12 Best Places to Visit in Idaho

12 Best Places to Visit in IdahoFor those of you new to my site, I grew up in Idaho and currently live in San Francisco. I’ve lived here for 5 years, but frequently daydream about the beautiful state I was lucky enough to grow up in.

I ALWAYS miss the laid back atmosphere, the people, and the ease of getting to lakes, rivers, and mountains.

Because I love Idaho so much and want everyone to get a chance to visit in their lives, I’ve created a list of the best places to visit in Idaho in hopes you’ll get to go one day!

*These are in no particular order*

1. McCallimage

This probably goes without saying based on my previous posts, here and here, but I’m in love with this mountain town on the Payette Lake. It’s small enough to feel like you’re in your “own private Idaho”, but big enough to have enough to do that you’re never bored. Summertime calls for water sports, huckleberry picking, hiking and tons of other outdoor activities. In winter you can go to the famous ski lift,  Brundage Mountain, cross country ski into a yurt, or go snowmobiling. It has something for everyone.

READ MORE: My Favorite Place to Go in Idaho
Girls Weekend in McCall Idaho
The BEST Place to Celebrate the 4th of July in Idaho

2. Sun Valley

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This is a special little mountain town very close to the Sawtooth Mountains and my hometown, Twin Falls.  It’s known as the resort town of Idaho with celebs flocking here every summer and winter season. A lot of people don’t know this, but Sun Valley was the first resort to build a chair lift for skiers! It’s a great town for winter skiing (Bald Mountain), summer hiking/biking and is known as one of the most outdoorsy towns in all of Idaho. The SV restaurant and bar scene is a lot of fun too. Be sure to look out for celebrities…they are all over the place! I’ve seen my fair share at the restaurants and coffee shops downtown. Also check out the Sun Valley Lodge and walk through downtown Ketchum. Nothing is better than a day hike and getting a beer and burger on the deck at Lefty’s Bar & Grill.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Winter Activities in Sun Valley Idaho

 3. Coeur d’ Alene

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Coeur d’ Alene or CDA for short is in the skinny panhandle part of Idaho. It’s one of Idaho’s larger towns and is situated right on a massive lake (Lake Coeur d’ Alene). While McCall is more of a vacation lake town, lucky CDA dwellers get to live here all year round! CDA has a great downtown vibe with fun restaurants and bars and they’re also about a 40 min drive from Spokane, WA and about an hour from another great lake town in Idaho, Sandpoint. The ski mountain Schweitzer is close by as well if you’re into winter sports. If you’re staying in CDA I recommend staying at the Coeur d’Alene Resort right on the water and participating in a cruise on the lake or any of the many water sports the lake has to offer!

4. Shoshone Falls

Right outside of Twin Falls is the largest waterfall in Idaho, Shoshone Falls. This waterfall is higher than Niagara Falls! Can you believe it? It’s gorgeous, loud, and spits out TONS of water. It’s fun to drive down the canyon in Twin Falls and see the snake river as you’re heading down.

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READ MORE: 9 Things to Do in Twin Falls Idaho

5. Bruneau Sand Dunes

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The first time I visited Bruneau Sand Dunes, I couldn’t believe I was in Idaho. If you haven’t been to sand dunes before they’re essentially mountains made of sand…and that’s pretty cool. You can bring a snowboard and board down them or you can camp and hike them. Definitely worth a visit if you want to feel like you’re in a different country! Bring water cause it gets hot!

6. Craters of the Moon

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I was fascinated with this place when I first went. It’s a huge area filled with lava from some really ancient volcanos. I recommend getting a tour and going on a mini hike. It’s interesting to learn about the different types of lava and crawl through the caves. It looks like you’re walking on the surface of the moon.

7. Thousand Springs

Thousand Springs is a large area with the clearest, cleanest springs and rivers I’ve ever seen in my life. Some of my favorite things to do here are hiking through Hardy Box Canyon Springs Nature Preserve and stand up paddle board/canoe along the rivers. AHHH they are so amazing I wish I was there right now!

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8. Sandpoint

Sandpoint, Idaho is a hidden gem that not many tourists know about. It’s located on Lake Pend Oreille and has about 7,500 residents. It’s known for the beautiful surrounding mountains, lake activities, and outdoor adventures. Not only is it a picturesque place, but it’s not crowded and you’ll be able to enjoy your adventures all to yourself!

