Often underrated, Idaho is a seriously amazing place that everyone should visit at least once. That said, if you do plan a visit to Idaho, you will be presented with a challenge: deciding which things to do and see while you’re there. We think creating an Idaho bucket list is the best way to deal with this problem.
A travel bucket list for Idaho will help you narrow down your options, ensuring you have a to-do list that suits your family perfectly. It will also help you keep track of all those things you don’t get to do the first time, so you can give them a try the next time you’re in the state.
Not sure how to begin making a travel list of your own? Check out our Idaho bucket list below for a number of amazing bucket list ideas that might be perfect for your vacation.
What is a Bucket List?
If you’re going to be making a bucket list, it helps to know what exactly that is. The name “bucket list” comes from the term “kick the bucket” and the list itself is a collection of things you hope to see and do before you…well, kick the bucket.
Most people keep a single bucket list. This includes everything they wish to do in their lifetime. However, we find that it’s much easier to keep a list for every state we plan to see. These lists might include places to visit, sights to see, people to meet, and even foods to try.
Today, we are going to focus on our Idaho bucket list, providing you with a number of excellent things to see and do in the Gem State.
— Bucket List Vacations: Idaho’s National Parks —
First, let’s take a look at all the national park sites in Idaho. NPS sites are some of the most interesting and beautiful in the country, meaning they almost always deserve a place on your bucket list, and the ones in Idaho are no exception.
City of Rocks National Preserve
Often referred to as the “Silent City” by emigrants of the California Trail, City of Rocks is full of bizarre rock formations that create what looks very much like a city skyline. This is the perfect place for campers, hikers, rock climbers, and seekers of gorgeous scenery.
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
An ocean of ancient lava flows that contains occasional islands of cinder cones and sagebrush, Craters of the Moon is an otherworldly place. A visit to this strange landscape leaves you feeling as if you might be visiting the moon, and it certainly makes for an interesting experience.
Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument
Fossils are fascinating things. They tell stories of our past, including the story of the horse, which actually evolved right here in North America. The Hagerman horse was the first ever one-toed horse, and fossils of its bones were first found in the Hagerman Fossil Beds.
Besides horse fossils, scientists have also discovered the fossil remains of saber-toothed cats, mastodons, camels, and more here.
Minidoka National Historic Site
Minidoka tells the story of a sad part of history that many people have no idea even happened. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed an Executive Order that forced over 120,000 Japanese-Americans to leave their homes and live in prison camps because of their ancestry. Minidoka was one of these camps, and the story of the place is haunting.
New Perce National Historical Park
Home to 38 places that are important to the Nimíipuu (Nez Perce) Tribe, Nez Perce National Historical Park tells the story of this amazing tribe. Learn about the history and culture of these resilient people while exploring a fascinating and beautiful park.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park needs to be on everyone’s bucket list for sure. This is an absolutely amazing park that features geysers, hot springs, and a huge number of incredible plants and animals. The park is so huge, one could easily spend a week or more exploring it, but it’s worth a stop even if you only have a day.
— More Idaho Bucket List Experiences —
National parks aren’t the only amazing things to see in Idaho. The experiences below are 100% bucket list-worthy, and we highly recommend adding them to your Idaho bucket list.
Try Huckleberry Ice Cream
During the summer months, Huckleberries are everywhere in Idaho. Therefore, it only makes sense that those living in the state would want to put them to good use. Honestly, anything made with these tasty little berries is delicious, but we especially love huckleberry ice cream and highly recommend trying some.
Ride the Lionhead Natural Water Slide
Water slides of any kind are fun. However, there’s just something magical about the natural water slide of Priest Lake State Park’s Lionhead Unit. This slippery flat rock is covered in icy cold running water, which visitors like to use as a slide into the refreshing pool below. Be sure to bring a plastic bag to sit on for an extra fun time!
Visit the Idaho Potato Museum
What’s the one thing everyone thinks of when thinking about Idaho? Potatoes, of course! Therefore, it only makes sense that Idaho would have an entire museum dedicated to potatoes. Learn all about these popular tubers at this silly and fun museum that is unlike any you’ve ever visited before.
See Shoshone Falls
Idaho is famous for its gorgeous scenery, and Shoshone Falls is a great example of that. Standing 212 feet tall and 900 feet wide, these falls are majestic to say the least, and are even taller than Niagara Falls! Swimming, boating, hiking, and more are available in the park, meaning you can easily spend an entire day visiting.
Dine on Finger Steaks
We already discussed huckleberry ice cream for dessert, but dinner is another matter entirely. If you aren’t quite sure what to get, we recommend trying Idaho finger steaks. These deep-fried strips of steak are absolutely delicious and perfect served alongside some Idaho potatoes.
Experience Ketchum and Sun Valley
Ketchum and Sun Valley are some of the most beautiful places in Idaho. They also boast some fascinating history. Best of all, these two spots are perfect for outdoor recreation. Whether you visit for the ski season or to take a summer hike, you’re sure to have an excellent visit.
