Idaho is one of the less traveled states in United States. Idaho is under-rated; there are many hidden places in Idaho that people don’t know about, and if you ask me, Idaho is worth a visit!
Plan a road trip from nearby states and experience an unforgettable vacation to the best places to visit in Idaho summer vacation with your friends and family. Visitors love to do Idaho family road trip from nearby states like Washington, Oregon, Montana, Arizona and Utah.
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Best vacation spots to visit Idaho for families:
- Mc Call
- Coeur d’Alene
- Kirkham Hot Springs
- Craters of the Moon
- Bruneau Dunes State Park
- Salmon River
- Sawtooth Mountains
- Hells canyon
- Thousand Springs
- Sun Valley
- Palouse Hills
Mc Call is a town in Idaho situated on the southern shore of Payette Lake known for outdoor recreation and makes the best place to visit in Idaho in summers. It has a wide range of activities to offer the visitors like water sports, biking, mountain climbing, camping, ziplining, golf and many more fun things to do in Idaho with family.
We visited Mc Call on 4th of July and the day turned out to be so much fun! The lake Mc Call was full of entertainment, it was surrounded by food trucks, gift shops, restaurants and the area has plenty of space to sit on the green grass alongside the lake to enjoy food with a gorgeous view! This is one of the hidden places in Idaho that people don’t know about!
There are many fun activities that Mc Call lake offers like swimming, boating, cruising, paddle boarding, fishing etc. It’s completely safe for kids and a total fun place best for Idaho Summer vacations! Mc Call also has 5 amazing hot springs where you can soak your tiredness away! Mc Call is the best outdoor spots in Idaho.
Coeur d’Alene area is a beautiful town surrounded by so many lakes formed by the glaciers from the ice age! It is known for its stunning scenery and incredible recreation opportunities. The sparkling Coeur d’Alene Lake is most loved by the visitors. Coeur d’Alene lake is massive body of water which covers nearly 50 square miles and offers plenty of recreation opportunities, and makes it one of the best places to visit in Idaho in summers. You can enjoy fun activities like sunbathing on the beach, water ski, kayak or sea plane tour. This lake is one of the best outdoor spots in Idaho and loved by both residents and visitors!
Fee: $5.00 per vehicle per day
Parking: Limited (outside the gate)
Hours: 7am to 9pm
Visitors also get many 5-star options to pick like premium golfing, professional quality tennis courts etc. Coeur d’Alene is the home of some very popular celebrities like John Elway, Wayne Gretzky, Matthew McConaughey, Lance Armstrong, and George Clooney. If you are looking for a luxurious experience, book your stay in Coeur d’Alene resort.
Kirkham Hot Springs
Kirkham Hot Springs are nestled on the South Fork of the Payette River along the highway, and leads down to the soaking pools full of natural minerals and small steaming waterfalls to relax your tiredness on the road.
Kirkham Hot Springs is are completely nature made; you’ll not find any artificial enhancements or elements in the water. Hence, this is a perfect place to get a true experience of untouched nature at its finest.
Fee: $5.00 per vehicle per day
Parking: Limited (outside the gate)
Hours: 7am to 9pm
There is no hike required to access Kirkham Hot Springs, you hardly need to walk half a mile to access the hot springs. This spot actually makes the best place to visit in Idaho in summers and in winters both. There are Vault Washrooms & picnic table available at the location. Currently, the access is permitted for day use only. If you are looking for the best outdoor spots in Idaho, search no more!
Best time to visit?
Kirkham Hot Springs are good to visit for all seasons. Visitors on Idaho family road trip love to take a stop here even when there are just passing by! It never gets too hot in the summer, and the hots springs water feels incredible during the winter months. Just check road conditions if you’re visiting during snowfall season.
Craters of the Moon
Craters of the Moon is worth a quick visit if you are in the area on a road trip or as a day trip from Sun Valley. It is said that the surface of the area feels like you are walking on the moon!
Craters of the Moon National Park currently has 5 different caves to explore. These caves were created by lava flows that hardened on the outside but continued flowing on the inside. It offers countless opportunities for hiking, camping, cross-country skiing, wildlife viewing and backcountry travel. This is another of the hidden vacation spots in Idaho.
Fee: $15.00 per vehicle, $7 per bicycle per day
Hours: 8am – 4:30pm
Cave Entry: Free permit from Visitor Center.
When is the next eruption?
Over the past 15,000 years, eruptions at Craters of the Moon have occurred about every 3,000 years, and so the next eruption might be expected sometime in the next 1,000 years.
