Top 15 Idaho Attractions You Just Can't Miss

Last Updated on January 18, 2024 by Nikki Jain

Going on a fun-filled vacation with your entire family is the best way to relieve yourself of the stress and pressure you have been experiencing. It is also an excellent way to spend quality time with each other and bond like you never have before. If you plan on spending a few days in a new place, why not plan a visit to Idaho?

When you hear the word Idaho, you probably think about potatoes right away. Idaho is indeed known as the Potato State of America since it is the country's biggest supplier of potatoes. Aside from potatoes, however, there are so many things to do in Idaho. When planning a trip to the state, make sure to include the below top 20 tourist attractions in Idaho.

Things To Do in Idaho

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1: Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve
Flickr/Kam Abbott

Travel to central Idaho to visit the Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve. It represents and protected the volcanic region of the Snake River Plain.

The nature preserve consists of three lava fields and hundreds of miles of grasslands. The plains rest between two tectonic plates - the movement of the plates caused the formation of the Great Rift of Idaho, one of the deepest rift cracks in the world.

Nearly a quarter-million people visit the Craters of the Moon preserve every year. It offers unique sights of the protected lava field, education, and recreational activities.

To experience the entire park, visitors can take a drive along the seven-mile loop, passing by many of the notable features. Some of the top attractions on the park include the Inferno Cone Viewpoint, the North Crater Flow, Devils Orchard, and the Great Rift.

Hiking is also popular at the site. The preserve includes well-marked trails as well as areas for backcountry hikes in the wilderness.

There is an on-site visitor center for accessing resources about the preserve and finding Ranger-guided tours.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Arco

Address: Arco, ID 83213

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Sun Valley is a famous resort town in Idaho. It's located in Wood River Valley, surrounded by two high elevation mountains, Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain.

The valley is a popular destination for outdoor recreation, namely skiing. Skiing is available all year long thanks to the high elevation of the mountains. The primary slopes are on Bald Mountain.

Bald Mountain has some of the best skiing conditions for any mountain in the country, recommended for experienced skiers. For more movie-level slopes, skiers can test out the slopes of Dollar Mountain. Either option gives great alpine skiing experiences.

Sun Valley is a destination for any time of the year. There's a range of other activities for visitors such as hiking, golfing, cycling, and swimming in the Summer, or ice skating and snowboarding in the winter.

There are many resorts located in Sun Valley. The local accommodations provide everything you need to enjoy your time in the valley, including equipment rentals or entertainment. Visitors can also access spas for relaxing after a long day out on the slopes.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Sun Valley

Address: 1 Sun Valley Rd., Sun Valley, ID 83353

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3: Shoshone Falls

Shoshone Falls

Shoshone Falls is one of the iconic waterfalls in Idaho. It's formed from the Snake River, although the water flow was affected due to various Snake River dams built. The best time to view the falls in its full flow is during the Spring, after a substantial snowfall period.

Shoshone Falls is a historical waterfall that greatly impacted civilizations in the region. It was a popular fishing spot for Native Americans and was a significant site for mining after the discovery of gold. Today, it's one of the top tourist attractions in Idaho.

The best place to view the falls is from Shoshone Falls Park. It's a public park explicitly designed for observation of the falls. It includes a viewing platform with information displays about the falls.

Shoshone Falls Park is also where visitors can find access to recreational activities around the falls, such as hiking. Hiking is a favorite activity at the falls, with marked trails set up extending from the park to various viewpoints along the trails.

Address: Shoshone Falls Park, Twin Falls, ID 83301

4: Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872 as the first national park in the US. The park extends over multiple states, including Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. It's ranked among the top parks in the US, attracting an average of four million visitors every year – the peak travel month is July – to see some of the famous landmarks or enjoy outdoor recreation.

Yellowstone National Park has a diverse landscape consisting of forested areas, mountainous regions, lakes, rivers, and canyons. The majority area is covered with a subalpine forest. It's also one of the most active geothermal lands in the world, which features volcanic activity and geysers.

The most famous natural landmarks in the park are Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone Lake, and the Yellowstone Caldera. There are also over a thousand archaeological sites, providing evidence of Native American civilizations living in the region for more than 11,000 years proceeding settler development.

Visitors can enjoy a range of recreational activities – hiking, fishing, boating, and sightseeing are some of the top things to do. There are also over 2,000 designated campsites within the park.

Address: Yellowstone National Park, Idaho

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Also Read: Top 10 Things To Do In Yellowstone National Park

5: Snake River Adventures

Snake River Adventures

The best way to experience Snake River is by taking one of the boat tours provided by the Snake River Adventures. The company provides tourists with a variety of tours, including jet boating or riverboats, to see the river and canyon up-close.

Snake River Adventures takes you through the deepest river gorge in North America. Visitors can reserve a variety of experiences through the company, such as jet boat trips, fishing charters, group tours, and even 'Wine on the Snake.'

The tours serve an educational purpose to learn about Hells Canyon. Discover the colorful history and geological significance as you cruise through the canyon. The walls tower as high as nearly 10,000-feet. Guided tour experiences allow the guides to point out petroglyphs along the canyon walls created by Native Americans.

