Post Summary: An Idaho bucket list of 40 of the absolute best things to do in Idaho.
Idaho, nestled into the Pacific Northwest region of western USA, has long been a bastion for rugged adventurers seeking thrills and solitude, but ask the average American what they think of when they hear Idaho, and you’re bound to hear potatoes, complete silence, or the worst of all three…you mean, Iowa?
With Idaho being one of the least visited states in the US, you might be left wondering…is there anything to do in Idaho? is Idaho worth visiting?
Yes! Idaho is brimming with jaw-dropping beauty, untouched wilderness, crystal clear lakes, and mind-blowing natural wonders that will tickle any traveler looking to spend time in the great outdoors.
While Idaho attractions are primarily geared towards outdoor activities, there’s also a handful of excellent activities for the traveler who craves stimulation of the mind and stomach.
Here’s our roundup of 40 fun things to do in Idaho. Most of these Idaho tourist attractions are centered around an activity or landmark rather than a particular city to visit, but we had to sneak in a few fantastic small towns in Idaho.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN IDAHO
1. Visit the Largest Waterfall in Idaho: Shoshone Falls
Standing at a whopping 212 feet and stretching 900 feet across, Shoshone Falls is a phenomenal natural wonder in Idaho. If you’re a waterfall chaser, the “Niagara of the West” is a must-do when planning an Idaho itinerary.
The waterfalls are at their most breathtaking in late spring when winter snow melt will guarantee a gushing waterfall. Located in southern Idaho in Twin Falls, you can easily make an entire waterfall trip since the area is ripe with waterfalls, including the other must-see waterfall Perinne Coulee Falls.
BONUS: For adventure seekers who want another perspective of the waterfall, take to the Snake River on a kayak or paddleboard (best left to an experienced paddle boarder) to paddle the eight-mile roundtrip journey to the base of Shoshone Falls. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.
2. Craters of the Moon National Monument
The Craters of the Moon National Monument in central Idaho is an expansive national park filled with out-of-this-world scenery.
The weird molten landscape is wonderful for the imagination as visitors can explore the striking geological formations carved by lava. Trapeze caves, caverns, and desolate terrain created over 15 million years ago make this a fantastic spot for explorers and photographers.
For a truly unique experience, pitch a tent at one of the many nearby campgrounds to experience the park at night.
3. Mesa Falls
Mesa Falls is another powerhouse of a waterfall in Idaho. Located in eastern Idaho, the falls are a 114 feet tall and stretch 200 feet across, making for a truly spectacular sight. The falls are often visited as a side trip from the nearby Yellowstone National Park, but we think it’s worth it all on its own. Take a drive down the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway to see lookouts of the upper and lower falls and/or stop at the Mesa Falls Visitor Center to take the Mesa Nature Trail to get the best view of the falls.
4. Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
Housing one of the deepest river gorges in North America, Hells Canyon is one of the best things to see in Idaho for its astounding depth of 8000 feet. To put it in perspective, the Snake River sits 2000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon.
A great way to experience the canyon is via water, whether on a raft, kayak, or a guided jet boat tour. A jet boat tour is the most accessible and easiest way to explore the canyon for the average visitor.
If you want to stay dry, you can also hike the canyon and check out scenic overlooks along the way. Whether you explore it on foot or on a raft, you will surely appreciate the truly rugged and severe backdrop that Hells Canyon National Recreation Area provides.
5. BASE Jumping off the Perrine Bridge
If you’re looking for top-quality entertainment that is both unique and riveting, then head to Twin Falls, Idaho, where you can watch thrillseeking (or crazy?) BASE jumpers plummet 486 feet from Perrine Bridge.
Open year-round to BASE jumpers, Perrine Bridge makes for an exhilarating stop on an Idaho road trip. Stand on either side of the canyon and watch in trepidation as people fling themselves off the bridge and land in the canyon.
If you want to experience the thrill of BASE jumping, you can book a tandem jump with an experienced jumper.
6. Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument
Tucked into south-central Idaho, the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument is a premium location for studying fossils from long-extinct animals. Famous for having the largest concentration of Hagerman Horse fossils, the 3000-acre national monument also has over two hundred species of Pliocene era fossils. It’s a fantastic spot for kids that love fossils!
7. City of Rocks National Reserve
Monoliths and granite spires reaching 60 feet tall greet you at the City of Rocks, a national reserve that spans 14,407 acres of land. Renowned for having some of the country’s most vivid and inspiring rock landscapes, City of Rocks attracts droves of climbers, hikers, outdoor enthusiasts, and photographers every year.
With its 700 climbing routes, the City of Rocks is considered one of the best granite-face climbing sites in the world. Non-climbers and families can still enjoy the craggy landscape with its ample hiking, unique camping, and fun mountain biking.
8. Bike the Boise Greenbelt
The Boise River Greenbelt is a scenic biking route that takes you along the banks of the Boise River. The 25-mile track is the heart and soul of Boise and begins in Eagle Island State Park and winds through downtown Boise before culminating at Lucky Peak Recreation Area.
This is the ICONIC Boise activity. You can easily spend an entire day biking the Greenbelt and stopping at places that interest you. For a map of the Greenbelt and points of interest along the way, check out this site here. There’s also a Boise Greenbelt app that gives directions and food recommendations.
This biking path is wildly popular among tourists and locals alike and provides the perfect outdoor and urban exploration mix.
9. Freak Alley
If you’re looking for unique and cool places to visit in Idaho, then Freak Alley needs to be on your list. Freak Alley, located in downtown Boise is the largest outdoor gallery in the northwest.
With a unique collection of art murals created by over 300 different artists, Freak Valley is an ever-evolving art display that portrays the creative heart of Boise.
Freak Alley spills into an indoor gallery close by, where you can pop into to see some more amazing visual masterpieces by Freak Alley artists and purchase merchandise to commemorate your visit.
10. Craft Beer Hopping in Boise
Idaho likes its beer, and more importantly, they like locally made hand-crafted beer. With Idaho being the 2nd largest hops producer and the No. 1 barley grower in the United States, many breweries source exclusively from local providers.
While all of Idaho has excellent breweries, Boise is the reigning champion of craft beer breweries, with 17+ breweries in Boise, many of which dot downtown Boise. If you’re a beer connoisseur or are just looking to have a good time, head downtown to discover some of the best breweries in Boise.
11. Idaho State Museum
While Idaho activities center around outdoor recreation, The Idaho State Museum, located in Boise, is a change of pace, offering an educational and interactive experience that will guide you through the colorful story of Idaho. The museum covers everything from the indigenous groups that have called the state home for thousands of years to the contemporary past.
Peruse the hundreds of exhibits and explore Idaho’s history and how the fascinating landscape has shaped the state and its people.
The Idaho State Museum is a great stop to make while exploring the state so you can have a deeper appreciation of everything you visit in Idaho.
12. Treefort Music Festival
Held annually in Boise, Idaho, the Treefort Music Festival is a special 5-day music event that transforms downtown Boise. Renowned for its home-grown feel, the Treefort Music Festival is highly regarded by festival-goers around the US. Not only does the Treefort Music Festival stick close to the heart of music festivals – the discovery and appreciation of music – but it also does well in celebrating everything local.
But Treefort isn’t just music all day long, it also has several different “forts” that include Yogafort, Storyfort, Alefort, Foodfort, Skatefort, Dragfort, Comedyfort, Filmfort, and Kidfort. While music is the festival’s foundation, the event’s heart and soul is a gathering that celebrates artistry, innovation, inclusiveness, and community.
13. Winter Carnival in McCall
Located in picturesque McCall, Idaho, is the annual celebration of all things ice, snow, and winter. The Winter Carnival in MacCall is an event that draws nearly 60,000 people every year.
Visitors to the Winter Carnival can expect mesmerizing winter sculptures, live entertainment, lively parades, and festival parties. During the day, you can expect to see snowmobile races, comedy shows, and art exhibits, while the night brings out music, performances, and fireworks.
This Winter Carnival has long been renowned throughout Idaho and has become a staple event that tourists and locals alike enjoy.