Get Out on the Water at Lake Stanley
Another wonderful place to have fun in the great outdoors? Lake Stanley. This lake is just lovely, is perfect for anyone who enjoys getting out on the water, and its location in the Sawtooth wilderness means you’ll be treated to some outstanding views.
Relax in Kirkham Hot Springs
Outdoor activity is great, but it’s also nice to unwind sometimes. This is where Kirkham Hot Springs come into play. These hot springs are some of the most famous in Idaho, and for good reason. They are a wonderful place to soak and relax while enjoying some wonderful scenery after a day of exploring.
Play in Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area
A striking landscape awaits at Hell’s Canyon Recreation Area. Here, river gorges are as deep as they come in North America, and the peaks are even higher than those found in the Grand Canyon. Spend the day exploring this amazing place; you won’t be disappointed.
Check Out Coeur D’Alene
Another fantastic base for outdoor recreation, Coeur D’Alene is a great town to visit. You’ll find opportunities for parasailing, swimming, fishing and more in Lake Coeur D’Alene. Additionally, plenty of hiking trails are available, as is a wonderful museum.
Bike the Hiawatha Trail
Is biking more your style? You’re in luck because the Hiawatha Trail is absolutely amazing. This bike trail is 15 miles long and leads you through underground tunnels, which are actually the remains of an abandoned railway system. Meanwhile, bridges take you high among the trees, and signs along the route offer little tidbits about the trail’s history.
Ski at Schweitzer Mountain Resort
There are many places to ski in Idaho. That said, one of the most popular and best places to enjoy this wintertime activity is at Schweitzer Mountain Resort. This ski resort is the largest in Idaho and Washington, and is home to 2,900 acres of excellent terrain. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, you’re sure to enjoy yourself at this amazing resort.
Get Your Thrills at Silverwood Theme Park
Thrill seekers rejoice and get ready for some serious fun, because Silverwood Theme Park is the largest amusement park in the northwest and is chock-full of things to do. Over 70 rides, shows, and other attractions can be found here, and one can easily fill a couple of days or more exploring all the park has to offer.
Grab Some Croquetas at the Boise Basque Market
One of our very favorite places to visit in Boise is the Boise Basque Market. This place helps celebrate the history of the Basque people in Idaho by bringing some of their unique culture to the city.
Our favorite thing to get at the market? The amazing croquetas. Make sure to grab some for yourself!
Tour the Old Idaho Penitentiary
Old jails and prisons are always fun to visit, and the tour of the Old Idaho Penitentiary is an especially good one. This prison opened in 1872 and held some of the Old West’s most hardened criminals. It continued to operate until 1973, meaning it was used for a full 101 years and has a lot of interesting history behind it.
Stroll Julia Davis Park
Another Boise attraction that we adore is Julia Davis Park. This park is home to the city’s art museum, which is well worth a visit. Other attractions located on the park grounds include the Idaho Historical museum, Idaho Black History Museum, and Zoo Boise. You’ll also find playgrounds, a rose garden, paddle boats, plenty of greenery, sports courts, and much more in this gorgeous park.
Smell the Roses at Idaho Botanical Garden
If the rose garden in the park isn’t enough for you, you might consider a visit to Idaho Botanical Garden. This gorgeous facility is home to a number of beautiful and interesting gardens that are sure to inspire you. We recommend giving yourself plenty of time to explore the place and taking it slowly.
Learn Something at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey
Also located in Boise, the Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey is a wonderful place to visit. Here, you can learn all about birds of prey through exhibits, live programs, and more. You’ll also be able to get up close and personal with some awesome birds!
Hike Thousand Springs State Park
Idaho has a lot to offer when it comes to hiking trails. Some of our favorite trails are found in Thousand Springs State Park. Located in the Magic Valley, this park truly is magical. The diversity here is astounding, the scenery is incredible, and the waterfalls, canyon, and springs are all sure to leave you in awe.
Camp in a National Forest
Idaho is home to a lot of national forests. There are many spots for camping in these forests, and most are very inexpensive. In fact, in some places, campers even have the option of dispersed camping, which is totally free (but includes zero amenities).
Whether you choose a campground or dispersed camping, we highly recommend camping in one of these forests for the most peaceful and beautiful camping experience of your life.
Have Some Sweets from Idaho Candy Company
Locally made candy is the best kind of candy; that’s why no visit to Idaho is complete without some sweets from Idaho Candy Company. These delicious treats can be found in many stores across the state and can be bought online. However, the best way to enjoy these candies is by visiting the factory store in person.
It’s pretty clear you’ll have plenty to see and do while visiting the Gem State. The question is: where will you stay? In our opinion, the very best way to explore this place is in an Idaho rental RV. This allows you to wander the gorgeous natural areas of the state with total freedom, sleeping in comfort no matter where you may roam.