The Gem State is home to some spectacular natural scenery ranging from mountainous terrains, glassy-blue glacier-fed lakes, pretty waterfalls, and hot springs, the deepest gorge, and the highest waterfall in the country, and fantastic parks and recreation areas. Add to this, charming cities and towns with art galleries, exciting museums, amusement parks, and peaceful picnic spots, and Idaho packs a punch when it comes to entertaining the little ones.
1.Aquarium of Boise
The Aquarium of Boise is a marine sanctuary that supports over 250 different species of animals and marine life in a modern 10,000 square foot facility. Established in 2011 to protect and preserve aquatic and terrestrial animals and to educate the public about the importance of conserving our natural environment. The aquarium is home to a wide diversity of animals and marine creatures, ranging from lizards and iguanas to snakes, tortoises, sharks, pufferfish, rays, and freshwater turtles. There is also a bird aviary where guests can feed lories by hand and a touch pool with sea urchins, starfish and other sea creatures. The Aquarium of Boise is open to the public Monday through Sunday.
64 N Cole Rd, Boise, ID 83704, Phone: 208-375-1932
2.ARTitorium on Broadway
ARTitorium on Broadway offers a fun, interactive art adventure for kids. Located in downtown Idaho Falls, ARTitorium is a family-friendly art-based attraction that engages children in educational and entertaining art experiences. A variety of fun-filled adventures are offered, including art classes, interactive exhibits, and field trips, as well as music, performances, and films at the 136-seat MC Theater. The art gallery features collaborative murals, a green screen studio, stop-motion animation stations, art-making software, and noise-making installations where visitors can make art at a creation station, perform in front of the green screen, and fly down the turbo twister slide. ARTitorium on Broadway is open from Monday through Sunday.
271 W Broadway St, Idaho Falls, ID 83402, Phone: 208-552-1080
3.Boise Art Museum
Located in Julia Davis Park, the Boise Art Museum is Idaho’s premier art museum that showcases a variety of contemporary artwork in several exhibitions. Housed in a beautiful art deco building with an outdoor sculpture garden, the museum presents 15 shows annually, which focus on a wide range of aesthetic styles, global cultures, and art movements. The Boise Art Museum also offers a wide variety of educational and public programs, including adult art classes and artists workshops, camps for children, self-guided visits and guided tours, and a variety of special events throughout the year, including Art in the Park.
670 Julia Davis Dr, Boise, ID 83702, Phone: 208-345-8330
4.Boise National Forest
© Rhiley Allbee/stock.adobe.com
Boise National Forest is a 2,203,703-acre evergreen coniferous forest in southwestern Idaho. Established in 1908, the wood is managed by the U.S. Forest Service in five different districts, namely the Cascade, Emmett, Lowman, Idaho City, and Mountain Home ranger districts. The forest is home to over 9,600 miles of rivers and streams, and 15,400 acres of lakes and reservoirs, and contains 75 percent of the world’s Sacajawea's bitterroot population, a flowering plant endemic to Idaho. Recreation facilities in the forest include hiking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and flatware boating, horseback riding, motorized off-road driving, and camping in more than 70 campgrounds.
Lowman, ID 83637
5.Bonner County Historical Museum
© Bonner County Historical Museum
Located in Lakeview Park with beautiful views of Lake Pend Oreille, the Bonner County Historical Museum is a community museum run by the Bonner County Historical Society that explores the history of Bonner County through a variety of exciting and informative exhibits and displays. Featured shows tell the story of the Kalispell and Kootenai people who were the longest residents of Bonner County and how they made a living from farming, mining, and logging. Lakeview Park features a range of amenities, including a children’s playground, tennis courts, picnic areas, and the Native Plant Society arboretum. The Bonner County Historical Museum is open Tuesday through Friday and the first Saturday of each month.
611 S Ella Ave, Sandpoint, ID 83864, Phone: 208-263-2344
6.Children's Museum of Idaho
The Children’s Museum of Idaho is a fun, educational environment in which children are inspired to learn through play. The museum features a variety of interactive exhibits that are designed to encourage a hands-on approach to learning and stimulate young minds in a safe, engaging atmosphere for children between the ages of two and eight years. The museum aims to build an atmosphere that fosters positive intergenerational relationships by encouraging adult-child interaction and create an unplugged zone where phones and electronic devices are discouraged. It also offers educational field trips and group visits for all ages.
