25 Best Things to Do in Idaho
Part of the iconic Yellowstone National Park is in Idaho and it is just the beginning of many things to do in this beautiful state. For outdoor enthusiasts, there is fantastic skiing on Schweitzer Mountain, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, and fishing on the Big Wood River.
If you are traveling with kids, don't miss Roaring Springs Waterpark and Silver Mountain Resort. Art lovers can immerse themselves in the world of visual art at the Boise Art Museum, and garden enthusiasts can head to the Idaho Botanical Garden. Photo: knowlesgallery/Fotolia
»Lava Hot Springs
Lava Hot Springs is a curious little city in the Portneuf River valley, on the route of the old Oregon and California Trails, which developed as the popularity of the nearby Lava Hot Springs grew. In the late 1800s, the land and the springs, which were part of the Fort Hall reservation, were bought from the Indians by the United States Government.
The hot springs are rich in minerals and were known for their healing properties by the original inhabitants, the Shoshone-Bannock people, who called them Poha-Ba, the Land of Healing Waters. Today, the Hot Springs are under the management of the Idaho Department of Parks & Recreation's Lava Hot Springs Foundation. Lava Hot Springs are famous for five hot pools where temperature ranges from 102° to 112°, as well as the Olympic pool, water slides, diving platforms, Indoor Aquatic Center and Portneuf Kiddie Cove.
Contact: 430 East Main, Lava Hot Springs, ID 83246, Phone: 208-776-5221
Photo: Lava Hot Springs
»Lake Coeur d'Alene
Lake Coeur d'Alene is a natural lake next to the city of Coeur d'Alene. It is 25 miles long, and from 1 to 3 miles wide. In the past, it was used to transport lumber, but today, it is a popular tourist destination for many because of its wonderful beaches, scenic views and endless opportunities for outdoor activities. The North Idaho Centennial Trail runs along the lake's north shore and is very popular among hikers, bikers and joggers.
Many other trails circle the lake and offer spectacular views. Water sports are, naturally, very popular. You can boat, kayak, fish, sail, and swim in the crystal clear water. One of the popular activities is watching bald eagles feeding on the kokanee in the Wolf Lodge Bay.
Photo: Lake Coeur d'Alene
» Idaho Botanical Garden
What was once the grounds and the tree nursery of the historic State Penitentiary in Boise's Old Penitentiary Historic District, is today a living museum that holds a diverse botanical collection, educational programs, high quality entertainment and numerous cultural and community events. This lush 15-acre mosaic of pleasant shade and splashes of color contains domestic and Idaho native plants that are well adapted to the local conditions.
There are more than 800 species from 42 families, planted in 14 distinct specialty gardens. Some of the specialty gardens are: The Water Conservation Landscape, which focuses on plants that require very little water; The Meditation Garden; and the Lewis & Clark Native Plant Garden, which contains 145 plant species that the two explorers collected between Great Falls in Montana and The Dalles in Oregon. Read more
Contact: 2355 Old Penitentiary Rd, Boise, Idaho 83712, Phone: 208-343-8649
Photo: Idaho Botanical Garden
» Things to Do in Idaho: Museum of Clean
Museum of Clean in Pocatello is not a cleaning museum, it has no detergents or brooms; it is a museum of clean. It is an immense 75,000 square foot complex of education, excitement, and inspiration. It is based on the fact that clean dominates everything that affects our life, such as clean air and water, clean language, health, clean bed and floors, clean politics, teeth, jokes, art, even clean arteries.
The museum's goal is to present as many dimensions of clean as possible through displays, artifacts and participation. It takes a minimum of an hour and half for a tour with kids, but much longer if you are a history or art buff.
Contact: 711 S 2nd Ave, Pocatello, Idaho 83201, Phone: 208-236-6906
Photo: Museum of Clean
» Silverwood Theme Park
Silverwood Theme Park is located near Coeur d'Alene, about 47 miles from Spokane, Washington. It was opened in 1988 with a bunch of carnival rides, an original steam train that took guests on a loop around the park's property, and a "main street" with various shops and restaurants.
