payette Lake. The town is well-regarded for its vibrant arts scene and live music, adding to the cultural experience.

McCall is also home to Brundage Mountain, a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders seeking adventure. With its scenic beauty and tranquil surroundings, McCall presents the perfect opportunity for huckleberry picking, making it a great place for nature enthusiasts.

9. Lava Hot Springs

Lava Hot Springs
Lava Hot Springs

Nestled in Southeast Idaho, Lava Hot Springs is renowned for its geothermal hot springs, steeped in centuries of Native American history and later transformed into a sought-after resort destination. Visitors can indulge in soaking in the therapeutic hot springs or enjoy aquatic adventures with water slides and river tubing along the picturesque Portneuf River. The town also offers a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and skiing during the winter months, making it an ideal retreat for families and couples seeking a tranquil getaway.

10. Sandpoint

Sandpoint
Sandpoint

Nestled along the shore of Lake Pend Oreille, Sandpoint is a hidden gem in Idaho, offering a plethora of outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and fishing. Home to Schweitzer Mountain Resort, visitors can indulge in winter sports and summer adventures like hiking and mountain biking. The town boasts a lively arts community with galleries, art walks, and an annual Arts and Crafts Fair.

Throughout the year, Sandpoint hosts various festivals including the Winter Carnival, Festival at Sandpoint, and the Lost in the ’50s Car Show, providing entertainment for all. Additionally, the downtown area is a great place for dining, unique shopping experiences, and exploration.

11. Sawtooth Mountains & Stanley, Idaho

Sawtooth Mountains & Stanley, Idaho
Sawtooth Mountains & Stanley, Idaho

Nestled in the heart of Idaho, the Sawtooth Mountains offer breathtaking vistas and outdoor adventures. Stanley, known as the gateway to the Sawtooths, is a charming town with easy access to this natural wonder.

From hiking and camping to fishing and wildlife viewing, the Sawtooth Mountains and Stanley, Idaho are beautiful places for outdoor enthusiasts. The nearby Redfish Lake and Sawtooth Lake are some of the best things to explore, while the town of Stanley itself offers a visitor center and a rich history of the area.

12. Coeur d’Alene

Coeur d’Alene
Coeur d’Alene

Tucked away in the Gem State, Coeur d’Alene is a great place offering breathtaking scenery with its pristine lake and picturesque mountain views. It’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, providing opportunities for water sports, hiking, biking, and skiing.

The city boasts a vibrant downtown adorned with shops, restaurants, and a scenic boardwalk for strolls. Not to be missed is the iconic floating green at the Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course. Additionally, visitors can explore the Museum of North Idaho and unwind at the beautiful McEuen Park.

13. Thousand Springs Idaho State Park

Thousand Springs Idaho State Park
Thousand Springs Idaho State Park

Tucked within the Gem State, Thousand Springs Idaho State Park is a great place to explore. Visitors can witness the awe-inspiring Niagara Falls of the West and the stunning overlooks at the park’s visitor center. With its proximity to Twin Falls and the largest city in the state, Boise, the park offers some of the best things to see and do in Idaho. From hiking trails to the picturesque views of the Snake River, Thousand Springs State Park is truly a hidden gem waiting to be discovered right at your doorstep.

14. Rolling Hills of the Palouse

Rolling Hills of the Palouse
Rolling Hills of the Palouse

Nestled in the Gem State, the Palouse region boasts picturesque rolling hills and breathtaking landscapes, enticing visitors with a myriad of exploration options. Whether it’s hiking, biking, or embarking on a scenic driving tour, the region offers an adventure-packed experience.

Travelers can indulge in the stunning views along the Palouse Scenic Byway, featuring expansive wheat fields and captivating hills. For outdoor enthusiasts, the Palouse Falls State Park presents a majestic 200-foot waterfall, ideal for hiking and camping. Moreover, the area’s rich arts and culture scene showcases local heritage through various museums and galleries, offering a glimpse into the vibrant soul of this great place.

15. Craters Of The Moon National Monument

Craters Of The Moon National Monument
Craters Of The Moon National Monument

A gem in the Gem State, Craters Of The Moon National Monument boasts a stunning landscape of volcanic formations. Visitors can explore the park’s lava tubes, cinder cones, and other volcanic features, offering a great place for hiking and camping. With rich history and cultural significance for the Shoshone-Bannock tribes, this unique park in central Idaho is easily accessible by car or RV, making it a must-visit destination in the region.

16. Shoshone Falls

Shoshone Falls
Shoshone Falls

Shoshone Falls, also known as the “Niagara of the West,” is among the largest natural waterfalls in the United States. Positioned on the Snake River in southern Idaho, it stands at an impressive 212 feet. The falls can be admired from multiple observation points, including a nearby park with picnic areas and walking trails.

During the summer, it becomes a cherished spot for swimming and boating, attracting countless visitors. Additionally, Shoshone Falls holds great appeal for photographers aiming to capture the area’s breathtaking natural beauty.

17. City Of Rocks National Reserve

City Of Rocks National Reserve
City Of Rocks National Reserve

The City Of Rocks National Reserve delivers a unique adventure with towering granite spires and walls, attracting rock climbers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts. Visitors can explore numerous trails for camping, hiking, biking, bird watching, wildlife viewing, and stargazing.

The area holds rich historical significance with Native American tribes, emigrants, and early settlers leaving their marks on the rocks and landscape. This reserve is truly a gem in the Gem State, offering an unparalleled experience for all outdoor enthusiasts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some must-see attractions in Idaho?

Best places to visit in Idaho, Some must-see attractions in Idaho include the stunning Shoshone Falls, the unique Craters of the Moon National Monument, and the picturesque Sawtooth National Forest. Other popular destinations include Hells Canyon, Lake Coeur d’Alene, and Sun Valley Resort.

Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy exploring Yellowstone Bear World and Silverwood Theme Park, while cultural experiences await at the Basque Block in Boise or the Idaho Potato Museum.

What is the best time of year to visit Idaho?

Best places to visit in Idaho, The ideal time to visit Idaho depends on your interests and activities. December to February is perfect for winter sports enthusiasts, while spring and fall offer mild weather and fewer crowds. Summer is the busiest season with warm temperatures and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.

Are there any hidden gems or off-the-beaten-path destinations in Idaho worth visiting?

Best places to visit in Idaho, Idaho has several hidden gems worth exploring. Some off-the-beaten-path destinations include the City of Rocks National Reserve, Redfish Lake, and Shoshone Falls. Other unique places to visit are Craters of the Moon National Monument, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, and Sawtooth Wilderness. These hidden gems offer unforgettable experiences for visitors to Idaho.

What are some outdoor activities and adventures to experience in Idaho?

Best places to visit in Idaho, Idaho is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. From hiking and fishing to skiing and rafting, there’s something for everyone. Explore the scenic hikes and camping opportunities at Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Hit the slopes at Sun Valley Resort or Brundage Mountain Resort. And don’t miss the thrilling whitewater rafting on the Snake River or Salmon River.

Conclusion

Idaho is a state with an abundance of natural beauty and diverse attractions. From national parks to charming cities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re an adventure seeker or a nature lover, Idaho has it all. Some of the best places to visit in Idaho include Yellowstone National Park, Boise, Hells Canyon National Recreational Area, Sun Valley, and many more.

Explore the stunning landscapes, indulge in outdoor activities, and immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of this beautiful state. Plan your trip to Idaho and make memories that will last a lifetime.

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