14. Sand Surfing at Bruneau Dunes State Park
One of the must-see places in Idaho is Bruneau Dunes State Park to see the the tallest freestanding dune in North America. While there, rent a sandboard from the visitor center and try out the adventurous sport of sandboarding. With golden-colored sand dunes surrounding two emerald green lakes, the park is the perfect picture of a desert oasis.
When not sandboarding, you can also hike, fish, kayak, swim, camp, or check out the world-class observatory for stargazing.
READ NEXT: 12 Fantastic Day Trips From Boise
15. Thousand Springs State Park
If you’re looking for magical landscapes that come straight from the pages of Lord of The Rings, head to Thousand Springs State Park. This stunning landscape is packed with gorgeous waterfalls, lush valleys, and crystal lakes, making it perfect for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
The state park has six distinct sections that offer its own natural wonders – Box Canyon Springs, Billingsley Creek, Malad Gorge, Ritter Island, Kelton Trail, and Niagara Springs.
Whether you hike the Malad Gorge, ride horses at the indoor arena, or picnic at Niagara springs, Thousand Springs State Park is one of the best places to see in Idaho.
16. Kayak to Blue Heart Springs
This oasis in southern Idaho boasts azure water that will leave you wondering if you’re in Idaho or the Caribbean. The only way to get to Blue Heart Springs is by waterway, so bring a kayak, SUP, or canoe and paddle your way to the tucked-away paradise. You’ll pass by caves, small waterfalls, and natural springs as you paddle along the serene route.
You’ll eventually make your way to the clearest, cerulean water – that’s how you know you’ve reached Blue Heart Springs. Take a dip in the inviting water if you dare…it’s shockingly cold even in the summer months.
17. Kirkham Hot Springs
A little known fact about Idaho is that it boasts more soakable hot springs than any state in the US. Most of the steamy pools are in southern Idaho, with many located right off the road. The most famous hot spring in Idaho is Kirkham Hot Springs, particularly loved for its easy access and mind blowing hot waterfalls. This idyllic hot spring near Boise is on the southern fork of the Payette River and is popular year-round. For a truly magical experience, visit the thermal pools in winter for an unforgettable soak.
18. Boat Box Hot Springs
Boat Box Hot Springs is a natural hot spring in Idaho that lends itself to a completely different hot spring experience than Kirkham Hot Springs. This Instagram famous spot is located in Stanley, Idaho, and is in a large soaking metal tub that sits beside the Salmon River.
Rather than soaking in a natural pool, steaming hot water is funneled down from a pipe that flows directly into the tub. The tub can comfortably fit two to three people. Its small size and popularity mean you will likely have to wait your turn to get a chance in the tub. Arrive at the crack of dawn or visit in the winter to have better odds of experiencing this unique Idaho hot spring without a long line.
19. Roosevelt Grove of the Ancient Cedars
Located North of Nordman, Idaho, is the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars, a cedar grove with trees ranging from 2000 to 3000 years old. With the cedar trees reaching heights of 150 feet and spanning 12 feet wide, these impressive trees are for anyone who wants to revel in the beauty of an ancient forest. Within the scenic area are a few different walking trails to choose from, including an easy hike that takes you to various viewings of Granite Falls (you can see a video of it on our Instagram), a beautiful waterfall located within the grove. While technically located in Washington, the grove can only be accessed in Idaho.
20. Visit The Champion Tree
If you’re a tree lover, seeing the largest cedar tree in Idaho needs to be on your Idaho bucket list. The hardest park of seeing this spectacular Idaho attraction is getting there! Located near the picturesque, but rarely visited Elk River, stands this magnificent tree that measures 18 feet in diameter and 177 feet in height. Estimated to be over 3000 years old, it’s an ancient giant that is sure to impress.
21. Farragut State Park
With Conde Nast ranking Farragut State Park as the best state park in Idaho, is it any wonder why it’s on our list of the best things to do in Idaho? Located on the southern tip of Lake Pend Oreille, Farragut has 4000 acres of land to hike, bike, fish, kayak, swim, camp, and explore.
