Idaho — Attractions
Idaho is primarily renowned for its wild mountains and vast, undeveloped national parks. It’s an outdoor wonderland, with a thriving recreation scene. Many of the state’s attractions are natural, but its ski towns like Ketchum and large cities such as Boise offer a nice touch of culture to mix things up in between adventures. There are ancient volcanic lava fields, huge glacial lakes, and a handful of very pleasant resort towns near all the attractions to provide plenty of food, lodging, and entertainment.
Idaho’s leading resort and an American favorite since 1934, Sun Valley was one of America’s first ski resorts and continues to enchant visitors with its world-class skiing, summer recreation, and extensive amenities tucked deep in the heart of central Idaho’s mountains. The vast Sawtooth National Recreation Area surrounding Sun Valley has a full array of activities for all seasons. In summer, you can golf, fish, go on a hot air balloon ride, learn to paraglide, or go horseback riding.
Address: Sun Valley Resort, 2 Sun Valley Road, Sun Valley, ID 83353
Idaho’s main metropolis is only home to 210,000 people so you may be quick to write it off. However, guests are regularly pleasantly surprised by how amazingly active and sophisticated Boise is with quick access to the mountains of Idaho and loads of amenities. The center is Grove public square which houses most restaurants, bars, art galleries, and shops from this central hub. The Idaho Historical Museum and Boise Art Museum showcase the interesting pioneering heritage of the state, while the 25-mile downtown Greenbelt ensures nature and recreation never stray far from the urban oasis.
Address: Southwestern Idaho
Craters of the Moon National Monument
One of the coolest features of Idaho’s natural landscape is its vast volcanic areas left millions of years ago. Just north of Sun Valley is Craters of the Moon, one of the best places to spend a day exploring. The seven-mile Loop Road hits most of the highlights, allowing visitors to cruise or get out and play among the many lava flows and tubes. Hike a mile up to the edge of Inferno Cone, one of the world’s biggest cinder cones, for awesome 360° views over the lava fields. There are also hiking trails and caves to explore.
Address: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Highway 26, Arco, ID 83213
The main town in northern Idaho’s skinny panhandle is Coeur d’Alene, a lovely lakeside destination with a busy recreation and tourism scene. At its heart is the 25-mile long lake by the same name that allows every form of water sport known to man. Coeur d’Alene Golf Course is one of America’s top-ranked courses while in winter; the Silver Mountain Ski Resort boasts excellent snow conditions and the world’s longest year-round gondola. The town itself has plenty of restaurants, bars, and hotels to cater to visitors, while Silverwood theme park and Wild Waters offer summer amusement fun for the kids.
Address: North Idaho
Custer Historic Mining Town
Visitors can get a glimpse of what life was like in the late 1800’s in a Wild West mining boom. This one-street town has been preserved under the wings of the national preservation society and other historical groups. You can walk the self-guided tour to learn about the buildings, pan for gold in the river, or browse the museum in the original schoolhouse. It’s a great attraction for children or anyone with an interest in the gold rush of the West.
Address: Custer Historic Mining Town, 24424 Highway 75, Challis, ID 83226
Website: Custer Historic Mining Town
Just south of the Canadian border is one of Idaho’s most scenic and popular resorts. Sandpoint is best known for its many glacial lakes, including the spectacular Lake Pend Oreille, right in the heart of town. There is a pleasant mix of art galleries, local cafés, shops, and little bars in the compact, historic downtown area. Summer is prime tourism season in Sandpoint, when the lakes are buzzing with boaters and fishermen.
Address: North Idaho
City of Rocks National Reserve
In Southeastern Idaho is a literal playground of massive boulders and granite towers rising out from the rolling hills, some over 300 feet high, creating a truly surreal landscape. The park is hugely popular with both hikers and rock climbers with some trails winding up to lookout points. Hike from Almo, the nearest town or you can camp right in the park.
Address: City of Rocks National Reserve, Cassia, ID