12 Best Places to Visit in Idaho

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“12 Best Places to Visit in Idaho”

Ready to find out the Best places to visit in idaho? As a local Idahoan, I’m so excited to share my list with you!

For those of you new to my site, I grew up in Idaho, lived in San Francisco for 6 years, and then moved back to Idaho after traveling the world for a year.

I’m now living in Boise, but honestly, while I was gone and wasn’t living here I ALWAYS missed the laid-back atmosphere, the people, and the ease of getting to lakes, rivers, and mountains.

Come say hi and follow along with my adventures on Instagram and Tiktok!

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!

Not sure when to travel to Idaho? Check out my post on the best time to visit Idaho or what to pack for your trip.

*These are in no particular order*

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What are the Best places to visit in idaho?

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1. McCall, IdahoPayette Lake in McCall Idaho | Best places to visit in idahoPayette Lake in McCall Idaho | Best places to visit in idaho

This probably goes without saying based on my previous posts, here and here, but I’m in love with this mountain town on 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.

Near McCall are a few other mountain towns I recommend checking out, both situated on Lake Cascade. Cascade, Idaho, and Donnelly Idaho! Both have great cabin rentals if McCall gets too crowded.

Read more about McCall and surrounding areas:  The Ultimate Girls Weekend in McCall IdahoCascade Idaho: The Ultimate 3-Day Winter ItineraryWhat to Do in McCall Idaho in the Winter

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2. Sun Valley, Idaho

Bald Mountain Sun Valley Idaho | Best places to visit in idaho

Bald Mountain Sun Valley Idaho | Best places to visit in idahoThis is a special little mountain town very close to the Sawtooth Mountains and my hometown of 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 about Sun Valley:The Ultimate Girlfriend Getaway Guide to Sun ValleyThe 10 Best Winter Activities in Sun Valley Idaho

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 3. Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho

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Coeur d' Alene Resort | Best places to visit in idahoCoeur d' Alene Resort | Best places to visit in idaho

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 only 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 also close by 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!

Read more about Coeur d’ Alene:12 Best Things to Do in Coeur d’Alene Idaho + Where to Stay and What to Eat

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4. Shoshone Falls

Twin Falls Idaho

Twin Falls Idaho

Right outside Twin Falls is the largest waterfall in Idaho, Shoshone Falls. This waterfall is actually higher than Niagara Falls, and many people call it the Niagara of the West! Can you believe it? It’s gorgeous, loud, and spits out TONS of water. It’s located in the Snake River Canyon and is a fun little drive down from Twin Falls. You’ll also see the Snake River as you’re heading down. You can kayak or stand-up paddleboard in the summer right under the falls! I did it last summer, and it was a blast. Kayak to Shoshone Falls yourself with my guide!

Shoshone is also located in southern Idaho near a lot of other fun activities including kayaking to Blue Heart Springs and a visit to Thousand Springs State Park.

Read more about the Shoshone Falls Area:

A Guide to Kayaking to Shoshone Falls in Idaho9 Things to Do in Twin Falls IdahoHow to Get to Blue Heart Springs Idaho A Weekend in Thousand Springs State Park [Tips for Camping, Kayaking & Hiking]The Ultimate Southern Idaho Road Trip Itinerary

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5. Bruneau Sand Dunes Idaho State Park

Bruneau Sand Dunes Idaho State Park | Best places to visit in idaho

Bruneau Sand Dunes Idaho State Park | Best places to visit in idaho

The first time I visited Bruneau Sand Dunes, or Bruneau Dunes State Park specifically, I couldn’t believe I was in Idaho. If you haven’t seen sand dunes before, they’re essentially hills made of sand. You can bring a snowboard and board down them or camp and hike them. Definitely worth a visit if you want to feel like you’re in a different country.

I definitely think Bruneau Sand Dunes is one of those unique Idaho places to visit plus. Bring water and a hat cause it gets hot! Plus, if you want to sleep nearby but not camp, you should stay in the Famous Idaho Potato Hotel located in Mountain Home.

Read More: The Ultimate Southern Idaho Road Trip Itinerary

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6. Craters of the Moon

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Craters of Moon IdahoCraters of Moon Idahosource

I was fascinated with Craters of the Moon National Monument when I first went. It’s technically a National Monument and Preserve in Idaho and is a vast lava field and recreation area filled with lava flows, cinder cones, and sagebrush. Essentially this is home to some really ancient volcanic lava.

