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15 Instagrammable Destinations You Can Visit on a Budget

15 Instagrammable Destinations You Can Visit on a Budget

You won't need a filter at these locations

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15 Instagrammable Destinations You Can Visit on a Budget

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In this day and age, social media is an inextricable part of our travel experience. With the prevalence of apps such as Snapchat and Instagram, it is easier than ever to share our adventures with family, friends, and followers.

Unfortunately, some of the most beautiful places in the world are some of the most expensive to visit. But if you know where to look, you’ll find that there are just as many places that contain the same amount of beauty for a fraction of the price. The Caribbean still has some islands that haven’t been completely overrun by tourists, while a few countries in Europe have somehow kept under the radar and, therefore, kept their prices down as well.

You can take your Instagram followers on a trip through history with snapshots of haunting ruins, grandiose tombs, and awe-inspiring places of worship. There’s also, of course, the natural beauty that exists in every national park and waterfall as well. If you’re looking to light up everyone’s Instagram feeds without taking a hit to your wallet, here are some spots where you can plan your next vacation.

Albania

Highly underrated as a European destination, Albania offers a sunny Mediterranean vacation for a fraction of the price you’d pay in Italy or Spain or even neighboring Croatia (see below). Accommodations come at unbelievably low prices, and excursions to neighboring islands are more than affordable, too. You can relax on beautifully blue beaches or take a more active approach; Albania offers opportunities to go rafting, sea kayaking, paragliding, hiking, and more. If you’re more of an architecture or history buff, Albania also has multiple castles and ancient ruins to take great snapshots of.

Antigua and Barbuda

With 365 beaches, Antigua and Barbuda offers photo opportunities for every day of the year. If you’re not feeling up for a swim, the island also has colorful architecture and ruins of forts left behind by the British. Antigua and Barbuda is also much more affordable than most other European-influenced islands in the Caribbean. Summer is the low season in the Caribbean, so it’s the best time to get a great hotel deal or have a beach all to yourself. Make sure to make a visit to Shirley Heights Lookout, a historic hilltop military complex with stunning views and a restaurant and bar known for its Sunday Barbecue party, at which live music and delicious food are featured every week.

Belize

Belize is growing more and more popular every year, so take advantage of its affordability before prices rise along with tourism. With 240 miles of coastline, the shores of Belize are gorgeous as well as plentiful. Explore caves and waterfalls with your camera, and take a leap to try zip-lining or sportfishing. History has also made its mark, as Belize’s biggest land attractions are its old city and its Mayan ruins. Unlike most ruins, you can climb and walk on these, which means you can get really up close with your camera. Winter is peak season in Belize, and the rainy season starts in June, so book a vacation in late spring or early fall for a good deal.

Cannon Beach, Ore.

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Although the city of Cannon Beach has a population of only around 1,700 people, over 750,000 visit every year to enjoy an affordable vacation. Photos of its shore often feature the 235 feet tall Haystack Rock, the third largest monolith in the world. Low tide reveals the starfish and other marine life living near the base of the rock. You can also find even more natural beauty at Ecola State Park, a favorite of many hikers and campers with great views of the coast. The nearby inns and beach houses aren’t too expensive, especially if you don’t stay right on the water, and many have special rates for Sunday through Thursday bookings.

Costa Rica

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The renowned biodiversity of Costa Rica is not only an ecology geek’s dream, but it also makes for a beautiful destination. The country’s national parks and protected areas cover over 23 percent of its land, which accounts for only 0.03 percent of Earth’s landmass but approximately 5 percent of its biodiversity. Tickets to get there are cheap, and once you are there, public transportation is super-affordable as well. Costa Rica provides an entire array of accommodations to fit any budget, from hotels to the less expensive condos, hostels, vacation rentals, and cabinas. Food is cheap too; you can easily get a good local meal for under $5.

Croatia

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Flights to Zagreb and Dubrovnik can be relatively cheap if you book at least at least six to eight weeks ahead of time. Getting around within Croatia is affordable too; a cheap ferry takes you around the coastline and car rental is inexpensive as well. Not only do you have the usual photo opportunities at its beaches and national parks, but Croatia’s architecture is also a sight to behold. Dubrovnik, in particular, has become a popular sight-seeing attraction after its Old Town was featured multiple times in the hit HBO show Game of Thrones.

Cuba

“Tourist travel” by Americans is prohibited in Cuba, which has a list of 12 approved reasons for visitation, such as family visits, freelance journalism, humanitarian work, etc. This doesn’t mean you can’t experience and enjoy Cuba if none of these apply to you. Instead, the requirement for American travelers is that you actually interact with the country’s people in what are known as “people-to-people” tours. It’s actually more of a bonus than a chore, as locals are the key to finding out all the best spots for music, culture, nature, and history. Cuba has multiple Instagram-worthy national parks and beaches, for you to enjoy. Flights to Havana are super affordable, and hotels aren’t too bad either, but your best bet is to stay at government-licensed private homes with lodging called “casas particulares.”

Delhi, India

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One of the oldest cities in existence according to legend, it is said that Delhi is over 5,000 years old. With the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar to Indian rupees, you can save a lot on your hotel stay and the delicious cuisine. Its history is apparent in its amazing architecture, such the Lal Qila, or Red Fort, a sandstone structure built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan of Taj Mahal fame. Other sights you have to make sure to post to your Instagram feed include Humayun’s tomb, the Qutub complex, and India Gate, a monument dedicated to the fallen Indian soldiers of World War I. India’s religious diversity is apparent here as well, with stunning sights such as Jama Masjid (India’s largest mosque), the Bahá’í Lotus Temple (shaped like a lotus with 27 petals), Chattarpur Mandir, and Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. You can even go on a Delhi Photo Tour to ensure that you’ll hit all the Instagram-worthy spots that’ll make your friends back home jealous.

Haiti

Yet another underrated Caribbean destination, Haiti offers a trip with affordable flights and hotel stays. Historic churches, forts, and other French colonial architecture dot the map, as well as multiple beaches. Haiti’s combination of mountains and beautiful shores makes for a stunning juxtaposition, and boat tours to better explore the area are just a few dollars per head.

Kiev, Ukraine

Kiev’s gold-domed churches are famously stunning, and the city provides fantastic sights for lovers of art, history, and culture. Monasteries and museums make for beautiful snapshots, as well, but we recommend hiring a tour guide to help you navigate the city. Flights and hotel stays are also surprisingly cheap in Kiev.

Portugal

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Far too many travelers don’t seem to realize just how affordable Portugal is. Cheap flights and hotel stays are easily attainable, as long as you book about a month or two in advance, and food and drink won’t hurt your wallet either. Portugal’s beaches have the same Mediterranean sun as destinations like Spain or Italy, without the over-saturation of tourists. If you’re not a beach person, there are always the fantastic views of Lisbon and the romantic charm of castles such as the Pena Palace in Sintra.

San Luis Potosí, México

San Luis Potosí’s Centro Histórico alone is worth the trip. You can get tons of amazing shots of colorful stalls, Mexican street food, and gorgeous architecture. White-water rafting is a must, as it’s the best way to witness the unbelievable waterfalls and beautiful scenery. Local food can come extremely cheap, and both taxis and trolleys are more than affordable, so a visit to San Luis Potosí is a budget-friendly visit to paradise.

Thailand

Flights to Bangkok don’t have to cost an exorbitant amount if you keep an eye on travel deals and ticket prices. As long as you stay away from overly-commercialized areas, you can get great deals on accommodations and travel within the country can be cheap if you take the bus. The Chiang Mai region in northern Thailand is particularly inexpensive, as you can lay your head down not far from beautiful Buddhist temples for anywhere from $5 to $30, depending on your needs and budget.

Vietnam

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Flights to Ho Chi Minh City are quite affordable, especially considering how expensive trips to many other Southeast Asian destinations can be. While its capital city is mesmerizing itself, the beauty of Vietnam really shines in ancient Hoi An and the beaches of Halong Bay. You don’t need to shell out too much cash to afford a nicer hotel, either, and Vietnamese cuisine is not only inexpensive but healthy. In fact, you would be remiss to not take advantage of a street food tour of Hanoi for only $20 per head. Outside of that, you can have a stay at a guesthouse, transport, and local food and drink for as little as $12.

The Wave, Arizona

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Although it’s not a country or even a city, The Wave is such a stunning natural phenomenon that it deserves a place on this list. A rock formation in Arizona, the Wave is made of sandstone. It’s part of the Coyote Buttes, a section of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness of the Colorado Plateau. Although it requires a difficult hike — and a permit to make it — to explore, you only have to shell out up to $12 per person. Considering the sheer magic of the place, that’s quite a steal.


16 of the Best Places to Visit in Idaho

Idaho is a vacation paradise, offering everything from unforgettable wilderness camping experiences and high-end resorts geared for outdoor adventurers to sparkling lakes, soaring mountains, and pristine rivers. If you’re planning to head to the Gem State, you won’t want to miss visiting at least some of these great places.

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Stanley

The teeny tiny town of Stanley has a population of just 69, but surprisingly, you’ll find a wealth of accommodation options and more than a few restaurants, along with incredibly awe-inspiring scenery. While the surrounding wilderness is the main draw, be sure to stop by for one of the epic breakfasts served by Stanley Baking Company and enjoy dining along the river at Backcountry Bistro, which specializes in fresh seafood and free-range meats. Stanley sits on the banks of the Salmon River, enveloped by the Sawtooth and White Cloud Mountain Ranges, making an ideal base for exploring the state’s gorgeous backcountry. Enjoy fishing in alpine lakes that are stocked with a variety of trout, and all sorts of hiking trails that offer everything from an easy day hike to multi-day treks.

McCall

McCall is a mountain town and favorite with many frequent Idaho visitors. All about the water, it sits on the southern shore of Payette Lake and boasts the highest average snowfall in the state. Kayakers, boaters, standup paddle-boarders, and swimmers are all drawn here to explore the brilliant blue glacial lake. The river offers everything from peaceful float trips for families with kids to challenging sections with class IV and V rapids. In addition to water sports, huckleberry picking and hiking are popular activities, and many arrive to attend music and arts festivals. In the winter, Brundage Mountain opens up its famous ski lift, and visitors can also cross-country ski into a yurt or go snowmobiling. The town is probably most famous for its Winter Carnival, a 10-day festival held in late January featuring life-sized ice sculptures, live music, fireworks, a beer garden, and a Mardi Gras parade.

Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon is one of only a few places in the U.S. where you can walk over what was once lava, and explore an underground lava tube crafted by molten rock. This massive ocean of lava flows with cinder cones and sagebrush scattered about, is a unique landscape that formed during eight major eruptive periods, between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago. Although there are no fiery lava flows here now, the gnarled, crusty terrain that was frozen in time traces the tale of rivers of lava that gushed from fissures across the Snake River Plain known as the Great Rift. It’s a popular destination for hiking in Idaho, and in the winter, it’s a great place for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Free camping is available too, with a wilderness permit, available at the Visitor Center.

Coeur d’ Alene

Coeur d’ Alene, located in Idaho’s panhandle, is one of the state’s largest towns, located on the vast Lake Coeur d’ Alene. In this area with over 55 lakes, Coeur d’ Alene offers a wide array of water-based activities, including lake cruises and sailing as well as whitewater rafting, kayaking and just about any type of water sport you can imagine. It also boasts 18 golf courses and the Silverwood Theme Park with over 65 rides ranging from a merry-go-round to thrilling roller coasters and the Boulder Beach section with wave pools, waterslides, fountains and geysers. In the winter, skiing is available at three different resorts with more than 121 runs.

Shoshone Falls, Twin Falls

Just outside of the town of Twin Falls, is one of Idaho’s most beautiful waterfall: Shoshone Falls, sometimes referred to as the “Niagara of the West,” as this stunning natural beauty on the Snake River is even higher than its more famous counterpart, Niagara Falls, at 212 feet. The powerful falls are located in Shoshone Falls Park, which offers a range of facilities, including hiking trails, picnic areas, a swimming area, boat ramp, playgrounds and a scenic overlook. In the lush and shaded grassy areas, you can enjoy a picnic as well as an ideal vantage point for viewing the falls.

Bruneau Dunes State Park, Bruneau

Bruneau Dunes State Park hosts the tallest freestanding sand dunes on the continent – the highest soars an astounding 470 feet. These mountains of sand offer the chance to slide down them on a sandboard, available for rent at the park, or climb up them for a great workout. There are also lots of hiking trails as well as fantastic star gazing at Idaho’s only public observatory, fishing and swimming in a small lake, bird watching and camping. The park is home to a variety of wildlife too, including coyotes, sage grouse and birds of prey. A museum, located near the park’s entrance, is a great place to learn all about its wildlife and the geology of the area.

Thousand Springs State Park, Hagerman

Thousand Springs State Park is home to one of the world’s largest spring areas which are the terminus of a massive underground aquifer that flows underneath the Snake River Plain from the Pioneer Mountains. The water is crystal clear and pure, creating some of the most beautiful springs and pools on the planet. The park is made up of multiple separate areas, with a total of nine that feature volcanic landscapes, historic sites and amazing water displays, from Malad Gorge and the Kelton Trail near Interstate 84 to Billingsley Creek and Vardis Fisher near Hagerman and Ritter Island, Bonnieview, Box Canyon, and Niagara and Crystal Springs along the Snake River. On a hot day, head to Niagara Springs for relief in the 350-foot-deep Snake River Canyon. There, you can stand in front of the springs and let the spray of the waterfall cool you off.

