Idaho is an amazing (and often overlooked) destination with an array of exciting attractions that showcase its natural beauty. When visiting Idaho, keep a “leave no trace” mentality and dive into the diverse adventures of mountain exploration and funky city living. These are the best things to do when visiting Idaho.
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Take a Boat Ride Through Hells Canyon
Some of Idaho’s most dramatic views can be seen at this massive river canyon. With jagged green walls and a crystal clear river running through, it almost looks as if it belongs in Hawaii. Hells Canyon Adventures charges its open-air passenger boats into the rapids of the Snake River, and it’s exhilarating.
Explore the Ski Resorts
Bogus Basin out of Boise, Targhee, Sun Valley—Idaho is home to some seriously challenging, and some not too intimidating, slopes. Many ski areas in Idaho stay open for the summer and become great for hiking, biking or scenic lift rides. Treeptop obstacle courses, mountain coasters and dining are some of the other things you’ll find.
It’s a given, but none-the-less exciting. There are 42 types of game fish zoom through the lakes and rivers of the state, so it’s not a challenge to access some reeling opportunities. Sturgeon, salmon, trout, you name it, there’s a chance Idaho has it. Even the Boise River in downtown is a great place to fish, and locals literally cast a few lines during their lunch break.
Huckleberries grow wild along the ever-changing terrain, and if hiking on Schweitzer Mountain in the warm months, you can really get your fill of them. Cafes and restaurants often use the ingredient in pies, sauces and other dishes, but you have to grab a huckleberry milkshake from the Victor Emporium, where you have to use a mammoth sized straw to suck the whole berries through.
Float on Coeur d'Alene
Coeur d’Alene is built around a stunning lake, which created lots of activities for the area. Heading out on a boat with Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises is one of the best ways to absorb the beauty. During the holidays they have an incredible lights display in the water, making it the coolest time to go out.
Taste the Wine
The Snake River Valley could give Napa a major run for its money, and wine buffs are catching on. The elevation of the mountainous terrain and its volcanic history have created an interesting soil PH that is excellent for growing balanced grapes with an even acid-sweetness profile. Wineries are sprinkled all over, with Koenig Vineyards and the Sawtooth Winery being two of the most popular. Be sure to trek around and taste some of the local variations.
Visit Idaho State Penitentiary
Explore Ice Caves
Even when it’s baking hot out in the desert regions, there are underground caves coated in ice. The Shoshone Ice Caves or the tunnels under the otherworldly Craters of the Moon are both great ones to explore.
Eat Potatoes (or Ice Cream Ones)
Would it really be a trip to Idaho without eating potatoes? The Boise Fry Company serves up a variety of fries made with a diversity of local potatoes, from purple to golden. Have them cut straight or curly, then dunk them in some blueberry ketchup. Or head to the Westside Drive-In for an ice cream potato, which really is just super buttery vanilla ice cream rolled in cocoa powder!
Get Your Thrills at Silverwood Theme Park
Athol, Idaho sits in the far north, and also houses the Silverwood Theme Park, with a fun blend of nostalgic wooden coasters to more modern “wet your pants” kind of stuff. Fun fact—it’s the largest theme park in the Northwest.
Paddle Board through Shoshone Falls
Idaho is full of picturesque waterfalls. Shoshone Falls are dramatic cascades in Twin Falls. While fun to look at, you can get really up close by hitting up the surrounding waters in a paddle board! River and Adventure Toys offers rentals if you don’t have your own equipment.
Follow the Boise Greenbelt
Trek the Boise River Greenbelt for the perfect introduction to the Capitol city. The path is only for bike and foot traffic. Passing by urban wineries, restaurants, river rapids which some people surf, and parks, this route is the main vein to the area.
Stop at Basque Block
The Basque Block is a rich cultural neighborhood in Boise, with a population of people from a specific Spanish French region. The food at the market is totally unique, and the museum really shines a light on the individuality of this special group.
Soak in Hot Springs
Idaho will have you working those muscles, so a thermal hot spring soak is essential. Gold Fork Hot Spring and Lava Hot Springs are two of many choices.