Idaho is nicknamed the Gem State, but not for travel reasons. Idaho is an amazing location for traveling but is often underrated as a target destination. While this is part of the reason the state is still so great, it’s definitely worth it for people to frequent the area when they get the chance.
Whether you’re the winter type or the person that chases summers around the globe each year, or you crave the shoulder seasons, Idaho has got it all. Below I list some prime areas of interest, and why they matter.
McCall has everything you’d want and not many people outside the state know about it. Whether you’re looking to hit the ski slopes in the winter or get pulled on a wakeboard during the summer, McCall can make it a breathtaking reality. This lakeside town is only a two-hour drive from the state Capitol, Boise, and even driving up and then directly back down on Highway 55 could even be worth your time. The winding river and the vast forest is something that deserves attention. McCall is so diverse in its offerings that you’ve got choices coming from all angles.
What to do:
- If you’re going in winter you should strongly consider skiing, snowmobiling, yurt camping, and ice fishing. Brundage Mountain, to some, is the best skiing in Idaho.
- If your Idaho stop comes during the summer, you and your companions should plan on boating or hiking in the Payette National Forest. The scenery is magical. Hiking is everywhere you look and boat rentals are plentiful in town. I would recommend Cheap Thrills for any rentals, winter or summer. They have everything from snowmobiles to party boats.
- If your experience leads you through McCall during a shoulder season, mountain biking and checking out Burgdorf Hot Springs should be on the list. There are also some ideal fly fishing stretches in the area, as well. The rivers and bike trails are limitless and Burgdorf is only 30 minutes from town. The shoulder seasons are also an ideal time to capitalize on great rates for vacation home rentals.
Where to eat:
- If you’re feeling pizza, Crusty’s is your best and only viable option!
- If a burger and fries is on your mind, consider Lardo’s or My Father’s Place.
- If you’re looking for fine dining, The Shore Lodge is your final destination for the night.
CONCLUSION: McCall is a picture-perfect representation of Idaho, literally. The town is almost artistic it’s so pretty and it had options for each and every traveler. The snow is light because of the altitude and the lake is pristine from mountain runoff. It’s worth a serious look if you’re anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.
Sun Valley area
Sun Valley is the home of a world-class ski resort. It’s also home to many movie stars and other celebrities. There’s a reason it’s popular. It’s an amazing place to visit and is similar to McCall in the sense that it’s within easy striking distance from the state’s Capitol and major travel hub, Boise.
Whether you’re aiming to ski some serious terrain or simply take in an ice show, Sun Valley proper can offer it to you. In addition, the area around Sun Valley is some of the most beautiful country you’ll ever see.
What to do:
- If you’re going in winter, and like you like skiing, you’re in heaven. Grab a day or two of lift tickets and enjoy the 45 minute runs down Mt. Baldy at Sun Valley. The lodges are nice and cozy and the mountain is both perfectly groomed on the main runs and often overflowing with powder just off of them.
- If you come through during the summer, strongly consider a trip an hour out of Sun Valley to Redfish Lake and Stanley. These are literally two of the prettiest places on Earth. White water rafting out of Stanley is an unbelievable experience for the whole family or even a romantic day on the river for a couple.
- If you’re in and around Sun Valley during the shoulder seasons, you’ve hit the jackpot. Some people think this time of year is best as the colors and weather are charming and pleasant at the very least. Another recommendation is hiking around the Sawtooth Wilderness, a federally protected wilderness area with jagged mountain peaks and beautiful meadows. Another recommendation if you have a car is to aim for a quick night at the Challis Hot Springs.
Where to eat:
- The Pioneer is the best restaurant in town and it needs to be on your itinerary if you’re anywhere within shouting distance of Sun Valley.
- KB’s is a nice choice for a casual and friendly burrito. It’s worth checking out.
- Perry’s is a classic, locally owned deli that has options for everyone.
- If you do make it to Redfish Lake, the lodge offers tasty dining options.
CONCLUSION: The area in and around Sun Valley has the potential to change your entire option of the Pacific Northwest, even if it’s already favorable. The activities are so limitless that the hardest decisions are the ones to narrow down travel plans. Keep this area in mind if you’re looking at a trip to Idaho. After you leave, it’ll be engrained and you won’t have to!
Idaho is a strikingly beautiful place to visit, regardless of the type of travel your trip is based around. Whether it’s a romantic getaway, a solo escape or a family expedition, you’ll be satisfied. These are some main hotspots to consider but are just a sample of what the Gem State has to offer you.