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Riggins

Hells Canyon is the deepest water gorge in North America. It sits along the Idaho and Oregon border, and with the Snake River running through, it affords outstanding fishing and whitewater rafting opportunities. Hikers will find a wealth of hiking and backpacking trails to choose from, and along the way, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, or even black bears are sometimes spotted. History buffs may want to visit Kirkwood Historic Ranch, which offers a glimpse of ranch life in the 1930s and is accessible via a 6-mile hike or by boat. A number of jet boat and helicopter tours are available in the region as well.

Boise

Boise, the state capital, is often overlooked, but it offers lots of small-town charm with big-city attractions. It’s also the starting point for an endless array of outdoor activities, in addition to offering whitewater rafting and inner-tubing right through the city along the Boise River. Fly-fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing and hiking are just a few of the other popular outdoor pursuits in the area. In the revitalized downtown, offers great people watching, shopping and dining. With Boise’s rich cultural scene, you’ll find lots to do indoors when the weather isn’t cooperating, including learning about Idaho’s history at the History Museum, visiting one of several performing arts centers and theaters in the city, or heading to the Boise Art Museum. The capitol building is open year-round with guided group tours and self-guided tours for individuals.

Lewiston

Lewiston, which traces its history all the way back to the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, is situated at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers, which still serve as the town’s focal point. Today, the town is considered to be a gateway to natural wonders like Hells Canyon and the Salmon River Canyons. If you’re interested in the area’s history, Idaho History Tours takes visitors on walking tours of the historic downtown. The Ghost Tour is especially popular, with the chance to explore beneath the sideways, and even feel the presence of the spirits that once traversed them and worked in the “unmentionable” side of society in the 1930s. At the Lewis Clark Discovery Center, you’ll find interpretive displays, including a dugout canoe, a salmon stream, an Indian teepee, and an exhibit focused on Lewis and Clark’s challenging route through the Bitterroot Mountains.

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, Hagerman

The Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument is home to a significant concentration of Hagerman Horse fossils. The Hagerman Horse, an Ice Age mammal, lived in the grasslands of North America before going extinct roughly 10,000 years ago. The fossil horses for which this monument is famous, have only been found in the northern portion of the site, known as the Hagerman Horse Quarry. The monument is internationally significant as it protects the richest known fossil deposits from the late Pliocene age, 3.5 million years ago, providing a glimpse into a time before the Ice Age. Start your exploration with a stop at the visitor center, located in the town of Hagerman. In addition to visiting the monument, at the adjacent Lower Salmon Falls Reservoir, you can enjoy boating, fishing, hiking and horseback riding.

Sandpoint

Sandpoint, once named America’s Most Beautiful Town, is in the northern tip of Idaho. Set upon 43-mile-long Land Pend Oreille and surrounded by the Selkirk and Cabinet mountains, it’s easy to see why. You’ll find plenty to do both indoors and out, with 111 miles of shoreline and lush green forest offering a variety of outdoor adventures. In town, you can explore Sandpoint’s 19th-century heritage in the museums, take in a show at the historic Panida Theatre and enjoy an eclectic dining scene with a multitude of outstanding options. Beer lovers can enjoy the locally brewed, award-winning beers at Laughing Dog Brewing, while wine enthusiasts will appreciate the tasting room at the Pend d’Oreille Winery.

Idaho City

Idaho City is a historic town and gateway to the Sawtooths. It’s a hidden gem on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. During the gold rush it was the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, but today, the rugged western town rich in mining and logging history is home to only about 500 residents. During its heyday, it boasted fancy theaters, dozens of saloons, Idaho’s first Catholic Church, and a county jail that locked up some of the most notorious criminals in the Old West. Enjoy your visit by taking a stroll on traditional wooden sidewalks, exploring artifacts in the Boise Basin Museum, and sampling sarsaparilla at the local saloon.

Sun Valley/Ketchum

Sun Valley and Ketchum are close next-door neighbors in south-central Idaho. Sun Valley is known primarily as a ski resort, though you’ll find lots to do year-round. It boasts two ski slopes, Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. When the snow has melted, you can hike some of the trails that crisscross the area, while more challenging trails await by riding the ski lift up Baldy and hike or mountain bike there. The spring and summer months are popular for fly fishing for trout in the area’s pristine rivers, as well as horseback riding and hiking in the mountains. Both Ketchum and Sun Valley feature beautiful turn-of-the-century architecture, and in the summertime, there are themed Wagon Festivals hosted, taking visitors back in time to the Old West. Ketchum’s main street is lined with great eateries and bars, including the Sawtooth Club and Pioneer Saloon, which serves up traditional regional fare like elk and bison. As Ketchum is notorious as the place Ernest Hemingway committed suicide, fans will appreciate walking the halls of Sun Valley Lodge, where the famed writer worked on For Whom the Bell Tolls.


16 of the Best Places to Visit in Idaho

Idaho is a vacation paradise, offering everything from unforgettable wilderness camping experiences and high-end resorts geared for outdoor adventurers to sparkling lakes, soaring mountains, and pristine rivers. If you’re planning to head to the Gem State, you won’t want to miss visiting at least some of these great places.

YOU'RE ALL SET!

Look out for our newsletters in your inbox soon.

Stanley

The teeny tiny town of Stanley has a population of just 69, but surprisingly, you’ll find a wealth of accommodation options and more than a few restaurants, along with incredibly awe-inspiring scenery. While the surrounding wilderness is the main draw, be sure to stop by for one of the epic breakfasts served by Stanley Baking Company and enjoy dining along the river at Backcountry Bistro, which specializes in fresh seafood and free-range meats. Stanley sits on the banks of the Salmon River, enveloped by the Sawtooth and White Cloud Mountain Ranges, making an ideal base for exploring the state’s gorgeous backcountry. Enjoy fishing in alpine lakes that are stocked with a variety of trout, and all sorts of hiking trails that offer everything from an easy day hike to multi-day treks.

McCall

McCall is a mountain town and favorite with many frequent Idaho visitors. All about the water, it sits on the southern shore of Payette Lake and boasts the highest average snowfall in the state. Kayakers, boaters, standup paddle-boarders, and swimmers are all drawn here to explore the brilliant blue glacial lake. The river offers everything from peaceful float trips for families with kids to challenging sections with class IV and V rapids. In addition to water sports, huckleberry picking and hiking are popular activities, and many arrive to attend music and arts festivals. In the winter, Brundage Mountain opens up its famous ski lift, and visitors can also cross-country ski into a yurt or go snowmobiling. The town is probably most famous for its Winter Carnival, a 10-day festival held in late January featuring life-sized ice sculptures, live music, fireworks, a beer garden, and a Mardi Gras parade.

Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon is one of only a few places in the U.S. where you can walk over what was once lava, and explore an underground lava tube crafted by molten rock. This massive ocean of lava flows with cinder cones and sagebrush scattered about, is a unique landscape that formed during eight major eruptive periods, between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago. Although there are no fiery lava flows here now, the gnarled, crusty terrain that was frozen in time traces the tale of rivers of lava that gushed from fissures across the Snake River Plain known as the Great Rift. It’s a popular destination for hiking in Idaho, and in the winter, it’s a great place for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Free camping is available too, with a wilderness permit, available at the Visitor Center.

Coeur d’ Alene

Coeur d’ Alene, located in Idaho’s panhandle, is one of the state’s largest towns, located on the vast Lake Coeur d’ Alene. In this area with over 55 lakes, Coeur d’ Alene offers a wide array of water-based activities, including lake cruises and sailing as well as whitewater rafting, kayaking and just about any type of water sport you can imagine. It also boasts 18 golf courses and the Silverwood Theme Park with over 65 rides ranging from a merry-go-round to thrilling roller coasters and the Boulder Beach section with wave pools, waterslides, fountains and geysers. In the winter, skiing is available at three different resorts with more than 121 runs.

Shoshone Falls, Twin Falls

Just outside of the town of Twin Falls, is one of Idaho’s most beautiful waterfall: Shoshone Falls, sometimes referred to as the “Niagara of the West,” as this stunning natural beauty on the Snake River is even higher than its more famous counterpart, Niagara Falls, at 212 feet. The powerful falls are located in Shoshone Falls Park, which offers a range of facilities, including hiking trails, picnic areas, a swimming area, boat ramp, playgrounds and a scenic overlook. In the lush and shaded grassy areas, you can enjoy a picnic as well as an ideal vantage point for viewing the falls.

Bruneau Dunes State Park, Bruneau

Bruneau Dunes State Park hosts the tallest freestanding sand dunes on the continent – the highest soars an astounding 470 feet. These mountains of sand offer the chance to slide down them on a sandboard, available for rent at the park, or climb up them for a great workout. There are also lots of hiking trails as well as fantastic star gazing at Idaho’s only public observatory, fishing and swimming in a small lake, bird watching and camping. The park is home to a variety of wildlife too, including coyotes, sage grouse and birds of prey. A museum, located near the park’s entrance, is a great place to learn all about its wildlife and the geology of the area.

Thousand Springs State Park, Hagerman

Thousand Springs State Park is home to one of the world’s largest spring areas which are the terminus of a massive underground aquifer that flows underneath the Snake River Plain from the Pioneer Mountains. The water is crystal clear and pure, creating some of the most beautiful springs and pools on the planet. The park is made up of multiple separate areas, with a total of nine that feature volcanic landscapes, historic sites and amazing water displays, from Malad Gorge and the Kelton Trail near Interstate 84 to Billingsley Creek and Vardis Fisher near Hagerman and Ritter Island, Bonnieview, Box Canyon, and Niagara and Crystal Springs along the Snake River. On a hot day, head to Niagara Springs for relief in the 350-foot-deep Snake River Canyon. There, you can stand in front of the springs and let the spray of the waterfall cool you off.

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Riggins

Hells Canyon is the deepest water gorge in North America. It sits along the Idaho and Oregon border, and with the Snake River running through, it affords outstanding fishing and whitewater rafting opportunities. Hikers will find a wealth of hiking and backpacking trails to choose from, and along the way, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, or even black bears are sometimes spotted. History buffs may want to visit Kirkwood Historic Ranch, which offers a glimpse of ranch life in the 1930s and is accessible via a 6-mile hike or by boat. A number of jet boat and helicopter tours are available in the region as well.

Boise

Boise, the state capital, is often overlooked, but it offers lots of small-town charm with big-city attractions. It’s also the starting point for an endless array of outdoor activities, in addition to offering whitewater rafting and inner-tubing right through the city along the Boise River. Fly-fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing and hiking are just a few of the other popular outdoor pursuits in the area. In the revitalized downtown, offers great people watching, shopping and dining. With Boise’s rich cultural scene, you’ll find lots to do indoors when the weather isn’t cooperating, including learning about Idaho’s history at the History Museum, visiting one of several performing arts centers and theaters in the city, or heading to the Boise Art Museum. The capitol building is open year-round with guided group tours and self-guided tours for individuals.

Lewiston

Lewiston, which traces its history all the way back to the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, is situated at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers, which still serve as the town’s focal point. Today, the town is considered to be a gateway to natural wonders like Hells Canyon and the Salmon River Canyons. If you’re interested in the area’s history, Idaho History Tours takes visitors on walking tours of the historic downtown. The Ghost Tour is especially popular, with the chance to explore beneath the sideways, and even feel the presence of the spirits that once traversed them and worked in the “unmentionable” side of society in the 1930s. At the Lewis Clark Discovery Center, you’ll find interpretive displays, including a dugout canoe, a salmon stream, an Indian teepee, and an exhibit focused on Lewis and Clark’s challenging route through the Bitterroot Mountains.

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, Hagerman

The Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument is home to a significant concentration of Hagerman Horse fossils. The Hagerman Horse, an Ice Age mammal, lived in the grasslands of North America before going extinct roughly 10,000 years ago. The fossil horses for which this monument is famous, have only been found in the northern portion of the site, known as the Hagerman Horse Quarry. The monument is internationally significant as it protects the richest known fossil deposits from the late Pliocene age, 3.5 million years ago, providing a glimpse into a time before the Ice Age. Start your exploration with a stop at the visitor center, located in the town of Hagerman. In addition to visiting the monument, at the adjacent Lower Salmon Falls Reservoir, you can enjoy boating, fishing, hiking and horseback riding.

Sandpoint

Sandpoint, once named America’s Most Beautiful Town, is in the northern tip of Idaho. Set upon 43-mile-long Land Pend Oreille and surrounded by the Selkirk and Cabinet mountains, it’s easy to see why. You’ll find plenty to do both indoors and out, with 111 miles of shoreline and lush green forest offering a variety of outdoor adventures. In town, you can explore Sandpoint’s 19th-century heritage in the museums, take in a show at the historic Panida Theatre and enjoy an eclectic dining scene with a multitude of outstanding options. Beer lovers can enjoy the locally brewed, award-winning beers at Laughing Dog Brewing, while wine enthusiasts will appreciate the tasting room at the Pend d’Oreille Winery.