Over the years, Silverwood has grown into a major regional theme park and today, stretched on 413-acres, is the biggest theme and water park in the northwest. In 2003, Boulder Beach Water Park was added with its 65 rides, slides, attractions and shows. Some of the most famous are the new Riptide Racer, Aftershock, Corkscrew and Panic Plunge.
Contact: 27843 North Highway 95, Athol, Idaho 83801, Phone: 208-683-3400
Photo: Silverwood Theme Park
» The Route of the Hiawatha
The Route of the Hiawatha is considered the 'crown jewel' of mountain bike adventures, with views that are among the most beautiful in the country. The trail is 15 miles long and has 10 train tunnels and 7 high trestles. One of the most exciting parts of the trail is the 1.66 mile long St. Paul Pass Tunnel. The trail follows the peak of the Bitterroot Mountains close to Lookout Pass Ski Area.
Lookout Pass Ski Area, located at the Idaho/Montana state line, serves as the information center, bike rental and service shop. What makes this trail such a wonderful family adventure is that the entire trail goes downhill - shuttle buses will bring you and your bike to the top.
Contact: Route of the Hiawatha, I-90, Mullan, Idaho 83846, Phone: 208-744-1301
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Photo: The Route of the Hiawatha
» Idaho Attractions: Yellowstone Bear World
Yellowstone Bear World is a commercial private wildlife park in Rexburg, Idaho, near Yellowstone National Park. Established in 1998, it is the only wildlife reserve in the area that is drive-through. What it means is that the visitors can see gray wolves, grizzly bears, moose, white-tailed deer, bison and other animals indigenous to North America going on about their lives, in their natural habitat, from the comfort and safety of their cars.
As a special activity, the visitors are invited behind the scenes, to participate in feedings of bear cubs, in the company of the park animal keepers. There is also a popular petting zoo, which covers one acre of land, on which farm animals and birds live freely. Occasionally, visitors can participate in bottle-feeding of elk calves and deer fawns.
Contact: 6010 S 4300 W, Rexburg, Idaho 83440, Phone: 208-359-9688
Photo: Yellowstone Bear World
» Warhawk Air Museum
The Warhawk Air Museum is a 40,000 square foot museum in Nampa, Idaho, that aims to teach and preserve the history of American veterans and their contributions to the country's freedom, as well as to show the relationship between the United States and its citizens and those foreign wars which so immensely impacted the country and the world. The museum's exhibits cover World War I, World War II, the Cold War Era, the Korean War and Vietnam War.
The Warhawk Air Museum Education Program has a goal of igniting student's appreciation and respect for the sacrifices made to preserve the freedoms they enjoy. The museum features a range of historical memorabilia and personal stories, but also a large collection of airplanes, including two Curtiss P-40 World War II fighter airplanes and a rare World War II P-51C razorback Mustang fighter airplane.
Contact: 201 Municipal Way, Nampa, Idaho 83687, Phone: 208-465-6446
Photo: Warhawk Air Museum
»Things to Do in Idaho: The Wolf Center
Located in the magical Nez Perce Tribal Wilderness, the Wolf Center is a serene place surrounded by meadows and trees. There are miles of beautiful trails to explore the flora and fauna of the region before or after visiting the wolves. The Wolf Education and Research Center is dedicated to providing public education and scientific research about the gray wolf and its native habitat in the Northern Rocky Mountains.
It provides education on the captive wolf care, complex ecology considerations and the fine balance between human recreation, cultures and industry on one side, and the untouched wilderness that is home to top natural predators such as wolves. In 2008, the Wolf Education & Research Center offered home to five out of seventeen wolves rescued from Murphy, Idaho. The center's biologist nursed the wolves back to health and they are today the new public face of the Center's programs as people are free to come and see them in their natural habitat.
