We love our home state and all things Idaho. It is far from perfect and more than once I have been embarrassed by the actions of some of its residents, but there is so much to love about the Gem State. Very few things make me as happy as exploring my own backyard.
If you have never been to Idaho, the first thing you need to know is that the state is large and sparsely populated. We are light on big cities, crowds and diversity. What we have instead are small towns galore and an abundance of opportunities for recreation. My favorite things to do in Idaho include skiing, road tripping and gazing at the stars. Oh, and I really appreciate a good hot springs. Luckily, we have a lot of those in Idaho.
R and I have spent a lot of time driving around Idaho in an effort to see new places and check things off our bucket list. I have not regretted a single trip or adventure. If you are looking to see a bit more of Idaho, I have a couple of suggestions for you:
Go on an Idaho state parks challenge
When the pandemic hit and our usual travel adventures stopped, we upped our adventures in Idaho by challenging ourselves to visit every Idaho state park. This made the summer of 2020 not just memorable, but fun. We were able to check areas off our Idaho bucket list and explore well-loved locations. I highly recommend you go on your own Idaho state parks challenge. It is a fantastic way to see the Gem State.
Visit all 44 counties in Idaho
Idaho’s counties are not all necessarily unique, but they each have something worth seeing. You can go opal mining in Clark County, visit Idaho’s oldest courthouse (built in 1862) in Clearwater County or attend the Yellow Pine Music and Harmonica Festival in Valley County. A little research on what each county offers in terms of towns, festivals, points of interest, etc. will go a long way in deciding what to see. You will also want to time your visits to the right seasons and/or event dates.
Personally, I love visiting the Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh Wildlife Management Area in Camas County in the spring. Seeing a sea of purple that is the Camas Lilies in bloom is well worth the effort it takes to get there. And there are many other experiences and places across Idaho’s counties that are also worth the time and effort.
Explore a few highlights
Very few places on earth look like Craters of the Moon. If you find yourself in central Idaho, make sure you take some time to visit and explore. And as long as you are in central Idaho, I have a few tips for visiting Sun Valley and Ketchum. This is the area I grew up in. Tell me you are from a small town and I will tell you the number of people in my graduating class (19). If that does not shock you, I will tell you the number of people in my sister’s graduating class (10). Growing up in such a small town was a very unique experience and gave me an appreciation for both small-town living and the big wide world outside of that small town.
R has spent most of her life not in a small town but in the “big” city of Boise, Idaho. So she has some good tips for what to do in Boise. Our capital has grown a lot in the past decade and although its size is nothing compared to most state capitals, we are a little shocked by how much it has changed in a relatively short amount of time. There are pros and cons to those changes that I will not bother getting into on my little travel blog.
If you find yourself up north (and you should really find yourself up north at least once in your life since it is so beautiful), Coeur d’Alene is a wonderful place to kill some time. In fact, all of northern Idaho is a wonderful escape. The scenery is very, very different from southern Idaho and it makes me very happy to visit the lakes and small towns up north.
Idaho is a wonderful place to live and visit. And like most states, Idahoans are proud of their state. We may even have a reputation for not showing a lot of love to those who move here from certain other states. But if you get to know us and our towns, you will find good people lucky enough to be living in a beautiful part of the world.