Idaho City

Idaho City is a historic town and gateway to the Sawtooths. It’s a hidden gem on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. During the gold rush it was the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, but today, the rugged western town rich in mining and logging history is home to only about 500 residents. During its heyday, it boasted fancy theaters, dozens of saloons, Idaho’s first Catholic Church, and a county jail that locked up some of the most notorious criminals in the Old West. Enjoy your visit by taking a stroll on traditional wooden sidewalks, exploring artifacts in the Boise Basin Museum, and sampling sarsaparilla at the local saloon.

Sun Valley/Ketchum

Sun Valley and Ketchum are close next-door neighbors in south-central Idaho. Sun Valley is known primarily as a ski resort, though you’ll find lots to do year-round. It boasts two ski slopes, Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. When the snow has melted, you can hike some of the trails that crisscross the area, while more challenging trails await by riding the ski lift up Baldy and hike or mountain bike there. The spring and summer months are popular for fly fishing for trout in the area’s pristine rivers, as well as horseback riding and hiking in the mountains. Both Ketchum and Sun Valley feature beautiful turn-of-the-century architecture, and in the summertime, there are themed Wagon Festivals hosted, taking visitors back in time to the Old West. Ketchum’s main street is lined with great eateries and bars, including the Sawtooth Club and Pioneer Saloon, which serves up traditional regional fare like elk and bison. As Ketchum is notorious as the place Ernest Hemingway committed suicide, fans will appreciate walking the halls of Sun Valley Lodge, where the famed writer worked on For Whom the Bell Tolls.


16 of the Best Places to Visit in Idaho

Idaho is a vacation paradise, offering everything from unforgettable wilderness camping experiences and high-end resorts geared for outdoor adventurers to sparkling lakes, soaring mountains, and pristine rivers. If you’re planning to head to the Gem State, you won’t want to miss visiting at least some of these great places.

YOU'RE ALL SET!

Look out for our newsletters in your inbox soon.

Stanley

The teeny tiny town of Stanley has a population of just 69, but surprisingly, you’ll find a wealth of accommodation options and more than a few restaurants, along with incredibly awe-inspiring scenery. While the surrounding wilderness is the main draw, be sure to stop by for one of the epic breakfasts served by Stanley Baking Company and enjoy dining along the river at Backcountry Bistro, which specializes in fresh seafood and free-range meats. Stanley sits on the banks of the Salmon River, enveloped by the Sawtooth and White Cloud Mountain Ranges, making an ideal base for exploring the state’s gorgeous backcountry. Enjoy fishing in alpine lakes that are stocked with a variety of trout, and all sorts of hiking trails that offer everything from an easy day hike to multi-day treks.

McCall

McCall is a mountain town and favorite with many frequent Idaho visitors. All about the water, it sits on the southern shore of Payette Lake and boasts the highest average snowfall in the state. Kayakers, boaters, standup paddle-boarders, and swimmers are all drawn here to explore the brilliant blue glacial lake. The river offers everything from peaceful float trips for families with kids to challenging sections with class IV and V rapids. In addition to water sports, huckleberry picking and hiking are popular activities, and many arrive to attend music and arts festivals. In the winter, Brundage Mountain opens up its famous ski lift, and visitors can also cross-country ski into a yurt or go snowmobiling. The town is probably most famous for its Winter Carnival, a 10-day festival held in late January featuring life-sized ice sculptures, live music, fireworks, a beer garden, and a Mardi Gras parade.

Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon is one of only a few places in the U.S. where you can walk over what was once lava, and explore an underground lava tube crafted by molten rock. This massive ocean of lava flows with cinder cones and sagebrush scattered about, is a unique landscape that formed during eight major eruptive periods, between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago. Although there are no fiery lava flows here now, the gnarled, crusty terrain that was frozen in time traces the tale of rivers of lava that gushed from fissures across the Snake River Plain known as the Great Rift. It’s a popular destination for hiking in Idaho, and in the winter, it’s a great place for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Free camping is available too, with a wilderness permit, available at the Visitor Center.

Coeur d’ Alene

Coeur d’ Alene, located in Idaho’s panhandle, is one of the state’s largest towns, located on the vast Lake Coeur d’ Alene. In this area with over 55 lakes, Coeur d’ Alene offers a wide array of water-based activities, including lake cruises and sailing as well as whitewater rafting, kayaking and just about any type of water sport you can imagine. It also boasts 18 golf courses and the Silverwood Theme Park with over 65 rides ranging from a merry-go-round to thrilling roller coasters and the Boulder Beach section with wave pools, waterslides, fountains and geysers. In the winter, skiing is available at three different resorts with more than 121 runs.

Shoshone Falls, Twin Falls

Just outside of the town of Twin Falls, is one of Idaho’s most beautiful waterfall: Shoshone Falls, sometimes referred to as the “Niagara of the West,” as this stunning natural beauty on the Snake River is even higher than its more famous counterpart, Niagara Falls, at 212 feet. The powerful falls are located in Shoshone Falls Park, which offers a range of facilities, including hiking trails, picnic areas, a swimming area, boat ramp, playgrounds and a scenic overlook. In the lush and shaded grassy areas, you can enjoy a picnic as well as an ideal vantage point for viewing the falls.

Bruneau Dunes State Park, Bruneau

Bruneau Dunes State Park hosts the tallest freestanding sand dunes on the continent – the highest soars an astounding 470 feet. These mountains of sand offer the chance to slide down them on a sandboard, available for rent at the park, or climb up them for a great workout. There are also lots of hiking trails as well as fantastic star gazing at Idaho’s only public observatory, fishing and swimming in a small lake, bird watching and camping. The park is home to a variety of wildlife too, including coyotes, sage grouse and birds of prey. A museum, located near the park’s entrance, is a great place to learn all about its wildlife and the geology of the area.

Thousand Springs State Park, Hagerman

Thousand Springs State Park is home to one of the world’s largest spring areas which are the terminus of a massive underground aquifer that flows underneath the Snake River Plain from the Pioneer Mountains. The water is crystal clear and pure, creating some of the most beautiful springs and pools on the planet. The park is made up of multiple separate areas, with a total of nine that feature volcanic landscapes, historic sites and amazing water displays, from Malad Gorge and the Kelton Trail near Interstate 84 to Billingsley Creek and Vardis Fisher near Hagerman and Ritter Island, Bonnieview, Box Canyon, and Niagara and Crystal Springs along the Snake River. On a hot day, head to Niagara Springs for relief in the 350-foot-deep Snake River Canyon. There, you can stand in front of the springs and let the spray of the waterfall cool you off.

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Riggins

Hells Canyon is the deepest water gorge in North America. It sits along the Idaho and Oregon border, and with the Snake River running through, it affords outstanding fishing and whitewater rafting opportunities. Hikers will find a wealth of hiking and backpacking trails to choose from, and along the way, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, or even black bears are sometimes spotted. History buffs may want to visit Kirkwood Historic Ranch, which offers a glimpse of ranch life in the 1930s and is accessible via a 6-mile hike or by boat. A number of jet boat and helicopter tours are available in the region as well.

Boise

Boise, the state capital, is often overlooked, but it offers lots of small-town charm with big-city attractions. It’s also the starting point for an endless array of outdoor activities, in addition to offering whitewater rafting and inner-tubing right through the city along the Boise River. Fly-fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing and hiking are just a few of the other popular outdoor pursuits in the area. In the revitalized downtown, offers great people watching, shopping and dining. With Boise’s rich cultural scene, you’ll find lots to do indoors when the weather isn’t cooperating, including learning about Idaho’s history at the History Museum, visiting one of several performing arts centers and theaters in the city, or heading to the Boise Art Museum. The capitol building is open year-round with guided group tours and self-guided tours for individuals.

Lewiston

Lewiston, which traces its history all the way back to the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, is situated at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers, which still serve as the town’s focal point. Today, the town is considered to be a gateway to natural wonders like Hells Canyon and the Salmon River Canyons. If you’re interested in the area’s history, Idaho History Tours takes visitors on walking tours of the historic downtown. The Ghost Tour is especially popular, with the chance to explore beneath the sideways, and even feel the presence of the spirits that once traversed them and worked in the “unmentionable” side of society in the 1930s. At the Lewis Clark Discovery Center, you’ll find interpretive displays, including a dugout canoe, a salmon stream, an Indian teepee, and an exhibit focused on Lewis and Clark’s challenging route through the Bitterroot Mountains.

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, Hagerman

The Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument is home to a significant concentration of Hagerman Horse fossils. The Hagerman Horse, an Ice Age mammal, lived in the grasslands of North America before going extinct roughly 10,000 years ago. The fossil horses for which this monument is famous, have only been found in the northern portion of the site, known as the Hagerman Horse Quarry. The monument is internationally significant as it protects the richest known fossil deposits from the late Pliocene age, 3.5 million years ago, providing a glimpse into a time before the Ice Age. Start your exploration with a stop at the visitor center, located in the town of Hagerman. In addition to visiting the monument, at the adjacent Lower Salmon Falls Reservoir, you can enjoy boating, fishing, hiking and horseback riding.

Sandpoint

Sandpoint, once named America’s Most Beautiful Town, is in the northern tip of Idaho. Set upon 43-mile-long Land Pend Oreille and surrounded by the Selkirk and Cabinet mountains, it’s easy to see why. You’ll find plenty to do both indoors and out, with 111 miles of shoreline and lush green forest offering a variety of outdoor adventures. In town, you can explore Sandpoint’s 19th-century heritage in the museums, take in a show at the historic Panida Theatre and enjoy an eclectic dining scene with a multitude of outstanding options. Beer lovers can enjoy the locally brewed, award-winning beers at Laughing Dog Brewing, while wine enthusiasts will appreciate the tasting room at the Pend d’Oreille Winery.

Idaho City

Idaho City is a historic town and gateway to the Sawtooths. It’s a hidden gem on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. During the gold rush it was the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, but today, the rugged western town rich in mining and logging history is home to only about 500 residents. During its heyday, it boasted fancy theaters, dozens of saloons, Idaho’s first Catholic Church, and a county jail that locked up some of the most notorious criminals in the Old West. Enjoy your visit by taking a stroll on traditional wooden sidewalks, exploring artifacts in the Boise Basin Museum, and sampling sarsaparilla at the local saloon.

Sun Valley/Ketchum

Sun Valley and Ketchum are close next-door neighbors in south-central Idaho. Sun Valley is known primarily as a ski resort, though you’ll find lots to do year-round. It boasts two ski slopes, Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. When the snow has melted, you can hike some of the trails that crisscross the area, while more challenging trails await by riding the ski lift up Baldy and hike or mountain bike there. The spring and summer months are popular for fly fishing for trout in the area’s pristine rivers, as well as horseback riding and hiking in the mountains. Both Ketchum and Sun Valley feature beautiful turn-of-the-century architecture, and in the summertime, there are themed Wagon Festivals hosted, taking visitors back in time to the Old West. Ketchum’s main street is lined with great eateries and bars, including the Sawtooth Club and Pioneer Saloon, which serves up traditional regional fare like elk and bison. As Ketchum is notorious as the place Ernest Hemingway committed suicide, fans will appreciate walking the halls of Sun Valley Lodge, where the famed writer worked on For Whom the Bell Tolls.


16 of the Best Places to Visit in Idaho

Idaho is a vacation paradise, offering everything from unforgettable wilderness camping experiences and high-end resorts geared for outdoor adventurers to sparkling lakes, soaring mountains, and pristine rivers. If you’re planning to head to the Gem State, you won’t want to miss visiting at least some of these great places.

YOU'RE ALL SET!

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Stanley

The teeny tiny town of Stanley has a population of just 69, but surprisingly, you’ll find a wealth of accommodation options and more than a few restaurants, along with incredibly awe-inspiring scenery. While the surrounding wilderness is the main draw, be sure to stop by for one of the epic breakfasts served by Stanley Baking Company and enjoy dining along the river at Backcountry Bistro, which specializes in fresh seafood and free-range meats. Stanley sits on the banks of the Salmon River, enveloped by the Sawtooth and White Cloud Mountain Ranges, making an ideal base for exploring the state’s gorgeous backcountry. Enjoy fishing in alpine lakes that are stocked with a variety of trout, and all sorts of hiking trails that offer everything from an easy day hike to multi-day treks.

McCall

McCall is a mountain town and favorite with many frequent Idaho visitors. All about the water, it sits on the southern shore of Payette Lake and boasts the highest average snowfall in the state. Kayakers, boaters, standup paddle-boarders, and swimmers are all drawn here to explore the brilliant blue glacial lake. The river offers everything from peaceful float trips for families with kids to challenging sections with class IV and V rapids. In addition to water sports, huckleberry picking and hiking are popular activities, and many arrive to attend music and arts festivals. In the winter, Brundage Mountain opens up its famous ski lift, and visitors can also cross-country ski into a yurt or go snowmobiling. The town is probably most famous for its Winter Carnival, a 10-day festival held in late January featuring life-sized ice sculptures, live music, fireworks, a beer garden, and a Mardi Gras parade.

Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon is one of only a few places in the U.S. where you can walk over what was once lava, and explore an underground lava tube crafted by molten rock. This massive ocean of lava flows with cinder cones and sagebrush scattered about, is a unique landscape that formed during eight major eruptive periods, between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago. Although there are no fiery lava flows here now, the gnarled, crusty terrain that was frozen in time traces the tale of rivers of lava that gushed from fissures across the Snake River Plain known as the Great Rift. It’s a popular destination for hiking in Idaho, and in the winter, it’s a great place for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Free camping is available too, with a wilderness permit, available at the Visitor Center.

Coeur d’ Alene

Coeur d’ Alene, located in Idaho’s panhandle, is one of the state’s largest towns, located on the vast Lake Coeur d’ Alene. In this area with over 55 lakes, Coeur d’ Alene offers a wide array of water-based activities, including lake cruises and sailing as well as whitewater rafting, kayaking and just about any type of water sport you can imagine. It also boasts 18 golf courses and the Silverwood Theme Park with over 65 rides ranging from a merry-go-round to thrilling roller coasters and the Boulder Beach section with wave pools, waterslides, fountains and geysers. In the winter, skiing is available at three different resorts with more than 121 runs.

Shoshone Falls, Twin Falls

Just outside of the town of Twin Falls, is one of Idaho’s most beautiful waterfall: Shoshone Falls, sometimes referred to as the “Niagara of the West,” as this stunning natural beauty on the Snake River is even higher than its more famous counterpart, Niagara Falls, at 212 feet. The powerful falls are located in Shoshone Falls Park, which offers a range of facilities, including hiking trails, picnic areas, a swimming area, boat ramp, playgrounds and a scenic overlook. In the lush and shaded grassy areas, you can enjoy a picnic as well as an ideal vantage point for viewing the falls.

Bruneau Dunes State Park, Bruneau

Bruneau Dunes State Park hosts the tallest freestanding sand dunes on the continent – the highest soars an astounding 470 feet. These mountains of sand offer the chance to slide down them on a sandboard, available for rent at the park, or climb up them for a great workout. There are also lots of hiking trails as well as fantastic star gazing at Idaho’s only public observatory, fishing and swimming in a small lake, bird watching and camping. The park is home to a variety of wildlife too, including coyotes, sage grouse and birds of prey. A museum, located near the park’s entrance, is a great place to learn all about its wildlife and the geology of the area.

Thousand Springs State Park, Hagerman

Thousand Springs State Park is home to one of the world’s largest spring areas which are the terminus of a massive underground aquifer that flows underneath the Snake River Plain from the Pioneer Mountains. The water is crystal clear and pure, creating some of the most beautiful springs and pools on the planet. The park is made up of multiple separate areas, with a total of nine that feature volcanic landscapes, historic sites and amazing water displays, from Malad Gorge and the Kelton Trail near Interstate 84 to Billingsley Creek and Vardis Fisher near Hagerman and Ritter Island, Bonnieview, Box Canyon, and Niagara and Crystal Springs along the Snake River. On a hot day, head to Niagara Springs for relief in the 350-foot-deep Snake River Canyon. There, you can stand in front of the springs and let the spray of the waterfall cool you off.

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Riggins

Hells Canyon is the deepest water gorge in North America. It sits along the Idaho and Oregon border, and with the Snake River running through, it affords outstanding fishing and whitewater rafting opportunities. Hikers will find a wealth of hiking and backpacking trails to choose from, and along the way, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, or even black bears are sometimes spotted. History buffs may want to visit Kirkwood Historic Ranch, which offers a glimpse of ranch life in the 1930s and is accessible via a 6-mile hike or by boat. A number of jet boat and helicopter tours are available in the region as well.

Boise

Boise, the state capital, is often overlooked, but it offers lots of small-town charm with big-city attractions. It’s also the starting point for an endless array of outdoor activities, in addition to offering whitewater rafting and inner-tubing right through the city along the Boise River. Fly-fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing and hiking are just a few of the other popular outdoor pursuits in the area. In the revitalized downtown, offers great people watching, shopping and dining. With Boise’s rich cultural scene, you’ll find lots to do indoors when the weather isn’t cooperating, including learning about Idaho’s history at the History Museum, visiting one of several performing arts centers and theaters in the city, or heading to the Boise Art Museum. The capitol building is open year-round with guided group tours and self-guided tours for individuals.

Lewiston

Lewiston, which traces its history all the way back to the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, is situated at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers, which still serve as the town’s focal point. Today, the town is considered to be a gateway to natural wonders like Hells Canyon and the Salmon River Canyons. If you’re interested in the area’s history, Idaho History Tours takes visitors on walking tours of the historic downtown. The Ghost Tour is especially popular, with the chance to explore beneath the sideways, and even feel the presence of the spirits that once traversed them and worked in the “unmentionable” side of society in the 1930s. At the Lewis Clark Discovery Center, you’ll find interpretive displays, including a dugout canoe, a salmon stream, an Indian teepee, and an exhibit focused on Lewis and Clark’s challenging route through the Bitterroot Mountains.

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, Hagerman

The Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument is home to a significant concentration of Hagerman Horse fossils. The Hagerman Horse, an Ice Age mammal, lived in the grasslands of North America before going extinct roughly 10,000 years ago. The fossil horses for which this monument is famous, have only been found in the northern portion of the site, known as the Hagerman Horse Quarry. The monument is internationally significant as it protects the richest known fossil deposits from the late Pliocene age, 3.5 million years ago, providing a glimpse into a time before the Ice Age. Start your exploration with a stop at the visitor center, located in the town of Hagerman. In addition to visiting the monument, at the adjacent Lower Salmon Falls Reservoir, you can enjoy boating, fishing, hiking and horseback riding.

Sandpoint

Sandpoint, once named America’s Most Beautiful Town, is in the northern tip of Idaho. Set upon 43-mile-long Land Pend Oreille and surrounded by the Selkirk and Cabinet mountains, it’s easy to see why. You’ll find plenty to do both indoors and out, with 111 miles of shoreline and lush green forest offering a variety of outdoor adventures. In town, you can explore Sandpoint’s 19th-century heritage in the museums, take in a show at the historic Panida Theatre and enjoy an eclectic dining scene with a multitude of outstanding options. Beer lovers can enjoy the locally brewed, award-winning beers at Laughing Dog Brewing, while wine enthusiasts will appreciate the tasting room at the Pend d’Oreille Winery.

Idaho City

Idaho City is a historic town and gateway to the Sawtooths. It’s a hidden gem on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. During the gold rush it was the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, but today, the rugged western town rich in mining and logging history is home to only about 500 residents. During its heyday, it boasted fancy theaters, dozens of saloons, Idaho’s first Catholic Church, and a county jail that locked up some of the most notorious criminals in the Old West. Enjoy your visit by taking a stroll on traditional wooden sidewalks, exploring artifacts in the Boise Basin Museum, and sampling sarsaparilla at the local saloon.

Sun Valley/Ketchum

Sun Valley and Ketchum are close next-door neighbors in south-central Idaho. Sun Valley is known primarily as a ski resort, though you’ll find lots to do year-round. It boasts two ski slopes, Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. When the snow has melted, you can hike some of the trails that crisscross the area, while more challenging trails await by riding the ski lift up Baldy and hike or mountain bike there. The spring and summer months are popular for fly fishing for trout in the area’s pristine rivers, as well as horseback riding and hiking in the mountains. Both Ketchum and Sun Valley feature beautiful turn-of-the-century architecture, and in the summertime, there are themed Wagon Festivals hosted, taking visitors back in time to the Old West. Ketchum’s main street is lined with great eateries and bars, including the Sawtooth Club and Pioneer Saloon, which serves up traditional regional fare like elk and bison. As Ketchum is notorious as the place Ernest Hemingway committed suicide, fans will appreciate walking the halls of Sun Valley Lodge, where the famed writer worked on For Whom the Bell Tolls.


16 of the Best Places to Visit in Idaho

Idaho is a vacation paradise, offering everything from unforgettable wilderness camping experiences and high-end resorts geared for outdoor adventurers to sparkling lakes, soaring mountains, and pristine rivers. If you’re planning to head to the Gem State, you won’t want to miss visiting at least some of these great places.

YOU'RE ALL SET!

Look out for our newsletters in your inbox soon.

Stanley

The teeny tiny town of Stanley has a population of just 69, but surprisingly, you’ll find a wealth of accommodation options and more than a few restaurants, along with incredibly awe-inspiring scenery. While the surrounding wilderness is the main draw, be sure to stop by for one of the epic breakfasts served by Stanley Baking Company and enjoy dining along the river at Backcountry Bistro, which specializes in fresh seafood and free-range meats. Stanley sits on the banks of the Salmon River, enveloped by the Sawtooth and White Cloud Mountain Ranges, making an ideal base for exploring the state’s gorgeous backcountry. Enjoy fishing in alpine lakes that are stocked with a variety of trout, and all sorts of hiking trails that offer everything from an easy day hike to multi-day treks.

McCall

McCall is a mountain town and favorite with many frequent Idaho visitors. All about the water, it sits on the southern shore of Payette Lake and boasts the highest average snowfall in the state. Kayakers, boaters, standup paddle-boarders, and swimmers are all drawn here to explore the brilliant blue glacial lake. The river offers everything from peaceful float trips for families with kids to challenging sections with class IV and V rapids. In addition to water sports, huckleberry picking and hiking are popular activities, and many arrive to attend music and arts festivals. In the winter, Brundage Mountain opens up its famous ski lift, and visitors can also cross-country ski into a yurt or go snowmobiling. The town is probably most famous for its Winter Carnival, a 10-day festival held in late January featuring life-sized ice sculptures, live music, fireworks, a beer garden, and a Mardi Gras parade.

Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon is one of only a few places in the U.S. where you can walk over what was once lava, and explore an underground lava tube crafted by molten rock. This massive ocean of lava flows with cinder cones and sagebrush scattered about, is a unique landscape that formed during eight major eruptive periods, between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago. Although there are no fiery lava flows here now, the gnarled, crusty terrain that was frozen in time traces the tale of rivers of lava that gushed from fissures across the Snake River Plain known as the Great Rift. It’s a popular destination for hiking in Idaho, and in the winter, it’s a great place for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Free camping is available too, with a wilderness permit, available at the Visitor Center.

Coeur d’ Alene

Coeur d’ Alene, located in Idaho’s panhandle, is one of the state’s largest towns, located on the vast Lake Coeur d’ Alene. In this area with over 55 lakes, Coeur d’ Alene offers a wide array of water-based activities, including lake cruises and sailing as well as whitewater rafting, kayaking and just about any type of water sport you can imagine. It also boasts 18 golf courses and the Silverwood Theme Park with over 65 rides ranging from a merry-go-round to thrilling roller coasters and the Boulder Beach section with wave pools, waterslides, fountains and geysers. In the winter, skiing is available at three different resorts with more than 121 runs.

Shoshone Falls, Twin Falls

Just outside of the town of Twin Falls, is one of Idaho’s most beautiful waterfall: Shoshone Falls, sometimes referred to as the “Niagara of the West,” as this stunning natural beauty on the Snake River is even higher than its more famous counterpart, Niagara Falls, at 212 feet. The powerful falls are located in Shoshone Falls Park, which offers a range of facilities, including hiking trails, picnic areas, a swimming area, boat ramp, playgrounds and a scenic overlook. In the lush and shaded grassy areas, you can enjoy a picnic as well as an ideal vantage point for viewing the falls.

Bruneau Dunes State Park, Bruneau

Bruneau Dunes State Park hosts the tallest freestanding sand dunes on the continent – the highest soars an astounding 470 feet. These mountains of sand offer the chance to slide down them on a sandboard, available for rent at the park, or climb up them for a great workout. There are also lots of hiking trails as well as fantastic star gazing at Idaho’s only public observatory, fishing and swimming in a small lake, bird watching and camping. The park is home to a variety of wildlife too, including coyotes, sage grouse and birds of prey. A museum, located near the park’s entrance, is a great place to learn all about its wildlife and the geology of the area.

Thousand Springs State Park, Hagerman

Thousand Springs State Park is home to one of the world’s largest spring areas which are the terminus of a massive underground aquifer that flows underneath the Snake River Plain from the Pioneer Mountains. The water is crystal clear and pure, creating some of the most beautiful springs and pools on the planet. The park is made up of multiple separate areas, with a total of nine that feature volcanic landscapes, historic sites and amazing water displays, from Malad Gorge and the Kelton Trail near Interstate 84 to Billingsley Creek and Vardis Fisher near Hagerman and Ritter Island, Bonnieview, Box Canyon, and Niagara and Crystal Springs along the Snake River. On a hot day, head to Niagara Springs for relief in the 350-foot-deep Snake River Canyon. There, you can stand in front of the springs and let the spray of the waterfall cool you off.

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Riggins

Hells Canyon is the deepest water gorge in North America. It sits along the Idaho and Oregon border, and with the Snake River running through, it affords outstanding fishing and whitewater rafting opportunities. Hikers will find a wealth of hiking and backpacking trails to choose from, and along the way, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, or even black bears are sometimes spotted. History buffs may want to visit Kirkwood Historic Ranch, which offers a glimpse of ranch life in the 1930s and is accessible via a 6-mile hike or by boat. A number of jet boat and helicopter tours are available in the region as well.