12 Best Places to Visit in Idahosource

9. Rolling Hills of the Palouse

The photos below should say it all. The rolling hills of the Palouse are incredible. They roll into Washington and take a good chunk of Idaho as well. Driving through makes you feel like you’re under huge waves because the wheat fields go on and on.  It’s fascinating!! If you’re driving on your way to the Palouse from the south of Idaho you’ll drive through Camus Prairie. If  you want to stay in the most unique hotel ever, check out the famous Dog Bark Inn. Also, my alma mater, University of Idaho is situated right in the heart of the Palouse in Moscow, Idaho about 8 miles from Washington State University. If you want to check out two schools at once and hit two states in the span of 8 mins, here’s your chance!

READ MORE: 8 Things to Do in Moscow Idaho

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10. Boise

The state capital of Idaho is a wonderful city that keeps growing and growing. Known as the “City of Trees”, Boise has become a cultural hub for young professionals, families and outdoorsmen and women. With great restaurants, night life and amazing outdoor activities like hiking, river activities, bikes along the green belt and Bogus Basin ski mountain, it has something for everyone! Boise is also very central and easy to get to most places in Idaho.

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11. Sawtooth Mountains

"If you don't climb the mountain, you will never be able to enjoy the views" ✨ -Pablo Neruda #travelquote

Half of Idaho is covered in National Parks and a big chunk of that is the Sawtooth National Forest. If you like hiking or backpacking through wildflower meadows to secluded lakes with barely anyone else around, then this is for you. I just got back from a 4 day backpacking trip through the Sawtooths and it was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on! You can easily start hiking the Sawtooths starting in Sun Valley.

Read More: The 10 Best Winter Activities in Sun Valley Idaho

12. Hells Canyon

This canyon is on the Oregon and Idaho border. Go here for some great camping, fishing, hiking, rafting, and exploring. The closest towns to Hells Canyon are Riggins and Grangeville, Idaho if you need to get some gear for your excursion!

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Most of my top attractions in Idaho are outdoorsy spots, but that’s Idaho for you! Strap on your snow gear, hiking shoes and water-skis and get ready for a blast traveling through the Gem State!

A little bit of Idaho magic ✨

I hope you enjoyed my list of the 12 Best Places to Visit in Idaho!

READ NEXT:

The 10 Best Winter Activities in Sun Valley, Idaho
A Girl’s Weekend in McCall, Idaho
8 Things to Do in Moscow, Idaho
My Favorite Place to Visit in Idaho
9 Things to Do in Twin Falls Idaho
The BEST Place to Celebrate the 4th of July in Idaho
8 Things to Do in Moscow Idaho
The 10 Best Winter Activities in Sun Valley Idaho

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12 Best Places to Visit in Idaho

By | 2017-06-27T22:11:47+00:00 August 25th, 2015|April, Top Ten, Travel|33 Comments

About the Author:

The Traveling Spud

33 Comments

  1. Mark August 25, 2015 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    What about Sandpoint? Home or Schweitzer Mountain Resort and lake Pend Orielle?

    • The Traveling Spud
      The Traveling Spud August 26, 2015 at 6:46 am - Reply

      Those also probably should have made the list! I tried to mention them under the CDA portion so at least they get a shout out 🙂

    • Carrie August 27, 2015 at 10:20 pm - Reply

      Yes for sure…better than. Cd’A! Sandpoint is way prettier

  2. Jen August 26, 2015 at 5:19 am - Reply

    Love this Kate! And love you!

  3. April August 26, 2015 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Just a correction–the Dog Bark Inn is actually located on the Camas Prairie, not the Palouse.

  4. Julley Kinzer January 6, 2016 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    I enjoyed reading this. I can tell that you are Idaho born and love it.

  5. Steve Blaisdell January 9, 2016 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    I’d lived in Oregon all my life and just moved here last summer. I love it here, and you have given me ideas for trips this spring and summer. Wonderful article and photos!

  6. Natasha January 10, 2016 at 12:13 am - Reply

    Growing up in North Idaho (Bonners Ferry & CDA)…this list is perfect! The only way to make it better would’ve been to make it longer (Hey, Bayview, how you doin…) but you mentioned Sandpoint in the CDA spot and really, most people who visit CDA hit up Sandpoint and Cataldo too, so yeah. All about that #lakelife haha. I would say don’t stay at the CDA resort though. Locals hate that guy & they are pretty awful to their employees from what my friends tell me (I’ve never worked there, but horror stories are a daily feed). It’s better to connect with local people on Couchsurfing or AirBNB- or even look for a sublet/vacation rental on Craigslist. There are some spectacular cabin and lakefront homes & cool little “turn of the century” buildings downtown that have been turned into studio apartments. Visitors will get a waaaay better experience, in my opinion.