790 S Progress Ave, Meridian, ID 83642, Phone: 208-345-1920
7.The City of Rocks National Reserve
© Terry Eggers and Danita Delimont/stock.adobe.com
The City of Rocks National Reserve, also known as the Silent City of Rocks, is a national reserve and state park that is renowned for its unusual rock formations and excellent rock climbing. Located two miles north of the south-central border with Utah, the reserve lies next to the Castle Rocks State Park, and both are feature incredible granitic rock formations from the Archean Green Creek Complex and the OligoceneAlmo pluton. The reserve boasts over 1,000 traditional and bolt-protected rock-climbing routes, some of which used to be some of the most challenging courses in the US in the 1980s. The City of Rocks National Reserve is also home to a wide variety of fauna and flora, providing excellent wildlife, bird and wildflower watching.
Malta, ID 83342, Phone: 208-824-5901
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8.Craters of The Moon National Monument and Preserve
Resting between the small towns of Arco and Carey in the Snake River Plain in central Idaho, the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is a national preserve that rests at an elevation of 5,900 feet above sea level. Established in 1924, the preserve encompasses three major volcanic lava fields and is home to a well-reserved flood basalt area with excellent examples of almost every variety of basaltic lava, tree molds, and lava tubes. The park also covers about 400 square miles of pristine sagebrush steppe grasslands and is open to the public, year-round.
Idaho, Phone: 208-527-1335
9.Crystal Gold Mine Tour
The Crystal Gold Mine in Kellogg takes visitors on a journey into the depths of a famous hard rock mine in the Silver Valley. It is thought that gold prospector, Tom Irwin, discovered a gold-bearing vein in the silver valley in 1879. Guests don hard hats and miner’s lamps on guided underground tours, which explore the world of gold mining and how the miners traced quartz veins by candlelight using 1880 methods, tested for gold and drilled with single and double jacks. The mine features spectacular stalactite crystals of smithsonite, and visitors can see gold and wire silver in the quartz vein. Crystal Gold Mine Tours are offered seven days a week.
51931 Silver Valley Rd, Kellogg, ID 83837, Phone: 208-783-4653
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10.Don Aslett's Museum of Clean
The Don Aslett's Museum of Clean is a modern museum that explores the world of cleaning with an array of exhibits showcasing historic cleaning techniques and tools, brooms, and tubs. The museum is based on a 75,000 square foot complex that focuses on all things to do with cleaning, including exhibits featuring vacuums, washers, trash cans, toilets, brooms, tubs, military helmets, and more. The vacuum exhibit features more than 1,000 vacuum cleaners that span a century from 1869 to 1969, while an Old Store dating back to the 1900s features intriguing cleaning products. Other fascinating items in the museum include toilet models from Queen Elizabeth of Austria, a Texas-sized trash can, brooms and tubs from all over the world, and how military helmets were used by soldiers for bathing, cooking, shaving, and washing.
711 S 2nd Ave, Pocatello, ID 83201, Phone: 208-236-6906
Located in the Herrett Center for Arts & Science at the College of Southern Idaho, the Faulkner Planetarium is a fixed, digital planetarium with 144 seats and a 15.2m dome, making it the largest planetarium theater in the state. Opened in 1995, the planetarium features a state-of-the-art Digistar 5 full-dome projection system with Dolby 5.1 surround audio and programmable LED dome lighting. The Faulkner Planetarium offers a variety of educational programs with a focus on astrology, astronomy, science, and space, as well as star-gazing programs for the public.
315 Falls Ave, Twin Falls, ID 83301, Phone: 208-732-6655
12.Hagerman Fossil Beds National Park
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The Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument is a paleontological site in southern Idaho that is home to a vast collection of Hagerman Horse fossils. Resting on the banks of the Snake River about 100 miles southeast of Boise, the monument spans square miles and boasts 600-foot bluffs that have eroded to expose layers of sedimentary rock with hundreds of ancient fossils. A variety of fossils have been found ranging from birds, reptiles, fish, and mastodons, the most famous of which is the Hagerman Horse, which is the earliest known representative of the genus Equus. In addition to these fascinating fossils, the park is also home to an array of wildlife, including mountain lions, deer, small rodents, and snakes, and there are two designated trails in the northern portion of the monument.
221 N State St, Hagerman, ID 83332, Phone: 208-933-4100
13.Idaho Botanical Garden
Nestled in the Boise Foothills, the Idaho Botanical Garden is a lush 15-acre sanctuary in the heart of the Old Penitentiary Historic District. Established in 1973 on the grounds of the old prison to promote horticulture in the Treasure Valley using native and domestic plants adapted to the intermountain region, the Idaho Botanical Garden is a tapestry of statuesque trees, flowering plants, and shapely scrubs, interpretive and nature trails. Gardens include an Alpine Garden, a Cactus Garden, an English Garden, a Herb Garden, an Idaho Native Plant Garden, a Meditation Garden, and an Iris Garden, among others. The Idaho Botanical Garden is open seven days a week, year-round.
