When it comes to travel destinations in the United States, Idaho is often overlooked. Though most Americans know Idaho as the place to find potatoes or go skiing, there’s so much more to this state than meets the eye. From light crowds year-round to stunning parks and culture, it’s easy to create your own Idaho bucket list.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Idaho Bucket List Destinations
- Outdoor, Hikes, and Camping Bucket List Ideas in Idaho
- Spring and Summer Bucket List Ideas in Idaho
- Fall and Winter Bucket List Ideas in Idaho
- Popular Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in Idaho
- Twin Falls Bucket List Ideas
A bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket,” or die. Though most of us don’t give much thought to the end, it’s important to consider what you want to accomplish. For many, this means making a travel bucket list for new adventures.
If you’re open to an off-the-beaten-path destination, don’t skip Idaho. With this list of Idaho bucket list ideas, food, and activities, you’ll wonder why you didn’t visit sooner.
Idaho Bucket List Destinations
Beyond the spuds, you’ll find there are some amazing destinations in Idaho. Though these aren’t the first on any big-name travel guide, they’re still well worth a visit.
1. Sun Valley, Idaho
Could there be a happier, more welcoming name than Sun Valley? This special town is located close to the Sawtooth Mountains. Though it’s mainly a resort town in the winter and summer, it’s also a great place to explore all year long.
2. Sandpoint, Idaho
Another hidden gem in Idaho is Sandpoint. This is located on Lake Pend Oreille. Though it’s a small town, it has some of the best mountain views without the larger crowds.
3. Boise, Idaho
Of course, a trip to Idaho wouldn’t be complete without visiting the state capital of Boise. This wonderful city is nicknamed “City of the Trees” since it’s a hub for outdoorsmen and women.
4. Stanley, Idaho
If you want to get up close and personal with the Sawtooth Mountains, Stanley is right at the base. The perfect basecamp for exploring the mountains, Salmon River, and the hot springs, this stop is a must-see.
5. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Lastly, explore the skinny panhandle of Idaho to discover Coeur d’Alene. Known for the large lake with the same name, this is a huge vacation town full of restaurants, bars, and things to do.
Outdoor, Hikes, and Camping Bucket List Ideas in Idaho
One of the biggest draws to Idaho is the variety of outdoor activities. Perfect for adventurers of all skill levels, there’s always something to explore in Idaho’s backyard.
6. Shoshone Falls
It wouldn’t be a trip to Idaho without the iconic Shoshone Falls. Located near Twin Falls, this is the largest waterfall in Idaho. It’s actually higher than Niagara Falls, and it’s absolutely stunning.
7. Craters of the Moon
This national monument and preserve is a huge natural area where lava naturally flowed during ancient times. As the name implies, it looks like craters you might find on the moon. The best way to explore this region is by hiking or taking a guided tour.
8. Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park
If you want to feel like you’re on another planet, visit Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park. These sand dunes look out of place for Idaho, but they’re just as fun as they sound. Bring your own snowboard to go sandboarding!
9. Hells Canyon
At the border of Oregon and Idaho, you’ll find Hells Canyon. This is one of the top hiking and camping spots in the whole state, and with good reason. It truly feels as though you’re tiny amongst nature’s beauty.
10. Thousand Springs State Park
Another must-visit hiking area in Idaho is Thousand Springs State Park. This is where you’ll find endless activities like hiking, kayaking, and more. You’ll explore some of the clearest springs in Idaho, and it’s just as gorgeous as it sounds.
Spring and Summer Bucket List Ideas in Idaho
During the warmer months, Idaho is a natural beauty. With stunning lakes, prairies, and mountains, here’s what you have to do in the spring and summer.
11. Soar in a hot air balloon
Idaho is one of the best states to explore by hot air balloon, especially in the warmer months. You’ll find hot air balloon tours throughout the state, and you can take in the state from new heights.
12. Soak in a hot spring
Another great way to relax on a hot day after a long hike is by soaking up a hot spring. Idaho is full of these natural springs, and there are so many to explore. Some of the best are Kirkham and Pine Flats near Lowman, Idaho.
13. Hike in the Sawtooth Mountains
It wouldn’t be summer in Idaho without mountains. Located in central Idaho, explore over 40 rugged mountain peaks in the Sawtooth Mountains. Better yet, you might even discover an alpine lake while you’re up there.
