Idaho, known as the “Gem State,” is a hidden gem in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is often overlooked as a travel destination. However, it is a state that is filled with natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and unique attractions. From the majestic Rocky Mountains to the pristine lakes and rivers, Idaho has something to offer for every type of traveler. In this article, we will highlight some of the best places to visit in Idaho.
Boise, the state capital, is the largest city in Idaho and offers a mix of urban and outdoor attractions. It is a vibrant city with a lively downtown area, numerous museums, and plenty of outdoor activities. Here are some of the best places to visit in Boise:
- Boise River Greenbelt: This scenic 25-mile trail follows the Boise River and offers a chance to explore the city’s natural beauty. Visitors can hike, bike, or jog along the trail, or stop at one of the many parks and attractions along the way.
- Idaho State Capitol: This beautiful building is home to the state legislature. It is a great place to learn about Idaho’s history and government. Visitors can take a tour of the building and see the famous Boise Pioneer Statue.
- Old Idaho Penitentiary: This historic prison operated from 1872 to 1973 and is now a museum that offers a glimpse into the lives of inmates and staff. Visitors can see the cells, gallows, and solitary confinement areas, as well as learn about famous prisoners and escapes.
- Boise Art Museum: This museum features contemporary art and has a collection of over 3,000 works of art from around the world. Visitors can see exhibits on a wide range of topics, including painting, sculpture, and photography.
- Bogus Basin: This ski resort is located just a short drive from downtown Boise. It offers skiing and snowboarding in the winter, as well as hiking and mountain biking in the summer. Visitors can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests.
Sun Valley is a world-class resort town located in central Idaho. It is known for its luxurious accommodations, world-class skiing, and stunning natural beauty. Here are some of the best places to visit in Sun Valley:
- Bald Mountain: This iconic mountain offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the country. Visitors can also take a scenic gondola ride to the top of the mountain and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding area.
- Sun Valley Resort: This historic resort offers a wide range of activities, including skiing, snowboarding, golfing, and hiking. Visitors can also relax in the spa or dine in one of the many restaurants.
- Sawtooth National Recreation Area: This vast wilderness area is located just a short drive from Sun Valley and offers a chance to explore Idaho’s natural beauty. Visitors can hike, camp, fish, or enjoy a scenic drive through the mountains.
- Sun Valley Center for the Arts: This arts center offers a variety of exhibits, performances, and workshops throughout the year. Visitors can see works by local and national artists, as well as attend lectures and classes.
- Ketchum: This charming town is located just south of Sun Valley and offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and galleries. Visitors can explore the town’s history and culture, as well as enjoy its vibrant nightlife.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States. It is located in the northeastern corner of Idaho. It is a vast wilderness area that is home to a wide range of wildlife. You may see grizzly bears, wolves, elk, and bison. Here are some of the best places to visit in Yellowstone National Park:
- Old Faithful: Old Faithful is one of the most iconic attractions in Yellowstone National Park. It is a geyser that erupts approximately every 90 minutes, shooting water and steam up to 185 feet in the air. Visitors can watch the eruption from a safe distance and learn about the park’s geology and history.
- Grand Prismatic Spring: This stunning hot spring is one of the largest in the world and features a rainbow of colors caused by different types of bacteria that live in the water. Visitors can view the spring from a boardwalk and see the steam rising from the water.
- Yellowstone Lake: This beautiful lake is the largest in Yellowstone National Park. It offers a variety of activities, including fishing, boating, and hiking. Visitors can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests, as well as see wildlife such as elk and moose.
- Lamar Valley: This remote valley is one of the best places in the park to see wildlife, including bison, elk, wolves, and bears. Visitors can take a guided tour or drive through the valley and enjoy the stunning scenery.
- Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: This spectacular canyon features colorful rock formations and waterfalls, including the famous Lower Falls. Visitors can hike along the canyon rim or take a scenic drive to see the different viewpoints.
Coeur d’Alene is a charming city located in northern Idaho and is known for its beautiful lake and outdoor activities. It is a popular destination for fishing, boating, and hiking, as well as shopping and dining. Here are some of the best places to visit in Coeur d’Alene:
- Coeur d’Alene Lake: This beautiful lake is the centerpiece of the city and offers a variety of activities, including swimming, boating, and fishing. Visitors can also take a scenic cruise or rent a paddleboard or kayak to explore the lake.
- Tubbs Hill: This scenic park is located in the heart of Coeur d’Alene and offers hiking trails, beaches, and stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Visitors can hike to the top of the hill or explore the beaches and coves along the shoreline.
- Coeur d’Alene Resort: This luxurious resort offers a variety of amenities, including a spa, golf course, and restaurants. Visitors can also take a scenic gondola ride to the top of the mountain and enjoy stunning views of the lake and city.
- McEuen Park: This beautiful park is located in downtown Coeur d’Alene and features a variety of amenities, including playgrounds, picnic areas, and a splash pad. Visitors can also enjoy concerts and events in the park throughout the year.
- Museum of North Idaho: This museum showcases the history and culture of the Coeur d’Alene region, including exhibits on mining, logging, and Native American culture. Visitors can learn about the area’s rich history and see artifacts from the past.
Idaho Falls is a vibrant city located in eastern Idaho and is known for its scenic beauty and outdoor activities. It is a popular destination for fishing, hiking, and skiing, as well as shopping and dining. Here are some of the best places to visit in Idaho Falls:
- Snake River Greenbelt: This scenic trail follows the Snake River and offers a chance to explore Idaho Falls’ natural beauty. Visitors can hike, bike, or jog along the trail, or stop at one of the many parks and attractions along the way.
- Idaho Falls Riverwalk: This charming area features a variety of shops, restaurants, and galleries, as well as a scenic waterfall and outdoor amphitheater. Visitors can stroll along the river and enjoy the lively atmosphere.
- Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park: This popular zoo features a variety of animals from around the world, including lions, tigers, and bears. Visitors can also see a variety of exotic birds and reptiles, as well as enjoy interactive exhibits and educational programs.
- Museum of Idaho: This museum showcases the history and culture of Idaho. It includes exhibits on Native American history, pioneer life, and mining. Visitors can also see artifacts from the Lewis and Clark expedition and learn about the area’s geology and natural history.
- Tautphaus Park: This beautiful park features a variety of amenities, including picnic areas, playgrounds, and a splash pad. Visitors can also see a variety of animals, including peacocks, deer, and goats, in the park’s animal farm.
Idaho is a beautiful and diverse state with a variety of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. From the stunning natural beauty of Yellowstone National Park to the charming cities of Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, there is something for everyone in Idaho. Whether you are interested in outdoor adventures, cultural attractions, or luxurious resorts, Idaho has it all. So if you are planning a trip to the Gem State, be sure to check out these top destinations and experience the best that Idaho has to offer.