2355 N Old Penitentiary Rd, Boise, ID 83712, Phone: 208-343-8649
14.Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park
The Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park is an animal sanctuary that is home to more than 300 individual animals representing 130 species from around the globe. Known as the ‘best little zoo in the west,’ the Zoo has several interactive exhibits that house a broad range of international animals from Africa, Asia, and Australia to the Americas and New Guinea, along with a bird aviary and a petting zoo for young visitors. Idaho Falls Zoo participates in over 40 Species Survival Plans and a diverse range of educational programs for families, youth, and adults. The Zoo also runs a volunteer program for young learners who want to get involved in animal husbandry and conservation.
2725 Carnival Way, Idaho Falls, ID 83402, Phone: 208-612-8470
15.Idaho Museum of Natural History
Located on the campus of Idaho State University in Pocatello, the Idaho Museum of Natural History explores the fields of earth science, vertebrate paleontology, anthropology, and the life sciences. Founded in 1934, the Idaho Museum of Natural History (IMNH) delves into the natural history of Idaho through outstanding rotating exhibitions of more than 500,000 specimens and provides a variety of educational programs, workshops, and classes for both adults and children. The museum is home to the Rebecca Thorne-Ferrel Discovery Center, which offers authentic educational experiences for children to encourage free-choice learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
698 E Dillon St, Pocatello, ID 83201, Phone: 208-282-3168
16.Idaho Potato Museum & Potato Station Cafe
© Idaho Potato Museum & Potato Station Cafe
The Idaho Potato Museum is all about the humble potato, focusing on its history, the growing and harvesting process, nutrition, and other interesting facts. Located in the old Oregon Short Line Railroad Depot, a historic building and former train depot dating back to 1912 in downtown Blackfoot, the museum features a range of informative exhibits and displays on Idaho’s Famous Potatoes®. Exhibits explore the history of the humble root vegetable and the revolution of the potato industry from the growth of the original potato planted in Idaho, to the largest potato crisp made by the Pringle’s Company in Jackson, Tennessee. The charming Potato Station Café serves a variety of potato-based fare in a comfy atmosphere.
130 NW Main St, Blackfoot, ID 83221, Phone: 208-785-2517
17.Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge
Nestled at the foot of the Selkirk Mountains, the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge is a 2,774-acre wildlife reserve in northern Idaho about five miles from the town of Bonners Ferry and 20 miles from the Canada–United States border that is home to a large variety of wildlife, ranging from elk and moose to bears, otters and bald eagles. Established in 1964 as a migratory waterfowl refuge, the refuge now provides a protected habitat for more than 220 species of birds, 45 species of mammals, and 22 species of fish with a variety of habitats ranging from tree-lined ponds, and rushing creeks to riparian forests and rolling meadows. The refuge also has four excellent hiking trails, a 4.5-mile auto tour route, and a modern visitor’s center.
287 West Side Rd, Bonners Ferry, ID 83805, Phone: 208-267-3888
18.Mountain River Outfitters
Mountain River Outfitters offers a variety of exhilarating and exciting Idaho adventures and experiences ranging from wilderness escapes and white-water rafting trips to jet boat tours, fishing trips, and camping. The company prides itself on providing high-quality boats and gear, professional, knowledgeable guides who are passionate about Idaho’s spectacular natural landscapes, comfortable accommodations, and delicious food, and outstanding service. Adventures are conducted on several rivers around the state, including the Salmon River, the Snake River, Riggins River, and the Owyhee River.
411 Main St, Riggins, ID 83549, Phone: 208-628-3733
19.Sawtooth Adventure Company
The Sawtooth Adventure Company offers world-class adventures and experiences on Idaho's Salmon River and in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Located in the beautiful mountain town of Stanley north of Sun Valley Idaho, the company offers a variety of fun-filled, guided adventures such as kayaking, mountain biking, white-water rafting, and fly-fishing trips throughout the summer season. Ideal for families, tours are led by professional guides who share their passion for Idaho’s spectacular natural landscapes and ensure the highest standards of safety. Adventures can be combined with lunch, or customized to cater for special occasions such as birthdays.
710 Ace of Diamonds St, Stanley, ID 83278, Phone: 866-774-4644
20.Sierra Silver Mine Tour
The Sierra Silver Mine Tour is a guided tour of the Sierra Silver Mine in Wallace, which was discovered around 1900 and produced 1.2 billion ounces, which were mined by hand. The guided tour is conducted on the Sierra Silver Mine trolley, which travels underground through the main drift of an actual underground silver mine. An experienced miner guide tells the story of the mine and the history of silver mining, the techniques used to mine silver, gold, lead, zinc, and copper, and shares his experiences as a hard-rock miner in the Coeur d’Alene District. The tour also includes demonstrations and exhibits of mining equipment and both historical and modern techniques of mining, and a gift shop sells rocks, regional specialties, and souvenirs.