This pristine state park was once a World War II-era naval training station, and the park includes a fantastic museum highlighting its unique place in Idaho history.
In addition to the outdoor recreations, visitors can enjoy Tree To Tree Adventure Park, an aerial obstacle course park as well as sharpen their disc golf skills at one the five 18-hole disc golf courses for all skill levels.
22. Mountain Biking at Silver Mountain Resort
The Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg, Idaho, is best known for its skiing slopes and over 132 runs; however, come summertime, the resort also boasts stellar mountain biking paths. We’re not the only one who thinks so. It’s been voted the #1 bike park in the northwest for four years in a row.
Suitable for all levels, beginners will enjoy the more accessible tracks with 800 feet of vertical descent while experienced riders will appreciate the nine miles of trails taking you down a 3400 feet descent.
Not a big mountain biker? Splash in the large indoor swimming waterpark or try your hand at golf on the resort’s greens – there is no shortage of things to do at the Silver Mountain Resort.
23. Bike the Route of the Hiawatha
The adventurous and family-friendly route of the Hiawatha is one of the top things to do in North Idaho. This 15-mile bike trail near Wallace, Idaho, might seem like it’s best left to serious bikers, but actually, it’s one of the most tourist-friendly things to do in North Idaho. Why? It’s all downhill!
The downhill bike ride takes you on a journey through the scenic Bitterroot Mountains and includes biking through 10 train tunnels (some of them are pitch dark) and seven trestles. Once you reach the end, if you don’t want to go back uphill, there’s a shuttle that will take you and your bike back to the top. It’s a fantastic choice for adventurous travelers and families. The trail is typically open from May to September.
24. Silverwood Amusement Park
Looking for places to visit in Idaho that aren’t solely outdoor-based? Look no further than Silverwood Amusement Park.
Packed with over 70 different rides and attractions, Silverwood Theme Park can easily fill up an entire day. Perfect for all ages, the rides range from adrenaline-pumping roller coasters to kid-friendly coasters. Included with your admission to Silverwood is Boulder Beach, a family-friendly waterpark that includes a lazy river, two wave pools, a kids splash area, and multiple water slides.
25. White Water Rafting the Salmon River
For adrenaline junkies and outdoor lovers, taking on the Salmon River rapids is one of the most adventurous things to do in Idaho. National Geographic ranks it as one of the top three whitewater river trips in the world.
Climb aboard a large raft and rush along the middle fork of the Salmon River as you tilt, dip, and careen off short drops for a truly thrilling ride. Going with an experienced guide like ROW Adventures will ensure you have a safe and memorable 4-7 day adventure rafting down the river. Most tours will include stops at historical sights, playtime in the water, hiking trails, and an interesting lesson into the history and flora and fauna of the area.
The Lower Salmon is an excellent choice for anyone traveling with younger kids or any traveler who wants smaller rapids.
26. Visit Stanley, Idaho
A small town tucked into Sawtooth Valley, Stanley, Idaho, is a prime spot for community and outdoor exploration. Stanley is not only the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding Sawtooth Mountain range, but the town itself holds a unique charm waiting to be experienced. To many, it’s considered the best small town in Idaho.
With a year-round event calendar filled with special events, festivals, and celebrations, there is always something happening in Stanley, Idaho. From live music to local parties, the nightlife in this small community is surprisingly lively.
Popular activities include soaking in one of the many hot springs, visiting Redfish Lake, hiking, camping, and horseback riding.
27. Hike or Backpack the Sawtooth National Recreation Area
Located in the south-central heart of Idaho, the Sawtooth National Forest is a famous hiking destination in the state. With over ten mountain ranges, 2.1 million acres of forest, and over 700 miles of hiking trails, Sawtooth National Forest is the premier hiking spot in Idaho.
Whether you’re looking for day hikes or long treks leading to sparkling alpine lakes, you are sure to find the perfect outing at Sawtooth National Forest. Popular hikes include the backpacking trek to Alice Lake and the day hike, Fishhook Creek Trail.