Boise

Boise, the state capital, is often overlooked, but it offers lots of small-town charm with big-city attractions. It’s also the starting point for an endless array of outdoor activities, in addition to offering whitewater rafting and inner-tubing right through the city along the Boise River. Fly-fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing and hiking are just a few of the other popular outdoor pursuits in the area. In the revitalized downtown, offers great people watching, shopping and dining. With Boise’s rich cultural scene, you’ll find lots to do indoors when the weather isn’t cooperating, including learning about Idaho’s history at the History Museum, visiting one of several performing arts centers and theaters in the city, or heading to the Boise Art Museum. The capitol building is open year-round with guided group tours and self-guided tours for individuals.

Lewiston

Lewiston, which traces its history all the way back to the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, is situated at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers, which still serve as the town’s focal point. Today, the town is considered to be a gateway to natural wonders like Hells Canyon and the Salmon River Canyons. If you’re interested in the area’s history, Idaho History Tours takes visitors on walking tours of the historic downtown. The Ghost Tour is especially popular, with the chance to explore beneath the sideways, and even feel the presence of the spirits that once traversed them and worked in the “unmentionable” side of society in the 1930s. At the Lewis Clark Discovery Center, you’ll find interpretive displays, including a dugout canoe, a salmon stream, an Indian teepee, and an exhibit focused on Lewis and Clark’s challenging route through the Bitterroot Mountains.

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, Hagerman

The Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument is home to a significant concentration of Hagerman Horse fossils. The Hagerman Horse, an Ice Age mammal, lived in the grasslands of North America before going extinct roughly 10,000 years ago. The fossil horses for which this monument is famous, have only been found in the northern portion of the site, known as the Hagerman Horse Quarry. The monument is internationally significant as it protects the richest known fossil deposits from the late Pliocene age, 3.5 million years ago, providing a glimpse into a time before the Ice Age. Start your exploration with a stop at the visitor center, located in the town of Hagerman. In addition to visiting the monument, at the adjacent Lower Salmon Falls Reservoir, you can enjoy boating, fishing, hiking and horseback riding.

Sandpoint

Sandpoint, once named America’s Most Beautiful Town, is in the northern tip of Idaho. Set upon 43-mile-long Land Pend Oreille and surrounded by the Selkirk and Cabinet mountains, it’s easy to see why. You’ll find plenty to do both indoors and out, with 111 miles of shoreline and lush green forest offering a variety of outdoor adventures. In town, you can explore Sandpoint’s 19th-century heritage in the museums, take in a show at the historic Panida Theatre and enjoy an eclectic dining scene with a multitude of outstanding options. Beer lovers can enjoy the locally brewed, award-winning beers at Laughing Dog Brewing, while wine enthusiasts will appreciate the tasting room at the Pend d’Oreille Winery.

Idaho City

Idaho City is a historic town and gateway to the Sawtooths. It’s a hidden gem on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. During the gold rush it was the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, but today, the rugged western town rich in mining and logging history is home to only about 500 residents. During its heyday, it boasted fancy theaters, dozens of saloons, Idaho’s first Catholic Church, and a county jail that locked up some of the most notorious criminals in the Old West. Enjoy your visit by taking a stroll on traditional wooden sidewalks, exploring artifacts in the Boise Basin Museum, and sampling sarsaparilla at the local saloon.

Sun Valley/Ketchum

Sun Valley and Ketchum are close next-door neighbors in south-central Idaho. Sun Valley is known primarily as a ski resort, though you’ll find lots to do year-round. It boasts two ski slopes, Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. When the snow has melted, you can hike some of the trails that crisscross the area, while more challenging trails await by riding the ski lift up Baldy and hike or mountain bike there. The spring and summer months are popular for fly fishing for trout in the area’s pristine rivers, as well as horseback riding and hiking in the mountains. Both Ketchum and Sun Valley feature beautiful turn-of-the-century architecture, and in the summertime, there are themed Wagon Festivals hosted, taking visitors back in time to the Old West. Ketchum’s main street is lined with great eateries and bars, including the Sawtooth Club and Pioneer Saloon, which serves up traditional regional fare like elk and bison. As Ketchum is notorious as the place Ernest Hemingway committed suicide, fans will appreciate walking the halls of Sun Valley Lodge, where the famed writer worked on For Whom the Bell Tolls.


16 of the Best Places to Visit in Idaho

Idaho is a vacation paradise, offering everything from unforgettable wilderness camping experiences and high-end resorts geared for outdoor adventurers to sparkling lakes, soaring mountains, and pristine rivers. If you’re planning to head to the Gem State, you won’t want to miss visiting at least some of these great places.

YOU'RE ALL SET!

Look out for our newsletters in your inbox soon.

Stanley

The teeny tiny town of Stanley has a population of just 69, but surprisingly, you’ll find a wealth of accommodation options and more than a few restaurants, along with incredibly awe-inspiring scenery. While the surrounding wilderness is the main draw, be sure to stop by for one of the epic breakfasts served by Stanley Baking Company and enjoy dining along the river at Backcountry Bistro, which specializes in fresh seafood and free-range meats. Stanley sits on the banks of the Salmon River, enveloped by the Sawtooth and White Cloud Mountain Ranges, making an ideal base for exploring the state’s gorgeous backcountry. Enjoy fishing in alpine lakes that are stocked with a variety of trout, and all sorts of hiking trails that offer everything from an easy day hike to multi-day treks.

McCall

McCall is a mountain town and favorite with many frequent Idaho visitors. All about the water, it sits on the southern shore of Payette Lake and boasts the highest average snowfall in the state. Kayakers, boaters, standup paddle-boarders, and swimmers are all drawn here to explore the brilliant blue glacial lake. The river offers everything from peaceful float trips for families with kids to challenging sections with class IV and V rapids. In addition to water sports, huckleberry picking and hiking are popular activities, and many arrive to attend music and arts festivals. In the winter, Brundage Mountain opens up its famous ski lift, and visitors can also cross-country ski into a yurt or go snowmobiling. The town is probably most famous for its Winter Carnival, a 10-day festival held in late January featuring life-sized ice sculptures, live music, fireworks, a beer garden, and a Mardi Gras parade.

Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon is one of only a few places in the U.S. where you can walk over what was once lava, and explore an underground lava tube crafted by molten rock. This massive ocean of lava flows with cinder cones and sagebrush scattered about, is a unique landscape that formed during eight major eruptive periods, between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago. Although there are no fiery lava flows here now, the gnarled, crusty terrain that was frozen in time traces the tale of rivers of lava that gushed from fissures across the Snake River Plain known as the Great Rift. It’s a popular destination for hiking in Idaho, and in the winter, it’s a great place for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Free camping is available too, with a wilderness permit, available at the Visitor Center.

Coeur d’ Alene

Coeur d’ Alene, located in Idaho’s panhandle, is one of the state’s largest towns, located on the vast Lake Coeur d’ Alene. In this area with over 55 lakes, Coeur d’ Alene offers a wide array of water-based activities, including lake cruises and sailing as well as whitewater rafting, kayaking and just about any type of water sport you can imagine. It also boasts 18 golf courses and the Silverwood Theme Park with over 65 rides ranging from a merry-go-round to thrilling roller coasters and the Boulder Beach section with wave pools, waterslides, fountains and geysers. In the winter, skiing is available at three different resorts with more than 121 runs.

Shoshone Falls, Twin Falls

Just outside of the town of Twin Falls, is one of Idaho’s most beautiful waterfall: Shoshone Falls, sometimes referred to as the “Niagara of the West,” as this stunning natural beauty on the Snake River is even higher than its more famous counterpart, Niagara Falls, at 212 feet. The powerful falls are located in Shoshone Falls Park, which offers a range of facilities, including hiking trails, picnic areas, a swimming area, boat ramp, playgrounds and a scenic overlook. In the lush and shaded grassy areas, you can enjoy a picnic as well as an ideal vantage point for viewing the falls.

Bruneau Dunes State Park, Bruneau

Bruneau Dunes State Park hosts the tallest freestanding sand dunes on the continent – the highest soars an astounding 470 feet. These mountains of sand offer the chance to slide down them on a sandboard, available for rent at the park, or climb up them for a great workout. There are also lots of hiking trails as well as fantastic star gazing at Idaho’s only public observatory, fishing and swimming in a small lake, bird watching and camping. The park is home to a variety of wildlife too, including coyotes, sage grouse and birds of prey. A museum, located near the park’s entrance, is a great place to learn all about its wildlife and the geology of the area.

Thousand Springs State Park, Hagerman

Thousand Springs State Park is home to one of the world’s largest spring areas which are the terminus of a massive underground aquifer that flows underneath the Snake River Plain from the Pioneer Mountains. The water is crystal clear and pure, creating some of the most beautiful springs and pools on the planet. The park is made up of multiple separate areas, with a total of nine that feature volcanic landscapes, historic sites and amazing water displays, from Malad Gorge and the Kelton Trail near Interstate 84 to Billingsley Creek and Vardis Fisher near Hagerman and Ritter Island, Bonnieview, Box Canyon, and Niagara and Crystal Springs along the Snake River. On a hot day, head to Niagara Springs for relief in the 350-foot-deep Snake River Canyon. There, you can stand in front of the springs and let the spray of the waterfall cool you off.

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Riggins

Hells Canyon is the deepest water gorge in North America. It sits along the Idaho and Oregon border, and with the Snake River running through, it affords outstanding fishing and whitewater rafting opportunities. Hikers will find a wealth of hiking and backpacking trails to choose from, and along the way, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, or even black bears are sometimes spotted. History buffs may want to visit Kirkwood Historic Ranch, which offers a glimpse of ranch life in the 1930s and is accessible via a 6-mile hike or by boat. A number of jet boat and helicopter tours are available in the region as well.

Boise

Boise, the state capital, is often overlooked, but it offers lots of small-town charm with big-city attractions. It’s also the starting point for an endless array of outdoor activities, in addition to offering whitewater rafting and inner-tubing right through the city along the Boise River. Fly-fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing and hiking are just a few of the other popular outdoor pursuits in the area. In the revitalized downtown, offers great people watching, shopping and dining. With Boise’s rich cultural scene, you’ll find lots to do indoors when the weather isn’t cooperating, including learning about Idaho’s history at the History Museum, visiting one of several performing arts centers and theaters in the city, or heading to the Boise Art Museum. The capitol building is open year-round with guided group tours and self-guided tours for individuals.

Lewiston

Lewiston, which traces its history all the way back to the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, is situated at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers, which still serve as the town’s focal point. Today, the town is considered to be a gateway to natural wonders like Hells Canyon and the Salmon River Canyons. If you’re interested in the area’s history, Idaho History Tours takes visitors on walking tours of the historic downtown. The Ghost Tour is especially popular, with the chance to explore beneath the sideways, and even feel the presence of the spirits that once traversed them and worked in the “unmentionable” side of society in the 1930s. At the Lewis Clark Discovery Center, you’ll find interpretive displays, including a dugout canoe, a salmon stream, an Indian teepee, and an exhibit focused on Lewis and Clark’s challenging route through the Bitterroot Mountains.

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, Hagerman

The Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument is home to a significant concentration of Hagerman Horse fossils. The Hagerman Horse, an Ice Age mammal, lived in the grasslands of North America before going extinct roughly 10,000 years ago. The fossil horses for which this monument is famous, have only been found in the northern portion of the site, known as the Hagerman Horse Quarry. The monument is internationally significant as it protects the richest known fossil deposits from the late Pliocene age, 3.5 million years ago, providing a glimpse into a time before the Ice Age. Start your exploration with a stop at the visitor center, located in the town of Hagerman. In addition to visiting the monument, at the adjacent Lower Salmon Falls Reservoir, you can enjoy boating, fishing, hiking and horseback riding.

Sandpoint

Sandpoint, once named America’s Most Beautiful Town, is in the northern tip of Idaho. Set upon 43-mile-long Land Pend Oreille and surrounded by the Selkirk and Cabinet mountains, it’s easy to see why. You’ll find plenty to do both indoors and out, with 111 miles of shoreline and lush green forest offering a variety of outdoor adventures. In town, you can explore Sandpoint’s 19th-century heritage in the museums, take in a show at the historic Panida Theatre and enjoy an eclectic dining scene with a multitude of outstanding options. Beer lovers can enjoy the locally brewed, award-winning beers at Laughing Dog Brewing, while wine enthusiasts will appreciate the tasting room at the Pend d’Oreille Winery.

Idaho City

Idaho City is a historic town and gateway to the Sawtooths. It’s a hidden gem on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. During the gold rush it was the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, but today, the rugged western town rich in mining and logging history is home to only about 500 residents. During its heyday, it boasted fancy theaters, dozens of saloons, Idaho’s first Catholic Church, and a county jail that locked up some of the most notorious criminals in the Old West. Enjoy your visit by taking a stroll on traditional wooden sidewalks, exploring artifacts in the Boise Basin Museum, and sampling sarsaparilla at the local saloon.