I recommend getting a tour and going on a mini hike. Learning about the different types of lava and crawling through the caves is interesting. It looks like you’re walking on the surface of the moon.

Read More: The Ultimate Southern Idaho Road Trip Itinerary

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7. Thousand Springs Idaho State Park

Thousand Springs Idaho

Thousand Springs Idaho

Thousand Springs State Park is a large recreation area with many fun activities. Don’t be fooled by the title ‘State Park’ since there are towns within the park. It can get a little confusing, so check my weekend guide to Thousand Springs here.

In this area, you’ll find some of the clearest, cleanest springs and rivers in Idaho! Some of my favorite things to do here are hike through Hardy Box Canyon Springs Nature Preserve and stand up paddleboard/kayak to Blue Heart Springs and Ritters Island. AHHH, they are so amazing I wish I were there right now! You can follow the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway to hit up most of these spots.

Read more:

The Ultimate Southern Idaho Road Trip ItineraryA Weekend in Thousand Springs State Park [Tips for Camping, Kayaking & Hiking] How to Get to Blue Heart Springs Idaho

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8. Sandpoint, Idaho

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!

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Sandpoint Best places to visit in idahosource

Read more about Sandpoint:Sandpoint Idaho: The 10 Best Places to Visit

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9. Rolling Hills of the Palouse

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Moscow Idaho

rolling hills of the palouse

(source)

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.

dog hotel in Cottonwood Idahosource

If you want to stay in the most unique hotel ever, check out the famous Dog Bark Inn. You can actually book this inn on Airbnb with my $40 credit for new Airbnb users! Also, my alma mater, the 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 about the area:8 Things to Do in Moscow Idaho

10. Boise, Idaho

view of downtown Boise Idaho

The state capital of Idaho is a wonderful city that keeps growing and growing. It is the largest city in Idaho and is known as the “City of Trees”. Boise has become a cultural hub for young professionals, families, and outdoorsmen and women.

With great restaurants, nightlife, and amazing outdoor activities like hiking, river activities, mountain biking in the foothills, biking along the Boise River Greenbelt, and skiing at Bogus Basin, it has something for everyone! Boise is also very central and easy to get to most places in Idaho.

Read more about Boise:20 Best Road Trips From Boise, Idaho75+ Things to Do in Boise Idaho (A Local’s Guide)The 7 Best Hikes Near Boise, Idaho12 Things to Do in Boise Idaho WinterThe Ultimate Southern Idaho Road Trip Itinerary

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11. Sawtooth Mountains & Stanley, Idaho

Stanley Idaho

Half of Idaho is covered in National Parks and a big chunk of that is the Sawtooth National Recreation Area located in central Idaho. If you like hiking or backpacking through wildflower meadows to secluded lakes with barely anyone else around, then this is for you. I went on 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 Stanley.

Stanley is a mountain town situated at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains. If you want one of the most beautiful places in all of Idaho, make a trip here. You’ll be close to the mountains, the Salmon River, the Frank Church Wilderness, tons of hot springs, and beautiful wildlife. You really can’t go wrong.

Read more about the area: 

16 Epic Things to Do in Stanley, IdahoThe 10 Best Winter Activities in Sun Valley IdahoThe Ultimate Girls Weekend in Sun Valley, IdahoThe Ultimate Southern Idaho Road Trip Itinerary

Honorable mentions

It’s hard to fit all of my favorite places in Idaho all into a list of 12. Here are a few other honorable mentions that you might want to check out as well!

  • Sunnyslope Wine Trail – This is located about 45 minutes from Boise and is where most of Idaho’s wineries reside. It’s a blast if you get your friends together and go wine tasting.
  • Idaho City – Are you a lover of history and old ghost towns? This might be the place for you to visit!
  • Idaho Falls – Idaho Falls is the second-largest city in Idaho (not counting cities within the Treasure Valley) and has a fun downtown. It’s also a gateway location to Yellowstone, the Tetons, and Eastern Idaho.

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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 best place to visit in Idaho!

I hope these tips helped you figure out the Best places to visit in idaho! If you have anything else to add, let me know in the comments!

READ NEXT:

7 Romantic Getaways in Idaho20 Best Road Trips From Boise, IdahoIdaho Wineries: A Day on the Sunnyslope Wine Trail Airbnb Boise Idaho: 10 Airbnbs You Must Stay In Idaho City: A Fun Day Trip from Boise 17 Best Summer Date Ideas in Boise IdahoWhat to Wear in Idaho in All Seasons



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