Located in the northwestern section of the United States, Idaho is the 14th largest state in terms of area and the 12th largest in terms of population. It is the seventh least densely populated state due to its large size. Idaho covers a total area of 83,797 square miles and has an estimated population of 1.71 million people. This state is bordered by Nevada, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Washington, and Oregon, as well as British Columbia in Canada.

1. Overview

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Nicknamed the 'Gem State' due to the many different gemstones found around its landscapes, Idaho is known for its expansive sections of wilderness. Some of the Rocky Mountains can be found in Idaho, and the state enjoys a diverse economy made up of various industries including manufacture, farming, lumber, mining, technology, research, and more. The largest city in Idaho is Boise, which is also the state capital. The largest metropolitan area in Idaho can also be found around Boise. Here are some additional details and overviews of the largest cities in Idaho.

2. Boise

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Located in Ada County, of which it is the county seat, Boise is the largest city in Idaho and is also the state capital. This city situated in the southwestern part of the state and covers a total area of 82.8 square miles. The estimated population of Boise is 226,000, making it one of only two cities in the state to have a population in excess of 100,000. The Greater Boise metropolitan area has a population of around 709,000.

Founded in 1863, Boise was incorporated as a city in 1864 and was constructed along the banks of the Boise River. The origin of the city's name is something of a mystery, but is believed to come from the French word 'Bois' meaning 'Woods'. As the largest city in Idaho, Boise is an important economic, industrial, and cultural center for the state, home to many attractions like the Zoo Boise, State Capitol Building, and Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial.

3. Meridian

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Located in Ada County, Meridian is the second largest city in Idaho. This city is situated in the southwestern part of the state and covers a total area of 29.79 square miles. The estimated population of Meridian is 106,000, with approximately 709,000 people living in the city's metropolitan area.

Meridian was founded in 1891 and was initially known as Hunter, but was renamed Meridian two years later after it was determined that the city had been settled on the Boise meridian. Meridian was incorporated in 1903, with fruit production being the main use of the city's land in its early years. More romantic weekend getaways in Idaho

4. Nampa

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Located in Canyon County, Nampa is the third biggest city in the state of Idaho. Situated in the southwestern section of the state, this city covers a total area of 31.77 square miles. The estimated population of Nampa is 93,000, with over 650,000 living in the surrounding metropolitan area.

Nicknamed 'The Heart of the Treasure Valley', the city of Nampa was founded in the late 19th century. The city's name is believed to have been derived from a Native American word which is believed to translate to 'Footprint' in English. Nampa is home to two dozen different parks and several live entertainment venues.

5. Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls
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Located in Bonneville County, of which it is the county seat, Idaho Falls is the fourth largest city in the state of Idaho. This city is located in the eastern part of the state, not far from the Idaho-Wyoming border. Idaho Falls covers an area of 23.14 square miles and has an estimated population of 61,000, with over 145,000 in the full metropolitan area.

Founded in 1864, this city has grown rapidly over the years to become the major cultural and commercial center of the eastern section of Idaho. It is home to several key establishments and institutions like the Museum of Idaho and the College of Eastern Idaho.

6. Pocatello

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Located in Bannock County, of which it is the county seat, Pocatello is the fifth biggest city in Idaho. A small part of this city also extends into neighboring Power County. Pocatello is located in the southeastern part of the state and covers an area of 32.67 square miles. It has an estimated population of 54,000, with over 90,000 in the metropolitan area.

Pocatello was founded in 1889 on the Oregon Trail and was nicknamed 'Gateway to the Northwest' due to its location. It was named after a Native American Shoshone Tribe chief. Pocatello is perhaps best-known as the home of Idaho State University, the leading healthcare educational institution in the state.

The 5 of the Largest Cities in Idaho near me today according to local experts are:

Attraction Spotlight: World Center for Birds of Prey

Located in Boise, Idaho, the World Center for Birds of Prey aims to restore rare species of birds through captive breeding and release, while aiming to improve local capacity for conservation, conduct scientific research and education, as well as converse habitats to preserve biodiversity. The Center offers live bird displays and a variety of both indoor and outdoor exhibits to explore.


The World Center for Birds of Prey is funded through the Peregrine Fund which was founded in 1970 to restore and eventually release new Peregrine Falcons. The endeavor was hugely successful and the Peregrine Falcon was officially removed from the U.S. Endangered Species List in 1999. This encouraged the organization to expand and eventually apply its conservation efforts to more than 100 different species in 65 countries worldwide.

The Center now has a variety of hands-on exhibitions and educational displays as well as live bird shows. Staff members are currently working on restoring the populations of more than 10 bird species including the California Condor and the Madagascar Raptor.


There are a variety of different exhibitions and attractions for visitors to explore at the Velma Morrison Interpretive Center, with live bird shows and tours occurring daily. Birds of prey are more commonly known as “raptors” and those who work to conserve raptors and their habitats are referred to as “falconers”.