Sun Valley/Ketchum

Sun Valley and Ketchum are close next-door neighbors in south-central Idaho. Sun Valley is known primarily as a ski resort, though you’ll find lots to do year-round. It boasts two ski slopes, Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. When the snow has melted, you can hike some of the trails that crisscross the area, while more challenging trails await by riding the ski lift up Baldy and hike or mountain bike there. The spring and summer months are popular for fly fishing for trout in the area’s pristine rivers, as well as horseback riding and hiking in the mountains. Both Ketchum and Sun Valley feature beautiful turn-of-the-century architecture, and in the summertime, there are themed Wagon Festivals hosted, taking visitors back in time to the Old West. Ketchum’s main street is lined with great eateries and bars, including the Sawtooth Club and Pioneer Saloon, which serves up traditional regional fare like elk and bison. As Ketchum is notorious as the place Ernest Hemingway committed suicide, fans will appreciate walking the halls of Sun Valley Lodge, where the famed writer worked on For Whom the Bell Tolls.


16 of the Best Places to Visit in Idaho

Idaho is a vacation paradise, offering everything from unforgettable wilderness camping experiences and high-end resorts geared for outdoor adventurers to sparkling lakes, soaring mountains, and pristine rivers. If you’re planning to head to the Gem State, you won’t want to miss visiting at least some of these great places.

YOU'RE ALL SET!

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Stanley

The teeny tiny town of Stanley has a population of just 69, but surprisingly, you’ll find a wealth of accommodation options and more than a few restaurants, along with incredibly awe-inspiring scenery. While the surrounding wilderness is the main draw, be sure to stop by for one of the epic breakfasts served by Stanley Baking Company and enjoy dining along the river at Backcountry Bistro, which specializes in fresh seafood and free-range meats. Stanley sits on the banks of the Salmon River, enveloped by the Sawtooth and White Cloud Mountain Ranges, making an ideal base for exploring the state’s gorgeous backcountry. Enjoy fishing in alpine lakes that are stocked with a variety of trout, and all sorts of hiking trails that offer everything from an easy day hike to multi-day treks.

McCall

McCall is a mountain town and favorite with many frequent Idaho visitors. All about the water, it sits on the southern shore of Payette Lake and boasts the highest average snowfall in the state. Kayakers, boaters, standup paddle-boarders, and swimmers are all drawn here to explore the brilliant blue glacial lake. The river offers everything from peaceful float trips for families with kids to challenging sections with class IV and V rapids. In addition to water sports, huckleberry picking and hiking are popular activities, and many arrive to attend music and arts festivals. In the winter, Brundage Mountain opens up its famous ski lift, and visitors can also cross-country ski into a yurt or go snowmobiling. The town is probably most famous for its Winter Carnival, a 10-day festival held in late January featuring life-sized ice sculptures, live music, fireworks, a beer garden, and a Mardi Gras parade.

Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon is one of only a few places in the U.S. where you can walk over what was once lava, and explore an underground lava tube crafted by molten rock. This massive ocean of lava flows with cinder cones and sagebrush scattered about, is a unique landscape that formed during eight major eruptive periods, between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago. Although there are no fiery lava flows here now, the gnarled, crusty terrain that was frozen in time traces the tale of rivers of lava that gushed from fissures across the Snake River Plain known as the Great Rift. It’s a popular destination for hiking in Idaho, and in the winter, it’s a great place for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Free camping is available too, with a wilderness permit, available at the Visitor Center.

Coeur d’ Alene

Coeur d’ Alene, located in Idaho’s panhandle, is one of the state’s largest towns, located on the vast Lake Coeur d’ Alene. In this area with over 55 lakes, Coeur d’ Alene offers a wide array of water-based activities, including lake cruises and sailing as well as whitewater rafting, kayaking and just about any type of water sport you can imagine. It also boasts 18 golf courses and the Silverwood Theme Park with over 65 rides ranging from a merry-go-round to thrilling roller coasters and the Boulder Beach section with wave pools, waterslides, fountains and geysers. In the winter, skiing is available at three different resorts with more than 121 runs.

Shoshone Falls, Twin Falls

Just outside of the town of Twin Falls, is one of Idaho’s most beautiful waterfall: Shoshone Falls, sometimes referred to as the “Niagara of the West,” as this stunning natural beauty on the Snake River is even higher than its more famous counterpart, Niagara Falls, at 212 feet. The powerful falls are located in Shoshone Falls Park, which offers a range of facilities, including hiking trails, picnic areas, a swimming area, boat ramp, playgrounds and a scenic overlook. In the lush and shaded grassy areas, you can enjoy a picnic as well as an ideal vantage point for viewing the falls.

Bruneau Dunes State Park, Bruneau

Bruneau Dunes State Park hosts the tallest freestanding sand dunes on the continent – the highest soars an astounding 470 feet. These mountains of sand offer the chance to slide down them on a sandboard, available for rent at the park, or climb up them for a great workout. There are also lots of hiking trails as well as fantastic star gazing at Idaho’s only public observatory, fishing and swimming in a small lake, bird watching and camping. The park is home to a variety of wildlife too, including coyotes, sage grouse and birds of prey. A museum, located near the park’s entrance, is a great place to learn all about its wildlife and the geology of the area.

Thousand Springs State Park, Hagerman

Thousand Springs State Park is home to one of the world’s largest spring areas which are the terminus of a massive underground aquifer that flows underneath the Snake River Plain from the Pioneer Mountains. The water is crystal clear and pure, creating some of the most beautiful springs and pools on the planet. The park is made up of multiple separate areas, with a total of nine that feature volcanic landscapes, historic sites and amazing water displays, from Malad Gorge and the Kelton Trail near Interstate 84 to Billingsley Creek and Vardis Fisher near Hagerman and Ritter Island, Bonnieview, Box Canyon, and Niagara and Crystal Springs along the Snake River. On a hot day, head to Niagara Springs for relief in the 350-foot-deep Snake River Canyon. There, you can stand in front of the springs and let the spray of the waterfall cool you off.

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Riggins

Hells Canyon is the deepest water gorge in North America. It sits along the Idaho and Oregon border, and with the Snake River running through, it affords outstanding fishing and whitewater rafting opportunities. Hikers will find a wealth of hiking and backpacking trails to choose from, and along the way, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, or even black bears are sometimes spotted. History buffs may want to visit Kirkwood Historic Ranch, which offers a glimpse of ranch life in the 1930s and is accessible via a 6-mile hike or by boat. A number of jet boat and helicopter tours are available in the region as well.

Boise

Boise, the state capital, is often overlooked, but it offers lots of small-town charm with big-city attractions. It’s also the starting point for an endless array of outdoor activities, in addition to offering whitewater rafting and inner-tubing right through the city along the Boise River. Fly-fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing and hiking are just a few of the other popular outdoor pursuits in the area. In the revitalized downtown, offers great people watching, shopping and dining. With Boise’s rich cultural scene, you’ll find lots to do indoors when the weather isn’t cooperating, including learning about Idaho’s history at the History Museum, visiting one of several performing arts centers and theaters in the city, or heading to the Boise Art Museum. The capitol building is open year-round with guided group tours and self-guided tours for individuals.

Lewiston

Lewiston, which traces its history all the way back to the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, is situated at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers, which still serve as the town’s focal point. Today, the town is considered to be a gateway to natural wonders like Hells Canyon and the Salmon River Canyons. If you’re interested in the area’s history, Idaho History Tours takes visitors on walking tours of the historic downtown. The Ghost Tour is especially popular, with the chance to explore beneath the sideways, and even feel the presence of the spirits that once traversed them and worked in the “unmentionable” side of society in the 1930s. At the Lewis Clark Discovery Center, you’ll find interpretive displays, including a dugout canoe, a salmon stream, an Indian teepee, and an exhibit focused on Lewis and Clark’s challenging route through the Bitterroot Mountains.

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, Hagerman

The Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument is home to a significant concentration of Hagerman Horse fossils. The Hagerman Horse, an Ice Age mammal, lived in the grasslands of North America before going extinct roughly 10,000 years ago. The fossil horses for which this monument is famous, have only been found in the northern portion of the site, known as the Hagerman Horse Quarry. The monument is internationally significant as it protects the richest known fossil deposits from the late Pliocene age, 3.5 million years ago, providing a glimpse into a time before the Ice Age. Start your exploration with a stop at the visitor center, located in the town of Hagerman. In addition to visiting the monument, at the adjacent Lower Salmon Falls Reservoir, you can enjoy boating, fishing, hiking and horseback riding.

Sandpoint

Sandpoint, once named America’s Most Beautiful Town, is in the northern tip of Idaho. Set upon 43-mile-long Land Pend Oreille and surrounded by the Selkirk and Cabinet mountains, it’s easy to see why. You’ll find plenty to do both indoors and out, with 111 miles of shoreline and lush green forest offering a variety of outdoor adventures. In town, you can explore Sandpoint’s 19th-century heritage in the museums, take in a show at the historic Panida Theatre and enjoy an eclectic dining scene with a multitude of outstanding options. Beer lovers can enjoy the locally brewed, award-winning beers at Laughing Dog Brewing, while wine enthusiasts will appreciate the tasting room at the Pend d’Oreille Winery.

Idaho City

Idaho City is a historic town and gateway to the Sawtooths. It’s a hidden gem on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. During the gold rush it was the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, but today, the rugged western town rich in mining and logging history is home to only about 500 residents. During its heyday, it boasted fancy theaters, dozens of saloons, Idaho’s first Catholic Church, and a county jail that locked up some of the most notorious criminals in the Old West. Enjoy your visit by taking a stroll on traditional wooden sidewalks, exploring artifacts in the Boise Basin Museum, and sampling sarsaparilla at the local saloon.

Sun Valley/Ketchum

Sun Valley and Ketchum are close next-door neighbors in south-central Idaho. Sun Valley is known primarily as a ski resort, though you’ll find lots to do year-round. It boasts two ski slopes, Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. When the snow has melted, you can hike some of the trails that crisscross the area, while more challenging trails await by riding the ski lift up Baldy and hike or mountain bike there. The spring and summer months are popular for fly fishing for trout in the area’s pristine rivers, as well as horseback riding and hiking in the mountains. Both Ketchum and Sun Valley feature beautiful turn-of-the-century architecture, and in the summertime, there are themed Wagon Festivals hosted, taking visitors back in time to the Old West. Ketchum’s main street is lined with great eateries and bars, including the Sawtooth Club and Pioneer Saloon, which serves up traditional regional fare like elk and bison. As Ketchum is notorious as the place Ernest Hemingway committed suicide, fans will appreciate walking the halls of Sun Valley Lodge, where the famed writer worked on For Whom the Bell Tolls.


16 of the Best Places to Visit in Idaho

Idaho is a vacation paradise, offering everything from unforgettable wilderness camping experiences and high-end resorts geared for outdoor adventurers to sparkling lakes, soaring mountains, and pristine rivers. If you’re planning to head to the Gem State, you won’t want to miss visiting at least some of these great places.

YOU'RE ALL SET!

Look out for our newsletters in your inbox soon.

Stanley

The teeny tiny town of Stanley has a population of just 69, but surprisingly, you’ll find a wealth of accommodation options and more than a few restaurants, along with incredibly awe-inspiring scenery. While the surrounding wilderness is the main draw, be sure to stop by for one of the epic breakfasts served by Stanley Baking Company and enjoy dining along the river at Backcountry Bistro, which specializes in fresh seafood and free-range meats. Stanley sits on the banks of the Salmon River, enveloped by the Sawtooth and White Cloud Mountain Ranges, making an ideal base for exploring the state’s gorgeous backcountry. Enjoy fishing in alpine lakes that are stocked with a variety of trout, and all sorts of hiking trails that offer everything from an easy day hike to multi-day treks.

McCall

McCall is a mountain town and favorite with many frequent Idaho visitors. All about the water, it sits on the southern shore of Payette Lake and boasts the highest average snowfall in the state. Kayakers, boaters, standup paddle-boarders, and swimmers are all drawn here to explore the brilliant blue glacial lake. The river offers everything from peaceful float trips for families with kids to challenging sections with class IV and V rapids. In addition to water sports, huckleberry picking and hiking are popular activities, and many arrive to attend music and arts festivals. In the winter, Brundage Mountain opens up its famous ski lift, and visitors can also cross-country ski into a yurt or go snowmobiling. The town is probably most famous for its Winter Carnival, a 10-day festival held in late January featuring life-sized ice sculptures, live music, fireworks, a beer garden, and a Mardi Gras parade.

Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon is one of only a few places in the U.S. where you can walk over what was once lava, and explore an underground lava tube crafted by molten rock. This massive ocean of lava flows with cinder cones and sagebrush scattered about, is a unique landscape that formed during eight major eruptive periods, between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago. Although there are no fiery lava flows here now, the gnarled, crusty terrain that was frozen in time traces the tale of rivers of lava that gushed from fissures across the Snake River Plain known as the Great Rift. It’s a popular destination for hiking in Idaho, and in the winter, it’s a great place for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Free camping is available too, with a wilderness permit, available at the Visitor Center.