28. Road Trip the Salmon Scenic River Byway
With over 31 scenic byways, Idaho is a state that is perfect for a long road trip with a great playlist on hand. When looking for places to see in Idaho, there’s no better road trip than the Salmon Scenic River Byway.
This 161-mile route takes you through jaw-dropping landscapes along the Salmon River edge while also winding through beautiful destinations in Idaho, including Stanley, Redfish Lake, and the Sawtooth National Forest.
A road trip on the Salmon Scenic River Byway can easily fit into one day as it will take you roughly around 4 hours one way; however, we recommend taking as many stops as you can for photo opportunities, pitching a tent, and exploring some of the best destinations that Idaho has to offer.
29. Priest Lake State Park
Priest Lake State Park lies a short 30 miles south of the Canadian border and offers visitors sandy beaches, a calm lake, and a rugged mountain forest surrounding the landscape.
The dense forest bordering Priest Lake State Park is excellent for spotting wildlife such as deer, bears, and bald eagles. The lake is fed by mountain springs cascading from the Selkirk Mountain peaks and is renowned for its clarity.
Priest Lake is less developed than other north Idaho lake towns making it an ideal spot for camping and quiet outdoor time. Popular activities include hiking the Mount Roothann trail and kayaking the 2.5-mile thorofare from Priest Lake to Upper Priest lake.
30. Explore A Ghost Town
Idaho’s expansive, untouched landscape is home to more than a few Ghost Towns, making for interesting stops to add to any Idaho itinerary. Due to Idaho’s prevalent presence amid the times of the Wild West and Gold Rush, there were a lot of ‘pop-up’ towns that were abandoned as quickly as they had been built.
Lucky for visitors today, many of these Ghost Towns can now be visited and explored. Some of the most famous Ghost Towns are Bonanza, Bayhorse, and Custer – all of which are now formally protected by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.
31. Skiing at Schweitzer
Idaho is a wonderful skiing destination with several world-class resorts that remain blissfully under the radar. It’s hard to pick the best ski resort in Idaho, but Schweitzer Mountain Resort in Sandpoint, Idaho, remains a perennial favorite for its steep terrain and jaw-dropping views of Lake Pend Oreille and the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountain ranges.
While Sun Valley Resort may have the greatest vertical drop at 3,450 feet, Schweitzer is the largest resort in Idaho, with the most skiable terrain at 2900 acres. Schweitzer offers everything from beginner to advanced ski runs, including open bowls and scenic, tree-lined runs.
32. See the Best Small Town in Idaho: Sandpoint
Sandpoint, Idaho, is a beloved town in northern Idaho that was ranked by USA Today as the best small town in the US. Tucked away into a stunning landscape featuring three mountain ranges and a deep lake, Sandpoint, Idaho, is the definition of an idyllic escape.
Known for its abundant outdoor recreation opportunities, the gorgeous landscape provides the perfect backdrop for various outdoor activities, including hiking, boating, skiing, fishing, and mountain biking.
After you come down from the moutnain or off the lake, you’ll find a charming town hosting festivals, galleries, and concerts all year round.
READ NEXT: 25 Amazing things to do in Sandpoint, Idaho
33. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Located 45 minutes away from Sandpoint, is North Idaho’s premier resort town with small town vibes, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. While often compared to each other, Coeur d’Alene has it’s own unique feeling and vibe.
Coeur d’Alene has the second largest lake in North Idaho and is a prime spot for boating, fishing, kayaking, and parasailing. With 135 miles of shore, there are plenty of spots to live out your “lake life” getaway.
Once you’ve explored the lake, the city of Coeur d’Alene beckons with its thriving art scene, cute downtown shops, and burgeoning food scene.
34. Sip on Idaho’s Burgeoning Wine Scene
Idaho has a wine country? That’s right. A 30-minute drive from Boise to neighboring Caldwell will bring you to the up-and-coming wine region of Southwest Idaho. The Sunnyslope Wine Trail encompasses 17 wineries and vineyards that weave through the lush farmland of Caldwell, Idaho.
Start your day at the Sunnyslope Wine Trail visitors center, located in historic downtown Caldwell, where they can help you with maps and possible itineraries.