Contact: 1721 Forest Road, Winchester, Idaho 83555, Phone: 888-422-1110
Photo: The Wolf Center
»Sun Valley Resort
Snuggled in the sunny valley near Ketchum, between the slopes of Bald and Dollar mountains, Sun Valley Resort is a winter resort like no other. With spectacular skiing, a 26,000-square-foot family center that takes care of all your needs and a range of gourmet restaurants, no wonder Sun Valley became a winter playground for the rich and famous.
It's not only in the winter that Sun Valley offers so much fun,in the summer guests can bike, hike, golf or fly-fish. Catch a breathtaking sunset at the Roundhouse at 8,000 feet, then enjoy a jazz show. There are accommodations for every taste, budget and need, from charming cottages to luxury condos.
Contact: 1 Sun Valley Rd, Sun Valley, Idaho 83353, Phone: 208-622-2135
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»Roaring Springs Waterpark
Located in Meridian, Idaho, about six miles from Boise, Roaring Springs Waterpark is the largest waterpark in the American Northwest. This sprawling, year-round park offers a large range of rides for all ages - a lazy river, speed slides, wave pool, kids slides, family raft ride, a kiddie play area and so much more.
They even have swim diapers for the little ones. Pinz Bowling Center and Wahooz Family Fun Zone are located next to Roaring Springs Waterpark, and are connected by a walkway, so when you get tired of being soaked, you can just hop next door and do something else. There are plenty of food and drink offers to replenish your energy.
Contact: 400 W Overland Rd, MerIdahoian, Idaho 83642, Phone: 208-884-8842
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Photo: Roaring Springs Waterpark
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»Things to Do in Idaho: The Springs
The Springs in Idaho City, about 45 minutes from downtown Boise, is a luxury day spa that offers ultimate pampering in the natural hot spring pools, in the clean mountain air and under the clear mountain sky. When you arrive, you are welcomed in a swanky lobby with crystal chandeliers and given your own towels, locker room keys and some high quality pampering products. You can soak in a state-of-the-art huge pool or in one of the small, private hot tubs.
Lush surrounding forests add to the sense of relaxation and peace. Relax afterwards with a massage, enjoy a steam room, take it easy in one of the many lounge chairs, or have a light meal - a cafe serves light fare such as sandwiches, salads, soups and drinks. The resort limits the number of people who can be in the pool at one time to allow all the guests to enjoy space and privacy, so reserve in advance, spots fill up quickly.
Contact: 3742 Idaho-21, Idahoaho City, Idaho 83631, Phone: 208-392-9500
Photo: The Springs
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» Idaho Attractions: Silver Mountain Resort
Silver Mountain Resort is a year-round resort located in Kellogg, Idaho, about 70 miles from Spokane and 30 miles from Coeur d'Alene. It offers some of the best snowboarding and skiing in the Northwest, world class golfing at Galena Ridge Golf Course and Idaho's biggest indoor waterpark Silver Rapids.
While in the winter you can go skiing, snow tubing or snowboarding, in the summer you can enjoy golfing, hiking, mountain biking, gondola rides and so many other fun activities. Since all the activities at the waterpark are indoors, you can enjoy it year round, splashing indoors while it is snowing outdoors.
Contact: 610 Bunker Ave, Kellogg, Idaho 83837, Phone: 877-230-2193
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»Burgdorf Hot Springs
Burgdorf Hot Springs is a charming rustic resort high up in the rugged mountains of central Idaho, 30 miles from McCall. In winter, access to the springs is possible only on snowmobiles. In summer, the resort can be accessed by car via Warren Wagon Road. There are 15 rustic, historic cabins for rent, each with unique history and charm.