Coeur d’ Alene

Coeur d’ Alene, located in Idaho’s panhandle, is one of the state’s largest towns, located on the vast Lake Coeur d’ Alene. In this area with over 55 lakes, Coeur d’ Alene offers a wide array of water-based activities, including lake cruises and sailing as well as whitewater rafting, kayaking and just about any type of water sport you can imagine. It also boasts 18 golf courses and the Silverwood Theme Park with over 65 rides ranging from a merry-go-round to thrilling roller coasters and the Boulder Beach section with wave pools, waterslides, fountains and geysers. In the winter, skiing is available at three different resorts with more than 121 runs.

Shoshone Falls, Twin Falls

Just outside of the town of Twin Falls, is one of Idaho’s most beautiful waterfall: Shoshone Falls, sometimes referred to as the “Niagara of the West,” as this stunning natural beauty on the Snake River is even higher than its more famous counterpart, Niagara Falls, at 212 feet. The powerful falls are located in Shoshone Falls Park, which offers a range of facilities, including hiking trails, picnic areas, a swimming area, boat ramp, playgrounds and a scenic overlook. In the lush and shaded grassy areas, you can enjoy a picnic as well as an ideal vantage point for viewing the falls.

Bruneau Dunes State Park, Bruneau

Bruneau Dunes State Park hosts the tallest freestanding sand dunes on the continent – the highest soars an astounding 470 feet. These mountains of sand offer the chance to slide down them on a sandboard, available for rent at the park, or climb up them for a great workout. There are also lots of hiking trails as well as fantastic star gazing at Idaho’s only public observatory, fishing and swimming in a small lake, bird watching and camping. The park is home to a variety of wildlife too, including coyotes, sage grouse and birds of prey. A museum, located near the park’s entrance, is a great place to learn all about its wildlife and the geology of the area.

Thousand Springs State Park, Hagerman

Thousand Springs State Park is home to one of the world’s largest spring areas which are the terminus of a massive underground aquifer that flows underneath the Snake River Plain from the Pioneer Mountains. The water is crystal clear and pure, creating some of the most beautiful springs and pools on the planet. The park is made up of multiple separate areas, with a total of nine that feature volcanic landscapes, historic sites and amazing water displays, from Malad Gorge and the Kelton Trail near Interstate 84 to Billingsley Creek and Vardis Fisher near Hagerman and Ritter Island, Bonnieview, Box Canyon, and Niagara and Crystal Springs along the Snake River. On a hot day, head to Niagara Springs for relief in the 350-foot-deep Snake River Canyon. There, you can stand in front of the springs and let the spray of the waterfall cool you off.

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Riggins

Hells Canyon is the deepest water gorge in North America. It sits along the Idaho and Oregon border, and with the Snake River running through, it affords outstanding fishing and whitewater rafting opportunities. Hikers will find a wealth of hiking and backpacking trails to choose from, and along the way, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, or even black bears are sometimes spotted. History buffs may want to visit Kirkwood Historic Ranch, which offers a glimpse of ranch life in the 1930s and is accessible via a 6-mile hike or by boat. A number of jet boat and helicopter tours are available in the region as well.

Boise

Boise, the state capital, is often overlooked, but it offers lots of small-town charm with big-city attractions. It’s also the starting point for an endless array of outdoor activities, in addition to offering whitewater rafting and inner-tubing right through the city along the Boise River. Fly-fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing and hiking are just a few of the other popular outdoor pursuits in the area. In the revitalized downtown, offers great people watching, shopping and dining. With Boise’s rich cultural scene, you’ll find lots to do indoors when the weather isn’t cooperating, including learning about Idaho’s history at the History Museum, visiting one of several performing arts centers and theaters in the city, or heading to the Boise Art Museum. The capitol building is open year-round with guided group tours and self-guided tours for individuals.

Lewiston

Lewiston, which traces its history all the way back to the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, is situated at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers, which still serve as the town’s focal point. Today, the town is considered to be a gateway to natural wonders like Hells Canyon and the Salmon River Canyons. If you’re interested in the area’s history, Idaho History Tours takes visitors on walking tours of the historic downtown. The Ghost Tour is especially popular, with the chance to explore beneath the sideways, and even feel the presence of the spirits that once traversed them and worked in the “unmentionable” side of society in the 1930s. At the Lewis Clark Discovery Center, you’ll find interpretive displays, including a dugout canoe, a salmon stream, an Indian teepee, and an exhibit focused on Lewis and Clark’s challenging route through the Bitterroot Mountains.

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, Hagerman

The Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument is home to a significant concentration of Hagerman Horse fossils. The Hagerman Horse, an Ice Age mammal, lived in the grasslands of North America before going extinct roughly 10,000 years ago. The fossil horses for which this monument is famous, have only been found in the northern portion of the site, known as the Hagerman Horse Quarry. The monument is internationally significant as it protects the richest known fossil deposits from the late Pliocene age, 3.5 million years ago, providing a glimpse into a time before the Ice Age. Start your exploration with a stop at the visitor center, located in the town of Hagerman. In addition to visiting the monument, at the adjacent Lower Salmon Falls Reservoir, you can enjoy boating, fishing, hiking and horseback riding.

Sandpoint

Sandpoint, once named America’s Most Beautiful Town, is in the northern tip of Idaho. Set upon 43-mile-long Land Pend Oreille and surrounded by the Selkirk and Cabinet mountains, it’s easy to see why. You’ll find plenty to do both indoors and out, with 111 miles of shoreline and lush green forest offering a variety of outdoor adventures. In town, you can explore Sandpoint’s 19th-century heritage in the museums, take in a show at the historic Panida Theatre and enjoy an eclectic dining scene with a multitude of outstanding options. Beer lovers can enjoy the locally brewed, award-winning beers at Laughing Dog Brewing, while wine enthusiasts will appreciate the tasting room at the Pend d’Oreille Winery.

Idaho City

Idaho City is a historic town and gateway to the Sawtooths. It’s a hidden gem on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. During the gold rush it was the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, but today, the rugged western town rich in mining and logging history is home to only about 500 residents. During its heyday, it boasted fancy theaters, dozens of saloons, Idaho’s first Catholic Church, and a county jail that locked up some of the most notorious criminals in the Old West. Enjoy your visit by taking a stroll on traditional wooden sidewalks, exploring artifacts in the Boise Basin Museum, and sampling sarsaparilla at the local saloon.

Sun Valley/Ketchum

Sun Valley and Ketchum are close next-door neighbors in south-central Idaho. Sun Valley is known primarily as a ski resort, though you’ll find lots to do year-round. It boasts two ski slopes, Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. When the snow has melted, you can hike some of the trails that crisscross the area, while more challenging trails await by riding the ski lift up Baldy and hike or mountain bike there. The spring and summer months are popular for fly fishing for trout in the area’s pristine rivers, as well as horseback riding and hiking in the mountains. Both Ketchum and Sun Valley feature beautiful turn-of-the-century architecture, and in the summertime, there are themed Wagon Festivals hosted, taking visitors back in time to the Old West. Ketchum’s main street is lined with great eateries and bars, including the Sawtooth Club and Pioneer Saloon, which serves up traditional regional fare like elk and bison. As Ketchum is notorious as the place Ernest Hemingway committed suicide, fans will appreciate walking the halls of Sun Valley Lodge, where the famed writer worked on For Whom the Bell Tolls.


16 of the Best Places to Visit in Idaho

Idaho is a vacation paradise, offering everything from unforgettable wilderness camping experiences and high-end resorts geared for outdoor adventurers to sparkling lakes, soaring mountains, and pristine rivers. If you’re planning to head to the Gem State, you won’t want to miss visiting at least some of these great places.

YOU'RE ALL SET!

Look out for our newsletters in your inbox soon.

Stanley

The teeny tiny town of Stanley has a population of just 69, but surprisingly, you’ll find a wealth of accommodation options and more than a few restaurants, along with incredibly awe-inspiring scenery. While the surrounding wilderness is the main draw, be sure to stop by for one of the epic breakfasts served by Stanley Baking Company and enjoy dining along the river at Backcountry Bistro, which specializes in fresh seafood and free-range meats. Stanley sits on the banks of the Salmon River, enveloped by the Sawtooth and White Cloud Mountain Ranges, making an ideal base for exploring the state’s gorgeous backcountry. Enjoy fishing in alpine lakes that are stocked with a variety of trout, and all sorts of hiking trails that offer everything from an easy day hike to multi-day treks.

McCall

McCall is a mountain town and favorite with many frequent Idaho visitors. All about the water, it sits on the southern shore of Payette Lake and boasts the highest average snowfall in the state. Kayakers, boaters, standup paddle-boarders, and swimmers are all drawn here to explore the brilliant blue glacial lake. The river offers everything from peaceful float trips for families with kids to challenging sections with class IV and V rapids. In addition to water sports, huckleberry picking and hiking are popular activities, and many arrive to attend music and arts festivals. In the winter, Brundage Mountain opens up its famous ski lift, and visitors can also cross-country ski into a yurt or go snowmobiling. The town is probably most famous for its Winter Carnival, a 10-day festival held in late January featuring life-sized ice sculptures, live music, fireworks, a beer garden, and a Mardi Gras parade.

Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon is one of only a few places in the U.S. where you can walk over what was once lava, and explore an underground lava tube crafted by molten rock. This massive ocean of lava flows with cinder cones and sagebrush scattered about, is a unique landscape that formed during eight major eruptive periods, between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago. Although there are no fiery lava flows here now, the gnarled, crusty terrain that was frozen in time traces the tale of rivers of lava that gushed from fissures across the Snake River Plain known as the Great Rift. It’s a popular destination for hiking in Idaho, and in the winter, it’s a great place for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Free camping is available too, with a wilderness permit, available at the Visitor Center.

Coeur d’ Alene

Coeur d’ Alene, located in Idaho’s panhandle, is one of the state’s largest towns, located on the vast Lake Coeur d’ Alene. In this area with over 55 lakes, Coeur d’ Alene offers a wide array of water-based activities, including lake cruises and sailing as well as whitewater rafting, kayaking and just about any type of water sport you can imagine. It also boasts 18 golf courses and the Silverwood Theme Park with over 65 rides ranging from a merry-go-round to thrilling roller coasters and the Boulder Beach section with wave pools, waterslides, fountains and geysers. In the winter, skiing is available at three different resorts with more than 121 runs.

Shoshone Falls, Twin Falls

Just outside of the town of Twin Falls, is one of Idaho’s most beautiful waterfall: Shoshone Falls, sometimes referred to as the “Niagara of the West,” as this stunning natural beauty on the Snake River is even higher than its more famous counterpart, Niagara Falls, at 212 feet. The powerful falls are located in Shoshone Falls Park, which offers a range of facilities, including hiking trails, picnic areas, a swimming area, boat ramp, playgrounds and a scenic overlook. In the lush and shaded grassy areas, you can enjoy a picnic as well as an ideal vantage point for viewing the falls.

Bruneau Dunes State Park, Bruneau

Bruneau Dunes State Park hosts the tallest freestanding sand dunes on the continent – the highest soars an astounding 470 feet. These mountains of sand offer the chance to slide down them on a sandboard, available for rent at the park, or climb up them for a great workout. There are also lots of hiking trails as well as fantastic star gazing at Idaho’s only public observatory, fishing and swimming in a small lake, bird watching and camping. The park is home to a variety of wildlife too, including coyotes, sage grouse and birds of prey. A museum, located near the park’s entrance, is a great place to learn all about its wildlife and the geology of the area.

Thousand Springs State Park, Hagerman

Thousand Springs State Park is home to one of the world’s largest spring areas which are the terminus of a massive underground aquifer that flows underneath the Snake River Plain from the Pioneer Mountains. The water is crystal clear and pure, creating some of the most beautiful springs and pools on the planet. The park is made up of multiple separate areas, with a total of nine that feature volcanic landscapes, historic sites and amazing water displays, from Malad Gorge and the Kelton Trail near Interstate 84 to Billingsley Creek and Vardis Fisher near Hagerman and Ritter Island, Bonnieview, Box Canyon, and Niagara and Crystal Springs along the Snake River. On a hot day, head to Niagara Springs for relief in the 350-foot-deep Snake River Canyon. There, you can stand in front of the springs and let the spray of the waterfall cool you off.

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Riggins

Hells Canyon is the deepest water gorge in North America. It sits along the Idaho and Oregon border, and with the Snake River running through, it affords outstanding fishing and whitewater rafting opportunities. Hikers will find a wealth of hiking and backpacking trails to choose from, and along the way, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, or even black bears are sometimes spotted. History buffs may want to visit Kirkwood Historic Ranch, which offers a glimpse of ranch life in the 1930s and is accessible via a 6-mile hike or by boat. A number of jet boat and helicopter tours are available in the region as well.

Boise

Boise, the state capital, is often overlooked, but it offers lots of small-town charm with big-city attractions. It’s also the starting point for an endless array of outdoor activities, in addition to offering whitewater rafting and inner-tubing right through the city along the Boise River. Fly-fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing and hiking are just a few of the other popular outdoor pursuits in the area. In the revitalized downtown, offers great people watching, shopping and dining. With Boise’s rich cultural scene, you’ll find lots to do indoors when the weather isn’t cooperating, including learning about Idaho’s history at the History Museum, visiting one of several performing arts centers and theaters in the city, or heading to the Boise Art Museum. The capitol building is open year-round with guided group tours and self-guided tours for individuals.