    • The Traveling Spud
      The Traveling Spud January 10, 2016 at 11:21 am - Reply

      Hi Natasha! Thanks for the tips for CDA! I’ve only been there a handful of times, but have always had the best time! I agree on the local spots and AirBnB to find a place! Thanks for reading 🙂

  7. Steve Mitton January 11, 2016 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    City of Rocks???

  8. Jim January 13, 2016 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    I’ve been to many of those places. Sawtooth Mountains when I was about 10 and we camped at Redfish Lake, I’ve never been so cold in summer. Many times to Boise, some with work, but the most times was to
    watch Nevada vs Boise State football on blue turf. It’s a party town too. When at the Desert Research Institute we conducted a Environmental Impact Statement. We had to determine the effects of drawdown
    on people, wildlife, plants etc. They needed to drawdown the reservoir to work on the dam itself. What I’ve seen I love and compared to Reno, Idaho would be my choice.

    • The Traveling Spud
      The Traveling Spud January 14, 2016 at 9:33 pm - Reply

      Yes, Idaho is amazing! Cool you’ve been to a lot of places on the list! 🙂

  9. Hope D January 14, 2016 at 9:04 am - Reply

    So which one of these places would be the best to bring my small kids to in the late fall or maybe early winter? I’d like for them to SEE snow, but maybe not be just drenched in it the whole time… I’d like to hike some forests and then let them do some snow activities..but I dont want to necessarily hit up a huge tourist trap. Any suggestions? We’re from Alabama.

    • The Traveling Spud
      The Traveling Spud January 14, 2016 at 9:32 pm - Reply

      Good question!! If you just want to see snow, but also go on a few hikes around the area I would recommend Boise, but you can’t always guarantee they will have snow. If you want the full winter wonderland experience I would say Sun Valley or McCall! Both don’t get a lot of tourists and have amazing hikes and beautiful scenery. They both also have great activities for kids like sledding, tubing etc. Hope this helps! 🙂

  10. S February 15, 2016 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    We will be travelling in a 39 foot motorhome and am wondering if some of these areas would be to difficult to get to. We will be towing a car however. Any suggestions on RV parks to stay at.

    • The Traveling Spud
      The Traveling Spud February 18, 2016 at 10:41 am - Reply

      Hi! Yes there are plenty of RV parks in Idaho! The only places that would be harder to get to would be Thousand Springs. The rest of them have areas to camp/park almost all over the state. The state is really meant for camping and RV’s 🙂 Have fun!!

  11. Dan Butterfield April 24, 2016 at 7:53 am - Reply

    Great blog Karie,
    I haven’t spent enough time in ID and now I have a few more places on my ‘must visit’ list.

  12. Doug Allen May 5, 2016 at 12:39 am - Reply

    G’day Katie
    I’ve been to the U.S. twice, but unfortunately never made it to Idaho. I enjoyed your photos.
    When I retired from work they gave me a bike and I have now cycled over 45,000 kilometres (28,000 miles). To exercise my brain as well as my body I select a country and check out Google to view in my virtual world what I would have seen had I ridden the same distance in that country. In February 2016, my virtual world has taken me from Los Angeles to Sequoia N.P., Yosemite N.P., Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Zion N.P., Bryce Canyon and I am now headed towards Idaho. I then like to read about each of these places and view the images on Google.
    When I have cycled the equivalent distance from Bryce Canyon to the border of Idaho I will check out your photos again and decide where my virtual ride will take me haha.
    Cheers.
    Doug

  13. Ayman Aref September 10, 2016 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    Awesome photo and good info thank u a lot !

  14. Nicolleen April 26, 2017 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    Some great cities here: I love Dresden and went to Koblenz, Cologne and Aachen last year. I love travelling with Deutsche Bahn too but it’s just so expensive – even compared to back home in the UK. Still, train travel is definitely my favourite mode of transport.

  15. Scorpio May 23, 2017 at 9:01 am - Reply

    Fall in love with this place after seeing this post, specially Sun Valley looks one of the greatest ski resorts. I wish I could visit this beautiful places.

  16. Matt June 15, 2017 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    You’re missing #8.

    • The Traveling Spud
      The Traveling Spud June 16, 2017 at 7:11 pm - Reply

      HAHA I’ve had this post up for almost a 1 1/2 and you’re the first person to notice that! Thanks for telling me 🙂

  17. Ruthe Olivio June 16, 2017 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    Nice Article, Thank you سكس بنات

  18. Kate from OneBagger June 27, 2017 at 11:10 am - Reply

    Redfish Lake is gorgeous – I spent a week camping there in August. The drive north from Redfish to Challis is also beautiful, and there are a few ghost towns on the way that are neat to explore.

    • The Traveling Spud
      The Traveling Spud June 27, 2017 at 11:53 pm - Reply

      I agree! I love Redfish so much! I need to go back again and explore more. 🙂

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