Guided boat tours along Snake River also feature chance encounters with some of the native wildlife and plants. Some of the common animals to see are grizzly beats, bighorn sheep, and deer.

Snake River Adventures offers full-day or half-day tour options with lunch provided during the trip.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Lewiston

Address: 227 Snake River Ave, Lewiston, ID 83501

6: Coeur d'Alene

Coeur d'Alene

Coeur d'Alene is a bustling city and the largest in North Idaho. It's along the shore of Lake Coeur d'Alene, hence the nickname 'Lake City' or 'CDA' for short. Tourism is a significant economic driver for the town, with many attractions centered around recreation, fun, and culture.

Coeur d'Alene is a well-known ski destination. It's located in the Spokane Valley, surrounded by several mountains designed as ski slopes. Visitors can find many options for ski resorts around the city.

Other outdoor activities available for visitors include hiking, mountain biking, fishing in the lake, or camping. Many of these activities are enjoyed in the surrounding natural landscapes just outside of the city.

The nearby Silverwood Theme Park is a destination for the entire family. It's the largest theme park and water park in the region.

Coeur d'Alene also hosts various events and festivals throughout the year. Some of the events include arts festivals, sporting events, golfing exhibitions, and showcases of the Coeur d'Alene Native American tribe heritage.

One of the central gathering places locally to find many things happening in Coeur d'Alene is at Sherman Square, a plaza featuring restaurants, shops, and more.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Coeur d'Alene

Address: Coeur d'Alene, ID

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7: Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls

The centerpiece of Idaho Falls is the small man-made waterfall located within the city. It's one of the many attractions that continue to draw visitors to the city, one of the largest in the state.

Idaho Falls is a major commercial and cultural hub in the region. It's an adventure town because of the easy access to many of the top tourist destinations in Idaho. Visitors can stay in Idaho Falls and take day trips to places of interest, including the Yellowstone National Park, Snake River, or the Museum of Idaho.

One of the most popular areas in Idaho Falls is the Greenbelt - it's a section of the city dedicated to nature, with lots of park area surrounding the waterfall. Locals and tourists come for outdoor recreation or picnics.

Another must-visit attraction of Idaho Falls is the Riverwalk, running along the Snake River. The area is lined with art installations and a popular place for activities such as biking, walking trails, and fishing.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Idaho Falls

Address: Idaho Falls, ID

8: Bruneau Dunes State Park

Bruneau Dunes State Park

Bruneau Dunes State Park achieved state park status in 1967, and since expanded in land area. It was designed to preserve the unique landscape formations and for public recreation. The most notable formations in the park are the massive sand dunes.

Bruneau Dunes State Park features the highest single-structure sand dune in the US, reaching a height of 470-feet. Visitors are permitted to climb and sled on the dunes as well as take part in other activities. Small lakes also dot the park and are open to the public to enjoy.

Some of the park's top activities are sandboarding, hiking, birdwatching, horseback riding, and boating. There are various horse trails extending for several miles each.

The park includes visitor facilities – an educational center and an observatory.

The educational center features exhibitions showcasing the park's natural history. The Bruneau Dunes Observatory consists of a telescope for public use - it's the best place for stargazing in the park.

There are campgrounds set up throughout the park for overnight stays.

Address: Bruneau Dunes State Park, Bruneau, ID 83604

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Also Read: 25 Best State Parks in the US

9: Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area is located along the Idaho-Oregon border. It’s a large area designated for the canyon history and archaeological value. Some of the natural landmarks in the park include Hells Canyon, sections of the Whitman National Forest, Snake River, and the Hells Canyon Dam.

The entire designed area covers more than 200,000 acres. It’s a vast region of the wilderness area. There is also a designated historic district called the Hells Canyon Archaeological District – the district features hundreds of sites, buildings, and other structures. It’s part of the US National Register of Historic Places.

As the name suggests, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area is a popular destination for outdoor recreation. It features approximately 900-miles of hiking trails winding throughout the area. In addition to hiking, it’s also an area for guided tours, fishing, swimming, boating, and camping.

A major attraction to the park is the beautiful scenery. Visitors will have incredible views of the diverse landscape while enjoying the outdoors.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Lewiston

Address: Lewiston, ID

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10: Museum of Idaho

Museum of Idaho

Visitors can learn everything about Idaho and more when they visit the Museum of Idaho. The museum was established in 2003 in Idaho Falls, welcoming approximately 100,000 visitors every year.

The Museum of Idaho features exhibitions to highlight the state's natural environment and cultural history. It has permanent and traveling exhibits, displaying a variety of artifacts and other objects. The museum's collections and physical buildings are continuously expanding to provide more information about the great state of Idaho.

Many of the exhibitions tell the story about Idaho, from the Native Americans who inhabited the land to the early explorations, and eventually, early settlers. Some of the other exhibitions include information about Idaho business and primary industries.

Visitors can also spend time in the Children's Discovery Room, which includes interactive features and exhibitions perfect for kids. There are also museum archives with documents, photographs, and oral stories. The museum consists of a public reading and reference room.

One of the primary purposes of the museum is education. It frequently hosts educational activities, events, classes, and other outreach programs.