Lewiston

Lewiston, which traces its history all the way back to the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, is situated at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers, which still serve as the town’s focal point. Today, the town is considered to be a gateway to natural wonders like Hells Canyon and the Salmon River Canyons. If you’re interested in the area’s history, Idaho History Tours takes visitors on walking tours of the historic downtown. The Ghost Tour is especially popular, with the chance to explore beneath the sideways, and even feel the presence of the spirits that once traversed them and worked in the “unmentionable” side of society in the 1930s. At the Lewis Clark Discovery Center, you’ll find interpretive displays, including a dugout canoe, a salmon stream, an Indian teepee, and an exhibit focused on Lewis and Clark’s challenging route through the Bitterroot Mountains.

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, Hagerman

The Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument is home to a significant concentration of Hagerman Horse fossils. The Hagerman Horse, an Ice Age mammal, lived in the grasslands of North America before going extinct roughly 10,000 years ago. The fossil horses for which this monument is famous, have only been found in the northern portion of the site, known as the Hagerman Horse Quarry. The monument is internationally significant as it protects the richest known fossil deposits from the late Pliocene age, 3.5 million years ago, providing a glimpse into a time before the Ice Age. Start your exploration with a stop at the visitor center, located in the town of Hagerman. In addition to visiting the monument, at the adjacent Lower Salmon Falls Reservoir, you can enjoy boating, fishing, hiking and horseback riding.

Sandpoint

Sandpoint, once named America’s Most Beautiful Town, is in the northern tip of Idaho. Set upon 43-mile-long Land Pend Oreille and surrounded by the Selkirk and Cabinet mountains, it’s easy to see why. You’ll find plenty to do both indoors and out, with 111 miles of shoreline and lush green forest offering a variety of outdoor adventures. In town, you can explore Sandpoint’s 19th-century heritage in the museums, take in a show at the historic Panida Theatre and enjoy an eclectic dining scene with a multitude of outstanding options. Beer lovers can enjoy the locally brewed, award-winning beers at Laughing Dog Brewing, while wine enthusiasts will appreciate the tasting room at the Pend d’Oreille Winery.

Idaho City

Idaho City is a historic town and gateway to the Sawtooths. It’s a hidden gem on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. During the gold rush it was the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, but today, the rugged western town rich in mining and logging history is home to only about 500 residents. During its heyday, it boasted fancy theaters, dozens of saloons, Idaho’s first Catholic Church, and a county jail that locked up some of the most notorious criminals in the Old West. Enjoy your visit by taking a stroll on traditional wooden sidewalks, exploring artifacts in the Boise Basin Museum, and sampling sarsaparilla at the local saloon.

Sun Valley/Ketchum

Sun Valley and Ketchum are close next-door neighbors in south-central Idaho. Sun Valley is known primarily as a ski resort, though you’ll find lots to do year-round. It boasts two ski slopes, Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. When the snow has melted, you can hike some of the trails that crisscross the area, while more challenging trails await by riding the ski lift up Baldy and hike or mountain bike there. The spring and summer months are popular for fly fishing for trout in the area’s pristine rivers, as well as horseback riding and hiking in the mountains. Both Ketchum and Sun Valley feature beautiful turn-of-the-century architecture, and in the summertime, there are themed Wagon Festivals hosted, taking visitors back in time to the Old West. Ketchum’s main street is lined with great eateries and bars, including the Sawtooth Club and Pioneer Saloon, which serves up traditional regional fare like elk and bison. As Ketchum is notorious as the place Ernest Hemingway committed suicide, fans will appreciate walking the halls of Sun Valley Lodge, where the famed writer worked on For Whom the Bell Tolls.


16 of the Best Places to Visit in Idaho

Idaho is a vacation paradise, offering everything from unforgettable wilderness camping experiences and high-end resorts geared for outdoor adventurers to sparkling lakes, soaring mountains, and pristine rivers. If you’re planning to head to the Gem State, you won’t want to miss visiting at least some of these great places.

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Stanley

The teeny tiny town of Stanley has a population of just 69, but surprisingly, you’ll find a wealth of accommodation options and more than a few restaurants, along with incredibly awe-inspiring scenery. While the surrounding wilderness is the main draw, be sure to stop by for one of the epic breakfasts served by Stanley Baking Company and enjoy dining along the river at Backcountry Bistro, which specializes in fresh seafood and free-range meats. Stanley sits on the banks of the Salmon River, enveloped by the Sawtooth and White Cloud Mountain Ranges, making an ideal base for exploring the state’s gorgeous backcountry. Enjoy fishing in alpine lakes that are stocked with a variety of trout, and all sorts of hiking trails that offer everything from an easy day hike to multi-day treks.

McCall

McCall is a mountain town and favorite with many frequent Idaho visitors. All about the water, it sits on the southern shore of Payette Lake and boasts the highest average snowfall in the state. Kayakers, boaters, standup paddle-boarders, and swimmers are all drawn here to explore the brilliant blue glacial lake. The river offers everything from peaceful float trips for families with kids to challenging sections with class IV and V rapids. In addition to water sports, huckleberry picking and hiking are popular activities, and many arrive to attend music and arts festivals. In the winter, Brundage Mountain opens up its famous ski lift, and visitors can also cross-country ski into a yurt or go snowmobiling. The town is probably most famous for its Winter Carnival, a 10-day festival held in late January featuring life-sized ice sculptures, live music, fireworks, a beer garden, and a Mardi Gras parade.

Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon is one of only a few places in the U.S. where you can walk over what was once lava, and explore an underground lava tube crafted by molten rock. This massive ocean of lava flows with cinder cones and sagebrush scattered about, is a unique landscape that formed during eight major eruptive periods, between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago. Although there are no fiery lava flows here now, the gnarled, crusty terrain that was frozen in time traces the tale of rivers of lava that gushed from fissures across the Snake River Plain known as the Great Rift. It’s a popular destination for hiking in Idaho, and in the winter, it’s a great place for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Free camping is available too, with a wilderness permit, available at the Visitor Center.

Coeur d’ Alene

Coeur d’ Alene, located in Idaho’s panhandle, is one of the state’s largest towns, located on the vast Lake Coeur d’ Alene. In this area with over 55 lakes, Coeur d’ Alene offers a wide array of water-based activities, including lake cruises and sailing as well as whitewater rafting, kayaking and just about any type of water sport you can imagine. It also boasts 18 golf courses and the Silverwood Theme Park with over 65 rides ranging from a merry-go-round to thrilling roller coasters and the Boulder Beach section with wave pools, waterslides, fountains and geysers. In the winter, skiing is available at three different resorts with more than 121 runs.

Shoshone Falls, Twin Falls

Just outside of the town of Twin Falls, is one of Idaho’s most beautiful waterfall: Shoshone Falls, sometimes referred to as the “Niagara of the West,” as this stunning natural beauty on the Snake River is even higher than its more famous counterpart, Niagara Falls, at 212 feet. The powerful falls are located in Shoshone Falls Park, which offers a range of facilities, including hiking trails, picnic areas, a swimming area, boat ramp, playgrounds and a scenic overlook. In the lush and shaded grassy areas, you can enjoy a picnic as well as an ideal vantage point for viewing the falls.

Bruneau Dunes State Park, Bruneau

Bruneau Dunes State Park hosts the tallest freestanding sand dunes on the continent – the highest soars an astounding 470 feet. These mountains of sand offer the chance to slide down them on a sandboard, available for rent at the park, or climb up them for a great workout. There are also lots of hiking trails as well as fantastic star gazing at Idaho’s only public observatory, fishing and swimming in a small lake, bird watching and camping. The park is home to a variety of wildlife too, including coyotes, sage grouse and birds of prey. A museum, located near the park’s entrance, is a great place to learn all about its wildlife and the geology of the area.

Thousand Springs State Park, Hagerman

Thousand Springs State Park is home to one of the world’s largest spring areas which are the terminus of a massive underground aquifer that flows underneath the Snake River Plain from the Pioneer Mountains. The water is crystal clear and pure, creating some of the most beautiful springs and pools on the planet. The park is made up of multiple separate areas, with a total of nine that feature volcanic landscapes, historic sites and amazing water displays, from Malad Gorge and the Kelton Trail near Interstate 84 to Billingsley Creek and Vardis Fisher near Hagerman and Ritter Island, Bonnieview, Box Canyon, and Niagara and Crystal Springs along the Snake River. On a hot day, head to Niagara Springs for relief in the 350-foot-deep Snake River Canyon. There, you can stand in front of the springs and let the spray of the waterfall cool you off.

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Riggins

Hells Canyon is the deepest water gorge in North America. It sits along the Idaho and Oregon border, and with the Snake River running through, it affords outstanding fishing and whitewater rafting opportunities. Hikers will find a wealth of hiking and backpacking trails to choose from, and along the way, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, or even black bears are sometimes spotted. History buffs may want to visit Kirkwood Historic Ranch, which offers a glimpse of ranch life in the 1930s and is accessible via a 6-mile hike or by boat. A number of jet boat and helicopter tours are available in the region as well.

Boise

Boise, the state capital, is often overlooked, but it offers lots of small-town charm with big-city attractions. It’s also the starting point for an endless array of outdoor activities, in addition to offering whitewater rafting and inner-tubing right through the city along the Boise River. Fly-fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing and hiking are just a few of the other popular outdoor pursuits in the area. In the revitalized downtown, offers great people watching, shopping and dining. With Boise’s rich cultural scene, you’ll find lots to do indoors when the weather isn’t cooperating, including learning about Idaho’s history at the History Museum, visiting one of several performing arts centers and theaters in the city, or heading to the Boise Art Museum. The capitol building is open year-round with guided group tours and self-guided tours for individuals.

Lewiston

Lewiston, which traces its history all the way back to the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, is situated at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers, which still serve as the town’s focal point. Today, the town is considered to be a gateway to natural wonders like Hells Canyon and the Salmon River Canyons. If you’re interested in the area’s history, Idaho History Tours takes visitors on walking tours of the historic downtown. The Ghost Tour is especially popular, with the chance to explore beneath the sideways, and even feel the presence of the spirits that once traversed them and worked in the “unmentionable” side of society in the 1930s. At the Lewis Clark Discovery Center, you’ll find interpretive displays, including a dugout canoe, a salmon stream, an Indian teepee, and an exhibit focused on Lewis and Clark’s challenging route through the Bitterroot Mountains.

Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, Hagerman

The Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument is home to a significant concentration of Hagerman Horse fossils. The Hagerman Horse, an Ice Age mammal, lived in the grasslands of North America before going extinct roughly 10,000 years ago. The fossil horses for which this monument is famous, have only been found in the northern portion of the site, known as the Hagerman Horse Quarry. The monument is internationally significant as it protects the richest known fossil deposits from the late Pliocene age, 3.5 million years ago, providing a glimpse into a time before the Ice Age. Start your exploration with a stop at the visitor center, located in the town of Hagerman. In addition to visiting the monument, at the adjacent Lower Salmon Falls Reservoir, you can enjoy boating, fishing, hiking and horseback riding.

Sandpoint

Sandpoint, once named America’s Most Beautiful Town, is in the northern tip of Idaho. Set upon 43-mile-long Land Pend Oreille and surrounded by the Selkirk and Cabinet mountains, it’s easy to see why. You’ll find plenty to do both indoors and out, with 111 miles of shoreline and lush green forest offering a variety of outdoor adventures. In town, you can explore Sandpoint’s 19th-century heritage in the museums, take in a show at the historic Panida Theatre and enjoy an eclectic dining scene with a multitude of outstanding options. Beer lovers can enjoy the locally brewed, award-winning beers at Laughing Dog Brewing, while wine enthusiasts will appreciate the tasting room at the Pend d’Oreille Winery.

Idaho City

Idaho City is a historic town and gateway to the Sawtooths. It’s a hidden gem on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. During the gold rush it was the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, but today, the rugged western town rich in mining and logging history is home to only about 500 residents. During its heyday, it boasted fancy theaters, dozens of saloons, Idaho’s first Catholic Church, and a county jail that locked up some of the most notorious criminals in the Old West. Enjoy your visit by taking a stroll on traditional wooden sidewalks, exploring artifacts in the Boise Basin Museum, and sampling sarsaparilla at the local saloon.

Sun Valley/Ketchum

Sun Valley and Ketchum are close next-door neighbors in south-central Idaho. Sun Valley is known primarily as a ski resort, though you’ll find lots to do year-round. It boasts two ski slopes, Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. When the snow has melted, you can hike some of the trails that crisscross the area, while more challenging trails await by riding the ski lift up Baldy and hike or mountain bike there. The spring and summer months are popular for fly fishing for trout in the area’s pristine rivers, as well as horseback riding and hiking in the mountains. Both Ketchum and Sun Valley feature beautiful turn-of-the-century architecture, and in the summertime, there are themed Wagon Festivals hosted, taking visitors back in time to the Old West. Ketchum’s main street is lined with great eateries and bars, including the Sawtooth Club and Pioneer Saloon, which serves up traditional regional fare like elk and bison. As Ketchum is notorious as the place Ernest Hemingway committed suicide, fans will appreciate walking the halls of Sun Valley Lodge, where the famed writer worked on For Whom the Bell Tolls.