They are without electricity and running water, so be prepared to rough it. The resort has a small snack bar with a limited lunch and dinner menu, so guests are advised to bring their own food. The main attraction is the large swimming pool that is always about 100 °f. It is fed by a natural hot spring at about 150 gallons a minute. There are two small hotter pools at the nearby inlet and a shallow pool for the kids. The skiing in the area is fantastic, and guests can snowmobile to the top of the mountain and ski back down. The soak in the hot pool after a day of skiing is memorable.
Contact: 404 French Creek (USFS #246), McCall, Idaho 83638, Phone: 208-636-3036
Photo: Burgdorf Hot Springs
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»Sacajawea Historic Byway
The best way to enjoy scenic Sacajawea Historic Byway drive is by starting at the fascinating Sacajawea Interpretive, Cultural and Education Center in the city of Salmon, Idaho. You can learn about Sacajawea, an “Agai Dika” Lemhi Shoshone woman, who was an interpreter for Lewis and Clark, and helped the expedition find the Salmon River.
The byway starts in Salmon, on Idaho 28 going southwest for 120 miles to exit 143. It then follows Idaho 33 for 12 miles until the intersection of Interstate 15 and Idaho 33. The whole byway is about 132 miles long and will take you about two and half hours, without stops. Along the way you will find fossils of the Pleistocene lion, extinct for thousands of years, fantastic Native American rock art, and legacies of the Lemhi-Shoshone people. You will pass through Gilmore, a ghost town of an abandoned mining settlement and you will enjoy spectacular scenery wherever you look.
Photo: Sacajawea Historic Byway
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»Museum of Idaho
The Museum of Idaho is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the natural and cultural history of Idaho and, through unique, permanent and temporary exhibits, provides educational opportunities for visitors. The permanent exhibits are: Race for Atomic Power, about the critical political and scientific events that occurred in Idaho; and the local Idaho History Room, with the Andrew Henry Rock, inscribed with the earliest known writing found in Idaho, a flag carried in the Civil War by Joseph Lawyer with his bloodstains on it, Lewis and Clark memorabilia, with American Indian artifacts including a buffalo hide tipi, weapons, a bull boat, clothing, tools and headdresses.
The History Room also has a replica of the 1882 school house built in Eagle Rock, with desks, books, slates and a pot-bellied stove. The Museum also has a range of visiting temporary exhibits and activities for children such as summer camps and one day classes.
Contact: 200 N Eastern Ave, Idaho Falls, Idaho 83402, Phone: 208-522-1400
Photo: Museum of Idaho
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»Idaho State Capitol Building
The Idaho State Capitol in Boise is the seat of the Idaho government, and a fascinating architectural masterpiece designed by Charles Hummel and John E. Tourtellotte, who used classical examples of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, St Paul's Cathedral in London and the United States Capitol as an inspiration. It is 208 feet high, covers an area of 201,720 square feet and 50,000 square feet of carved marble. Its famous dome is surmounted by a 5 feet 7 inch bronze eagle.
There are 219 pillars made of fake marble. The first floor has 13 large stars for the thirteen original colonies. The second floor contains offices of the lieutenant governor, the governor and the attorney general. On the second floor rotunda is a magnificent sculpture of George Washington on a horse. The Senate and the House of Representatives are on the third floor.
Contact: 700 W Jefferson St, Boise, Idaho 83702, 208-334-2100
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» Idaho Attractions: Schweitzer Mountain Resort
Schweitzer is the largest and one of the most popular ski resorts in Idaho, with 2,900 acres of amazing terrain for spectacular skiing for all skill levels. Located in the Selkirk Mountains, the resort has magnificent views of Lake Pend Oreille on the southeast, surrounded by the imposing mountain ranges of the Bitterroot and Cabinet mountains. The summit of Schweitzer Mountain reaches 6,400 feet. The mountain has 92 registered runs and open bowls with the average yearly snowfall of more than 300 inches. The longest run is Little Blue Ridge Runat 1.7 miles.