Don’t have the time to hike?
Craters’ most popular features are conveniently located along the 7-mile Loop Road, and you can explore it as your time allows. Enjoy the view from the Inferno Cone overlook, take a short walk to the inside of Spatter Cones, explore the Devils Orchard Nature Trail. Include this place on your list and enjoy at one of the best places to visit in Idaho in summers.
Bruised Baggages Tip:
Download the official National Park Service app before you arrive. The park’s brochure map marks numbered stops on your self-guided tour.
Bruneau Dunes State Park
Bruneau Dunes State Park is the tallest freestanding sand dunes in North America, with the highest reaching 470 feet. The state park includes desert, dune, prairie, lake and marsh habitat with opportunities to observe a variety of species.
Fee: $7 per vehicle per day (additional for camping)
Parking: Available at visitor center
Hours: 7am – 10pm
Observatory tickets: $5 per person (First come first served)
You can also fish for bluegill in the lakes at the foot of the dune; take a hike to unlock the mystery of the desert, enjoy horseback ride; plan a group picnic or visit the Bruneau Dunes Observatory and gaze at the night sky through the telescopes.
You can rent a sandboard and other fun equipments at this Idaho vacation spot from the visitor center to enjoy at the sand dunes and enjoy at one of the best places to visit in Idaho in summers.
Bruised Baggages Tip:
What do you wear to Bruneau Sand Dunes? It’s best to bring clothes you don’t mind filling with sand and wear shoes with won’t fill with sand while you walk.
Shoshone Falls, also popular as the “Niagara of the West,” is 212 feet tall and 45 feet higher than the popular Niagara Falls, and flows over a rim nearly one thousand feet (300 m) in width.
Fee: $5 per vehicle per day
Hours: 8am – 10pm.
Shoshone falls offer a unique blend of recreational facilities, including playgrounds, hiking trails, picnic areas, a boat ramp, swimming area, and a scenic overlook. Visitors love to spend an entire day at Shoshone falls; they love to enjoy family time at Dierkes Lake. This is the best thing to do in Idaho with family.
Dierkes Lake is a lake on the way to Shoshone falls. It gets really crowded and happening in summers and is a unique place to visit in Idaho. It offers swimming, 2-cliff jumping areas (kids & adults), canoeing, kayaking, and also has a kayak/ water floaters rental and a snacks shop which is right at the front of the lake. It’s very safe for kids; there is a sperate swimming area for kids with boundaries. It’s the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day when visiting Shoshone Falls and the best place to visit in Idaho in summers.
You can even visit Shoshone Falls at night. It lights up with dazzling lights and the color changing patterns and designs will brilliantly light the falls to create a magical experience. See the falls lit up nightly from dark until about 11:30 pm for select nights.
Salmon River, also known as known as “the river of no return” is Idaho’s vacation spot where tourists love to enjoy in summers! The river got it’s name because the early explorers were able to raft down the river, but were not able to return upstream due to high upstream current. This fact is true and confirmed by our Salmon river rafting guide! This is the most adventurous and best outdoor spots in Idaho with many many tour options!
Fishing and river rafting is the most popular activities in Salmon river in. Visitors who come to visit Sawtooth mountains or are on Idaho family road trip love to stop here. During your fishing, you’ll have the opportunity to catch a variety of fish. Salmon and Steelhead are the most popular; visitors come to Idaho from all over the country during their mating season. Other common species of fishes in Salmon river are Chinook salmon and bull and cutthroat trout.
The Salmon River truly caters to all levels of river activities, if I talk about the Salmon Rafting experience, it starts from a half day tour to a week and even more! There are many tour organizers at this Idaho vacation spot which have tours where you can raft the entire day and camp at night, and do this activity till the end of the river for multiple days! This is the best multi day camping spots near Boise, Idaho. This is an ideal stop for the visitors looking for some adrenaline rush with their gathering of friends or family. Enjoy your time at one of the best places to visit in Idaho in summers
The Middle Fork is now an internationally recognized whitewater/wilderness float trip, known for its scenic beauty and crystal clear whitewater. They offer non-motorized floating experience with many technical rapids like class III and IV+ rapids offer boating excitement for both families and experienced adventurers and it makes summers in Idaho really fun! This is any day the best thing to do in Idaho with family.