509 Cedar St, Wallace, ID 83873, Phone: 208-752-5151
21.Silverwood Theme Park
The Silverwood Theme Park is a family-friendly amusement park in the city of Athol in northern Idaho and the most significant theme and water park in the American Northwest. Spanning 413 acres, the park features more than 70 rides, slides, shows, and attractions, ranging from rollercoasters, aerial rides, and classic fairground rides at the Country Carnival to water-based fun at Boulder Beach, and an authentic 1915 steam train. Open seasonally, the theme park also presents a range of live shows and entertainment for the whole family, games, dining options, and plenty of shops selling everything from games and toys to gifts and souvenirs.
27843 US-95, Athol, ID 83801, Phone: 208-683-3400
22.The Discovery Center of Idaho
© Horacio Selva/stock.adobe.com
The Discovery Center of Idaho is a child-friendly, hands-on science museum that provides interactive STEM learning through 150 tactile exhibits, and non-traditional educational programming for all ages. Located in the heart of Boise’s downtown, the immersive science center was established to inspire creative thinking and interesting learning in science, technology, engineering by providing a variety of informative, educational, and interactive exhibits and displays. In addition to permanent and rotating exhibits, the center also presents a range of educational experiences for adults and children, including workshops, camps, lectures, and annual events.
131 W Myrtle St, Boise, ID 83702, Phone: 208-343-9895
23.Wallace District Mining Museum
The Wallace District Mining Museum celebrates the heritage of the largest silver producing mine district in the world and the 130-year history of silver, lead, zinc, and gold production in the historic capital of Wallace. The museum presents a series of informative exhibits on significant events in the historic town of Wallace, such as the Great Fires of 1910, the Mining Wars, and the sex trade, as well as on the mining industry and the famous movie, Dante’s Peak. Thousands historical print and digital photos, maps, and documents are available to researchers, and a gift shop sells handcrafted jewelry, silver coin, and bullion, books, maps, and souvenirs.
509 Bank St, Wallace, ID 83873, Phone: 208-556-1592
24.World Center for Birds of Prey
The World Center for Birds of Prey is a sanctuary for endangered raptors around the world. The headquarters for the Peregrine Fund, an organization that protects critically endangered birds of prey such as eagles, owls, vultures, hawks, and falcons can be found here. Founded in 1984 on a hilltop overlooking Boise, the World Center for Birds of Prey is home to the Velma Morrison Interpretive Center, a unique indoor/outdoor education center that houses a variety of birds of prey, including the endangered California Condor and Aplomado Falcon. The Herrick Collections Building houses an extensive research library and the Archives of Falconry.
5668 W Flying Hawk Ln, Boise, ID 83709, Phone: 208-362-8687
24 Best Things to Do in Idaho with Kids
- Aquarium of Boise, Photo: cbpix/stock.adobe.com
- ARTitorium on Broadway, Photo: marketlan/stock.adobe.com
- Boise Art Museum, Photo: JackF/stock.adobe.com
- Boise National Forest, Photo: Rhiley Allbee/stock.adobe.com
- Bonner County Historical Museum, Photo: Bonner County Historical Museum
- Children's Museum of Idaho, Photo: Powerofflowers/stock.adobe.com
- The City of Rocks National Reserve, Photo: Terry Eggers and Danita Delimont/stock.adobe.com
- Craters of The Moon National Monument and Preserve, Photo: Andrei/stock.adobe.com
- Crystal Gold Mine Tour, Photo: Mishainik/stock.adobe.com
- Don Aslett's Museum of Clean, Photo: and_rue/stock.adobe.com
- Faulkner Planetarium, Photo: Pavel/stock.adobe.com
- Hagerman Fossil Beds National Park, Photo: Rob Mutch Photo/stock.adobe.com
- Idaho Botanical Garden, Photo: Boggy/stock.adobe.com
- Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park, Photo: lightpoet/stock.adobe.com
- Idaho Museum of Natural History, Photo: FotoAndalucia/stock.adobe.com
- Idaho Potato Museum & Potato Station Cafe, Photo: Idaho Potato Museum & Potato Station Cafe
- Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge, Photo: Cliff/stock.adobe.com
- Mountain River Outfitters, Photo: Amateur007/stock.adobe.com
- Sawtooth Adventure Company, Photo: cromary/stock.adobe.com
- Sierra Silver Mine Tour, Photo: farbled_01/stock.adobe.com
- Silverwood Theme Park, Photo: markrhiggins/stock.adobe.com
- The Discovery Center of Idaho, Photo: Horacio Selva/stock.adobe.com
- Wallace District Mining Museum, Photo: TenWit/stock.adobe.com
- World Center for Birds of Prey, Photo: photobyjimshane/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Keith/stock.adobe.com