The World Center for Birds of Prey is one of the most respected conservation and restoration center in the world. Visitors are sure to witness extraordinary live shows and even wild falcons in their natural habitat. There are plenty of attractions for visitors to explore, including areas specifically designed for children and those who wish to pursue a career in wildlife preservation.

Discovery Room: This attraction is meant to engage the younger visitors with hands-on exhibits, games, and attractions. They can play with eggs, feathers, puzzles and even dress up as their favorite species.

Wild Raptors: This attraction is home to wild birds of prey which can be seem along a ¼ mile winding trail overlooking Boise. Hikers are sure to witness the breath-taking glory of these wild raports.

Condor Cliffs: This habitat was inspired by the one and only Grand Canyon and is home to the Center’s very-own released California Condors. This area is home to the worlds’ largest flock and breeding area as well.

Indoor Exhibits: These exhibits feature all information one can imagine regarding the various birds of prey; inducing their habitats, diets, breeding habits, why they are endangered and how to help restore their populations. Many of the exhibits are interactive and can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages.

The Archives of Falconry: This is the most comprehensive falconry library in the world. It includes all substantial media, arts, equipment, memorabilia, and even filed notes regarding the sport of falconry. A main priority of the archives is to collect and preserve as much falconry-related materials as possible.

Sheikh Zayed Arab Falconry Heritage Wing: This wing features an interactive display where visitors can truly experience the falconer’s role in the conservation process of birds of prey. In 2007, this wing received the Wall of Remembrance, a wall dedicated to falconers past and the important work they’ve done. Alongside this wall is the Book of Remembrance, where the stories and photographs of these falconers are told in great detail and celebration. During the Annual Spring Rendezvous, Falconers from and wide, both new and old, can truly bask in the glory of their sport, celebrate their conservation efforts, and educate each other on the future of falconry.

Educational opportunities:

Educational tours include a visit to all on-site exhibits (Biology/Ecology Wing, Conservation Wing, and the Discovery Room) as well as an up-close-and-personal meeting with some of the resident educational birds. Tours can be scheduled for groups of 15 or more people and last approximately 90 minutes.

School groups and educational programs are specifically designed to meet curricular objectives and emphasis participation. All age groups are welcome and even college level tours are available – with a focus in careers in conservational biology and wildlife-related fields.

The Peregrine Fund started the Neotropical Student Education and Research program in 2005 in order to provide on-site research supervision and foster a passion for conservation and expansion of knowledge. Students will build upon current research while focusing on conservation of a specific raptor species in Neotropical countries.

World Center for Birds of Prey, 5668 West Flying Hawk Lane, Boise, Idaho 83709, Phone: 208-362-8687

Attraction Spotlight: Idaho Botanical Garden

Located in Boise, Idaho, the Idaho Botanical Garden aims to increase their community’s quality of life by fostering a love of nature and intellectual curiosity. The gardens offer year-round botanical collections, entertainment, and educational programs for not only locals but visitors from all around the world.


The Idaho Botanical Gardens received its first Board of Directors in 1984 through the efforts made by Botanist Christopher Davidson. The board hoped that through the development of an aesthetic landscape filled with educational gardens and elaborate plant collections, they could foster an appreciation of gardening, horticulture, botany, and conservation.

The Garden comprises a total of 33 acres, 15 of which are still under cultivation. It is located on land owned by the State of Idaho and was once a part of the Idaho State Penitentiary. The area is now known as Boise’s Old Penitentiary Historic District. The rolling foothills located behind the Gardens are used for hiking and environmental education.


Gardens: The Idaho Botanical Garden contains numerous specialty gardens each with unique focus and displays. There are also a variety of sculptures, art, and architecture scattered throughout the display gardens.

Water Conservation Landscape: This garden covers one acre of previously undeveloped and weed infested flat ground along Old Penitentiary Road. It now serves as a demonstration garden which features water conserving plants and helps control obnoxious weeds and unfriendly exotic plants. To top it all off, the plants are not only functional but attractive as well.

Vegetable Garden: This garden is seasonal as well as educational. It provides edible summer vegetables, annual flowers, and even the fall harvest pumpkin patch. Visitors can learn how to grow and maintain their own vegetable garden as well as eliminate waste and conserve natural resources.

Summer Succulent Garden: This garden is located on the old concrete foundation of the Old Penitentiary’s poultry barn. The garden is seasonal but differs every summer so visitors will always have new succulents and cacti to look forward to.

Outlaw Field & Labyrinth: During the 1930’s, an all inmate baseball team was formed at the old penitentiary called “The Outlaws”. This field is now used primarily for concerts and special events. The labyrinth was added in 2001 and is modeled after the labyrinth at the Chartres Cathedral in France.

Meditation Garden: This garden lives up to it name by providing visitors with shady paths along flowing waters and beautiful blooming flowers. Visitors can take a break from the hot summer sun in this cool (sometimes up to 20 degrees cooler than other gardens in the collection) garden. This garden also has an inviting canopy area for summer picnics.