Idaho’s Sunnyslope Wine Trail is one of the best places to go in Idaho for wine connoisseurs or couples looking for a romantic getaway in Idaho.
35. Visit the Only Dark Sky Reserve in the US
Idaho holds the distinction of having the only Dark Sky Reserve in the United States. A dark sky reserve is an area of both public and private land that offers unparalleled night sky views with little to no light pollution to obscure your view. The Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve is a rare opportunity to glimpse the stunning milky way and other galaxy systems in amazing clarity.
Many choose to pitch a tent in the National Forest to view or photograph the stars, but you can also choose various spots to pull over and get a glimpse from your car. Regardless of how you take in the stars, you’re sure to be in awe of a view that is becoming harder and harder to get.
36. Summer Huckleberry Picking
When looking for things to do in Idaho in the summer months, there’s nothing more Idaho than taking to the mountains to forage for Idaho’s state fruit, the beloved huckleberry. This sought-after berry is nearly impossible to cultivate, so if you want to taste the sweet-tart berry for yourself, you’ll have to put on your hiking boots and take to higher elevations to find the “purple gold.” Idahoans are famously tight-lipped with huckleberry patch locations, but in North Idaho, they’re pretty easy to find when they bloom in July and August. If you don’t want to try your hand at finding a patch, you can take a huckleberry tour with Schweitzer Mountain Resort, where they’ll take you right to the berry patches.
If you don’t feel like picking it yourself, almost every restaurant, bar, or winery will have something featuring the infamous huckleberry.
37. Explore the Foodie Scene
Admittedly, Idaho is not renowned for its foodie scene. That doesn’t mean there isn’t amazing food to be had in the Gem State! Boise is helping Idaho to gain some food cred with new restaurants and innovative chefs stamping out a name for themselves. In 2022, Idaho received four James Beard nominations, a first-time accomplishment for the state. Stand-out chefs and restaurants that have all received the honor of a James Beard nomination are Kin, Ansots, Amano, and Sunshine Spice Cafe.
READ NEXT: 5 Must Try Desserts in Boise, Idaho
38. Stay Overnight in a Fire Look Out
If you want a truly unique stay, check out one of the many fire look outs that dot the rugged landscape of Idaho. Fire look outs are tall cabin-like structures built high up in densely forested areas that are used to spot a potential forest fire. The Forest Service (and Airbnb) offers a handful of reclusive lookouts you can rent.
With northern Idaho’s dense forests, most of the lookouts are in the panhandle of Idaho. While Instagram can make it seem like a dreamy getaway, the reality is most of the lookouts require a hike to access the lookout as well as carrying in all of your supplies, including bedding, food, water, and cleaning supplies. If you’re up for the work and preparation, it’s a truly unique experience that promises solitude and stunning views.
39. Idaho Potato Museum
We can’t list the best things to do in Idaho and not include a potato landmark! Idaho potatoes are known to bake better, fry better, and mash better than any other potato in the states and are now the leading source of potatoes for companies such as Pringles.
The Idaho Potato Museum outlines this fascinating, albeit strange, history from the very first potato planted in the soil of Idaho to the biggest french fry made from Idaho potatoes.
Located in Blackfoot, Idaho, the Idaho Potato Museum is a quirky stop for anyone interested in how Idaho became famous for its potatoes.
40. Stay Overnight in a Potato
When looking for stuff to do in Idaho, how does staying overnight in a potato sound? That’s right, you can stay in a potato hotel that sits on 400 acres of land just outside of Boise. While it’s not literally a potato, it is a chic 28-foot-long tiny potato house gifted by the Idaho Potato Commission’s Big Idaho Potato Tour. There’s even a spa on site, so get a massage, eat some potatoes, and grab an Instagram photo in your potato hotel to secure the bragging rights of doing the most off beat activity in Idaho.
It was hard to limit it to only 40 things to do in Idaho, but this represents a good cross-section of activities in Idaho. What’s on your Idaho bucket list?
Let us know your must-see places in Idaho in the comments below!
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