Nestled in the scenic arms of the United States’ Northwest, Idaho is a vacationer’s dream. There are winding paths that follow the trees up to the crest of the mountain, and little mom and pop shops that sell what no other store could.
There are 5-star luxury resorts in the quaintest of towns, just miles from some of the best bed and breakfasts in the area. Idaho is a wonderful mixture of everything that makes a state great, catering to just about everybody.
Come for that family vacation you’ve been talking about, for that honeymoon you’ve been dreaming of, or just for that getaway that’s been calling your name! And for those who don’t want to have to battle the crowds to get that winning sunset pic: check out these top 10 most beautiful small towns in Idaho.
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Stanley is the epitome of small town charm. The regular population count coming in at below 100 almost consistently. But just because there aren’t big city squares, doesn’t mean there isn’t big attractions. Stanley is a little outdoor paradise where the tagline is sweet serenity. Mountains steep high and low, setting an incredibly ethereal background to any picnic or hike, and the water is crystal clear. Stanley is predominantly known by tourists and locals alike as the kind of place you go to for a breath of fresh air.
Where might these marvels of Mother Nature be? All over Stanley! But some of the best include: The Stanley Basin. A ravine known for glorious white peaks in the winter and gorgeous sprawls of green in the summer. Goat Lake, a camping, hiking, jogging, swimming oasis surrounding one of the most incredible lakes in the state. And Little Redfish Lake. An ideal spot for fishing, kayaking, and camping for those who want to explore a place in its entirety. Whatever you choose in Stanley, there is no wrong answer!
Address: Stanley, ID
As the name might predict: Salmon is the perfect place for an outdoor recreation getaway. It is primarily known for its ideal hunting, fishing, and camping sites that make it so in tune with nature. Although that might not be what you know it from. Famously, Salmon is recognized as the birthplace of Sacagawea! And there is plenty of history here to explore that details the many years Salmon has dedicated to its residents.
Address: Salmon, ID
For a vacation in the city, check out Idaho Falls! This is the perfect spot for that blend of all the amenities and activities of a city without all the crowds and wait times. Idaho Falls is situated on the banks of the Snake River, giving it a gorgeous natural scenery and great opportunities for adventurous activities. What is especially charming about this small Idaho town is the dedication to arts and expression. There is a whole wide world of new, modern, eccentric, and enlightening art to experience from museums to independent galleries lining the streets.
There is also an incredible amount of rich history to be found in Idaho Falls. Here, the Downtown Museum features some of the most prominent artifacts of the famous expedition of Lewis and Clark, as well as an entirely recreated 1800’s town. Alongside this, there are numerous exhibits to wander through and learn from. Idaho Falls is also the proud owner of the Idaho Falls Zoo, where animals and creatures from all over the world call home. Take the family, take your friends, take yourself… everybody loves Idaho Falls!
Address: Idaho Falls, ID
Lewiston, Idaho is one of the best small towns to visit for a charming weekend getaway. Here, you can experience all the comforts of a small town, with numerous friendly locals to welcome you in. The attractions here are no less awe-inspiring, but they’re just on the right side of secluded. Meaning you can take as many breaths of fresh air as it takes to fully relax. Try taking a hike at the Hells Gate State Park, or maybe a stroll through the Modie Park Conservancy. If your relaxation usually comes with some wine and cheese in hand, there is no better place around than Clearwater Canyon Cellars. And for all those history buffs: Nez Perce County Historical Society is a can’t miss Lewiston attraction.
Address: Lewiston, ID
Sandpoint for the slopes! Largely considered as one of the all-time best places in Idaho to go for skiing, snowboarding and the likes: Sandpoint cannot be missed! Although a relatively small Idaho town, Sandpoint is worth its weight in adventure. There are numerous parks, outdoor recreation areas, and yes, most importantly slopes. The Schweitzer Mountain Resort is one of the most popular attractions to date and continues being a true treasure to the Sandpoint community. Winters are especially busy here, but not the kind of Aspen or Alps busy. This is more casual, where you’ll find some friends on the slopes but not be overrun by long wait times and ‘currently at capacity’ signs.
But Sandpoint is magnificent even outside of the winter. The ice melts and the green breaks through to create an entirely new and gorgeous landscape. Here you can hike, fish, boat, kayak, and so much more in the quiet peace of a small town. For true nature lovers, be sure to check out the Kinnikinnick Native Plant Society arboretum, which features a dazzling array of all things wildlife. And don’t forget to stop by some of the local eateries for a meal you won’t forget.
Address: Sandpoint, ID
Named after the mouth of the river it sits on, Priest River is one of Idaho’s best small towns. This is the place where relaxation takes on a whole new meaning. There are seldom better places to watch a sunset, or to try a picnic by the water than Priest River. It has a beautiful mixture of friendly locals and enough space to find some alone time in the great outdoors. The cuisine is even a dazzling array of all the small-town comforts and tastes. Here you can dine at the best restaurants without a worry of wait times or take that great hiking trip you’ve been meaning to for years. The possibilities, and the comforts are endless in Priest River.
Address: Priest River, ID
Originally founded as a mining city, Wallace is a great place to explore some Idaho history! As it began to bustle after it’s 1884 start, Wallace has only flourished. With a gorgeous backdrop of tree-lined mountains, and architecture from the ages, this city really has a personality all its own. For example, one of the title attractions lie in the Sierra Silver Mine Tour and the Pulaski Tunnel Trail. Both of which are beautifully preserved pieces of Wallace history that are open and available for tourists year-round. And not to mention, it’s settled right along the South Fork of the Coeur d’Arlene River. Meaning this place is entertainment, with a view!
Address: Wallace, ID
Garden City is an Idaho small town with an eccentric, young, up and coming personality. This location is primarily known for the array of breweries, tasting rooms, and galleries scattered all about the city. Everything here is catered to embracing some of life’s best joys and is well worth the travel. Even if the art scene isn’t your proverbial cup of tea, there is plenty here for those who find Mother Nature to be the best artist. There are whitewater options, paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking, surfing, and so much more all within the gorgeous Garden City.
Address: Garden City, ID
And for those who find the best comforts in luxury, McCall is calling to you! This is one of Idaho’s most renowned resort towns with plenty of high end and affordable options lining the streets. Depending on what your fancy is, there are even some that border the stunning Payette Lake, where people from far and wide come to soak up a little Idaho sun. The crystal blue water invites its guest to swim, paddleboard, boat, and even wake up to that breath-taking morning sunrise. McCall is a truly special place as it offers both the finest of humanity’s luxuries, as well as the Earths. There are spas galore located just miles from the best hiking routes. Massages from trained hands a stone’s throw away from the bluest of waters. McCall is a city that can do it all!
Address: McCall, ID
R&R in Rexburg! As one of Idaho’s best small towns, Rexburg is a place that is fun for the whole family. Kids will splash and play for hours while adults lounge and relax at the Rexburg Rapids. Or, try some education for the whole crew: by taking tours of the Legacy Flight Museum. Stroll down the Porter Park, watching the kids spin around on the carousel while you set up the sunny day picnic. There are so many options for all ages at Rexburg, you’ll have the whole family wondering when why they’d ever have to leave.
Address: Rexburg, ID