Sawtooth Mountains is one of the most breathtaking and dramatic attractions in Idaho. It offers activities for everyone, from hiking to fishing, from whitewater rafting to hot springs, from mountains to waterfalls. The dense green forests of the Sawtooth Forest with many lakes around will leave you awestruck! This make a great stop if you are on Idaho family road trip. Visitors love to stop here for 2 to 3 days and experience camp life in one of the best camping spots near Boise, Idaho.
Redfish Lake is one of the main attractions in the Sawtooth wilderness. The water is as pristine and clear; it’s the perfect place to spend a lazy sunny summer day. There are several beaches around to chill during the day and the beaches allow kids to play safely in sand. Paddleboard or kayak is available for rent at the dock of Redfish Lake Lodge to enjoy at one of the best places to visit in Idaho in summers.
Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
Hells Canyon is located along the border of eastern Oregon. Hells Canyon runs deeper than the better-known Grand Canyon in Arizona. It is part of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area which also a part of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Hells Canyon can be accessed by jet, boat or raft. If offers many things to do in Idaho with family. This is another best camping spots near Boise, Idaho.
When you enter the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, pass the Heaven’s Gate Vista. The road inside is unpaved but is wide enough for two vehicles to drive. Once you reach the parking area, take a short hike up to the summit. From the summit, there are gorgeous views of the 7 Devils Mountains and amazing views of the four surrounding states, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Montana. Enjoy one of your time at one of the best places to visit in Idaho in summers.
This Idaho vacation spot offers hiking, camping, glamping, fishing, boating, rafting, bird watching, wildlife watching, discovering fossils and ancient Indian rock writings. Try out one of the many fun and adventurous activities you can do when visiting the recreation area. Hells Canyon makes one of the best Idaho vacation spots.
Thousand Springs State Park is a testament to why this rugged area of southern Idaho is called the Magic Valley. The park is divided into six units that are all within short driving distance of each other. Each unit offers a unique experience. If you are looking for vacation spots in Idaho for families, this is one of them!
Thousand Springs State Park is an expansive park with several units to explore: Malad Gorge, Kelton Trail, Earl M. Hardy Box Canyon Springs Nature Preserve, Billingsley Creek, Ritter Island, Crystal Springs, and Niagara Springs. If you love horse-riding, take a ride at the Billingsley Creek Unit. This area offers an indoor horse riding arena.
Getting around Springs State Park is a bit tricky! There are multiple entry points, connecting from different small towns nearby and by public roads. There will not be signs in the park everywhere, so plan before you visit.
The best way to get to Thousand Springs State Park is through Twin Falls. Drive straight to Thousand Springs without stopping in Twin Falls and you’ll reach there.
Sandpoint is a very relaxed and fun town. It’s great for people who want a secluded yet breath taking getaway. You will love the fresh air and gorgeous views of nature. There are many places to visit: Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Sandpoint City Beach, Mineral Point Trail 82, Bonner County Historical Society & Museum, Farragut State Park. Sandpoint is literally one f the best vacation spots in Idaho for families.
Sandpoint is a very beauty place to drive around. Pass through the beautiful Pend Oreille Scenic Byway to soak in all the nature. There are plenty of bike trails for you to explore and hike; climb the nearby Selkirk and Cabinet mountain ranges. Visit Lakeview Park which features the Kinnikinnick Native Plant Society’s arboretum, and Native American artifacts at the Bonner County History Museum. This is one of the best outdoor spots in Idaho and offers many things to do in Idaho with family!
Sand Creek Lake is one of the best camping spots near Boise, Idaho. Many people do not know this but there is a wonderful theme park in Sandpoint known as Silverwood Theme Park. Do visit it once, especially if you are traveling with kids. Book the tickets from it’s website.
Palouse is the top wheat producing county and second highest barley producer in the entire United States. During the farming season when wheat is green, the entire Palouse Hills look so unique and beautiful, giving a view of green dancing mountains. Palouse hills is one of the hidden places in Idaho and very less people know about.
The hills were formed over tens of thousands of years from dry regions to the south west. The smooth rolling hills look completely green covered when wheat and barley are young. Best months to visit are June and July. From July end they start to turn ripe and then turn to the shades of brown. Include this in your itinerary on your Idaho family road trip.
Near Palouse Falls, there is a very popular water fall known as Palouse Falls which you can visit on the same day. The hike to reach to the viewpoint is 0.7-mile out-and-back. It generally takes 30 mins to complete this hike. This was also once a hidden place near Idaho, but now it has many visitors!
Discover Pass is required to visit Palouse Falls State Park and must be displayed in your car. It costs $10 for a day pass or $30 for an annual pass.
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