Jake Cain is an entrepreneur and writer from Cincinnati, Ohio. He spends his free time driving around the country in his late 90’s conversion van, affectionately known as the “Monster Van” with his wife and 3 boys.
A state blessed with alpine peaks, wildflower meadows, and forested mountains, Idaho is a paradise for adventure enthusiasts and golfers.
There are lots of areas to explore like national forests, and state and local parks, and wilderness areas. Experience year-round recreation and incredible adventure in Idaho.
In the next few paragraphs, we will explore the 15 best Idaho vacation spots that can be ideal getaways for you and your family.
This picturesque capital of Idaho is located in the tree-lined lush valley of the Boise River and it makes for one of the best vacation spots in Idaho.
Part of Idaho’s treasure valley, Boise is a lively university town with Boise State University students dominating the cultural and sport life.
The most popular part of the city is the city’s 8th Street through downtown which is lined with restaurants and sidewalk cafes, galleries, and shops.
It’s in the Basque Block that you can explore the heritage of the city. As you stroll through downtown, walk by the Idaho State Capitol, the Boise Art Museum and the numerous strolling areas.
If you’re a jazz lover, don’t miss the annual Gene Harris Jazz Festival.
When searching for a place to have a meal, don’t miss out on The Wylder, which is open for both lunch and dinner. Though they are new, it has carved a niche in the restaurant scene.
Yellowstone National Park, Idaho
The popular and loved, Yellowstone National Park is the first national park in the world.
It is a lovely recreational area on a volcanic hotspot. The park extends between Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Blessed with wild alpine rivers, lush ancient forests, hot springs, there is always lots to explore at the Yellowstone National Park.
Don’t miss seeing the Old Faithful erupt.
This park is a true paradise for bird-watchers and animal lovers. You can have an encounter with bears, buffalos, wolves, elks and many more.
Explore the park on foot, put your hiking boots on and enjoy more than 1000 miles of trails. There are more than 12 campsites to have a stopover for the weekend or a few days.
Idaho Falls, Idaho
Located beneath the majestic Grand Teton in the Snake River Plain, Idaho Falls may not be very deep, but they are wide. They stretch 600 feet across the Snake River.
Idaho Falls is known for its great hospitality and an active arts community. Idaho Falls is a great vacation spot for art lovers.
Explore the local artists at the Art Museum of Eastern Idaho and the Willard Arts Center.
When wandering around town, also keep an eye out for “Art You Can Sit On,” a collection of benches scattered downtown designed by several local artists.
The greenbelt is the city’s top attraction which is popular with strollers and bikers.
Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley is a small resort city in central Idaho, with many celebrity homes in the area.
The entire city is a large playground that provides skiing, ice skating biking, golfing, fishing and many other activities to keep you entertained during your vacation.
Nestled among the mountains, it is the perfect year-round family destination. Even celebs like Bruce Willis and Schwarzenegger name Sun Valley as their favorite ski vacation spot.
This city has a thriving art scene as well if you feel too drained for sports activities. The best way to explore it is during the monthly Gallery Walks.
Explore the Sun Valley Museum of History and enjoy free concerts at the Forest Service Park to end your perfect weekend getaway.
Craters of the Moon, National Monument, Idaho
The geologically active mountains of Idaho have created an eerie place in Southern Idaho, which are called Craters of the Moon.
These craters are actually volcanoes that formed during the last eight active periods, between 15,000 and 2000 years ago. During the eruption, lava exploded and now those deep cracks can be seen very visibly.
This volcanic eruption created this Moon-like structure which is now a popular tourist attraction and an interesting vacation spot.
It is most popular with hikers where they can explore the lava tubes, watch wild animals and can also camp in the wilderness.
This outdoor recreational paradise has now become one of the most-loved places to visit in Idaho. This is the only town in the world, with a municipal ordinance making it illegal not to smile.
What started as just a joke, has now become the spirit of the city. Founded by gold miners in 1889, Pocatello is called the “Gateway to the Northwest.”
It is home to approx, 85,000 people and serves as the educational and commercial center for Eastern Idaho. It has a rich cultural life where visitors can explore the Palace Playhouse Theatre, Westside Players Dinner Theater to get a closer look at the town’s culture.
Kids will love the Idaho Museum of Natural History which features collections in anthropology, life sciences, and earth sciences.
For a family time out, visit the Mink Creek Nordic Ski Complex in the winter. You can go hiking, golf, biking, and bird watching after the snow melts.
Shoshone Falls, Idaho
Located just three miles away from the city of Twin Falls, Shoshone Falls is higher than the mighty Niagra falls.
This majestic fall is also called the “Niagara of the West” and can be a wonderful vacation spot in Idaho.
These falls are created by seasonal runoff from Snake River, so the best time to see it is during its peak which is from April to July.
The area around Shoshone Falls is a popular recreation area, where children can enjoy the playgrounds or the picnic area. There are also plenty of hiking trails, swimming areas, and a boat ramp.
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
The largest city in Northern Idaho, the city sits on the shores of the scenic Lake Coeur d’Alene.
The glaciers withdrew about ten thousand years ago, which left 55 magnificent lakes around Coeur d’Alene making it a magical place for a holiday.