There are seven chairlifts and three surface tows. About 20 percent of the terrain is suitable for beginners, 40 percent for intermediate, 35 for advanced, and 5for experts. The resort offers accommodation and a range of activities and restaurants at the Schweitzer's Village. Biking and hiking trails start just outside the hotel door, and the Activity Center offers all sorts of fun for the whole family.
Contact: 10,000 Schweitzer Mountain Rd, Sandpoint, Idaho 83864, Phone: 208-263-9555
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» National Oregon-California Trail Center
The National Oregon/California Trail Center is located in the City of Montpelier, Idaho, on the historic Oregon/California Trail, about half way between Salt Lake City and Jackson/Yellowstone. Visitors can relive the Days of the Oregon Trail through the simulated Wagon Trail Adventure, in which they become members of a wagon train going west. They will ride in a covered wagon and spend an evening at the Clover Creek Encampment in an encircled wagon train.
The adventure is guided by actors- pioneers in period costumes who will tell you stories that will make the past seem alive. The Center also features the Peg Leg Smith Trading Post gift shop, various exhibits, the Allinger Community Theatre, Rails and Trails Museum, an art exhibit featuring paintings of scenes from Oregon Trail by Idaho artist Gary Stone, as well as the murals of the Center's artist-in-residence John Wayne Cook.
Contact: 320 N 4th St, Montpelier, Idaho 83254, Phone: 208-847-3800
Photo: National Oregon-California Trail Center
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» Bird Aviation Museum & Invention Center
Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center is a 16,000 square foot aircraft museum located in Sagle, Idaho, founded by Dr. Forrest Bird. The museum features approximately 20 aircraft dating from pre-World War I to today.
The Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center has a goal to educate visitors about the major impact of innovators and aviators who have contributed to the development of modern technology, and to honor and celebrate individuals who have radically changed the way we live today. Besides the aircraft, the museum contains exhibits of inventions such as the Bird Respirator, the Barbie doll by Ruth Handler and the Apple II by Steve Wozniak, and more.
Contact: 325 Bird Ranch Rd, Sagle, Idaho 83860, Phone: 208-255-4321
Photo: Bird Aviation Museum
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»Things to Do in Idaho: Wallace District Mining Museum
The small mining town of Wallace, Idaho, located in Idaho's scenic Silver Valley, is known as the "Silver Capital of the World." More than 1.2 billion ounces of silver came out of Shoshone County since 1884. The whole town of Wallace is registered on the National Register of Historic Places. Wallace District Mining Museum &Visitor Center is an Education and Research Center and repository of documents and objects that celebrate the history of silver, zinc, lead and gold production in the district.
Artifacts, photographs, models, paintings and techniques and mining activity displays faithfully capture the feel of the mining industry in Northern Idaho from the early gold rush days to the recent world-record silver production periods. Some exhibits are inside a timbered mine, offering an authentic mining experience.
Contact: 509 Bank St, Wallace, Idaho 83873, Phone: 208-556-1592
Photo: Wallace District Mining Museum
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»Old Idaho Penitentiary
Between 1872 and 1973, the Old Idaho Penitentiary was a prison for about 13,000 convicts, some of whom were quite notorious and dangerous. It started as a single cell jail and it grew into a multi-building complex surrounded by a 17-foot-high wall made from sandstone quarried by the convicts themselves from the nearby stone ridges. The Old Idaho Penitentiary is today managed and operated by the Idaho State Historical Society.
Tourists can visit cell blocks, solitary confinement and even the gallows. There are several exhibitions offered in the historic buildings, such as the J. Curtis Earl Memorial Exhibit of Arms and Armaments. Programs and events are organized for the groups to tell the story of the prison's past, scandals, daring escapes and executions.
Contact: 2445 Old Penitentiary Rd, Boise, Idaho 83712, Phone: 208-334-2844
Photo: Old Idaho Penitentiary
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»South Bannock County Historical Center
The South Bannock County Historical Museum offers a range of permanent and temporary exhibits about the origins and the history of Lava Hot Springs and the surrounding communities of Arimo, Downey, Inkom, Virginia, McCammon and Swan Lake.