Address: 200 N Eastern Ave, Idaho Falls, ID 83402

11: Sawtooth National Recreation Area

Sawtooth National Recreation Area
Flickr/Intermountain Forest Service

Central Idaho is home to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area - the area derives its name from the Sawtooth Mountains, one of the principal ranges in the area. Other notable landmarks include Stanley Lake and Salmon River.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area was established in 1972, designating a section of the Sawtooth National Forest. It’s a diverse landscape area shaped by historic glacier activity. It includes mountains, lakes, rivers, plains, and more.

Outdoor recreation is the main attraction for tourists: some of the favorite visitor activities include hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, and white-water rafting. There are lots of trails throughout the park, many leading to great viewpoints of the natural scenery.

The park also permits hunting and fishing. An abundance of wildlife lives within the region, including wolves, lynx, bears, and more.

There are designated campgrounds for visitors to have overnight stays. It’s an excellent location for a family picnic.

A ranger station is located just outside of the park.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Stanley

Address: Idaho 75, Stanley, ID 83278

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12: Old Idaho Penitentiary State Historic Site

Old Idaho Penitentiary State Historic Site

Old Idaho Penitentiary State Historic Site is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places as the oldest prison in Idaho. It was built before the state was officially established, in use from 1872 to 1973.

The Old Idaho Penitentiary State Historic Site expanded from a single cell house to an entire penitentiary complex comprised of various buildings: the main prison-house, administration building, dining hall, women’s ward, and a multipurpose building which held the inmate jobs. A 17-foot sandstone wall surrounded the entire complex. The prison’s inmates built nearly the entire complex.

At its peak, the old prison held upwards of 600 inmates at a time - during its use as a prison, it held 13,000 prisoners. The prison closed due to disputes about the living conditions.

Now, the Idaho Historical Society operates the prison. The organization conducted research to preserve the heritage of the prison from the perspective of the guards and the inmates.

The attraction provides guided tours through the complex grounds to learn about prison history through stories of notable inmates and exhibitions of firearms and other artifacts used by the guards.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Boise

Address: 2445 Old Penitentiary Rd, Boise, ID 83712

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13: Lava Hot Springs

Lava Hot Springs
Flickr/Edgar Zuniga Jr.

Lava Hot Springs is a water paradise located in southeastern Idaho. It’s an intimate city with a population of just under 500 residents, but the discovery of the natural hot springs in the town makes it a growing tourist attraction in Idaho.

The highlight of Lava Hot Springs is the natural springs heated by the lava ground. Pools can be found around the entire city, with many hotel resorts developing around them. The unique thing about the pools is that they offer a variety of temperatures, suitable for anybody.

The pools are open all year long. Visitors can cool off in the summer months or relax in the heat pools during the colder months. The pools offer great views of the surrounding snow-capped mountain ranges.

Many of the resorts offer great amenities for hanging out at the natural pools or some of the developed facilities. There’s lots of seating around the pools for relaxing.

Some of the other local attractions include water parks, hiking, golfing, and explore the surrounding mountain region.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Lava Hot Springs

Address: 430 East Main Street, Lava Hot Springs, ID 83246

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14: Silverwood Theme Park

Silverwood Theme Park

The Silverwood Theme Park transformed from a tiny local park into a major tourist attraction in Northern Idaho. The park was opened in 1988 in Athol, Idaho, a short distance away from Coeur d'Alene. It's the largest theme park in the Northwest region.

Silverwood Theme Park covers hundreds of acres, featuring 70 rides. It has six roller coasters – some of the popular rides are Tremors, Aftershock, and Corkscrew. Other rides include a Ferris Wheel, kid's rides, bumper boats, and even rides for pets.

The park also has various shows and other attractions for visitors to enjoy. The most popular season event is Scarewood, held during October. Scarewood includes Halloween thematic mazes, scare zones, and other attractions.

Adjacent to Silverwood Theme Park is the Boulder Beach Water Park, operated by the same company. Visitors who purchase admission to Silverwood have the water park admission included. It's the largest water park in the Northwest region.

Silverwood Theme Park is open every year from May to October.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Athol

Address: 27843 US-95, Athol, ID 83801

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15: Boise River Greenbelt

Boise River Greenbelt

Boise River Greenbelt is a recreational strip passing through Boise, Idaho, the state capital. The greenbelt runs east to west along the Boise River, including both riverbanks. It's also used for alternative transportation with motorized vehicles prohibited on the strip.

Boise River Greenbelt is 20-miles long, with lots of points of interest along the way. Some of the top attractions include the Lucky Peak Dam, an origin point of the greenbelt, Downtown Boise, Idaho Shakespeare Festival Theatre, and the cities several riverside parks. It's an excellent route for sightseeing some of the major landmarks in Boise.

Most of the greenbelt is paved, making it an excellent destination for outdoor recreation. The strip is well-marked with 100 white dots, signaling the distance away from the central point in downtown.

Some of the favorite activities include running, walking, and biking. It's used by both locals and tourists to enjoy the pedestrian zone of Boise, passing from the cityscapes to the green areas of the city and surrounding area.

Address: Boise, ID 83706

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