You can enjoy your time touring the lovely Lake Coeur d’Alene on one of the leisurely boat cruises while admiring the city around you.
If you are an avid golfer, then you might want to play a few rounds at the Coeur d’Alene Resort course that’s famous for its 14th Hole, a green that sits in the lake, floating along on an underwater cable.
The kids will enjoy the Silverwood Theme Park which has 70 slides, rides, and attractions.
You can also stroll through seven galleries in a seven-block downtown area during an event that takes place every month called, the Art Walk.
Explore artworks by local artists at the Art Spirit Gallery to end your vacation at Coeur d’Alene.
Hell’s Canyon Recreational Area, Idaho
Hell’s Canyon Recreational Area divides the Idaho and Oregon and straddles the Snake River.
It is a wild and wonderful area in the wilderness where one can explore the soaring mountains and the one-mile deep Hell’s canyon.
At nearly 8000 feet deep, it is the deepest river gorge in North America.
A fantastic vacation destination, the Hell’s Canyon can be thrilling for nature and adventure enthusiasts. Complete with hiking, biking, and horse-riding trails, there are lots of areas to explore.
Plus, the mighty Snake River provides for some world-class white-water rafting along the floor of the canyon.
For something a little laid-back, you can canoe, kayak or paddle boat with your family.
For staying, there are several camping sites peppered all over Hell’s Canyon, National Recreation Area where you can park your RV or set up camp surrounded by pristine forest.
This major economic hub in Idaho has its fine sand beach located in downtown.
Nestled in the mountains, Sandpoint sits on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille and makes for an ideal vacation getaway.
The entire city is planned around this lake which is Idaho’s largest lake. Visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing, boating and other water adventure sports here.
Located nearby is the Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho’s largest ski resort where families can stay for the weekend. This charming place was named the Most Beautiful Small Town in 2011.
Sandpoint is a vibrant and fun city with unique market places and Farmer’s Market.
In the evening make sure to visit the Cedar Street Bridge Public Market, which is the most happening part of the town with loads of restaurants, cafes and seasonal events happening.
An ideal city for art-lovers, there are over a dozen galleries to choose from.
Take your kids to the Silverwood Theme Park, which has over 60 rides, attractions, and shows.
This quaint mountain town is a favorite with the people of Idaho. The town straddles the southern shore of Payette Lake and also boasts of the highest snowfall in the state, making it the ideal vacation spot.
Once a small resort town, now has boomed into a lovely tourist attraction. Its most famous attraction is the Winter Carnival. This carnival is held in late January, which features life-sized sculptures, fireworks, live music and a lot more.
Tourists can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, golfing, biking and a host of different activities which can keep the visitors occupied for days on end.
If you get tired of all these activities, take a break at the Central Idaho Historical Museum to learn about McCall’s history.
After this, you can take the kids to the PLAYLive McCall gaming center to spend some time gaming.
If you are planning to visit in the winter, then don’t forget to catch the Brundage Mountain that opens for its magnificent and fun ski lift!
Located in the heart of Idaho’s wine county, Nampa is known for its successful food-processing and agri-business.
This small town has many big possibilities, which makes it an ideal vacation town.
The city was established in the 1880swhen the Oregon Short Line Railroad passed through the community, after which Nampa became a popular railroad town.
Saunter over to Celebration Park which is the city ‘s most popular park, and it features unique 12,000 years old Indian art.
If wildlife interests you, then Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge has an 11,000-acre lake which is famous for hunting, fishing and watching wildlife.
In the evenings, you can enjoy some great craft beer at the Crescent Brewery LLC which also hosts live music every Saturday night.
Don’t forget to take some fresh, local produce from the Nampa Farmer’s Market before you leave for home!
Established in 1880, Ketchum was a miners area primarily. With the development of Sun Valley Resort and Sawtooth Recreation Area, Ketchum became a tourist resort and recreation area.
Ketchum is notorious as the place Ernest Hemingway committed suicide. Fans can visit his memorial on Trail Creek Road.
The city is a great vacation spot and attracts tourists for fishing, hiking, tennis, art galleries.
Ketchum has a lively art scene and you can browse through the nine art galleries that the town has to offer.
Thousand Springs State Park, Hagerman
Home to one of the world’s largest spring areas, Thousand Springs State Park makes for an ideal vacation spot in Idaho.
The park is made up of nine different areas that feature volcanic landscapes, historic sites, and amazing water displays. It includes Billingsley Creek, Ritter Island, Crystal Springs, and Niagara Springs.
This city is located at the base of Boise mountains, though a small city has lots to offer for visitors.
Do pay a visit to the Meridian Symphony Orchestra which is more than 20 years old. For a rundown on the history of Meridian, do stop by at the Meridian History Center which houses archived photos, documents, and artifacts, from Meridian’s past.
Take the kids to Roaring Springs which is a large water-park where they can enjoy. Plus, there are seventeen public parks in the city where you can spend quality family time.
Idaho is an adventure-enthusiasts dream come true. From pristine ski slopes to volcanic national parks, there is no dearth of entertainment that Idaho has to offer.
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