Lewis & Clark Native Plant Garden: Opened in May 2006, this is one of the newer gardens at the Idaho Botanical Garden. It was built to commemorate the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark Expedition between Great Falls, Montana and The Dalles, Oregon. This garden currently displays 125 of the 145 diverse species of plants that were collected during the original expedition, but the Garden hopes to eventually display all 145.

Jane Elk Oppenheimer Heirloom Rose Garden: This garden features a variety of roses in an old-fashioned and picturesque atmosphere. Rare antique roses bred before 1920 are on display in this garden alongside modern ones and other popular perennials.

Idaho Native Plant Garden: This garden has recently undergone a huge overhaul to enhance visitor experience. It displays all 42 Idaho native plant species with all new signage and beautiful sculptures.

Children’s Adventure Garden: Younger visitors will truly enjoy all that this garden has to offer: a carnivorous plant display, tree houses, a wildlife area, a playful fountain, a musical trail, and even a kitchen garden where young chefs are born. There are many more interactive aspects of this garden still to come.

Muriel & Diana Kirk English Garden: Designed by renowned English landscape architect, John Brookes, this garden evokes the light and relaxed country garden feeling of time past. Stone archways dripping with colorful blooming vines welcome visitors onto its brick pathways. One focal point of this garden is the Princess Diana Fountain, dedicated in 1998 in her memory.

Firewise Garden: This garden is meant to educate homeowners on what plants can reduce the risk of wildfire damage while still providing an aesthetic look to their home and garden.

Herb Garden: This garden is bursting is flavor and pleasant fragrances. It features plants used for centuries in medicines, cosmetics, decoration, and cooking. It is seasonal and is best visited from June through the start of Winter.

Educational opportunities:

The Idaho Botanical Gardens focuses on conversation education. They have a variety of programs to educated visitors on how to do their part. The Garden and its staff also works to control invasive plants, restore natural growth of native species and replenish the Earth’s natural resources. For a more detailed list of events and educational programs, visit the Idaho Botanical Garden website.

Additional Information:

Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 Old Penitentiary Road, Boise, Idaho 83712, Phone: 208-343-8649

Attraction Spotlight: Aquarium of Boise

Located in Boise, Idaho, the Aquarium of Boise strives to enhance the quality of life for all animals through education and inspiration. Helping visitors understand, care for, and conserve terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Visitors can explore more than 10,000 square feet of beautiful saltwater exhibits filled with over 250 different species of animals and marine life.


The Aquarium of Boise was founded in 2008 and was built in a remodeled warehouse and was officially opened to the public in 2011. Currently, there are about 25,000 visitors a month including all kinds of school groups and community organizations.


Shark and Puffer Exhibit: This 17,000-gallon saltwater exhibit contains the largest species of sharks and the largest pufferfish, named “Letterman”, who currently reside at the Aquarium. There is a he coral refugium which provides filtration, safety and a healthy home for the creatures living in the exhibit.

Shark and Ray Pool: This exhibit allows visitors to get up close and personal with various sharks, sting rays, and bat rays. Visitors can put their hands into the pool and give these elegant creatures a nice slimy pet on the head.

Reptiles: This exhibit contains a variety of reptiles including chameleons, iguanas, snakes, and monitor lizards. There are shady tree canopies filled with lizards, geckos, and all kinds of snake species.

Amazon Exhibit: This exhibit displays a variety of fish from the freshwaters of South America. This includes Cichlids, Plecostomus, Peacock Bass, Motoro Stingrays, and Red-tailed Catfish.

Amazing Angels Exhibit: This exhibit has more than 35 species of marine life in a 1,700 gallon tropical reef tank which allows visitors to feed and even pet the fish from around the Tropical Pacific Ocean.

Russian Tortoise: This exhibit features a sunken ship that a Russian Tortoise has taken over! Visitors can interact with the tortoise up close and personal.

Shark Nursery: This exhibit features bamboo sharks and their breeding ground complete with eggs and baby sharks ready to join their family.

Bird Aviary: This is one of the newer exhibits at the Aquarium of Boise and contains a variety of colorful and playful birds. Visitors can enter the aviary and have birds land right on your shoulder, including the Yellow Breasted Lory and the Rainbow Lory.

Tide Pools: This exhibit is mainly for children to enjoy and explore the little creatures that reside in tide pools, including sea urchins, fish, sea stars, and Spanish lobsters.


A wide variety of events can be hosted at the Aquarium, including birthday parties, mermaid parties, and even private and corporate parties. This includes weddings, graduations, and various community gatherings.


There are a variety of educational events and programs at the Aquarium, including group and guided tours, school programs for children ages K-6th grade, and a community outreach program entitled “Life in the Ocean”. This program allows the aquarium to visit a local classroom where an aquarium educator will discuss the diversity of ocean life and help the students interact with the animals up close and personal.

Additional Information:

Aquarium of Boise, 64 N. Cole Road, Boise, Idaho 83704, Phone: 208-375-1932