14. Paddleboard in a lake
Idaho is full of gorgeous lakes, and one of the best ways to explore them is by paddleboard. Though you can choose any lake, we recommend Redfish Lake near the Sawtooth Mountains.
15. Raft down the river
Finally, Idaho has some of the best whitewater rafting in the entire world. In fact, it ranks top in the country for rapids. This is something the whole family can enjoy. Some of the best rafting areas include Hells Canyon, Snake River, and Main Payette.
Fall and Winter Bucket List Ideas in Idaho
Just because the weather gets chilly doesn’t mean the fun stops. In fact, some of the best things to do in Idaho are in the fall and wintertime. One thing’s for sure: You’ll never be bored!
16. Hit the slopes
Of course, it wouldn’t be winter in Idaho without skiing. With dozens of ski and snowboard resorts in this state, there are endless opportunities to sharpen your winter sports skills.
17. See the Winter Carnival in McCall
The people of Idaho have their own traditions to get them through the long winter. The Winter Carnival in McCall is one of the best. With a Mardi-Gras-style parade, live music, and snow sculpting, you won’t want to miss this.
18. Go ice fishing
Fishing season doesn’t stop when the weather gets cold. Instead, Idaho anglers simply start ice fishing. One of the best places to do this is at the Horsethief Reservoir.
19. Stay in a yurt
Did you know Idaho State Parks actually operate their own yurts? This is the perfect winter getaway, but you’ll have to book early. They’re reserved up to 9 months in advance.
20. Tube through the snow
Tubing isn’t only a summer activity. Even if you’re not into skiing, you can still get in on the winter action by tubing downhill. You’ll find many pop-up tubing locations at popular ski resorts all winter long.
Popular Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in Idaho
Who said your bucket list had to be all about activities? For foodies, a food bucket list is the best way to explore some regional flavors.
21. Sip ice wine
Did you know Idaho is home to some of the nation’s best wines? It’s true, and it doesn’t get more authentic than ice wine. Created by capturing grapes that froze on the vine, this increases the sugar concentration in grapes to intensify the overall flavor.
22. Slurp up an ice cream potato
It’s no surprise that Idaho even discovered how to turn potatoes into dessert. Though an ice cream potato might sound weird, it’s better than it sounds. Ice cream is crafted into the shape of a potato, covered in cocoa, and topped with whipped cream.
23. Try a local trout
Everywhere you look in Idaho, you’ll find trout fishing. Feel free to catch your own fish and fry it up or check out a local favorite like Henry's Fork.
24. Enjoy a croquetas
Idaho has a lot of Spanish-inspired dishes on its menu, and the best to try is traditional croquetas. These bite-sized morsels are created with fried breadcrumbs and filled like meat, cheese, or potatoes.
25. Eat a bison burger
Last but not least, feel like a true Idahoan with a Boise Bison Burger. This is a quintessential Idaho experience, and it’s one you’ll come back for again and again.
Twin Falls Bucket List Ideas
Lastly, it’s not a trip to Idaho without stopping by Twin Falls. When in the region, make sure you check out these Twin Falls bucket list ideas.
26. See Perrine Bridge
When in Twin Falls, you must see Perrine Bridge. Named for the founder of Twin Falls, this is a truss arch bridge that spans across a stunning canyon.
27. Step back in time at the Herrett Center
Visit the Herrett Center for Arts and Science to step back through time to explore prehistoric America. This collection of anthropological artifacts and natural history gives a glimpse at what this state once was like.
28. Spot the Perrine Coulee Falls
Another stunning falls to see in Idaho is Perrine Coulee Falls. At a height of almost 200 feet, you can watch the waterfall plummet over the walls of the canyon.
29. Wade in Dierkes Lake
This popular swimming and fishing hole is where you’ll find everyone on a warm day. With lifeguards and concessions throughout the summer, you can even scuba dive here.
30. Hike Pillar Falls
For a trickier hike that’s worth the views, try Pillar Falls. With a mile-long access trail, you’ll wind down the south wall of this famous canyon to reach the sentinel-like rocky pillars of the falls.
Discover the Gem State of Idaho
Known as the “Gem State,” this spot of land has more than its fair share of natural resources and scenery. Though often known only for its potatoes, the residents of Idaho prefer it that way. Only true locals and explorers have tapped into the beauty of this often overlooked state, and that’s part of its magic.
From the Snake River to the steep canyons, there are few things you can’t find here. Now that you know how to make a travel bucket list, where will you discover next? When you travel, whether you explore far or wide, you create lifelong memories.