The area of today's Lava Hot Springs has been known for its healing hot springs and has attracted early health tourists for centuries. One of the major permanent exhibits is Poha-Ba, Land of Healing Water, about the Native American's use of hot waters before the white man. The museum also has a digital theater which shows archival photos of important events in the history of the area.
Contact: 110 Main St, Lava Hot Springs, Idaho 83246, Phone: 208-776-5254
Photo: South Bannock County Historical Center
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» The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho
The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho (TAM) is located on the walkway overlooking the scenic Snake River in Idaho Falls. The museum opened its doors in 2002 and since then has been promoting local and regional visual arts and artists through original and stimulating exhibits. The Museum has a strong focus on educational programs in arts.
The Art Museum has five galleries, an art classroom and workshop area, a children's interactive, hands-on art learning area, and a gift shop. Visitors can browse on their own, join one of the regular tours, or come for an art lecture, class, family day or any other special event.
Contact: 300 S Capital Ave, Idaho Falls, Idaho 83402, Phone: 208-524-7777
Photo: The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho
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»Seven Stars Alpaca Ranch
Seven Stars Alpaca Ranch is a 40-acre working ranch snuggled in the mountains only 15 minutes from downtown Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. The ranch owners raise Suri and Huacaya alpacas for their exceptionally fine wool, and sell fiber as well as alpacas to other breeders. The alpacas share the ranch with a number of horses, chickens, goats, llamas, dogs, cats, more than 100 wild turkeys, deer and elk.
The farm is a fantastic place to visit with the kids, and alpacas are exceptionally friendly and docile. It is a working ranch, so the kids can also learn what it means to take care of animals which are not pets but have a job to do. They can even try their hand in a bit of manure cleaning or animal grooming.
Contact: 2885 S Folsom RIdahoge Rd, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814, Phone: 208-755-4925
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25 Best Things to Do in Idaho
- Lava Hot Springs, Photo: Lava Hot Springs
- Lake Coeur d'Alene, Photo: Lake Coeur d'Alene
- Idaho Botanical Garden, Photo: Idaho Botanical Garden
- Things to Do in Idaho: Museum of Clean, Photo: Museum of Clean
- Silverwood Theme Park, Photo: Silverwood Theme Park
- The Route of the Hiawatha, Photo: The Route of the Hiawatha
- Idaho Attractions: Yellowstone Bear World, Photo: Yellowstone Bear World
- Warhawk Air Museum, Photo: Warhawk Air Museum
- Things to Do in Idaho: The Wolf Center, Photo: The Wolf Center
- Sun Valley Resort, Photo: Courtesy of Yan - Fotolia.com
- Roaring Springs Waterpark, Photo: Roaring Springs Waterpark
- Things to Do in Idaho: The Springs, Photo: The Springs
- Idaho Attractions: Silver Mountain Resort, Photo: Courtesy of Yan - Fotolia.com
- Burgdorf Hot Springs, Photo: Burgdorf Hot Springs
- Sacajawea Historic Byway, Photo: Sacajawea Historic Byway
- Museum of Idaho, Photo: Museum of Idaho
- Idaho State Capitol Building, Photo: Courtesy of pngstudio - Fotolia.com
- Idaho Attractions: Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Photo: Courtesy of likoper - Fotolia.com
- National Oregon-California Trail Center, Photo: National Oregon-California Trail Center
- Bird Aviation Museum & Invention Center, Photo: Bird Aviation Museum
- Things to Do in Idaho: Wallace District Mining Museum, Photo: Wallace District Mining Museum
- Old Idaho Penitentiary, Photo: Old Idaho Penitentiary
- South Bannock County Historical Center, Photo: South Bannock County Historical Center
- The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho, Photo: The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho
- Seven Stars Alpaca Ranch, Photo: Courtesy of hookmedia - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of knowlesgallery - Fotolia.com
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